What It Means to Be Emotionally Dependent
Being emotionally dependent is all about looking to others to meet one’s emotional needs. Now, human beings are inherently social creatures. So, we all need relationships. There’s nothing wrong or unhealthy about that. Moreover, as children we’re necessarily dependent. We need bigger and more powerful folks to care for us and tend to our needs. But becoming a healthy adult is largely about learning how to take proper care of ourselves. And failing to acquire the skills necessary to do that is what so often leads to emotional dependency.
Emotionally dependent individuals tend to gravitate toward those who appear strong, confident, capable, etc. And these days, all too often that can mean gravitating toward someone possessing some degree and type of narcissism. On the front end of the relationship with such a person, things can seem wonderful. All your needs appear satisfied, especially your needs to feel safe, protected, valued, etc. But as time goes on, abuse and exploitation becomes increasingly inevitable. That’s because narcissists can’t really love, at least not in a healthy way. Even their love for themselves is pathological. Sadly, however, some of the behaviors they might display early on can seem a whole lot like love. And that’s what lures you in. (See also: Abuse Victims Mistake Interest for Regard.)
Emotional Dependence is NOT Codependency
You can find a lot of information these days about how and why narcissists and so-called “codependents” attract. But most of the time, when authors use the term “codependent,” they do so erroneously. The codependent label is often ascribed to emotionally dependent individuals. So why be nit-picky about such a small distinction in terms, you might ask? Well, for starters, codependency is a genuine phenonomenon. And it has certain definable characteristics, requiring specific understanding and intervention. Emotional dependency is something else. And NOBODY understands it better than a narcissist. Narcissists readily see self-serving opportnity with the emotionally dependent.
Different Narcissists, But the Same Trap
As I point out in Character Disturbance, like all disturbed characters, narcissists vary as to type and degree. That is, there are different kinds of narcissists, each possessing a somewhat different brand of pathology. And just how seriously disordered such folks are varies, too. Nonetheless, narcissists are always trouble in relationships.
Just how emotionally dependent folks get trapped has a lot to do with what kind of narcissist to whom they might be most easily drawn. The trap itself is always the same: someone appears to satisfy an unmet need or two. But just how the trap gets laid is a bit more complex.
Folks unsure of their worth may be inherently affirmation-needy. And any self-respecting narcissist is likely to appreciate this fact. So, an amorous narcissist, for example, might pour on the attention and adulation. In so doing, they effectively seduce. A grandiose narcissist, on the other hand, only has to brandish his or her sense of power and self-assurance. This is inherently attractive to the person lacking confidence.
Some Important Items
The second live broadcast of Character Matters will be Thursday October 7. It will be a YouTube live event. Look for a post on the event on the blog in the next week or so. And the time will be posted on my YouTube channel as well as in the article and on the Character Matters page.
Click on the link that follows to access the latest Character Matters podcast Relationship Deception – Pt 2.