Is It Love Or Emotional Dependency?

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couple love
Do you know the difference between being in love and being emotionally dependent on someone?

One of my clients, whose ex-girlfriend recently broke up with him, asked me the following question:

"I think I still love her, but is this love or just emotional dependency? Many times I ask myself if falling in love comes from my ego wounded-self because (for me at least) it feels as if I can't live without the other person. When I give love from the heart I don't expect anything back, but when I fall in love I think it is a different energy."

Falling in love can come from two different inner states. When you fall in love from the wounded self – the ego self – you are in love with how the other person loves you. You are handing over to the other person the responsibility for your self-worth and wellbeing, and if he or she does a good job of attending to you in the way you want to be attended to, then you may say you are "in love." However, it is not so much the person you love, but how he or she loves you and connects with you. When it feels as if you can't live without the other person, it is emotional dependency. The part of you that is "in love" is really a child or adolescent who is needy for love because you are not giving love to yourself or to others. There is an emptiness inside that you expect someone else to fill, because you are not taking responsibility for your own feelings of aliveness, joy, passion and self-worth. You are attaching your worth to another's love, which is why you can't live without that person.

When you fall in love from your loving adult self, instead of as a wounded, needy child or adolescent, your need for the relationship is totally different. As a loving adult, you have learned how to fill yourself with love and define your own worth. You have learned how to live a joyful and passionate life. Instead of needing someone to fill you and make you feel alive, lovable and worthy, you already feel alive, worthy and full of love. You experience this inner fullness because you have learned how to take full responsibility for your own feelings and needs, and you have learned to fill yourself with love from a spiritual source. This fullness overflows and you want to share this love with another person, another loving adult who is also filled with love and joy. Your desire is to share love rather than to get love.

The kind of person you will pick will be very different when a loving adult is choosing than when your wounded self is choosing. The people we pick have a similar level of woundedness and a similar level of emotional health. Obviously, the more you have done your inner work to connect with Divine Love and bring that love within to take loving care of yourself, the more you will be attracted to someone who also does this.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
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Dr. Margaret Paul

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Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process - featured on Oprah, and recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover your joy? Take our FREE Inner Bonding course, and click here for a FREE CD/DVD relationship offer. Visit our website at innerbonding.com for more articles and help, as well as our Facebook Page. Phone and Skype sessions available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Location: Pacific Palisades, CA
Credentials: PhD
Specialties: Anxiety Issues, Couples/Marital Issues, Depression
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