causes, symptoms and management

causes, symptoms and management

causes, symptoms and management

In friendship, in love, at work … Affective dependence is a psychological manifestation defined as a need for the affection of others. What are the symptoms and how to get out of an emotional addiction?


The affective dependance can be defined as a need for the affection of others even if it means neglecting his own person. It is considered to be a pathological condition when it causes suffering. Affective dependence refers to a phenomenon of psychological incapacity to live by and for oneself. Endowed with little self-confidence, emotional addicts suffer from this lack in all areas of their life, and especially in love. They have a strong tendency to withdraw in front of their partner. These people constantly seek the approval of their companion. They finally suffer from sickly fear of abandonment, which weighs heavily on their relationships.

Emotional dependence is a barrier to healthy relationships.

Whether in friendship or in love, emotional dependence is an obstacle to healthy relationships. Just like in love, emotional dependence in friendship usually gives rise to sick jealousy, because the dependent is very possessive towards the people he cares about. So we often find at home the notion of exclusivity. The addict will therefore feel not only in competition with the friend he admires, with himself, but also with the people around them. It is impossible to achieve a healthy and stable relationship under these conditions: the addict will be eternally dissatisfied and psychologically exhausted.

Affective dependence can result in different signs of varying intensity depending on the individual:

  • fear of abandonment,
  • excessive jealousy,
  • chronic dissatisfaction,
  • inability to make decisions alone,
  • lack of self-esteem,
  • anxiety and depression (especially when breaking up),
  • compulsive behaviors.

Emotional dependence also tends to promote addictive behavior (alcohol, drugs, gambling) to escape suffering. « When it is too exclusive and intrusive, emotional dependence has repercussions on daily life and deteriorates social and even professional life. In the couple, it is often the source of conflicts that can lead to a breakup, which is what the person fears.« , explains Doctor Dominique Servant psychiatrist and psychotherapist.

It is more common in people who lack self-confidence.

Pathological states of emotional dependence mainly affect vulnerable individuals with regard to attachment ties. « It occurs in hypersensitive people, who lack self-confidence, sometimes having had difficulties in a previous relationship.« , continues the specialist. In some cases they have suffered un lack of affection during childhood or have experienced an emotional shock, but it is not systematic. Women are generally more affected by emotional dependence than men.

It starts with an awareness of this state. It is often when things go wrong during a consultation with a psychologist that emotional addicts understand their sentimental handicap. « If we cannot completely change our personality, we can, on the other hand, reduce this trait through personal development work and possibly psychotherapy.« , assures our interlocutor. The addict must succeed in integrating the fact that it is first necessary to love oneself to succeed in living a healthy romantic relationship. »The fear of being alone must be overcome by some simple exercises such as exposing yourself to moments of loneliness or estrangement from others, engage in activities for oneself and by oneself and better accept emotions and frustrations« . Sport, artistic expression or meditation are all activities that can help him get to know himself better and therefore gain confidence.

When faced with signs of suffering, anxiety and depression, it is recommended to seek medical advice (attending physician, psychiatrist or psychologist). The repercussions of emotional dependence may require specific management through couples therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (TTC).

Indicated to treat disorders such as anxiety and addictive behaviors, CBTs are recommended for people suffering from emotional dependence and wishing to be involved in the healing process. The objectives of the care are mainly to change the personality pattern of dependency and relearn appropriate behavior in order to regain autonomy and balance in the couple relationship.

See an example

Thanks to Doctor Dominique Servant psychiatrist and psychotherapist and author of « Freeing oneself from anxiety and phobias in 100 questions » (Editions Tallandier 2018)

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