Recently in the chat room here on Submissive Guide, there has been a discussion about emotional dependence on our Dominants and the relationship. Just about every relationship has to have interdependence in order to thrive. After all, if we continue to maintain an independent life there's really no development of a relationship is there? In D/s relationships emotional dependence can be seen in both healthy and unhealthy relationships but it manifests in separate ways.
The first thing I had to do was to research what emotional dependence was to the extent that it would become a positive thing as well as a negative thing to the relationship. Emotional dependence is when the ongoing presence of nurturing is believed to be necessary or vital for personal security. In other words, when your care for someone else begins to intertwine into your ability to function you can consider yourself dependent on them emotionally to support you.
This necessary attachment can develop into a positive reinforcing factor in the relationship or it can lead to a one-sided worship of one of the partners that can fracture the foundation.
Are you Emotionally Dependent? Go through this checklist to find out.
In a Negative Environment
Often when we are emotionally dependent on someone, we are looking to them as a ‘filler’ to cover over and distract us from unresolved emotional issues in ourselves. One is typically looking to get good feelings from the outside instead of inside. This can develop into substance abuse, gambling, eating disorders, and many other things in order to feel adequate and worthy. An unhealthy development of attachment can appear is one party being overly-needy, clingy, attention seeking and driven easily to jealousy.
In an example, submissive exhibiting signs of over attachment would appear glued to the hip of their Dominant while the Dominant constantly encourages them to seek interaction with others, personal space or privacy. It can also be visible in submissives who have huge issues functioning alone when left to their own devices due to a Dominant's work or other situations that separate them and they resort to binge eating to cope.
What can eventually happen is that the submissive will begin to exhibit worship-like behaviors with the Dominant. While I can't see any Dominant not enjoying a bit of worship, it can get out of control, leaving the submissive with no personal regard for their life and focusing solely on the Dominant. The Dominant in the relationship becomes like their god, granting them the privilege to eat, sleep and piss on their command.
(It may become apparent that I'm against utter and total control of a person to that extent as I feel it takes away the human factor and leads to abusive situations.)
In a Positive Environment
When in a healthy relationship, emotional dependence is a balancing act. It's not uncommon for utterly smitten couples to say, "s/he completes me," or "s/he is my yin to my yang." I think every relationship has some interdependence to it. A healthy co-dependence exhibits signs that each partner is able to feel their own self-worth and that the love between them is a by-product of their connection. A positive environment is one full of love and self-worth, with each partner coming together overflowing of that love. They have responsibility for their emotions and are not needing someone to fulfill them. In this aspect, they can feel more "in love" than "in need of love."
You have to be careful with the balance, however. There is a danger of too much of a good thing and both partners become emotionally dependent on each other. These couples become enmeshed. Enmeshment is a type of relationship in which poorly defined boundaries cause two people to become “so blended together that neither can be very sure where he or she stops and the other begins.
In the end, we have to love ourselves first and find our own self-worth before we can seek out someone to share that with. If you think you need a Dominant in order to be happy then think first about how you can build the love within you so that you can share it with a Dominant rather than possibly relying on them to identify you as submissive. Take responsibility for your emotional self and live happily.
Did you do the checklist? Are there red flags for you that you want to work on? Care to share your thoughts on emotional dependency?