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Unhealthy Emotional Attachment: Warning Signs In Relationships 

Unhealthy Emotional Attachment: Warning Signs In Relationships

Attachment can be defined as a feeling that binds one to a person, thing, cause, or ideal. It is the state of being attached. There are many ways in which we become attached to someone, and these can be categorized as our “attachment styles”. Attachment styles affect everything from our choice of a partner to how such a relationship progresses until the end. The three main types are secure attachments, anxious attachments, and avoidant attachments.

It is easy for us to become attached as human beings simply because we are human beings. We have an array of emotions and feelings which are encompassed within our bodies, feelings of which can be both healthy and unhealthy. There are also certain things that aid in bringing forth these emotions whether it is friendships, random interactions, or, of course, romantic relationships. Relationships require a lot of emotional labor, including vulnerability, intimacy, loyalty, and transparency. As demanding as it is, these emotions we feel tend to create an attachment that cannot always be helped, but also is not always what is best for us. With that said, here are the five signs that you may be developing an unhealthy emotional attachment.

Unhealthy Emotional Attachment: Dependence On Constant Communication

In a romantic relationship, it is understandable that because of the love and affection that you feel towards your partner, naturally, you would often want to be close to them or speak to them via call or text. At a point, however, it could result in your desire to speak to your partner a little more often than usual, with a touch of the extreme factored in. Whether it is becoming anxious when your partner does not respond immediately or having a constant expectation that you would be able to speak to your partner every single minute of each day, this is an indication of something murky in the water.

This sign of attachment is to be expected in some cases, simply because it typically stems from fear. As human beings, our minds tend to associate certain feelings with certain behaviors, events, or actions. For instance, someone who has been hurt, neglected, or cheated on in a previous relationship, may now associate the feeling of love or attachment with fear or anxiety. This then perpetuates a cycle which, unsurprisingly, results in said person clinging to their partner as a way of coping with the fear of abandonment. This kind of attachment is commonly known as anxious attachment. This kind of attachment is also not conducive to an emotionally-healthy relationship or person.

Emotional Dependence

It is absolutely okay to feel sad when the person you love is not around you or too busy for conversation, but it may not be okay to allow that to change or warp your entire mood for the rest of your day. Relationships definitely require not only love but also support and understanding. We all have multiple activities that we partake in on a regular basis and occasionally larger ones that require priority.

If you find yourself at a point giving your partner control over your entire feelings because they are busy or not around when you want them to be, then you are definitely too attached. This is extremely unhealthy because, despite the need to be one with your partner in a relationship, it is still essential to hold on to your individuality, to hold on to the idea that you are someone with responsibilities and a unique life, with or without your partner present.

Excessive Jealousy

Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy – in fact, they are almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for the other

Robert A. Heinlein once wrote,

The idea of love that we tend to have often includes the feeling of jealousy because we often conflate it with a constant ownership of the person we claim to love. This ownership results in jealousy for the slightest thing, whether it is our partner speaking to someone of the opposite sex, or even someone of the opposite sex desiring our partner despite them being completely faithful.

Jealousy is often considered to be an ugly trait because it is a gateway for us to lose control of our emotions. This may lead to us speaking or thinking in a way that harbors negative emotions which are extremely unhealthy for any relationship or person. Love in and of itself is pure, but jealousy contaminates it in many ways that we may never fully understand.

Warning signs of unhealthy attachment in relationships? dependence on constant communication, excessive jealousy, neediness and waterworks
Photo by cottonbro on


This is also a form of dependence and in some cases it is okay. In other cases, it can be significantly unhealthy. The term, “needy” can be defined as wanting or needing affection, attention, or reassurance to an excessive degree. Balance is an integral part of establishing and being in a relationship because it is important to set boundaries, to have an understanding as a couple, and to have mutual respect, love, and care.

Neediness threatens that balance because it can be a factor in the imbalance of power and emotional hunger within a relationship. It is common that persons, possibly as a result of a family history of emotional deprivation, to demand the opposite from their partner. This demand for security, among other feelings, results in the constant need for one’s partner to fill a void, and as much as it can easily be mistaken for love, it is an anxious attachment.

Unhealthy Emotional Attachment: The Waterworks

This is also a form of emotional dependence but in a different way. Outside of a relationship, if someone does not respond to our last text or immediately return a phone call, our first instinct is not to cry and wail. If, however, this is a common occurrence within a relationship, then this may be another sign of an unhealthy emotional attachment. As inevitable as it is to cry over your partner, there are some moments that don’t warrant the waterworks.

This usually exaggerated response is a result of a constantly growing attachment to one’s partner that may be harbored on an unhealthy fixation. We are rather sensitive beings with or without attachment to a person, therefore we need to be protective of our hearts and our tears even in relationships. The need to cry as an immediate response to what could be considered ‘the little things’, creates not only the idea of emotional dependency but rescue behavior as well. As much as it is unavoidable to depend on our partners, the constant need for them to pick up our broken pieces may significantly affect the ongoing strength of the relationship.

Unhealthy Emotional Attachment

Unfortunately, it is not that difficult to fall into a relationship with notes of unhealthy attachment peppered throughout. In fact, it happens to a lot of us and it is okay to admit defeat, but it is not okay to remain defeated forever. Many of us tend to jump into these relationships headfirst without looking into ourselves.

As beautiful as it is to crave love and to give it, remember it is important for us to be prepared to receive it as well. It is important for us to understand our own emotions, our own actions, and habits before sharing them with another and falling into the darkness of dependency and attachment. These two things have the tendency to taint our love and cause us to behave in a way that is much different from our usual selves.

“Try not to confuse attachment with love. Attachment is about fear and dependency and has more to do with a love of self than the love of another. Love without attachment is the purest love because it isn’t about what others can give you because you’re empty. It is about what you can give others because you’re already full”

– Yasmin Mogahed.

In Love and Light,

Peace and Harmony,


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  1. Bryan Jackson

    Really helped me to understand what I myself have been struggling with. Sadly a lot of these relate to me but now that I have figured out the problem I can start to work to the solution

  2. Katherine

    Awesome article!!!

  3. Opal

    Wow ! absolutely beautiful , great job maysue.

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