14 signs you’re emotionally attached to someone you shouldn’t be

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Emotional attachment is a normal part of being in love. However, it can also take an unhealthy form.

For example, if your relationship becomes codependent. Or, if you’re emotionally attached to someone you shouldn’t be.

But why shouldn’t you be attached to someone you’re in a relationship with?

There are many answers to that question, such as:

  • They’re married and not planning on leaving their spouse
  • They don’t care about you and are using you
  • They don’t treat you with respect
  • They’re toxic and being with them is only causing you pain….

That’s why it’s super important to recognize the signs and take steps to address the situation.

Here are 14 signs you’re emotionally attached to someone you shouldn’t be:

1) Ignoring red flags

When we’re in love, it’s perfectly normal to want to see the object of our affection in the best light.

That’s why we focus on their positive traits and try to ignore their negative ones.

The problem is when you start to ignore and dismiss some serious red flags in their character or behavior, telling yourself, “It’s not a big deal” or “I’m sure they didn’t mean it”.

When the logical and healthy thing would be to address the problem or even end the relationship – you decide to stay because you feel like you can’t live without them.

Can you guess why?

Because you’re emotionally attached to someone who’s not good for you!

2) Denial of reality

You may also find yourself trying to deny or rationalize negative aspects of the person or the relationship, even if there are clear signs that it’s not healthy.

For example, you could be seeing someone who is married.

Despite knowing better, you choose to believe that they will leave their spouse for you. Even if they’ve got kids and always keep coming up with excuses to put it off.

Unfortunately, you’ve attached yourself to someone who is not emotionally available and it’s making you ignore reality.

The ugly truth is that you’re probably just a fun affair and when they’ve had enough, they’ll leave you and resume their family life.

3) Unhealthy dependency

Being too dependent on someone can happen in any relationship, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re wrong for you.

However, when the person in question encourages that dependency and makes you feel like you couldn’t be happy without them, something’s not right about them.

Or when they make you believe you couldn’t manage your life if they weren’t around to tell you what to do, that’s a surefire sign that you’ve let yourself get emotionally attached to someone toxic.

4) Putting their needs first

What about your needs?

Do you ever consider what you want and need?

Do you ever ask yourself, “What would be the best thing for me?”

When you’re constantly prioritizing the other person’s needs over your own (even when it’s bad for you) it indicates an unhealthy level of emotional attachment.

But wait, there’s more!

Does the other person make you a priority? Do they also put you first?

Or do they do what’s best for them, while also letting you make sacrifices for them?

Well then, it sounds like they don’t deserve you. Clearly, you’re attached to someone you shouldn’t be.

5) Fear of abandonment

Of course, none of us wants to be abandoned.

That doesn’t mean that we live in constant fear of it happening.

In fact, most of us don’t even think about it unless we’ve had a serious fight with our partners – and often, we’re the ones thinking of leaving!

But you’re scared.

You keep thinking that they’ll walk out on you and you won’t be able to live.

Here’s the truth: You feel that way because they want you to. They want you to be so attached to them that the idea of a break-up haunts you.

They keep threatening to leave you whenever you annoy, bore, or disappoint them. They say, “I can’t live like this” whenever they can’t get what they want from you.

In short: You’re emotionally attached to a toxic person who is controlling you with the threat of abandonment to get their way.

6) Ignoring your values

Look, ignoring someone’s values and principles is just plain rude, okay?

It’s certainly not something you do to someone you care about!

That means that if you find yourself compromising your values and doing things that don’t feel right (things that go against your principles) in your attempt to make them happy, it’s another sign of an unhealthy attachment.

7) Feeling drained

Listen up: A good, healthy, loving relationship shouldn’t feel like a chore.

It shouldn’t leave you feeling emotionally drained or negatively impact your well-being in any way.

I’m not saying there won’t be ups and downs and you won’t get into fights. I’m talking about your relationship in general.

If you and your partner are always arguing, if they’re constantly criticizing you and making you feel worthless, and if you feel like you have to tiptoe around them to avoid another scene, things just ain’t right.

If your relationship makes you feel bad and yet you’re scared to end it, it’s another surefire sign that you’re emotionally attached to someone you shouldn’t be.

8) Lack of personal growth

It turns out that an emotionally unhealthy attachment can actually hinder your personal growth and prevent you from pursuing your own interests and goals.

What usually happens is that you’re so obsessed with being with the other person and doing things together, that you forget about doing things for yourself.

More than that, as they work on reaching their goals, you’ll cheer them on! You’ll support their development and growth in any way you can, even if it means putting your own wishes aside.

For example, your partner will decide to take a job abroad without even consulting you. And what do you do? You quit your job and go with them. No questions asked. 

9) Excusing toxic behavior

Why are you making excuses for someone who is clearly harming you?

Your partner may hurt you physically or emotionally, yet you’ll find an excuse for their behavior.

You’re trying to convince yourself and others that your partner loves you, that they didn’t mean it. They’re stressed at work, it’s not their fault. They’re not usually like that!

Constantly making excuses for their toxic behavior means you’ve given yourself over completely to someone who causes you harm.

10) Repeated betrayals

Another sign that you’re emotionally attached to someone wrong for you is your inability to sever ties with them or even set healthy boundaries, even when they’ve repeatedly betrayed your trust.

No matter what they do (including cheating on you) you can’t seem to walk away. You can’t picture your life without them, you feel as though you need them to survive.

Another classic example of unhealthy attachment.

11) Negative impact on well-being

Feeling anxious, sad, or stressed?

Do you feel like you can no longer recognize the person you’ve turned into since the relationship started?

From talking down to you to cheating to making you feel worthless, your partner’s toxic behavior has had an extremely negative impact on your emotional well-being.

And yet… you stay. You feel powerless. They seem to have a magical grip on you.

12) Isolation from others

Here’s a bright red flag – the person you’re dating has isolated you from your friends and family!

It usually starts small. They’ll say they want to be alone with you. Then they’ll say they don’t like a certain friend. They’ll go on to say that your mother doesn’t like them and wants you to break up.

You’ll find yourself spending less and less time with your loved ones.

Eventually, the only person left will be your partner and that’s exactly what they wanted!

To distance yourself from friends and family – your support systems –  so that you’d attach yourself even more to them.

It’s actually pretty scary if you think about it.

13) Manipulation and control

It’s not always easy for someone being manipulated and controlled to recognize what’s being done to them.

Ask yourself this: Can you make decisions for yourself, or does your partner have the biggest say?

Do you feel like thoughts, opinions, and desires keep being dismissed or undermined?

You see, manipulation and control often manifest in a way that diminishes your sense of autonomy.

If you find that your partner’s influence permeates every aspect of your life, leaving you questioning your judgment and unable to express your needs, it’s another sign that you’re emotionally attached to someone bad for you.

14) Inability to enforce boundaries

Ah yes, boundaries. One of the key ingredients of a good relationship.

Now, if you keep trying to set down some boundaries – such as telling your partner that you’re not comfortable with a certain behavior of theirs – and they keep ignoring you, you’ve got a problem.

You see, boundaries are there to make us feel safe and comfortable, to tell the other person what kind of behavior we find acceptable and what kind of behavior we find unacceptable.

Yet, they keep overstepping. And you keep letting them, even when it makes you uncomfortable.

When someone ignores your boundaries, they’re being disrespectful and insensitive, to say the least.

When you let them get away with it, it shows that you’ve formed an unhealthy attachment.

Final thoughts

I really hope that this article will help you recognize the signs that you’re emotionally attached to someone you shouldn’t be.

More than that, I hope that you will find the will and strength to do something about it.

It won’t be easy, but recognizing that there’s a problem and wanting to do something about it is a good first step.

Once you’ve done that, I strongly suggest talking to someone about your problem.

You can confide in a trusted friend or family member, or, better yet, talk to a counselor who has the tools to help you detach and move on.

Best of luck!

Jelena Dincic

Jelena has a background in photography and film-making and has spent the last few years as a content editor and copywriter. Jelena is a citizen of the world who is passionate about travel and learning about new cultures. She’s a foodie who loves to cook. And, as an art lover, she is always experimenting with new art mediums. When she’s not at her computer, she’s usually out and about in some forest with her dogs.

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