Miriam is 20 years old and, for two years, has been in a relationship with Álex, a boy she met in college and with whom she hit it off right away. But, despite the fact that Alex is an intelligent and friendly boy, or that they share tastes and hobbies, Miriam is not happy with him. The discussions are constant, Álex’s disinterest (present from the beginning of the relationship) makes Miriam feels underrated, but when she recriminates him, he tells her that she is “an exaggeration” or that “everything feels bad for her.”
Miriam suffers a lot, because even though she is aware that she is not happy with him, she does not see herself able to cut that relationship. He thinks that he will not find anyone else who loves him or makes him feel what he feels for Alex. His friends, family and loved ones tell him to break up with him, that “he deserves better.” But this only makes him more frustrated, as he feels that cannot meet the expectations that her environment projects on her.
It is likely that you know someone who has gone through (or even you yourself have lived in your own skin) through a situation similar to Miriam’s. In that case, you will know the importance of educating your children so that they are capable of building healthy relationships and do not fall into the clutches of emotional dependence. But … what is emotional dependence? Can we prevent our sons and daughters from forging dependent relationships? How should we act if our daughter / or has a relationship of this type?
The psychologist and couples therapist Maria Esclápez explains that “emotional dependence is the way of relating to others in a pathological way. When we speak of a dependent relationship, we speak of a dysfunctional bond“. For example, Maria points out that a relationship is dependent when:
-There is a lack of balance.
-When you have the constant feeling that something is not right in the relationship.
-When the relationship is intermittent (now we are together, not now) and it seems that it continues, it is an eternal cycle of conflicts and reconciliations.
-When you have the feeling of living on an emotional roller coaster.
-When the absolute priority is the couple and emotional stability depends on the couple.
-When there is low self-esteem, panic to breakup, fear of loneliness, insecurity and mismanaged jealousy.
-When you have the idealized partner.
-When there is a need for affection, reinforcement and constant attention.
-When there is a need to know what the couple does constantly.
-When there is emotional wear and a feeling of suffering.
-When sex is almost an obligation to be intimate and / or when there is a power struggle in the face of conflicts (feeling of seeing who can do more).
The influence of our example in the relationships of our sons and daughters
Although we think it has nothing to do with it, we (mothers and fathers) have a tremendous influence in shaping the relationships of our sons and daughters. And this, as always, falls under the weight of example. The psychologist Patricia Ramírez explains to us that “if our children see at home that arguments, raising their voices or disrespect are something ‘normal’ in relationships, they will surely repeat it. If they learn that they have to obey us the first time, if the way for parents to have power is through the shouting and authoritarianism of ‘here I command‘They will also carry it over to future relationships. If we overprotect them and continually prevent them from facing situations, making decisions and having autonomy, they will surely carry that dependent relationship into their future relationships. ”
To this, María Esclápez adds that “lThe way we relate to ourselves and others is a reflection of what we have learned from our parents’ relationship, of our own relationship with parents and what they have taught us about how to relate to the world around us ”. That is why it is so important that “parents first deconstruct themselves when it comes to the idea of love and relationships, so that they can then help their children to develop relationships in a functional way.”
Can we prevent our sons and daughters from building dependent relationships?
Patricia Ramírez points out that “we cannot avoid it, but we can prevent talking at home about what love is, healthy relationships, about the important values in a couple, respect, communication … we can educate them so that they have autonomy, so that they learn to relate to other people, talk to them about toxic relationships, couples, values, love … “.
We must also “educate children from a very young age in matters of attachment, affectivity, emotions and self-esteem so that they have everything very clear before starting any type of relationship. And if they are already adolescents, then they can share information learned previously, use any excuse to bring up the subject and see what they think about it to generate a friendly debate in which opinions are shared and books, documentaries or informative profiles are recommended. The ideal is to act from prevention, although sometimes it is only possible to act from intervention, and even so, it is never too late, “says María Esclápez.
How to act if our son or daughter has an emotionally dependent relationship?
In the case of detecting that our daughter or son has a dependent relationship, Patricia Ramírez recommends us “not to insist that he break the relationship, because that way it is very difficult for him to listen to you. The first thing to do is listen, know what is happening, try to empathize and ask him questions to invite him to reflect:” How would you feel if you were alone? How would you feel if you continued in a relationship of this type? What consequences do you see for it? What advice would you give to a friend of yours who was in this situation? Fears that break up generates in you? And, as a result of this, ask: “Do you want to know what I would do? What support can I give you? Do you want us to go to a professional who can advise you?”
María Esclápez adds: “I always advise accompanying them to the consultation of an expert psychologist to help them get out of there, and if they flatly refuse, that at least the parents come to find out what they can do. . Dependent relationships do not have treatment, the only way to treat the person is by accompanying them during the empowerment and break-up process, but that is something very difficult because it is as if it were an addiction; they are hooking relationships“.
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