Growing into our individuality as we age is a natural part of life. However, it’s difficult when our loved ones become inextricably intertwined in every facet of our existence. Allowing the cycle to continue unresolved will usually end with you starting to resent your loved ones; even more so when they become possessive.
When people are overly involved in your life, it’s called enmeshment. The condition is not exclusive to romantic entanglements. It can develop in any of your relationships if people get too involved in your life.
The signs of enmeshment are not always obvious, but knowing what to watch for can make it easier to spot. If you notice any of the following traits in yourself, it’s possible you may be caught up in an enmeshed relationship.
1. You Don’t Recognize Yourself
Being in an enmeshed relationship can make you feel safe because it’s better than being alone. However, when you know who you are while you are with a person, but barely recognize yourself when they are not around, it’s a good indication you are in an enmeshed relationship.
The things that made you, you, are gone or buried. Hobbies you once enjoyed are forgotten or discarded if your partner shows no interest in sharing your passions. Even your fashion sense may come down to only wearing what your partner likes, rather than what suits you.
2. You Can’t Think for Yourself
You don’t think for yourself anymore because it’s too much trouble. The lines between right and wrong have become blurred because your partner is now your moral compass and whatever they say, goes.
Your inability to think logically for yourself can leave you feeling directionless. It can even get to the point you are not able to make a choice as critical a choice as a medical decision if your partner is not around to let you know what you should do.
3. You have Turned into a People Pleaser
Ensuring your partner is always happy has become the most important thing in the world. It’s not healthy to depend on someone else’s happiness for your own mental well-being. For starters, it’s impossible to keep someone happy 100% of the time, no matter how much you try to make their life perfect.
Even people you know really well, can be unpredictable, so keeping them happy all the time is an impossible goal to strive for. What’s the point of pleasing others when you are always unhappy with yourself and stressed about how your partner will react?
4. You Avoid Confrontation
If you grew up with parents who would never let you get in a word in edgeways, you probably find it challenging to come to your own defenses during a confrontation.
You feel uncomfortable speaking up even when your partner says something you strongly disagree with, and you believe it’s better to hold your tongue, or even worse, pretend you agree, so you avoid a confrontation.
5. You Don’t Take Care of Your Needs
People in an enmeshed relationship often neglect their own needs, such as going out with friends. Rather than spend time away from your partner, you make excuses to stay behind with them because they are not interested in going out.
Before too long, you are neglecting your circle of friends and sacrificing your personal needs to satisfy your partner. You may even be afraid that they will get angry because you left them alone. In short, your partner becomes the center of your world at the expense of everything else you used to enjoy doing.
Do you believe you are in an enmeshed relationship? If you do suspect an enmeshed relationship might be the cause of your unhappiness, a therapist can help you recognize the patterns of enmeshment, so you can break free and learn how to enjoy healthier relationships.
Read more about how to get support here: Depression Treatment