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Overdependency in Relationships

Overdependency is:

·  Desperately holding on to other people, places or things in an attempt to find meaning and purpose in your life.

·  Letting others do so much for you that it prevents you from developing your own sense of personal autonomy, independence, responsibility and accountability.

·  Being unwilling to let go of others so that you can find your own direction in life.

·  Refusing to formulate your own goals and dreams in case they don’t match those of the people you are dependent on.

·  Having a feeling of emptiness and worthlessness; feeling you “need to be needed” in order to be loved; or having your whole identity wrapped up in someone else.

·  Thinking sympathy and pity are the same thing as love.

·  Having a desperate need for approval; desperately fearing rejection and abandonment by the person you are dependent on; being clingy, possessive and jealous.

·  Lacking a belief in your own competency and ability to cope on your own.

·  Feeling stuck and immobilised because of a fear of failure, or the fear of making the wrong decision.

·  Having a fear of loneliness – which causes you to cling desperately to someone – even when you should let them go.

Overdependency is a control issue because:

·  You are handing control of your life and happiness over to someone else.

·  When you become too dependent on someone, you give them the power to control you.

·  People who are overdependent frequently use manipulation and other subversive control techniques to “hook” others into taking care of them – so that they can rescue, fix or save you. Alternatively, they may use intimidation, threats and coercion.

· They use the same hooks to prevent the person from detaching and walking away (For example, by threatening suicide)

· They may use the mask of “helplessness” to get others to take care of them, and do things for them.

· When forming close relationships, they deliberately look “fixers,” “caretakers” and “rescuers” – that is, they seek out people who are likely to assume responsibility for their wellbeing.

Freedom from overdependency:

·  First, recognise what is going on and be honest with yourself about your patterns and tendencies.

·  Second, recognise that you are a separate person from your partner (or family member). Thus, it’s up to you to assume responsibility for your own choices, decisions and actions (or lack of choosing, deciding and acting). In the same way, stop assume responsibility for, or try to control, the choices and behaviors of others. Don’t speak and act for them, don’t tell them what to do (or how to do it) or redo what they’ve done (as it isn’t the way you would have done it.)

· Notice your negative feelings – anxiety, fear, and even terror – and learn to face and manage these. This is one of the most powerful things you can do!

· Next, notice how critical you become when others don’t do things your way, or meet the standards that you set for them. Also, notice how you act in response to these feelings. Do you jump in, try to fix, get angry, pout, withdraw sexually and emotionally? It’s time to get rid of those unhealthy behaviours as they’re part of the pattern of dependency.

· Consciously work on your self-esteem.  Don’t look to others to make you happy, or to feel you have worth and significance. Healthy self-esteem comes from the inside out.

· Recognise the value of boundaries – and know where you end and another begins. Learn to establish and enforce your boundaries, and accept that others can choose for themselves – so don’t manipulate to try and get your way.

·  Stop blaming others for making you upset. We have control of how we think and feel. You’re not a helpless victim – you can choose how you will live, and what you will accept in your relationships.

· Don’t take the flack for, or defend others’ behaviour. Allow them let them to feel the consequences of their actions. Stop defending and enabling them.

· Get professional help.  Being dependent in relationships often has its roots in our early childhood experiences. You may some need help to unravel that, and better understand why you act the way you do.

Filed under overdependency personality disorder counselling psychology therapy mental illness mental health inspiration relationships online counselling college

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