Dependency - "I can't do it alone"

How to stop being dependent in a relationship

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We all need love, care and support in our lives. Being able to rely on the people around us is important - especially when it comes to our closest relationships. But with this schema, this need moves to the extreme, and becomes more of a dependency.

Life feels hard a lot of the time. Even the most basic everyday tasks can feel overwhelming. This is rooted in a lack of trust in your own decisions. You watch others making choices with ease and wonder how they do it.

Lacking this self-trust, you rely on the people around you. Your partner - or friends - end up picking up most of the load. In turn, this deepens your dependency on them, creating an undercurrent of anxiety. How could you ever cope without them?

If you have this schema, you probably find yourself gravitating towards partners with a very strong sense of self. You’re happy to let them take the lead. You might struggle to voice your needs, and instead act distant or passive-aggressive when you want to make yourself heard. 

This schema can also leave you vulnerable to staying in unhealthy relationships much longer than other people would tolerate. You rely on your partner so much, almost anything is better than being left to navigate the world alone…

How did this schema develop?

As with all schemas, the dependency schema tends to have its roots in the way we grew up. It typically happens in response to having parents who were either over or under protective.

If your parents were overprotective, they might have unknowingly hindered your confidence. They may have projected their own anxieties onto you through their hypervigilance (“Be careful not to hurt yourself!”)

Or maybe they insisted on handling everything, not letting you take part in basic chores. They did all the cooking, washing etc. and so you never learnt how to do some of these basic tasks yourself. 

These types of parent-child relationships are often enmeshed too. Maybe you had a “helicopter parent”, hovering over your every move... Or perhaps you had a parent who treated you more like a friend (or partner), sharing secrets with you and generally over-involving themselves in your life.

In short, you were never given the opportunity - or space - to develop your independence. 

This schema can also develop as a result of the reverse experience. You may have had parents who were underprotective instead. 

True independence is cultivated through the support of the people we grow up around. In order to feel safe in the world, we need to first know what inner safety feels like. Without this, the world can end up feeling like a daunting place.

Some might also develop this schema in response to growing up with a parent battling addiction. Reading unpredictable behaviour can lead to a hyper-focus on others’ needs over our own.

If you can relate to any of this, be kind to yourself. You developed this way of being in the world as a result of what happened to you. But your work is to understand that the security you’re so desperately seeking in your relationships already exists… You’re just looking in the wrong place. It’s inside of you, waiting to be discovered.

Signs you have this schema:

  • Your plan your life around the people you date
  • You struggle to manage daily life responsibilities
  • You don’t trust your own judgement
  • You can’t cope well alone
  • You don’t feel whole without your partner
  • You struggle with being alone for any length of time
  • You find your self-worth through your relationships
  • You value the approval of others more than you value yourself

What you get from our Relationship Report

Deep relationship insights - uncover hidden patterns shaping your connections, rooted in evidence-based therapy.

Personalised guidance - get tailored strategies to improve communication, understand behaviours and fulfil emotional needs, all backed by research.

Actionable steps for growth - gain practical advice and steps to reshape relationship patterns and build a more satisfying love life.

Unlock your Relationship Report