Webster’s Dictionary defines the word dependent as relying on support from another. But what about the term, “counter-dependent”? While it’s not an uncommon term, many mental health professionals use this term.
As the term suggests, it’s the opposite of dependency. Counter-dependency means the fear of depending on someone for support and need. If you are a counter-dependent person, then you might go to great lengths to avoid seeking help from your partner in a relationship. You may also have a fear of feeling in need.
Counter-dependence is one of the outcomes of growing up in a neglected household. More often than not, someone with childhood emotional neglect is more likely to grow up to be a counter-dependent person in a relationship.
When we talk about being dependent in a relationship, you may come across the term “codependent relationship”. In this kind of relationship, you lean on or depend on your partner for almost everything. But not all relationships are codependent, some are counter-dependent.
Mental health professionals define counter dependency as “fleeing from intimacy”. It is often referred to as defensive behavior where you find it difficult to form close, intimate, and trustworthy relationships. If not addressed, counter-dependency can do more harm than good.
Often, a counter-dependent person may come across as egoistic, who doesn’t feel comfortable showing their vulnerability to their partners. Simply put, counter dependence can mean depriving yourself of close relationships to avoid being hurt.
Such people may crave close, intimate relationships but because of past experiences, they avoid opening themselves up.
What Causes One To Become Counter-Dependent?
The cause of counter-dependency can be linked to childhood trauma or neglect. Another reason can be;
- Avoidant attachment style: When a child grows up without healthy communication between themselves and their parents, then they may grow up to a counter-dependent person.
- Self-centered Parents: When a child grows up in a household where parents are too occupied with themselves to focus on their child’s emotional needs, they may grow up depending on themselves to fulfill their needs.
- Ignorance: When a child is ignored by their parents, it may also make them counter-dependent in their adulthood.
No matter the cause, a counter-dependent person may end up avoiding trustworthy relationships and fear being vulnerable to others.
|Self-Reliant vs. Counter-Dependent There’s a huge difference between a self-reliant person and a counter-dependent person. A self-reliant person doesn’t cut ties with others and will be securely attached to others, unlike counter-dependency where the fear of intimacy may result in a lack of trust in others. A self-reliant person is someone with healthy boundaries and shares trusting relations with their partners and doesn’t hesitate to ask for help but a counter-dependent person is against asking for help from others.|
Counter-dependency can be a challenge for people who already struggle with forming relationships. If not addressed, then their feelings can turn into depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
8 Signs Of A Counter-Dependent Person
A counter-dependent person may show signs such as;
- You Find It Hard To Connect With Others
As a counter-dependent person, you often find it hard to connect with people as your reluctance to depend on others may rob you of your ability to trust others. This lack of trust can make it hard for you to form meaningful bonds with others.
- You Tend To Push Others Away
Because of the lack of connection, you may push others away. You don’t find it comfortable spending time with others as socializing requires energy. As a counter-dependent person, you may even doubt others as you find it difficult to believe them.
- You Resist Seeking Help From Others
Even when you need help, your counter-dependency may hold you back from reaching out to your loved one for help and support. Again, this is different from being self-reliant as you lack general trust in others and are scared to be vulnerable in front of others.
- You Feel Suffocated In Relationships
Relationships are not meant for you because sometimes they make you feel suffocated. Whenever you feel yourself getting attached to someone, you distance yourself from the situation. If you feel this, then it’s a sign that you’re a counter-dependent person.
- You Avoid Emotional Attachment
You often avoid forming any emotional attachment, relying on people, and supporting being independent. The concept of your life may feel imbalanced because of emotional intimacy in relationships as you’re afraid of emotional connection.
- You Fear Rejection
Another sign that you are a counter-dependent person in a relationship is that you are afraid of rejection. The fear of rejection can make you avoid getting in a relationship to not feel hurt. This is a usual outcome of a traumatic childhood experience. This may also make you avoid initiating a conversation with someone because you fear rejection.
- You Have Trouble Acknowledging Your Feelings
You also find it difficult to accept your feelings. Being a counter-dependent person, you think about things that may go wrong and not focus on what may be right. This understanding can cause you to barely let others come near you.
- You Become Easily Overwhelmed
You find comfort in solitude rather than in the company of others. People with counter-dependency have low self-esteem which can make them feel uncomfortable interacting with others. To avoid judgment from others and rejection, you prefer to live life on your own terms. Creating a wall between yourself and others makes you feel safe.
Apart from the signs of counter-dependency, you may also look for signs such as persistent feelings of loneliness, casual relationships, feeling anxious about forming new bonds, a fear of commitment, etc.
Identifying the signs of a counter-dependent person is one of the most important steps toward your healing journey. By addressing your signs, you enable yourself to connect with others. If you can relate to these signs of being a counter-dependent person, then there are ways to deal with it.
Counter-dependency is often due to childhood trauma and neglect. Unaddressed trauma can make you afraid of coming out of your safe zone or letting others in. This “flight of intimacy” is often seen in people to avoid intimate relationships. While it may not be a medical condition, it can still cause a lot of negative consequences in life. You may not be able to share your emotions with others because of your counter-dependency.
Intimate relationships can heal your trauma like the one close to your heart can understand things better and make it easier for you to understand them as well. Some professionals can help you deal with being a counter-dependent person in a relationship.
If you do know others who are counter-dependent, then you can share this blog with them and help them take their step toward healing. Thanks for reading!