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Relationships: The Effects of Emotional Incest

moody man
Self, Family

If your parents made you responsible for their feelings, you may be suffering in your relationships.

Did one or both of your parents make you responsible for their feelings? Did they come to you with their problems about the other parent? Did they lead you to believe that you could say or do something that would make them feel okay or make them feel badly? Did they say things like, "You make me so happy," or "You make me so angry," or "You are hurting me"?

This is emotional incest. It has deep repercussions later in life. For example:

Do you find yourself wanting a relationship but never finding the right one, or getting involved with unavailable people? This may be the result of emotional incest, which gave you a deep fear of having to take responsibility for a partner's feelings. While you really want a relationship, on a deeper level, it will feel engulfing to you if you believe that you are responsible for another's feelings.

If you are in a relationship, are you a caretaker, taking responsibility for your partner's feelings? Are you drained by the relationship due to taking responsibility for his or her feelings while ignoring your own? This may be the result of emotional incest - of believing that others' feelings are your responsibility.

If you are in a relationship, do you find yourself cheating on your partner as your way to get out of feeling trapped? This may be the result of emotional incest - of feeling terrified of your partner making you responsible for his or her feelings.

Are you constantly angry with your partner for not being there for you in the way you expect - sexually or emotionally? This may be the result of emotional incest. You might have become just like your emotionally incestuous parent, a taker - making others responsible for your feelings.

Whether you find yourself on the caretaking end or the resistant/taker end of the codependent system, you will have problems in your relationship. Emotional incest takes a big toll on relationships.

The way out of this is two fold:

1. You need to fully understand and accept that you are not and never have been responsible for your parent's feelings or anyone else's wounded feelings of anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, anger, emptiness or aloneness. Since people's wounded feelings are caused by their thoughts, how can you possibly be responsible for another's feelings? Since you have no control over people's thoughts, you have no control over their feelings. You also have no control over the life events that might cause painful core-self feelings, such as grief over losing a loved one.

2. The other side of the coin is that you are 100% responsible for your own feelings -- the feelings that come from your thoughts and the feelings that come from painful life events. You are responsible for your thoughts that create pain and for nurturing your core painful feelings. Just as you are never the cause of others' feelings, others are never the cause of your feelings.

If you are terrified of being in a relationship or feel burdened or unsatisfied in one, you can be released from the terror, the burden or the dissatisfaction by releasing yourself of responsibility of others' feelings and by willingly taking 100% responsibility for your own feelings.

As you practice choosing to take responsibility for your own feelings and letting go of responsibility for others' feelings, you will not believe the sense of joy and freedom you will feel when you are fully able to do this!

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Relationships Course: "Loving Relationships: A 30-Day at-Home Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul - For people who are partnered and people who want to be partnered."

Start learning to love yourself and heal your relationships with our free Inner Bonding course.

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This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.


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