Affective dependence, when loving means suffering

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Affective dependence when loving means suffering

We can assume that love will bring us happiness, sharing, balance, intimacy, authenticity, but sometimes love translates into suffering, especially when there is affective dependence.

Affective dependence: when to love is to depend

Perhaps in your life you have had relationships in which you have always given ‘too much’ for fear of losing it, for fear of never being enough, for fear of not being accepted, compromising the relationship with yourself.

You have suffocated your needs, you have not accepted them, nor listened because you did not consider them important, you have always sacrificed yourself for love, for the other, for suffering. Perhaps because it is what you learned in your childhood, perhaps because you experienced emotional abandonment from your family, perhaps because you grew up in a troubled family.

Regardless of the reasons, your love relationships have always been a source of discomfort for you and often bankruptcy.

We speak of ‘affective dependence’, classified within the ‘new addictions’, of a behavioral type.

Reynaud’s group (Reynaud, Karila, Blecha & Benyamina, 2010), based on the similarities found with substance addiction, proposes a diagnostic definition of love addiction:

Signs that you suffer from affective dependence

A maladaptive or problematic pattern of dating leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, manifested by three (or more) of the following criteria (occurring at all times, in the same 12-month period, for the first five criteria ):

  1. Existence of an abstinence syndrome due to the absence of a loved one, characterized by significant suffering and a compulsive need for the other;
  2. Considerable amount of time spent on this relationship (in reality or in thought);
  3. Reduction of important social, professional or leisure activities;
  4. Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to reduce or control the relationship;
  5. Search for the relationship, despite the existence of problems created by it;
  6. Existence of attachment difficulties, manifested by any of the following:
    (a) repeated and intense love relationships, without any period of lasting attachment;
    (b) repeated and painful love relationships, characterized by insecure attachment.

Perhaps also due to a cultural issue, it is customary to think that in love the more you suffer, the more you love, that suffering is the measure of your degree of love.

How to get out of dependency

During falling in love there is a very strong fusion phase and a certain degree of addiction is normal. When the need of the other becomes omnipresent, to the point that every thought and every gesture is focused on him, you could be suffering from affective dependence.

This leads you to the loss of yourself, your individuality and uniquenessyou will continue to put aside your needs -as you may have learned in childhood- to ‘take care’ of the other.

To have a healthy and satisfying relationship, you must recognize yourself as a separate individual, respecting and accepting each other mutually.
Each of us is different and deserves to be loved for who we are.

Do not insist on maintaining a relationship that hurts you, rather ask for help from a psychotherapist.

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