Counter-dependence is a new term, coined to define a phenomenon that is also relatively recent : the tendency to emotional detachment out of fear. Until a few decades ago, it was considered “normal” to form bonds with others. Family ties and the bond with the community were protected and cultivated.
Today this community closeness continues to characterize the smaller towns, even if not with the same strength as before. In the larger cities, on the other hand, an epidemic of counter – dependence seems to have spread : people do not want others to take an interest in their life, most of the connections are ephemeral or circumstantial, life in solitude is privileged.
In such a framework it is however
complaining of loneliness. Many would like things to go differently, but they are not willing to change decisively. It is as if they wanted more, but without the inconveniences and contradictions that it entails. You don’t want to admit addiction, you don’t want to pay the price of counter-dependence. Here is the paradox.
Characteristics of counter-dependence
Contrary to popular belief, people with counter-dependence problems are not lonely, they don’t isolate themselves and they don’t have a small circle of friends. Quite the contrary. Fear of intimacy takes them to the opposite extreme: they go to meetings, parties, events. They are wherever there are people.
The main feature of counter-dependence is the difficulty of entering into a deep connection with another human being. Other traits that define it are:
- The person easily establishes relationships, but then these bonds are broken or do not advance.
- They claim to feel “trapped” if someone wants to be intimate with them.
- They feel sympathy for people in need.
- They are almost always “busy”.
- They don’t ask for help even if they need it.
Escape before suffering
Counter-dependent people follow a very specific logic: avoid suffering at all costs. They feel that bonding with someone carries great risks. They are afraid of feeling vulnerable and of being abandoned. For this reason they wear armor to feel nothing and drop out before being abandoned.
Counter-addicts rarely come into conflict with others. Conflict, in fact, requires a certain degree of intimacy and bond, which is precisely what they want to avoid. In the eyes of others, their behavior can be strange and incomprehensible. From one day to the next they disappear, without a precise reason, without giving explanations.
They are the type of people who declare themselves more interested in success or their projects than in personal relationships, considering them to be of little seriousness or of little value. They have an air of apparent superiority. They feel they are more evolved than others can understand or that others want to take advantage of their multiple qualities.
An inner world invaded by fear
Behind the counter-dependence there is fear, in all its forms. This avoidant attitude probably stems from past experiences that have not been completely overcome. In particular, unresolved pain or childhood trauma. These are people who have been hurt or abandoned and who have chosen not to feel anything anymore in order not to relive such pain.
The problem is that in the end they end up believing the lie they have built. They are convinced that they have no problem, indeed they believe they are better than others. We are faced with a compensation mechanism activated to bear one’s vulnerability. Counter-dependent people are quite hard on themselves and very strict in judging their mistakes.
Counter-dependent people feel very uncomfortable in personal or particularly intimate situations. If they feel the need for another person, they show shame or self-righteousness. They are rather wary, in fact they are convinced that others have ulterior motives or hidden interests.
Ultimately, those who manifest counter-dependence suffer greatly. They feel emptiness and loneliness, but since they act in the name of prevention, they prefer to give up happiness, even if the opportunity presents itself to build positive personal relationships. It is clear that these people need understanding, affection, and possibly even professional help to scratch the armor they have wrapped themselves in.