Being dependent on your partner and the compromises that destroy us

We choose our partner according to the way we are at a certain point. We fall in love with either a person who is similar to us concerning our beliefs, values, life vision, or a person who "completes" us - that we believe has all those qualities that we don’t see in ourselves or haven’t yet developed. The choice of a life partner is also influenced by our childhood models - parents, teachers, or other people with whom we have had a relationship during the time we grew up.

Most of the times, choosing a life partner is a decision more or less unconscious, and therefore it may be quite problematic in the partners’ future relationship. There are many people who choose their wife / husband according to the similarity they have with one of their parents, who are validated models in their unconscious. The mother was authoritarian, critical, manipulative, but at the same time she showed care and love for her child. Such a child may tend to believe, unconsciously, that love is normal to be accompanied by imposition, criticism and manipulation, and may be attracted to a person who has all these characteristics. In the absence of self-consciousness, of a process of self-knowledge and personal development, the individual will tend to reiterate in his adult life those things that are not good for him.

For example, a person whose personality has been inhibited during childhood, who has been raised in fear, manipulation, by inducing him feelings of guilt or shame, who has been repeatedly told that he isn’t good enough and he has to obey others, will tend to look for a partner to become dependent on him.  He will seek for a self-confident, strong person who manifests his personality even through aggression, and who likes others to do what he says. For example, it is the case of those women who weren’t allowed to express or develop their personality, who had an authoritarian parent and who choose a spouse to dominate them, to inspire them safety, who takes responsibility for their existence and direct their lives. They will be more than pleased to live for and through their husband / family as this will confirm the life script they wrote in childhood, influenced by the authoritarian parents. Even though their husband will mentally or physically abuse them, they will accept all these because somehow it’s the “normality” with which they are used to. Moreover, they will not want their partner to give them too much freedom because they wouldn’t know what to do with it and they would feel insecure. They have never had the time (perhaps they didn’t  even think about it) to become self-conscious, autonomous human beings in all aspects of their life. They weren’t allowed to be so in their family, and then, when it was time to leave home, they quickly got married with someone who gave them that sense of familiarity they were accustomed to, that is, a man who oppressed their personality and told them what to do. They were dependent on their parents and now they are dependent on their husbands. Their only goal in life is to find a form of external power to cling to, to feel safe. If they had given the time to discover that they have inside of them all the resources they need to live their life as they wish, they wouldn’t accept an abusive relationship with a partner who treats them the way he does.

Out of love (in fact, due to a lack of love) we tend to accept in our relationships different types of compromises which in the long term lead to the loss of our personality.There are some men who want to have a wife to keep her at home - that is, to depend entirely on him. Whether it's people who have an old-fashioned mentality, whether there are insecure persons who don’t want to risk losing their partner if he has a professional life and if he is exposed to different external stimuli, the idea is that they prefer to be the only ones who financially support the family. Because the state of dependence and lack of major responsibilities is something we all lived in childhood and it was something so pleasant, the partner of such a person will believe, at least in the first phase, that he is in paradise. He has nothing to do, eventually to be pretty and take care of the house, maybe even children, he has no real responsibility, he doesn’t care how the provision for the family is made, and he can spend his days doing nothing. But sooner or later something changes: either the person who supports another adult can’t do that anymore, no longer wants to continue to do so, gets sick or maybe even dies, or the person who is supported begins to have frustrations, grievances, feelings of worthlessness or inferiority, and he may even develop various mental disorders such as anxiety or depression, or even psychotic reactions - boredom, routine, a life without new stimuli, or a mind that is not directed toward a constructive purpose can lead to destruction and psychological disorganization.

Thus, a scenario in which both of them wanted to feel their ego nourished (the one who supports the family) and the state of infantile dependence, can lead to a true ordeal. The one who was the only provider of the family can develop aggressiveness and he can feel effectively as a master of slaves.

I want more and more people to learn to say “no” to abuse, to a life lived in the shadow of an aggressor, and to invest in them so they will never be dependent on anyone. That is why I believe that each person would need to know himself and heal any traumas or dysfunctional patterns of thinking before becoming involved in a relationship and to become autonomous from all points of view.

Every person has inside of him everything he needs to succeed in life, and in a truly fulfilled relationship it's not about how much you need your partner, how many sacrifices and compromises you do, how much you can endure, but how much you can offer from your fullness enjoying life together with the other person.


Dr. Ursula Sandner


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