Codependency or Love? 8 Signs Of Enmeshment In Romantic Relationships

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Eight Signs Of Enmeshment In Romantic Relationships

Ever felt like you’re too close in your relationship? When two become one, where’s the “me” in the “we”? Welcome to the world of enmeshment in romantic relationships. It’s where deep love can sometimes feel like a tight squeeze. So, are you in a cosy embrace or a restrictive hold?

Join us as we shed light on these blurred boundaries and help you find your footing. It’s all about striking the right balance: being close yet maintaining your own space.

Ready to dive deeper into understanding enmeshment in romantic relationships and balancing your love connection? Let’s get started.

Related: Signs of Codependency in Relationships

What Is Enmeshment In Romantic Relationships?

Enmeshment in romantic relationships is like two partners being so glued together, they forget they’re separate people. When it comes to enmeshed couples, it’s more than just being close; it’s about losing track of your own likes, dislikes, and feelings because you’re too wrapped up in your partner’s.

For instance, Jake might constantly pick movies or food based on what he believes Amy prefers, even if she’s not there with him. Similarly, Lisa and Mark might find that weeks have passed, and they haven’t seen their own friends because they feel they should do everything together.

In enmeshed couples, and even enmeshed marriages, the boundary between “me” and “us” gets blurry, making it hard for each person to remember their individuality.

Enmeshment in romantic relationships

Enmeshment In Families

Enmeshed families are super close, almost too much. It feels like everyone’s lives are mixed up, like threads in a knot. In these families, it’s tough to tell where one person’s feelings stop and another’s start. They often think they have to look after each other’s feelings all the time.

Because of this, it’s hard for them to make choices just for themselves, which might stop them from growing personally or chasing their own dreams.

Some major signs of enmeshed families are:

  • Weak boundaries: Family members struggle to set personal limits.
  • High dependence: Everyone relies heavily on each other for emotional support.
  • Over-involvement: Members are too involved in each other’s personal affairs.
  • Limited privacy: Almost no private space or “alone” time.
  • Unified front: They present a united image, even if internally there are disagreements.
  • Difficulty with outside relationships: Members might struggle to form close bonds outside the family.
  • Emotional overload: Everyone feels responsible for everyone else’s emotions.
  • Resistance to change: Any change or challenge to the status quo can cause anxiety.
  • Conflict avoidance: Avoiding disagreements, even if it leads to suppressing feelings.
  • Role confusion: Family roles, like parent-child, can be muddled or reversed.

8 Signs Of Enmeshed Relationships

1. You always put your needs on the backburner. 

In enmeshed relationships, partners become extremely close, almost acting like one person. Usually, one partner guides, making decisions for both, while the other becomes dependent on them.

Over time, you might start ignoring the your needs and wishes, even without realizing it. This can start slowly, with you often pushing aside your desires for your partner’s sake. Such patterns can harm your relationship, causing a loss of respect and understanding between you two.

2. You always try your best to avoid conflicts with one another. 

Avoiding conflicts is a clear sign of enmeshment in romantic relationships. If you’re always anxious about disturbing the peace with your partner, you might be in an enmeshed relationship.

Growing up in a strict home or in enmeshed families, where your parents or caregivers made all decisions might have made it hard for you to speak out.

Many experts rightly point out, that many people find it tough to say ‘no’ due to their upbringing, fear of being left alone, and problems setting limits. These challenges are common in enmeshed relationships and enmeshed marriages.

Read Your Most Toxic Habit In A Relationship Based on Your Zodiac Sign

3. You hardly spend some alone time with yourself. 

One of the major signs of enmeshment in romantic relationships, or enmeshed marriages is the absence of alone time. 

When you are in an enmeshed relationship, you and your partner are inseparable, sharing every moment, lacking separate pals or solo self-care routines. Imagine growing up always pleasing others, especially caregivers, and rarely focusing on yourself. Such a past can make carving out independence tough, even in adulthood.

Being an adult doesn’t instantly grant independence; it’s a journey. It’s not just about age; it’s about understanding one’s worth, seeking personal space, and nurturing your own dreams and giving your partner the space to pursue theirs. 

Related: 5 Things To Do When Someone Needs You Too Much

4. You suffer from a fear of abandonment, and maybe your partner does too.

One of the biggest signs of enmeshed relationships is this.

Fear of being left alone can start early, especially in tight-knit and enmeshed families. As kids, if caregivers ask for too much, children often say yes, scared of losing their loved ones. To a child, the world is big and scary, and they feel they can’t say no or ask for what they need.

If you have grown up this way, then that fear has stuck around. You always worry about keeping people close and happy, even if it means giving up your needs. As you become an adult, this fear can lead you into relationships where you’re too close, sacrificing your own wants. It becomes a habit of always trying to please others and fearing loss.

Enmeshment in romantic relationship

5. You always crave validation from other people, especially from each other. 

One of the biggest signs of enmeshed relationships is constant validation-seeking. You often turn to each other for a thumbs up, always needing to check if they’re doing okay.

Living a joyful life means being happy with who you are on your own. If you’ve grown up always needing someone else’s ‘okay’, it might be time to chat with a therapist or coach.

They can help change old mindsets from childhood and guide you toward believing in yourself more. Remember, real happiness starts from within, not just from nods of approval from others.

6. You depend on your relationship for your personal happiness and self-worth.

If you and your partner are enmeshed in marriage, then both of you are super close, maybe too close. It’s like you’re not two people anymore but one. Your happiness and self-worth become all about what your spouse thinks and feels.

When they’re happy, you’re happy; when they’re upset, you are too. You value yourself based on their reactions to you, not by what you truly think or achieve.

Over time, this makes it hard to know who you really are outside the relationship. It feels very connected and close, but you might lose sight of yourself and what you want as an individual.

7. You struggle making decisions by yourself. 

Another major sign of enmeshment in romantic relationships or an enmeshed marriage is this.

Enmeshed couples find it very challenging to decide things alone. When two people are this tied up, their wants and thoughts mix up. One person might start always asking the other before making any choice, even small ones. It’s like you’re scared to pick something without your partner’s say-so. You worry about upsetting the balance.

Even choosing a dinner spot or a movie becomes a two-person task. While this might seem like you’re super in sync, it actually means you or both of you are losing a bit of who you are, missing out on chances to grow and be independent.

Related: 5 Signs That You Are Being Codependent In Your Relationship

8. You find it hard to connect with your emotions. 

When you are enmeshed in marriage, understanding your own feelings can be hard. That’s because you’re always thinking about the other person’s emotions and ignoring yours.

Growing up in enmeshed families can be a reason for this, since many people are told how to feel by their caregivers, and their real feelings were often ignored. This keeps on repeating itself even after you become an adult. 

You get so used to listening to others that you can’t hear your own emotional voice. This means you might not know how you truly feel in different situations because you’re always tuned into your partner’s feelings first.

Enmeshment in romantic relationship

Marrying Into An Enmeshed Family

Marrying into an enmeshed family is like joining a super close group where everyone’s lives are mixed up. In these enmeshed families, everyone is deeply connected, often putting their family’s needs before their own.

This strong togetherness might feel nice at first, but it can also make it hard for you to be yourself and have your own space.

Marrying into an enmeshed family can look like this:

  • Lack of individual boundaries: Marrying into an enmeshed family means all or almost all family members will have difficulty distinguishing their (including you) own needs and desires from those of others.
  • Over-involvement: There is a high degree of emotional fusion in enmeshed families, with family members being overly invested in each other’s lives and decisions.
  • Limited privacy: Personal boundaries are frequently crossed, and privacy is often compromised.
  • Emotional dependency: Family members heavily rely on each other for emotional support and validation.
  • Difficulty with differentiation: After marrying into an enmeshed family, it can be challenging for you to develop your own identity separate from the family unit.
  • Guilt and obligation: There may be an expectation of unquestioning loyalty and a sense of guilt in enmeshed families when asserting your needs or pursuing independent paths.

Takeaway

Being enmeshed in marriage or having enmeshment in romantic relationships can negatively affect your self-esteem, independence, other relationships, and overall mental well-being.

But there is hope for change. It begins with recognizing the harmful aspects of you being enmeshed in marriage or relationship and having the determination to establish healthy boundaries.

Remember, change takes time. If you’re committed to making improvements, you can develop healthier ways of relating to each other. If you’re struggling, seeking therapy or marriage counselling can also provide valuable support.

Related: 7 Ways To Transform Clingy Insecurity Into a Superpower For Healthier Relationships

Do you relate to any of these signs of enmeshed relationships? Do you think you are one of the many enmeshed couples out there? Do let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does enmeshment in marriage mean?

Enmeshment in marriage refers to a relationship where boundaries are blurred, causing individuals to lose their sense of self and independence. This extreme closeness often leads to a lack of personal autonomy and individual identity.

What is enmeshed codependency?

Enmeshed codependency is when two people are overly tangled up in each other’s lives, making it hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. They rely too much on each other for validation and can’t function well independently.

What is toxic enmeshment?

Toxic enmeshment is when people are so intertwined that they can’t separate their feelings or needs from each other, often leading to unhealthy dependencies and stifling individual growth.

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