Professional Counseling & Psychotherapy

Excessively Dependent, Overly Detached, or “Just Right?”

We all need to experience a sense of belonging, acceptance, and affiliation with others. We need to experience care and affection through words and touch. And we need to be considered, understood, and supported when we are struggling. But in our relations with one another, some people tend to doubt themselves and depend heavily on family and friends, and some people tend to doubt others and take comfort in the own independence. If, however, we are either excessively dependent on or overly detached from others, our healthy adult dependency needs are likely frustrated.

So, some suggestions:

If you tend always to let others lead, try taking a little more initiative. But if you like making decisions on your own, try giving more consideration to the feelings of others.

If you find more comfort in simply expressing agreement with others, try sharing more of your own thoughts. But if you like keeping your feelings private, try offering a little more support to others.

If you are easily hurt by criticism, try to harness more confidence in yourself. But if you tend to hide your feelings, try placing a little more trust in relating with others.

If you try anxiously to avoid conflict, then consider that close relationships are able to survive differences in opinion. But if you tend to withdraw when others get too close, then consider whether most people are basically good and well-meaning.


If you tend frequently to look for reassurance from others, try trusting your own senses.

But if you prefer doing everything yourself, try asking someone for help even if you don’t really need it. Let someone help you with something, and you’ll have a closer relationship.


As we are able to balance self-confidence and assertiveness with trust and acceptance, our relationships with others will be the most comfortable and gratifying.


You can read more about healthy adult dependency needs in Robert Bornstein and Mary Languirand’s book called Healthy Dependency.


And you are always welcome to contact Dr. Mills directly with your questions.

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