The fear of abandonment as a couple is a common cause of anguish and restlessness in an important part of the population. In fact, it is an emotion that splashes numerous couples, who hides an increasingly relevant psychological construct and present in the establishment and maintenance of relationships: emotional dependence.
What is emotional dependency?
The need for social relations and bonding with others is consubstantial to the human being. Satisfying it in a healthy way is vitally important for achieving a strong identity, able to trust others and with a tendency to adequate self-concept; without anguish over a hypothetical rejection or abandonment (Bornstein, Geiselman, Eisenhart, and Languirand, 2002).
However, when this need is exorbitant and absolute, relationships lose their healthy status and acquire a negative character for the subsequent establishment of a couple. This exaggerated need for bonding is the one that arouses the fear of abandonment by the couple, an uncontrollable fear because of a distance that is always seen as imminent.
Authors such as Urbiola and collaborators (2017) define people with emotional dependence like this:
- With a tendency to experience anxiety and anguish.
- Very preponderant to a couple breakup.
- With desires of control over others, especially the couple.
- An inner emptiness that cannot be filled with any other person.
- Discomfort and intransigence to loneliness.
- Prioritization of the couple over anything else.
- Idealization of the people on which it depends.
- With the constant need to please others.
- Very low self esteem.
The exaggerated need for bonding is the one that arouses the fear of abandonment by the couple.
What does it mean to be afraid of abandonment in the couple?
The fear of abandonment is the foundation on which emotional dependence is erected and all behavioral expressions that are carried out accordingly. That fear is so intense and so appalling that It makes the couple's relationship difficult for both parties. The person with excessive and preponderant fear of abandonment carries out suffocating behaviors to make sure that they will not abandon him.
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Look at the phone and ask "I love you"
Some of these behaviors are checking and controlling what is happening around them – they are people who do not tolerate ambivalence well. This can lead the dependent person to asphyxiate their partner with these checking behaviors, They can range from checking their social networks or their messages on the mobile, asking the couple with whom they speak at any moment or needing an immediate response to the messages.
In turn, they are usually people who understand that the non-appearance of a "I love you" is synonymous with not wanting. Thus, They are constantly checking that the feelings of their partners have not changed. They ask if they are loved, if they continue to like them, if they are bored, if their partner is looking for something else, if they are loved again and so on. The affirmative answer to these questions does not prevent them from being asked again.
Never alone (or for you to go out for dinner)
Along the same lines, and as a consequence of the dread of being abandoned, people with fear of abandonment as a couple or with emotional dependence never want to be alone or feel alone. They avoid any situation where they can feel that abandonment, and therefore they are restrictive people.
Do not forget, as mentioned above, they usually have a very negative self-concept of themselves and very low self-esteem. They see the threat of abandonment in every situation, in every person, in every moment.
Desires of exclusivity
Low self-esteem does not allow them to be uncompromising and violent in their requests, since they do not want to lose their partner. Thus, they are not usually people who impose, but emotionally unstable. This means that if your partner goes out with his friends or goes on vacation with them, he surely does not forbid it.
However, he will call his partner ten times a day with a sunken mood and In the previous weeks you will experience serious feelings of anguish and anxiety in the face of fear of abandonment, rupture or loneliness. ANDThis can lead to the partner of the dependent person not making those plans more because of the emotional consequences that can happen to the other.
The deterioration of the relationship as a result of fear of abandonment
Needless to say, with all the behavioral, cognitive and emotional components that arise as a result of the fear of abandonment as a couple, it does not usually come out very well. There is usually a clear deterioration of the couple or a toxic relationship, unbalanced and unbalanced. Living with a person with emotional dependence often means having to pay a toll that never stops and that becomes increasingly expensive.
Not only can it cause the couple to exhaust their patience or submit to the demands of the dependent person. Although living under that yoke is undoubtedly something that does not fit the relationship, many times your desire to please and satisfy your partner they cause the couple to assume a series of behaviors.
The couple is used to having the dependent person put everything first. So, if the foundations of the relationship have been built from emotional dependence, it is very difficult for the couple not to wait to be put before them. Therefore, he ends up participating in the emotional dependence of his partner, and the fear of abandonment becomes pathological in one and profitable in another.
One of the consequences of fear of abandonment is the deterioration of the relationship.
The real problem of emotional dependence: gender violence
According to the Andalusian Institute of Sexology and Psychology, In Spain, dependent persons are 49% of all those interviewed. In its most clinically significant version, 8 percent. Most of the individuals in this group were women.
What is especially disturbing about this picture is that it has an incidence in young people aged 16 to 31 years of 24%. In addition, 74% are women and 25% men. These data suggest that, no doubt, it is an eminent problem in the young population. Therefore, it is essential to develop programs aimed at young people for the promotion of mental health.
The aforementioned is relevant because authors such as Amor and Echeburúa (2010) find emotional dependence on the couple as an emotional characteristic in women who suffer sexist violence.
It is a problem that is usually presented in large informational newspapers, especially related to violence in interpersonal relationships and abuse, denouncing the reality of 25% of girls between 16 and 19 years: they have already been and have felt controlled by their partners.
Others say that the increase in cases of emotional dependence in young people develops by leaps and bounds, to extremely worrying degrees. Although there are campaigns and intervention programs to work with emotionally dependent population, barely any prevention plans have been prepared prior to its appearance.
Also read: 5 warning signs of an emotionally abusive relationship
Prevention plans for emotional dependence
The literature review suggests a series of risk factors and characteristics of people with emotional dependence that can be prevented, trained and improved from a very young age, in response to this epidemic in young people during their first couple establishments. Some of those factors are:
- Scarce social skills and lack of assertiveness.
- Rigid beliefs about romantic love.
- External control locus.
- Low self-esteem.
In the case of gender violence, if factors such as assertiveness, social skills or emotional strength and high self-esteem, it will be much less likely for a teenager to become emotionally dependent on her partner or establish relationships with an emotionally dependent peer.
Prevention plans are postulated as weapons for not accepting the behavior of those with fear of abandonment and emotional dependence; as well as not being emotionally dependent on anyone.