Emotional hooks: why do they occur and how to avoid them?

If you confuse love with emotional hookups, you can live in relationships that make you suffer enormously. Find out how to detect and avoid them.

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: February 26, 2022

Love is a noble and elevated feeling that makes your life fuller. However, frequently what is nothing more than emotional hookups is labeled as love and unbalanced relationships that only cause suffering. Why do you end up involved in this type of dynamic? Can you do something to get out of that painful circle? Next, we tell you more about it.

It has been found that more than 49% of people declare to suffer from emotional dependency; the proportion of women is much higher than that of men. These figures make it clear that people do not always know how to love, that many couples live installed in dissatisfaction if not in abuse. Emotional hookups are a very present reality; but how can you combat it?

Why do emotional hooks occur?

Couples with harmful dynamics often have periods of great rapport and attention, and others of disinterest.

From the outside, it can be hard to understand why a person stays in a relationship that makes them unhappy, doesn’t meet their needs, and causes them so much damage. However, these types of harmful links have dynamics that make them perpetuate.

Usually, the dependent person’s partner applies what is known in psychology as “intermittent reinforcement”; that is, they offer attention, affection, appreciation and support only occasionally and in an unpredictable and inconsistent way.

This generates an enormous emotional bond in the other person that leads them to tolerate indifference or ill-treatment in the hope that at any moment they will receive that reinforcement of love again.

The effect of intermittent reinforcement has been extensively studied, concluding that it is one of the most effective techniques for maintaining a behavior. Obviously, if the person always treated her partner badly, it would be easy for her to open her eyes and leave the relationship. However, it’s this lack of control between good and bad that gets you stuck.



What people can fall into these types of dynamics?

No one is really exempt from being involved in these harmful relationships, but it is true that there are people more prone and vulnerable. In general, they usually present these characteristics:

  • They have an ambivalent attachment style. In childhood, his primary caregiver failed to meet his childhood needs consistently and instead acted unpredictably, offering love and support at times and hostility at others. Thus, the person lives in constant alert in his relationships trying to make sure that he will receive what he needs, but without trusting that it will happen.
  • They are people with low self-esteem and poor self-concept. On a conscious or unconscious level, they do not consider themselves worthy or worthy of affection and respect; for this, they tolerate the intolerable.
  • They have difficulty asserting their opinions, feelings and needs. They have a great fear of rejection, abandonment and loneliness, and tend to be excessively accommodating.
  • They pour all their time and energy into the coupleThey even give him what he doesn’t ask for and try to “fix his life.” However, this apparently altruistic behavior actually seeks to generate a debt in the other to demand that they offer the recognition that the other needs.

How to avoid emotional hooks?

To avoid emotional hookups, you have to move the focus of the other and place it on yourself. It is essential stop blaming the partner, get out of the victim position and take responsibility: the work has to be done with oneself.

The goal is to find what leads you to choose self-centered, narcissistic and emotionally unavailable partners, and to stay in relationships that cause you suffering. Some actions you can take in this regard are the following.

Loving and valuing yourself is essential to avoid emotional hookups… or get rid of them.

Recognize the emotional hook

Although it can be painful, it is important to recognize that you have an emotional hook in order to take action on it. So, pay attention to the following signs:

  • Do you feel that you love your partner more? than she to you, and this leads you to feel fear, to give in and to be complacent in order not to lose her company.
  • The relationship is unbalanced; that is, you invest more than you receive and you feel that your opinions and wishes are not taken into account.
  • You experience mixed and very intense feelings in front of your partner. On the one hand, you love her; on the other, you hate her. This polarization is a sign of instability and an unhealthy bond.
  • Thinking about leaving your partner or that they break the bond causes you enormous anxiety and a terrible fear. Although the relationship makes you suffer, you feel unable to move forward on your own.

Work self-esteem and deserving

It is important that you begin to cultivate your self-esteem and build a solid self-esteem. Check what you think of yourself, the way you talk to yourself and what you tolerate in your life. Making changes in this regard by yourself can be complicated, so perhaps professional support will help you with this goal.



Prioritize yourself and stop indulging

To get out of emotional hooks, you have to make the decision to place yourself in a priority position and start acting accordingly. This means get used to listening to your needs and emotions, and always attending to them first. Think of everything you do for the person you love and do it with yourself first.

Set limits and be assertive

To stop participating in unbalanced, toxic or abusive relationships, you have to learn to set limits. For this, you can resort to assertive communication and practice it frequently. It invites you to express with respect, but firmly, what you believe, feel and need. It allows you to say no, make requests, and protect your integrity without fear.

be willing to let go

This last part is the most complex, but one of the most necessary. To avoid emotional hookups, you have to be willing to let go. There are many advantages to having a partner, and you may love the other person deeply. Nevertheless, You have to be open to the possibility that the relationship ends and know that you can move on.

It is precisely the fear of change, abandonment and loneliness that binds you to the relationship even if it damages you. Thus, being willing to let go when the bond is no longer healthy prevents emotional dependence.

Psychotherapy can help you get out of emotional hooks

Getting out of an addictive relationship and learning to relate in a healthy way is not at all easy. It is not just about making the decision to change, but about you have to have the necessary resources, tools and support.

Frequently, professional support is essential, because you cannot forget that this is the way of bonding that you have learned and know no other way. Many times, there are past emotional wounds to heal. So if you find yourself in this situation, do not hesitate to start a process of psychotherapy.

You might be interested…