Thursday, January 14, 2010

He Said She Said: Emotional Dependency a strength or weakness?

All I asked of the contributors is that they take one side of the issue and tell us why they believe that! Comment and tell us who you agree with or what you believe or think! The topics are suppose to illicit a response and start a conversation in comments. Enjoy!

: Emotional dependency or attachment in a relationship, a strength or weakness?

She Said:

I want to state that I have in many of my relationships whether with men or with friends been at one point or another Emotionally Dependent or Attached to that person, believe me when I say, this is a weakness and in no way it is a strength.
In THIS article it defines being Emotionally Dependent as, "Emotional dependency occurs when the ongoing presence or nurturing of another is believed to be necessary for personal security.” I tried looking up Emotional Attachment but it just brought me to articles on being attached but not always emotionally. For the sake of consistency I will just argue the point of being emotionally dependent. Another article over HERE defines it as, "Emotional dependency means getting one’s good feelings from outside oneself. It means needing to get filled from outside rather than from within." So clearly defined it is a weakness. If you are emotionally dependent in a relationship then you have little self worth. You are depending on that relationship to feel your void of self love for yourself. You NEED them to tell you your worth and you depend on it. That puts the other partner in the relationship in a position of power over you. This allows that partner power to control how you feel about yourself and to pretty much walk all over you if they choose. Emotional dependency and this unbalanced power, in extreme cases, leads to abuse. Abuse emotionally as well as physically and yet they are to dependent on their abusers to leave. Because women in general tend to thrive off of their emotions they are the ones that fall prey to this most often. That leaves the man, who usually can and does emotionally distance themselves because of years of practice as not to come off as a sissy or softy, in the place of power in the relationship. Now that is not to say that a woman can't be in a place of power over a man but it usually isn't because of the emotional part of the relationship it usually tends to be the physical part (of course this is in general and not the exception). Those that are emotionally dependent also are the first ones to deny that they are, because if they do admit to it, then they have to admit that they aren't confident in their relationship as well as confident of themselves and their worth as a person. There is no strength in that when you have to hear from your partner or from others how much you are loved and adored because you can't see enough of that in yourself. Weakness defined in "an inadequate or defective quality, as in a person's character; slight fault or defect". By that definition and the ones I stated at the first of this clearly proves that being emotionally dependent or attached in any relationship is not good and is definitely a flaw in ones character. I have actually been in relationships where I was less emotionally dependent then the other person, but most often it is my weakness and my character flaw. As for myself I wish there was an easy way to overcome this "defect". An easy way to love myself more so that I wasn't emotionally dependent on my relationships. Marriage has helped me a lot in slowly realizing I needed to work more on myself in order to have a stronger relationship. I love myself more now then I ever have in my life and I become less and less dependent on my husband to fill my well of self worth and I can attest to the fact that it has helped our relationship immensely. So yea, being emotionally attached or dependent in a relationship is definitely a weakness. Shelle-BlokThoughts Okay DGB mic's yours :)

He Said:

Wow Shelle, I feel like I’m in debate club. That was a well-researched argument. But you take for granted that the person is flawed or weak to begin with, or that they are in a relationship where emotional abuse is present. What about healthy people who are in solid relationship? Is it okay for them to be emotionally dependent? My emotional well being is intertwined with my wife’s. I cannot be happy unless she is happy and vice versa (at least that’s what she tells me). We are dependent on each other to provide happiness and comfort. On an episode of Mythbusters, the gang interlaced the pages of two phone books. When combined, the phone books proved to be so strong that two trucks could not pull them apart. This is how it can be in a relationship. Two separate entities coming together to create something stronger. I don’t want to be in a relationship where my emotions aren’t connected to my partner’s. I need to care about them and their well being. Otherwise, what’s the point of being together? Sure being emotionally dependent can be taken to unhealthy extremes. But isn’t that the case with anything? For those of us in healthy relationships, I think a level of emotional dependence is a good thing. DGB

She Said... again:

A healthy relationship, such as mine now, usually still has someone that is more emotionally dependent than the other, I'm not emotionally abused at all, yet... it is still a weakness because I need him to compliment me and adore me to fill that need of self worth where a strength would be for me to find that self worth inside myself so I didn't need that from my husband. For some men it comes off as clingy which can in turn make them feel trapped. Not that that is the case with my relationship... at least I don't think so :) If both parties are emotionally dependent equally or close to equally then that would work better. In most cases and most relationships one person is usually more dependent or attached emotionally than the other and it makes them the weaker party in the relationship. ---Shelle-BlokThoughts

Okay guys... let us know where you stand. What do you think? A strength or weakness?


Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I hear birds chirping... HELLO... hello.... hello

Anybody out there???

OneZenMom said...

DGB: You had me at "Mythbusters". No, seriously. Awesome analogy.

I agree that best-case scenario in a serious long-term relationship is for both partners to have their emotional well-being tied to the other. As fas as I'm concerned, that's a pretty good definition of "love" right there.

Yes, we need to be individuals and we need to have our own interests and our own emotional identities as well. But we're partners, too. Part of the whole. And we should be wholly emotionally invested in that partnership, too.

Great post, guys.

SciFi Dad said...

The key to this whole debate is the word "dependency". A relationship devoid of emotional involvement is nowhere near as strong as one that has it (which is what I think DGB was getting at). However, when that emotion becomes more than just part of the relationship, when it begins to define one's self worth and becomes not a benefit but a necessity, then you cross the line into dependency.

It's like narcotics or alcohol. Appreciating them is one thing, needing them is something completely different.

Momma Sunshine said...

I think that there's a difference between being emotionally dependent, and being "codependent".

I think that emotional dependency, to a certain degree, should be part of a normal, healthy relationship. Two people helping and supporting and loving one another. Having an investment in how the other person is doing on an emotional level.

On the other hand, codepence is about having TOO MUCH of yourself invested in that other person, to the point where you are trying to control or manipulate them (often with the best of intentions).

I love my partner. And when he's having a bad day, I'M having a bad day, because I care about him and his well being. BUT I don't feel that it's my responsibility to pick him up when he's feeling down - I'm simply there to support and love him until he figures out what he needs to do about he's feeling. And of course, it works the same way with me, when I'm feeling down.

Hope this makes sense...

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

ZenMom: I even watch Myth Busters! I feel so cool now :)

Emotionally invested yes, emotionally dependent? No.

SciFiDad: perceptive and I agree with u! :)

Anonymous said...

Well written points of view. Amen to Sci Fi Dad. I think it is important to define what it is meant by emotional dependency. I agree with what he said that emotions in a relationship are intertwined due to a bond the develops as time goes on - to the extent that if the other person is sad then the other one also feels a certain sadness. It called empathy. However, if we are talking dependency that the other person is emotionally incapacitated and largely dependent on the other for consistent, approval and validation then that can be very draining for the other and definitely a "weakness" that needs to explored. The approvals, compliments, validations that we seek sometimes have to come from within and is not largely dependent on one individual.

If what I wrote made sense, I will continue to drink... just kidding. Its only 1:20 p.m. in this part of the world.

Anonymous said...

Oh amen to momma sunshine too. Well said with the: "And when he's having a bad day, I'M having a bad day, because I care about him and his well being. BUT I don't feel that it's my responsibility to pick him up when he's feeling down - I'm simply there to support and love him until he figures out what he needs to do about he's feeling". THAT IS AWESOME.

Meagan said...

I was all about to agree with what she said and then I read what he said. I am in a completely healthy realtionship and get joy from people and things besides my hubby. I can also be proud of myself or do things that make myself happy. But I agree with what he said in that my husband and I are emotionally dependent on one another. If he is sad, mad, hurt, or happy, I feel it with him. We are married, we are one, that is how it is supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

I gotta say I never read so much about emotion. I think y'all are over thinking this thing. The whole self worth thing I don't get at all. Seems silly kinda. Seems like some psycho-babble.

I don't put any stock in emotion for myself but I see it on others, always seems to be a pretty big negative. I guess like everyone I have a tough time understanding things that aren't real to me. I'll never get the low self esteem or low self worth or lack of confidence.

I would hate to depend on anyone else for anything and surely not for those things.

Also Shelle I think those articles were pure damn Psycho Babble! I don't get why it matters or who designates who has the "power"?
The power of what? How you feel about yourself?

Its this simple people....

everyday you wake up you decide if you are going to make today a good day or a bad one. YOU decide if you are going to allow others to decide for you if you are happy or worthy!

Lay down on Big Daddy Sage's couch ladies I can make everything alright...

Unknown said...

I am going to have to go with DGB on this one... if I didn't want to have an emotional "dependency" with a partner...I would have stayed single.
I want him to want/need me... & I am pretty sure he feels the same. : )

Anonymous said...

@ American

Hmmm is want dependency? Hell I want, so hey maybe I'm in.

But need, nah, no need. A big ole bucket full o' want though!

Anonymous said...

I love commenting where few doods do many hot chicks do!

Anjeny said...

Ok, I am LOL ing at Sage and shaking my head at him. I'm sure you would never be able to get all this emotional stuff because like you said, it's something you've never experience but there are lowly mortals like ourselves, including myself who does go through this what you call emotional phsyco babble. I would say that it is commendible of you not to feel or have any emotions at all but then I would be lying because I do believe that everyone, including yourself, even if you keep telling us otherwise, do have some form of emotions. Case in both...your blogs or at least the one I read is full of emotions.

Definition of emotion:an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness

Can you honestly say that you have none of those describe what emotion is?

DGB said...

I agree with Mama Sunshine's statement, echoed by WannabeVirginia.

@Sage...As much as I'd like to agree with you that it's up to the person to make it a good day or a bad day, sometimes the fates just won't let a day be good.

Anjeny said...

As for the topic itself...both posters did a tremendous job. All the comments so far, with the exception of Sage(LOL)pretty much said what I wanted to say.

I agree with She said on the fact that depending on someone else for our total emotional well-being is not a healthy thing. Yet, I also agree with He said on his view, too.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Momma Sunshine: I think you have it backwards. Being co-dependent IS healthy. It means you share it equally. But one being mor emotionally dependent then the other is when you have the division of power.

WBV: exactly! And perfect word empathy! Empathizing is different from being dependent on someone emotionally.

AN-why would you need to be dependent on someone? Want you like Sage said is good. Needing you is not good. Being emotionally dependent is needing someone so much you can hardly stand alone.

Meagan: being dependent on them to a slight degree sure, and as long as the dependency is even.

Sage- self worth is important and I suggest you try to understand it a bit before your daughter get to much older. Because if it is not there for her she like most men and women who don't have the strength on their own tend to fall into bad relationships or in relationship where they are used.

And it is psycho babble. Duh.

Words on paper just like the psycho babble I read to one who want to work on their self worth...your words "you wake up and decide if you are going to make today a good day or a bad one. YOU decide if you are going to allow others to decidefor you if you are happy or worthy" are easily said. But for some missing that self worth, it is hard to do.

I have an incredible relationship and can say I'm a confident person. I'm emotionally involved in all of my relationships. The division of power, Sage, comes when the other party in the relationship isn't as emotionally involved. Emotionally dependent, to me, is allowing my vulnerability to be seen and not getting that reciprocated, yet staying in the relationship.

It isn't always bad or abusive or taken advantage of, but the person who is less emotional is less dependent and is therefore stronger emotionally in the relationship.

Having been the emotionally dependent one in the relationship before...I will always think it a weakness.

I think Momma Sunshine's word co-dependency is what all of you guys are stating as how a relationship is suppose to be... And I agree.

Thanks for the opinions guys! Keep them coming!

On my BB so thumbs hurt now :)

And sage u r right! We do have the prettiest commenters over here :)

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Oh Anjeny! Exactly! It is un-healthy.

And Sage is emotional about politics. You got him there ;)

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

And seriously guys... All fantastic comments even if you don't agree with me, ya bums! Hehehe

OneZenMom said...

I have a question.

On this dependent-codependent-independent sliding scale of emotional health and well-being ...

where does your relationship with your children fall?

Is my relationship with my children unhealthy because my happiness depends on theirs?

Momma Sunshine said...

When I used the word "co-dependent", I meant it in the "psychobabble" sense (to use Sage's word). In this sense of the word, it is an unhealthy behaviour.

It used to be used to describe the relationship that someone had with an addict, but is now used to describe a whole host of unhealthy behaviours within a relationship.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Momma Sunshine-aahh got it.

Yea, defined that way co-dependency is bad or not good.

But when studying marriage family relationships in college co-dependency was a good thing.

You put the needs of your partner above others as they do for you. It was a good thing. It didn't mean you gave yourself up, but just meant you thought of them often and wanted to do things for them.

Funny that it wasn't meant negative and now it's not such a good thing. But most things I read the people were dealing with addiction... like you stated.

So when I read what you wrote I instantly thought of co-parenting. Which is a good thing. it is sharing in the responsibility of your children with your partner whether one you are married to or divorced with.

So co-dependency in my eyes is a good opposite of being dependent because both partners share in the emotions and are involved together.

So we agree now that I have looked up what you meant! :)

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

ZenMom:"where does your relationship with your children fall?

Is my relationship with my children unhealthy because my happiness depends on theirs?"

This is my opinion.

My happiness does NOT depend on my children. I want them to be happy sure, I want them to have a great childhood sure. But I don't depend on that to be happy myself. When they cry, or are angry, or are mad at ME... I can still be happy.

They on the other hand are children. Their happiness is enter-twined with mine because they ARE dependent right now on me for all of their needs. EVEN their need of self worth. If I do my parenting job right then eventually they will find their own self worth... but right now I feed that for them I fill that bucket so to speak.

Emotional Dependency is being like a child in a relationship though because you need all of YOUR NEEDS fulfilled by your partner. Your emotions DEPEND on them.

And I agree... to a certain extent it is okay for a relationship to be dependent on your partner but if you can't depend mostly on yourself for that emotional security then you are doing yourself a disservice, and no I don't think it is healthy.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

So Momma Sunshine: Yes Codependency is the same as emotional Dependency! :)


From what I am reading.

How funny right?

DGB said...

I think it's a different story when talking about children. Our jobs as parents is to look out for the emotional well being of our kids (at least until they're teenagers, then all bets are off!).

OneZenMom said...

Shelle: "Emotional Dependency is being like a child in a relationship though because you need all of YOUR NEEDS fulfilled by your partner. Your emotions DEPEND on them."

I guess, as has been said, the point of dissension is with the definition of "dependent".

I think there is a spectrum. Is there a unhealthy end? Yes. But that doesn't mean that any "emotional dependency" is, per se, "bad".

I don't "depend" on my husband to fulfill all of my emotional needs. But I do count him as a huge factor of my emotional happiness and fulfillment.

Could I survive, even thrive, without him? Of course. But that doesn't mean he's dispensable.

Knowing that I don't NEED him to fulfill my every need doesn't mean I don't depend on him, emotionally.

I don't think it's necessary for one to give up "self" to be emotionally "dependent" on each other. They are not mutually exclusive.

In our relationship, we depend on each other for many things, both practical and emotional. Things that I would not choose to be without.

Does that make me "emotionally dependent"? By one definition, yes.

But it's not as far along the spectrum as your extreme example of a complete lack of Independence.

That's like saying that a SAH spouse who "depends" on the working spouse for income is "unhealthy" because they are not filling their needs on their own.

It's an oversimplification to just say "dependency is unhealthy" and stick to such a narrow definition.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Very well stated ZenMom.

Of course there is a spectrum and with these He Said She Said posts I think we understand that each issue isn't so easily defined.

As I've said before I believe that some emotional dependency is okay even natural. But in the general term I believe it to be a weakness.

The definitions in my post are what I based it on.

"Could I survive,even thrive, without him? Of course. But that doesn't mean he's dispensable." - and I would never imply that for any relationship because of course there is more involved than just this aspect of it. But you being able to do those things independent of him is healthy and what makes your relationship thrive. You choose to "to count him as a huge factor of your emotional happiness and fulfillment"

With someone emotionally dependent they don't choose they NEED it and FEEL as if they cannot thrive without it.

And u stated right here"KNOWING that I don't NEED him to fulfill my every need" you KNOW you don't need it so you can depend on it without being attached to that dependency.

And again here, "In our relationship we depend on each other dor many things", of course you do "...things that I would not CHOOSE to be without" again you choose it because you have every confidence that you could, if needed, be without it.

"But it is not as far along the spectrum as your extreme example of a complete lack of Independence" as it was an example and a way to prove what I meant, no your relationship is healthy and therefore not extreme... But to get my point across I went to the extreme.

But your example as the SAH spose and the working spouse doesn't work for me because they choose their predicament and it's a physical need not emotional. Controlling those emotions are difficult and we don't always get to choose how we deal with them at first.

Once recognized, as in the case of an emotional dependent person, they can work on themselves and their self worth and change to create a healthier relationship.

"It's an oversimplification to just say, 'dependency is unhealthy' and stick to such a narrow definition'"-- dependency isn't unhealthy, to me though emotional dependency IS Weak...which is what the question was asking.

I mever over simplify anything! Ask my hubs! So I kinda want to snatch that up as a compliment ;)

Thanks ZenMom! You definitely have extremely good points! :)

Kevin McKeever said...

Yep. "MythBusters" pretty much seals it for me.

Mae Rae said...

I have to agree with one of the comments farther up the list. I am sorry and by the time I got down here I forgot what I was going to say anyway...but to my point...

I really think that if you look at the original question and the answers that are given they somewhat need clarification. Dependency regardless of what it is for it not healthy.

I have been happily married for 18 years. Our emotional stability is completely seperate. When he is sad I don't feel the need to be sad, I feel the need to be supportive. When I am feeling sad I don't want him to have to feel the same way.

Joanna Cake said...

Apparently most relationships are unequal, there is always one partner more in love than another.

But perhaps it's more that one partner is able to (and likes to) express it, whereas the other is more repressed and restrained.

I think it's bad to keep emotions bottled up. If you love someone you should not be afraid to tell them because it might make them feel uncomfortable to receive your compliment.

Ruf and I are reading a great book, which I will write about a lot over the coming weeks. It is helping us to understand how we work as a couple and how the most important thing is to ensure that the two halves are happy rather than each depending on the other for that happiness.

So issues like emotions have to be discussed and if either partner needs to be told that they are loved in order to feel loved, then the other should help them to achieve this and start to address why it is that s/he finds it so difficult to give and receive such feelings.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Always Home and Uncool--you were easily swayed ;)

MaeRae and Joanna Cake--I think you guys said it a lot better than I. But I agree with you guys. Thanks :)

That book sounds interesting Joanna, love to know the title! :)

Joanna says:

"It is helping us to understand how we work as a couple and how the most important thing is to ensure that the two halves are happy rather than each depending on the other for that happiness." Is basically what I am trying to say, but I did not say it so well! :)

MaeRae says: "Our emotional stability is completely seperate. When he is sad I don't feel the need to be sad, I feel the need to be supportive. When I am feeling sad I don't want him to have to feel the same way." Yes yes yes! That is what I mean! Strength is in finding it yourself and then sharing it with a partner by choice because you are confident enough that you can.

April said...

WOW! I haven't been here in a while and now we are analyzing our relationships? CRAP! He's fine, I'm a mess but he puts up with me. But I have him fooled. Oh, I'm supposed to debate...I agree with both of you. And Sage made me laugh...again.

stupid smart girl said...

I got tired reading all the incredibly intelligent and lengthy comments and gave up, so forgive me if I repeat something that's already been said. :P

In my own marriage, I used to be much more emotionally dependent on my husband than I am now. I think I have become more healthy in recent years, and happier as a result. I don't need my husband's constant approval to feel good about myself anymore.

One result of this is that I sometimes do things that he does not like, and it seems to bother him. I think he liked it when I was dependent on him and bent over backwards to make him happy at my own expense, and now that things have changed, he's feeling insecure in the relationship. Strangely enough, when I'm happiest, he struggles. I don't get it.

So for me, improving my emotional health has been great for me, but it has seriously rocked the boat in my marriage.

We're still working on it. I have hope that things will improve as he in turn becomes more healthy emotionally, but there are days when I wonder if it's worth it.

Joanna Cake said...

Shelle, please feel free to delete if Im taking a liberty by publishing the link :)

It's called The Mastery of Love and this is my link to it. If anyone does decide to order it, Id be really grateful if they used my link... newly separated woman of a certain age who needs to achieve financial independence asap :)

Many thanks x

Ruf has been reading it to me over the telephone as a bedtime story and we discuss what it means to us and how we can use it to make our relationship work. We're only four chapters in and already we understand things so much more clearly.