Woman with unhealthy emotional attachment looking at phone

Is It Bad To Be Attached to Someone? 5 Signs of an Unhealthy Emotional Attachment

Relationships can bring us some of our most wonderful shared experiences. After all, sharing life and our joys with another person is gratifying in so many ways. And we tend to rely on our partners for support, to help get us through tough times, as well as to share our better days with them. However, a fine line exists between having a healthy relationship and an unhealthy emotional attachment.

An unhealthy emotional attachment can form due to a variety of factors. But how do you know if you’re attached to your partner in an unhealthy manner? What are the signs, and what can you do to correct this type of attachment?

Need help with an unhealthy emotional attachment? Contact the experts at Lukin Center for Psychotherapy today.

5 Signs of an Unhealthy Emotional Attachment

When you rely completely on your partner or on the relationship itself to define your worth, this is the beginning of an unhealthy attachment. And though there are varying degrees to this pattern of behavior, if you’re attached in an unhealthy manner to your partner, you may rely on support while not giving much in return.

Dr. Konstantin Lukin has described five key signs of unhealthy emotional attachment. And here, we’ll explore what you need to look for.

5 Signs You May Have an Unhealthy Emotional Attachment to Your Partner Infographic

1. Experiencing Significant Jealousy or Distrust

According to Dr. Lukin, significant jealousy is one of the key signs of an unhealthy emotional attachment such as, “when a person spends a lot of time thinking and worrying about what their partner is doing,” he states “that typically suggests an unhealthy connection.”

It’s natural to wonder about someone you love, especially if they’ve left the house for a work trip, or if they’ve gone to watch a game with friends. But if in their absence you cannot control your emotional response, this suggests that you may not have a complete foundation of trust, or that you’re dependent upon their presence to feel secure.

2. Having a Strong Need for Your Partner’s Presence

As mentioned above, if you find that you feel anxious or emotionally charged when you’re not in your partner’s presence, this can signal an unhealthy connection.

If an individual has a strong need for his or her partner’s presence, this means that “they have a hard time being independent from the partner” Dr. Lukin states. “Some people call this being ‘enmeshed,’ meaning if one partner leaves then they feel lost and alone, and they’re always asking to be connected to the other partner in some way.” he says.

Being independent and confident in your partner’s absence is key to a healthy relationship. But when you find it difficult to deal with situations without the help of your partner, this can signal an unhealthy connection.

3. Struggling With Excessive Anger and Frustration

It’s common to have a fluctuation in emotional responses to certain situations. But if you find that you’re becoming emotionally charged with anger and frustration, this can also signal an unhealthy connection.

“A good amount of anger and frustration when a person’s emotional boundary is being crossed” signals an unhealthy connection, Dr. Lukin says. And this type of conflict can ruin a relationship if the pattern of behavior isn’t acknowledged or corrected.

4. Assuming Your Partner Must Meet All of Your Emotional Needs

Healthy relationships have key signs as well. And understanding the dynamics of a healthy connection regarding emotional needs is worth noting.

When illustrating a healthy connection, Dr. Lukin states “When two people are ‘individuated,’ they know their emotional needs and they’re cognizant of one another’s emotional needs. They’re able to respect each other’s emotional requirements, meet them when needed, and also be fine with saying ‘no.’ That’s a healthy relationship.” he says.

In an unhealthy relationship, one partner simply cannot stand when his or her needs aren’t being met, regardless of whether or not they’ve met their partner’s needs. In this situation, the balance of give and take is compromised and one partner feels neglected.

5. Finding No Balance in the Relationship

Do you sometimes feel that your partner makes everything about them? Or, are you the one taking more and giving less?

In life, balance in everything we do is key to having a stable and emotionally healthy lifestyle. But when the balance tips to one side in a relationship, this can cause significant problems. Imbalance can also cause one person to be forced into making most, if not all decisions, even if these decisions only affect one partner.

Imbalance in a relationship may be illustrated by “not being able to make basic decisions because one partner is too dependent on the other,” according to Dr. Lukin.

3 Factors that Cause Unhealthy Emotional Attachments

Though unhealthy emotional attachments can be caused by a variety of factors, Dr. Lukin also affirms there are three key factors that can be attributed to forming unhealthy connections.

1. Modeling

Many people who develop unhealthy connections do so from “modeling” or from some form of learned behavior. For example, “Parents or family members may model a particularly unhealthy relationship style that is often generationally replayed,” Dr. Lukin says.

We learn a lot about life and relationships from our parents. In fact, these are the earliest impressions of what relationships are. And if they’re not healthy examples, it can be difficult to correct this pattern in adulthood.

It should also be noted that modeling can also stem from an earlier form of relationship trauma that becomes part of cyclical behavior. And when these models are adhered to, therapy is often recommended.

2. Emotional Regulation

Being able to regulate and process emotions is a key factor in developing healthy connections. After all, if we can’t control our own responses, this may become a significant problem when our partners are involved. And this can be a key factor in an unhealthy emotional attachment.

“When a person has a hard time managing how they feel and with understanding how they feel, their emotions can be erratic. When this occurs, they have a hard time connecting effectively because they spend too much time attempting to process their own emotions,” Dr. Lukin says.

3. Poor Emotional Boundaries

Being aware of emotional boundaries is key to developing healthy connections. But sometimes if one person cannot identify these boundaries, conflict in a relationship can arise.

According to Dr. Lukin, “A person who is aware of their emotional needs, i.e., feeling nurtured, feeling heard, being prioritized, and feeling loved – these are the basic emotional needs we all have,” he says.

However, not all of us are cognizant of these basic needs. “If we’re not attuned to these needs, it becomes very hard to establish boundaries because you don’t know how to ask for the things that you need and want. And you may have a hard time saying no because it’s hard to tell where you end and another person begins,” Dr. Lukin states.

How to Correct an Unhealthy Connection Pattern

Often, if a pattern of unhealthy attachments has persisted over time, this may take an intervention from trained mental health practitioners. And in therapy sessions, you’ll be able to understand and explore your needs with a trained professional in a comfortable and safe setting.

This may include a form of couples therapy, or individual sessions to help you understand why you’re adhering to these unhealthy patterns, and what you can do to help break the cycle.

Are you involved in an unhealthy emotional attachment? Contact Lukin Center for Psychotherapy to get advice from an expert.