Understanding love addiction is tough when you’re in the thick of it, but doing so is important to having a healthy and satisfying relationship. Love addiction can take many different forms. Enmeshment is particularly difficult to recognize because it can look like love and devotion. An enmeshed relationship is one in which you and your partner have few boundaries and are defined more by each other than as individuals. You are devoted to each other to the detriment of your identities as separate people. Setting boundaries is an important way in which you can transition to a healthier way of living and loving each other.
Am I Enmeshed?
So how do you know if you are in an unhealthy enmeshment relationship as opposed to a healthy but passionate and devoted one? Only an expert can tell you for sure, but there are signs to watch out for. For instance, one sign is that most of your happiness, contentment and self-esteem are dependent on your relationship. Also, you neglect other relationships, such as those with friends or family, in favor of this relationship. You get anxious and lonely when you can’t be with your partner.
The Importance of Setting Boundaries
What you lack in enmeshed romantic relationships is boundaries. Healthy, normal relationships have boundaries that help you remain an individual and one half of a relationship. Boundaries keep you from becoming totally dependent on another person. They prevent you from deriving all of your satisfaction and self-esteem from that one person and relationship. If you are enmeshed, there are steps you can take to start setting boundaries:
- Discuss boundaries with your partner. You and your partner are in this together. You will be most likely to change if you are on the same page. Start with a discussion about how you feel and why you think setting some boundaries could make you both happier.
- Start small. If you have no boundaries, take baby steps. If you try to take big leaps at first, you will likely fail. For instance, instead of taking a week away from each other, try spending a day apart. Do activities that you enjoy or spend time with a friend you have neglected.
- Connect with others. When you are enmeshed, your whole life revolves around one person. To establish better boundaries, you need to step away from each other from time to time. This will be much easier to do if you establish relationships with other people. Have dinner with your family without your partner. Spend your lunch break chatting with coworkers instead of texting your partner.
- Connect with yourself. You also need to reconnect with yourself and re-establish your identity as an individual in order to have better boundaries in your relationship. Spend some time alone. Start hobbies that you will do without your partner. Try to remember what you enjoyed doing before this relationship and go back to those activities.
For the enmeshed, boundaries can be guidance toward a healthy and satisfying relationship. It’s not easy to establish boundaries when you have none, but if you can start small, be open and honest with your partner and reconnect with yourself and with others, it can be done. You and your partner will be much happier if you can make boundaries a reality.