Dr. Wendy After Dark

Dr. Wendy After Dark

Listen to Dr. Wendy Walsh on Sundays from 7 PM to 9 PM on KFI AM 640.Full Bio


Is Your Relationship Enmeshed?

Close-up of senior couple lying together in bed. Concept of long lasting love.

Photo: Halfpoint Images / Moment / Getty Images

An enmeshed romantic relationship, sometimes referred to as a codependent relationship, is characterized by an unhealthy level of emotional and psychological fusion between partners. In such relationships, boundaries become blurred, independence is compromised, and individuals may struggle to maintain their own identities.

Here are some hallmarks or characteristics of an enmeshed romantic relationship:

1. Lack of Personal Boundaries: Enmeshed couples often have difficulty maintaining personal boundaries. There is little distinction between where one partner ends and the other begins, resulting in a sense of being fused or intertwined.

2. Emotional Dependency: Partners in an enmeshed relationship may become overly reliant on each other for emotional support and validation. They may feel incomplete or anxious when separated and believe that their partner is responsible for their happiness.

3. Loss of Individuality: In an enmeshed relationship, individual identities may become overshadowed by the relationship itself. Partners may struggle to maintain their own interests, goals, and friendships outside of the relationship.

4. Shared Identity: Enmeshed couples may develop a shared identity, where their sense of self is closely tied to the relationship. They may use phrases like "we" instead of "I" and make joint decisions about nearly everything.

5. Lack of Autonomy: Partners may feel unable to make important decisions or take significant actions without consulting their partner. Autonomy and independence are compromised, leading to a sense of helplessness.

6. Difficulty in Conflict Resolution: Conflict in an enmeshed relationship can be particularly challenging. Partners may avoid conflict to maintain the appearance of harmony, or conflicts may escalate quickly due to heightened emotional sensitivity.

7. Rescuer-Victim Dynamics: One partner may take on the role of a rescuer or caregiver, while the other adopts the role of a victim or dependent. This dynamic can reinforce enmeshment and codependency.

8. Excessive Emotional Reliance: Partners may rely on each other to manage their emotions, cope with stress, and solve problems. They may turn to their partner for reassurance and validation on a regular basis.

9. Neglect of Self-Care: Enmeshed couples may neglect self-care and personal well-being as they prioritize the relationship above all else. This can lead to neglect of physical and emotional health.

10. Isolation from Others: Enmeshed couples may isolate themselves from friends and family members. They may prioritize the relationship to the exclusion of other important social connections.

11. Fear of Abandonment: Both partners may have an intense fear of abandonment and may go to great lengths to avoid any situation that threatens the relationship. This fear can lead to anxiety and insecurity.

12. Difficulty Ending the Relationship: Ending an enmeshed relationship can be especially challenging, as partners may fear being alone or losing their sense of identity without the relationship.

Here is a quiz to test your individuality in a relationship from Psychology Today.

For more information check out IFLScience.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content