Emotional Hunger is not Love. How To Tell If Someone Is In Love With You — Or If They’re Just Emotionally Dependent.

“How can we tell whether a partner is in love with us or they’re just emotionally dependent? What red flags should we look for?”

There are numerous red flags to look for and often it is easy to fall prey to these praiseful and flattering behaviors. In order to see them, though, we must have done our inner work and successfully have learned how to deeply value and love yourself. The following are some warning signs to be on the lookout for, but definitely this is not a comprehensive list.

● A person that comes on very strong at the beginning of the relationship, wanting to spend a disproportionate amount of time with you.
● Doesn’t respect your limits and rules, 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● Gets angry, withdrawn, or pouty when you don’t do what they want you to do.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 their energy that is pulling on you to take responsibility for their feelings. You sense an emptiness in them, like 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 like smoking, drinking, drugs, addictive eating, gambling, TV, and so on.
● They are not truthful, you catch them lie or withholding the truth.
● Has few friends.
● Talks about him-/herself and others in fault-finding ways.
● Is possessive and jealous. Gets upset when you do your own thing.
● Has few interests and hobbies.

Emotional hunger is not love. Basically, emotional hunger is “a feeling of a strong emotional need that is usually brought about by deprivation in childhood”. When a person grows up without love or affection as a child, that manifests itself as a strong need for emotional closeness as an adult. To get this need met, a deprived person may latch onto a romantic partner or even their child. The result is an emotionally draining relationship where the victim is constantly having their emotional energy drained by the deprived person. Emotional hunger can look like love and is often mistaken for it, but it has the opposite effect on the person it is directed toward. Love nurtures, while emotional hunger drains the others and leaves them empty.

Many children grow up in an environment in which they are focused on by a parent, and there are no boundaries. They feel confused, because their parent appears to be “there for them,” but the parent’s focus and intrusion left them insecure and untrusting. Many adults experience romantic relationships in which they feel nothing they do is enough, and that they continually fail to satisfy the needs of their partner. Many people have a parent or partner who they’d describe as overbearing, intrusive, smothering, overprotective, or possessive. Often, these behaviors are the result of the person expressing or experiencing emotional hunger as opposed to real love.

People often mistake emotional hunger for love, because it involves longing and intensity, and, especially at the beginning, it can look the same. A person may seem highly attentive or affectionate to their partner or child, which seems positive. However, emotional hunger differs from love in that the child or other person in the relationship does not feel nurtured as they would by love, but instead, feels drained of vital energy. A child may cling to the parent, because they’re not experiencing a real sense of security or connection. The partner may feel a constant pressure to make their significant other feel good or whole.

It’s not the responsibility of the other person to make us happy. It’s our own job and responsibility to do the emotional work needed to fill us emotionally and work through all of our past emotional and relationship traumas.


Written by:
Laura Spalvieri

SACAC Counselling

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