One of my clients, who recently started a new relationship, asked me a very insightful question:
"How can you tell whether your partner is in love with you or they're just emotionally dependent? What red flags should I look for?"
There are numerous red flags to look for, but in order to see them, you have to have done your inner work so that you are not vulnerable to these flattering behaviors. If you haven’t learned to deeply value and love yourself, then you might be drawn in by these red-flag behaviors. Here are some warning signs to be on the lookout for:
- Comes on very strong at the beginning of the relationship, wanting to spend an inordinate amount of time with you.
- Doesn't respect your limits—such as boundaries on how often you see each other or how often you text or talk on the phone. Tries to monopolize your time.
- Can be very charming but doesn’t listen well to you and isn’t tuned in to your feelings. May try to make you feel that your feelings or your position is wrong.
- Sexually demanding and attaches their worth to having sex. Needs sex to feel validated.
- Gets angry, withdrawn, or pouty when you don’t do what they want you to do. Not open to learning from relationship conflict.
- You feel "pulled on," i.e., you feel an energy from them that is pulling on you to take responsibility for their feelings. You sense an emptiness in them—a black hole that pulls on you to fill it up.
- Has an abusive background and has not healed from their past.
- Has abandoned their children.
- Participates in addictions that are unacceptable to you—smoking, drinking, drugs, addictive eating, gambling, TV, and so on. Uses various addictions to fill emptiness.
- They are not truthful—you catch them in lies or withholding the truth.
- Has few friends.
- Is judgmental of him-/herself and others. Talks about him-/herself and others in disparaging ways.
- Is possessive and jealous. Gets upset when you do your own thing.
- Has few interests and hobbies.
Knowing the difference comes down to trusting your feelings.
This is not a conclusive list. Really, what it comes down to is trusting your own feelings. Our feelings are a reliable inner guidance system, letting us know what is right or wrong for us, good or bad for us. If something doesn’t feel right inside, then it isn’t right for you. No matter how good things look on the outside or how much this person professes their love for you, if you can’t feel that love or you feel a pull from that person or an emptiness inside them, you need to trust yourself more than you trust what they say or even how they act.
Many of us have been taught to NOT trust our feelings, which is very sad. From the time I was little, I was taught that I couldn’t possibly know what was right or wrong for me. I was taught that others knew better than I did what was good or bad for me. This is one of the major disservices our society has done to children. When we lose trust in ourselves, we can easily be controlled by others—by parents or teachers, religion or government, or by a partner in a relationship.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to do the inner work of learning to trust your feelings. Our good feelings of peace, joy, and fullness let us know that we are in alignment with what is right and good for us and that we are being loving to ourselves and others, and our difficult feelings of anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, anger, emptiness, aloneness, jealousy, and so on are letting us know that we are abandoning ourselves in some way—being unloving to ourselves and others.
If you want to know the truth about whether someone loves you or is emotionally dependent on you, learn to trust what you feel inside. Your inner guidance system will let you know whether you are loving yourself or abandoning yourself and whether another is being loving or unloving to you.
Want more insight into your relationships? Find out the two types of passion (and which one is good for your sex life), then learn what the number of sexual partners you've had actually says about you.