Understanding the origin of your unhealthily dependent relationships also figures high in dismantling them and steering you towards a mutually satisfying connection to someone you can trust and who can trust you. Sometimes this means looking into the past at the family situation in which you learned this behavior. And sometimes that’s painful. But like with any emotional injury, it won’t heal until you explore and understand its origin. Learning to balance give and take, developing a sense of autonomy, and being able to set limits or boundaries is a critical part of a successful and rewarding relationship. If you are someone who thinks you can’t get through without someone else helping you, discovering that indeed you can will be liberating. If you are someone who is too eager and ready to “help” someone else (a partner, a child, a friend) because of your experience and knowledge about what’s best for them, you can start by pulling back and allowing others to make their own mistakes. You won’t save them from themselves by always coming to the rescue. When you find yourself becoming resentful about all the help you’re giving (at your own expense), you can learn to say no. Being withdrawn or detached, or being with someone who is withdrawn or detached, presents its own set of challenges. If you never ask for help, you can come to understand that doing so does not mean you are helpless, and does not cast shame on you. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or bad or unaccomplished. It just means that in this particular situation, you could use a little help. No one is perfect, we’re just human. Being with someone who is unconnected and not able ever to ask for help will require a lot of patience and understanding on your part of just how difficult and shameful that feels. Being able to feel, and honestly and openly express your emotions, as well as take responsibility for them will enrich your personal relationships beyond measure. Being able to lean on someone else yet know you are still yourself with your own desires and capacities is a goal to aspire to. Balancing closeness with independence, trust and vulnerability with confidence and commitment will make for rewarding relationships. If you keep finding yourself in situations like those just described, those patterns are probably pretty ingrained. Turning them around won’t be quick or easy, but it can happen. Therapy can help. From an on-line article by Katherine Rabinowitz, LP, M.A., NCPsyA

“Guilt is a destructive and ultimately pointless emotion.” – Lynn Crilly


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