When I was about 6 years old, I was sexually and physically abused for about 7 years. For many years I was seriously unable to make lasting friendships or able to open up. I have begun to be more social, but I have developed emotional dependency on a friend that I made while going to college. If he’s unhappy, I’m unhappy. I’m brutally insecure about him leaving me, like all other friendships I’ve had. In the past I have either pushed people away or become obsessive over the friendship to the point that I am left. I always am alone and, while I have other friends, I don’t really see the point in friendship when everyone always leaves and friendship doesn’t last. Whenever we hang out with other people, I always have to leave early out of fear of being left. Either way, I end up alone. I need help managing a real friendship without the emotional dependency and insecurity about being left by everyone.
A. This is an obvious problem, mainly because your happiness is wholly dependent on the happiness of other people. From an existential perspective, you may be living inauthentically. Inauthenticity leads to unhappiness.
Diagnostically, you may have some of the symptoms of dependent personality disorder. Individuals with this disorder fear being alone. They also fear physical separation from the ones they love. They are often described as “clingy” in relationships. According to the DSM-TR-IV, other characteristics of the disorder include:
- difficulty making everyday decisions;
- need an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others;
- allows others to take initiative and to assume responsibility;
- depends on others to tell where they should live or what type of job they should have;
- has difficulty expressing disagreement primarily because they are fearful of losing support or approval from others;
- willing to tolerate abusive behavior from others;
- have difficulty beginning projects or doing things independently;
- relies on others to handle their problems; and is
- preoccupied with fears of being alone to care for themselves.
I cannot determine, based on a short letter, if you have dependent personality disorder or any disorder. Only an in-person psychological evaluation by a mental health professional could determine a diagnosis.
What’s encouraging is that you recognize this is a problem. Identifying a problem is the first step to correcting it. I would recommend seeing a therapist. A therapist could help you become more independent and self-confident. In addition, the therapist could help you to better understand the nature of healthy relationships. The find help tab, at the top of this page, can help you locate a therapist in your community. Please take care.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Dec 2011
Randle, K. (2011). Insecurity in Friendships. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 1, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/12/27/insecurity-in-friendships/