21 Ways To Overcome Emotional Dependency: Fix The Root Cause

Steffo Shambo

Updated on Aug 11, 2023
emotional dependency

You didn’t choose emotional dependency.

No one does — it’s painful to love someone while feeling terrified they’ll leave because you’re too needy, too much, or not enough. It’s exhausting and leads to toxic relationships. The good news is that there is a light at the end of the dependency tunnel.

We’re not going to give you bandage steps to heal emotional dependency here. Instead, it’s time to heal the root cause and finally be able to enjoy an epic love life.

What is emotional dependency?

Emоtiоnаl dереndеnсу is a реrѕоnаlitу diѕоrdеr that presents in people with lоw ѕеlf-wоrth as соnѕtаntlу ѕееking ѕесuritу in оthеrs, оr in еxtеrnаl fасtоrѕ. Those struggling with emotional dependency find it difficult to trust both themselves and others.

It almost invariably occurs during childhood, when a сhild iѕ nоt given the love they need from their primary caregiver, parents, siblings, or other people in their immediate circle.

When this child feels unloved or does not receive the type of love they need, it gеnеrаtеѕ lоw self-esteem, and this tends to augment during their teenage years.

As an adult, еmоtiоnаl dереndеnce causes a person to please others, put their own needs last, or assume a submissive role all to maintain relationship ties. The loss of a relationship is a tеrrifуing рrоѕресt, and the constant fear оf rеjесtiоn can cause high emotional distress.

What is an example of emotional dependency?

asian couple with backs turned on each other

John is a young man who struggles with emotional dependency. He has been in a relationship with his girlfriend for a year and falls deeply in love with her. However, he becomes highly anxious whenever she spends time with her friends or family without him. He constantly texts and calls her, seeking reassurance that she still loves him and won’t leave him. As a result, John feels lost and anxious when his girlfriend is not with him and depends on her to manage his emotions.

His emotional dependency has started to take a real toll on his relationship. His constant need for reassurance makes his girlfriend feel suffocated and overwhelmed. John realizes his emotional dependency is unhealthy and seeks help to break the pattern.

With support and knowledge, John tackles the root cause of the issue, which stems back to when his mother yelled at him for crying and pushed him away when he needed soothing. He learned in later years that she suffered from anxiety and didn’t have to resources within to be there for him emotionally as a child.


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What are the types of emotional dependency?

1. Familial emotional dependence

Often happens when parents impart their high states of anxiety onto their child who then learn to take on an excessive fear of the world.

2. Couple emotional dependence

This type runs on the belief that romantic relationships are their single life’s purpose, and they would suffer loneliness without the relationship. Emotionally dependent people in this category often harbor insecurities and may assume they are helpless, and so need their partner to feel safe in the world.

3. Social emotional dependence

Here, we see an excessive need to be recognized in social settings, including the online world. Social rejection puts this person into a state of panic and is to be avoided at all costs. Although they may appear confident, many men in this category are, in fact, people pleasers.

What are the symptoms of emotionally dependent people?

black man depressed facing the window

Here are 15 key signs and symptoms of an emotionally dependent person:

  1. Procrastinating on making important decisions
  2. Seeking rеаѕѕurаnсе
  3. Low self-esteem
  4. Toxic and/or addictive relationships
  5.  Difficulty being alone
  6. Blaming others when things go wrong
  7. Difficulty in committing to things or making decisions
  8. Oversensitivity to criticism
  9. Pessimism
  10. Fear of abandonment
  11. Frequently asking for advice but not taking it on board
  12. Seeking sympathy often
  13. Idolizing their partners
  14. Sudden changes in mood or outbursts of sadness or anger
  15. Somatic symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, or stomach issues

Tips for overcoming emotional dependency

While we’ll focus on the 21 best ways to overcome emotional dependency below, these three tips are pivotal in beginning the healing process.

Realize that dependence is not love and never can be

Your emotional dependence prevents you from experiencing genuine connection and love.

Recognize the problem

Nothing changes if nothing changes. Discover the root cause of emotional dependency and begin to heal and transform your connection patterns.

Devote time to your overall well-being

Practicing yoga, mindfulness, eating healthy, and prioritizing your own emotional needs will help you move away from old dependency habits.

How do I break emotional dependency?

Here are my 21 best ways to break and overcome emotional dependency on a root cause level:

1. Recognize when you feel more emotionally dependent

couple intensely arguing

With emotional dependency, specific triggers will make them seek emotional support.

Your task is to find what these are — because without this crucial information, you will likely be blindsided when you fall into old habits when emotional distress kicks off.

2. Cultivate self-compassion when you feel needy

You don’t always need another person to give you compassion. In fact, learning how to practice self-compassion and forming a regular practice is a powerful way to tame your inner critic and build confidence.

3. Stop leaving уоur hаррinеѕѕ up to others

“Your wound is probably not your fault, but your healing is your responsibility” are the wise words of poet Denise Frohman.

Similarly, your mental health and sense of contentment are your own to look after. That doesn’t mean you can’t call on people for emotional support, but ensuring your happiness is not their task.

4. Devote time to re-parenting

Re-parenting is an invaluable tool.

If you didn’t get what you needed from your parents growing up, perhaps your childhood holds a lot of traumatic experiences.

Your hurt inner child can be the root cause of a lot of pain and disconnect in your adult life. Learning ways to re-parent yourself is an incredible step forward.

With loving intention and positive self-talk, you can begin to heal and resolve any past hurts that your inner child carries to this day.

5. Start getting to know your vulnerable self

couple talking to their family about their issues

Your vulnerable self is a powerful ally. It is responsible for keeping you real, human, empathetic, and true to yourself in this world.

Your vulnerable self will feel safer expressing itself once you become consistent with tending to your own emotional needs. Not only will this bring an incredible sense of freedom, but you’ll also find yourself seeking reassurance less often.

6. Remove pedestals from your relationships

Feeling worthless or less worthy than others is a symptom of emotional dependency. With that comes the fear that you can’t let your partner down along with the need to agree on everything.

But here’s the truth: a romantic relationship cannot thrive without seeing your partner as fundamentally human.

Idolizing your partner severs true connection and pressures them to live up to these high expectations.

7. Practice self-support

All of that negative self-talk about being “too needy” is never something you’d direct at another person. Not if you had any care for their well-being.

Learning how to reprogram the subconscious mind will help you retrain neural pathways so you can be there for yourself through thick and thin.

Note: self-support is essential but doesn’t replace our social needs, so this isn’t a loophole to becoming a hermit!

8. Devote yourself to breathwork

Emotional dependency can take its toll over time, causing muscle tension and even stomach distress. Here are three breathing techniques for stress and anxiety.

9. Accept and address any addictions

Addictions are a response to trauma. The most effective path to break free is to improve your mental health and gain emotional independence. For many a man, recovering from porn addiction for good can reduce emotional dependency for good.

10. Understand your needs are your own to tend to

Poor self-care leads to a lackluster relationship.

So, it’s important to check the signs to see if you’re emotionally needy in your sex life. Relationships become all work and no play if you’re not prioritizing your own emotional needs.


Boost your confidence, master your sexuality, and find your purpose.

So you can reignite the passion in your relationship or attract your perfect woman.

11. Nurture self-respect

When was the last time you felt free from self-criticism?

It’s not normal or healthy to live your life beating yourself up.

Spending time boosting your self-confidence reduces those constant feelings of loneliness or neediness.

12. Explore existing self-destructive childhood patterns

Many, many emotionally dependent behaviors stem from when you were really young. You’ll possibly have quite a few memories of when your emotional needs were shot down, ignored, or even shamed. When the intense feelings of emotional abandonment follow you into your adult life — it’s time to heal.

13. Find your assertive responsibility

Take full responsibility for your own choices. Refine your coping tools, and get used to spending time — fulfilling, quality time — alone.

14. Bring fun back into your relationship

sweet black couple in the dining table

Bring fun and sexiness back into the relationship. Use these sexy intimate questions to ask your girlfriend to bring lightness and joy into your connection.

15. Spend time calming reckless impulsivity

Look to your previous relationships for reference here. Did you run away the moment things got tough? Did you run hot and cold?

Self-fulfillment can’t come if you’re not acting from your center. Being emotionally independent means that you’re no longer controlled by your impulsivity.

16. Allow others to live their own lives

Why do you need to be in charge, in any way, of someone’s life?

Is it underlying anger or fear? Acknowledge it, don’t beat yourself up, and make a pact with yourself to be more self-aware in any urges to dictate how other people live. This is just the beginning of the path to develop your masculine energy.

17. Heal blocks to your contentment

Quit suppressing, and address unpleasant feelings. And let happiness in — often with emotional dependence, a person fears happiness. They’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, which wreaks havoc on your well-being.  

18. Prioritize your mental health

man meditating in the grassy field

It’s time to find a healthy balance. Work on healing interdependent relationships and relieving an unhealthy level of dependence. You really do have the power to find full emotional health and freedom.

19. Seek different relationships for different experiences.

One person cannot be your village. This is a recipe for interdependent relationships. Plus, it only increases levels of obsessive fear around dependency. Having a tribe of nourishing, like-minded people will ease these feelings of distress.

20. Become integrated and authentic

If you’re done with being a dependent person with low self-esteem, then you’re ready to learn how to be an authentic person.

21. Seek help

If you feel rejected, fear losing those around you, are crippled by low self-esteem, or just know deep down that you’re struggling with emotional dependency — then it’s time to become emotionally secure and find true happiness. In the next section, we have a solution for you.


Emotional dependency isn’t easy — it’s a tough way to go through life.

And the truth is you didn’t choose this — it’s a result of not being emotionally met often during childhood.

By now, you’re well equipped on the ways to build your self-worth and become emotionally dependent. You also know the root cause of emotional dependency. But for many to make lasting shifts — support from an expert is incredibly effective.

So, if you have trouble meeting and keeping a romantic partner, you will learn essential wisdom in this free masterclass for men to attract love.

And if you’re looking to transform yourself and your relationship, here’s the masterclass to reignite love.


What causes emotional dependency?

Emotional dependence stems from insecurity, childhood experiences, trauma, and a lack of healthy relationships.

How do I stop emotional dependency?

Emotionally dependent people can work towards building self-esteem and self-worth. They can also seek professional help to address any underlying trauma or issues.

How do I know if I have emotional dependency?

An emotionally dependent person will constantly seek reassurance and approval from others. They also struggle to make decisions without seeking input from others and feel anxious when left alone. Finally, they feel an intense fear of abandonment or rejection.

Is emotional dependence toxic?

In short, yes. Your emotional health suffers when you constantly seek outward for validation, love, and acceptance — a certain portion of this needs to stem from within for emotional freedom.


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Steffo Shambo

Steffo Shambo

Men's Tantric Relationship Coach

I am the founder of The Tantric Man Experience™, a pioneering transformational coaching program for men. With over 1500 hours of certified tantra training in India and Thailand and 7 years of experience helping hundreds of men worldwide save their marriages and reignite passion in their love lives.

I have over 8 million views on YouTube and have been featured on VICE and Newstalk Radio for my life’s work - helping men unleash their full masculine potential.

My holistic FLT method seamlessly integrates ancient tantric philosophy with my modern expertise in relationships, sexuality, dating, and men’s health.

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