Getting the right balance between the time you spend together and your own personal space is fundamental to a good relationship.
In many relationships, one person often complains that they don’t have enough time with their partner, whilst the other complains about needing more of their own personal space. "We don't spend enough time together." "She's too needy and I need my space.” These are the battle cries of the most difficult conflict in 21st century relationships.
One partner is described as emotionally dependent and the other partner is defined as emotionally distant. Now that’s just fine for psychologists but what does it actually mean to real people struggling with one of the most common problems of a relationship.
So what makes all this happen
Let’s take a look at that. Surprisingly both of these personality types are driven by fear. Fear of two different but related things. Firstly a fear of rejection stemming from a sense of inner abandonment or from the experience of real abandonment in earlier life. That can create a state of Emotional Dependency.
The second state of Emotional Distance is created by a different fear that of engulfment, a fear that you will be controlled and smothered by your partner. The partner resists this possibility and distances him/herself as a way of feeling safe.
The emotional dependent partner gives responsibility to the other partner for his/her feelings. They don’t know how to take care of their own feelings and needs, so makes their partner responsible for them. Violent reactions to seemingly mild events can also add to the stress of Emotional Dependency for both them and their partner.
Emotionally dependent people are stuck with feelings of anger, hurt, and blame. This in turn gives rise to fear, anxiety and feeling of loneliness. Their partner also takes the blame for feelings such as anger, jealousy, or low self-esteem. Thus they can take comfort in feeling that it’s all their partner’s fault. So it follows that it must be for their partner alone to fix it and so make them feel better.
The partner who has to cope with an Emotionally Dependent partner will often move away to create a distance as protection against his/her feeling of lack of space and being overwhelmed or even bullied by the dependent partner. This only makes matters worse and leads to a further distancing of the partners who despite this are still very much in love with each other.
In this codependent system, each person is triggering the fears of the other. One person’s anger and chronic neediness triggers the other’s fear of engulfment, while his/her reaction to this distancing triggers fear of abandonment in the Emotionally Dependent partner. This produces a downward spiral which further increases the fear. This can bring about a collapse of what otherwise could have been a good and satisfying relationship for both of them.
Moving towards the good place that is Emotional Responsibility
The place to be in relationship is where both partners have learnt to take responsibility for their own feelings and emotions. Rather than being a victim of the other's behaviour, you need to take emotional responsibility for yourself. Instead of feeling angry, hurt, and helpless you have moved yourself back into a safe area of feeling secure and peaceful.
This will make a huge difference to you and and to all your relationships and especially the relationship with your partner. Relationships thrive when each person moves out of Emotional Dependency or Emotional Distance and into good place of Emotional Responsibility.