Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hostile Dependency

I try to learn something every day. Today, I just learnt about hostile dependency, which is an interesting phenomenon. I never knew such a term even existed.

Definition of Hostile Dependency

It manifests itself in a relationship when one partner feels they ‘need’ the other person, while at the same time, because they have unhealthy behaviors that they cannot control, they act in a manner that hurts the other person. The hostile dependent person believes that they emotionally, economically, socially and physically depend on the other person and are entitled to that dependency.

Signs of Hostile Dependency

Dr Wolters says “Instead of talking out their feelings, hostile-dependent partners act them out. An example of acting out may be throwing a dish when you are really hurt and angry at your partner. Typically, partners in a hostile-dependent relationship:”

• don’t share their needs or vulnerabilities
• push each other away but demand nurturance
• don’t see the other partner as a separate person (clinginess and control)
• express hurt and anger in verbal and physical attacks
• resort to name-calling when upset
• walk out on fights
• aren’t able to function independently in the marriage

Dr. Stein writes that, “For one thing, the neediness of the hostile dependent individual can establish an unhealthy basis for the relationship from the start. In effect, the unwritten “contract” between the two parties will require that one does the helping and the other receives the comfort, with little reciprocal responsibility. This inequity risks eventual “burn out” in the caretaker and possible frustration that the damaged friend is not improving fast enough.”

Some who are in the role of a “friend/helper” find that their own needs are perpetually postponed and that their efforts to provide solace will be seen as an entitlement and therefore unappreciated. Indeed, even if the altruistic partner receives gratitude early in the relationship, such appreciation often fades.
Sometimes, in fact, the connection between the two people morphs into a “hostile dependency,” where the person receiving the assistance resents the fact that he cannot function without his comrade.

Origins of Hostile Dependency

It starts from childhood. Dr Tara explains that “Children rely on their parents for their care and safety needs. Good enough parents do their best to respond to their children’s needs while teaching them how to meet their own needs as developmentally appropriate.”
But, Tara explains, “not all parents are “good enough.” Some parents shame their children or become angry/frustrated/impatient with them for expressing wants and needs.
When a parent punishes a child or tells them that they’re bad/selfish/demanding/inconvenient for expressing needs and feelings, the message is: It’s unacceptable to have needs and feelings and to depend upon me. Since most children actively avoid parental disapproval, these kids intuitively find indirect ways to get their needs met.

A child who has to disavow or mask their needs and feelings from a parent eventually develops an ever-growing anger and resentment. Since it’s especially unsafe to directly express anger and resentment toward their parent(s), these children often develop passive-aggressive behaviors and attachment issues.”

So what happens then? Dr. Tara explains that “adults who weren’t able to get their needs met directly, who didn’t have parents teach them how to self-soothe and who were made to feel bad, guilty or ashamed about being dependent upon their parents, bring these leftover childhood issues into their adult relationships. In more extreme cases, these issues are manifested in personality disorders and other emotional disturbances.”

Hostile dependent people do not understand interdependence, they only understand dependence. What is the difference? Dr. Tara explains that “Interdependence is a dynamic of being mutually and physically responsible to, and sharing a common set of principles with others. This concept differs distinctly from “dependence,” which implies that each member of a relationship cannot function or survive apart from one another. In an interdependent relationship, all participants are emotionally, economically, ecologically and/or morally self-reliant while at the same time responsible to each other.”

Tara explains that “A woman stuck in hostile dependency maps her unhappy childhood, dependency needs and anger about not having every single need met, no matter how small, onto her partner and/or her ex-partner. She is inappropriately dependent on her partner/ex while simultaneously furious about her self-imposed dependency. This kind of woman casts her intimate partners and ex-intimate partners into a parental role.”

The doctor explains that HD persons are, “emotionally speaking, children in adult bodies. They’re stuck in a state of arrested development on a continuum of infancy to snide, bitchy, ungrateful teenager. This kind of woman-child doesn’t know how to meet her own needs, that is, if she even knows what her needs are. Many of these women are ambulatory masses of unmet, unnamed needs.”

Tara says that “This woman is very much the infant who uses the same distress cry for wet diaper, physical pain, “Validate meeeeeee!” and, “Pick me up, I’m bored!” Every need and want, no matter how trivial, is experienced and expressed with the same extreme urgency…She wants total financial and emotional support, blind loyalty and unconditional love—especially when her behavior is horrid and abusive…They’re obnoxious, contemptible and abusive. In her mind, it’s your job to provide her with the unconditional love mommy and daddy didn’t provide and/or the over-indulgent, permissive, no accountability, “you’re wonderful and special” parenting that created this overgrown child.”

Arrested Development and Anger

“During adolescence, parents help teens individuate into autonomous, responsible adults. Meaning that teens stop attributing their difficulties to parents and others and begin to assume responsibility for their own actions (Bios, 1968). The other developmental tasks of adolescence are identity/personality formation and consolidation, separating from parents, sexual maturation and sexual identity formation, and mature time perspective (Buhler, 1968; Neugarten, 1969). Identity consolidation is “a process of investing oneself in new adult roles, responsibilities, and contexts and evaluating one’s ongoing experience in order to construct a coherent, grounded, and positive identity” (Pals, JL, 1999). Mature time perspective involves “being able to foresee the future implications of [one's] present behaviors and envisage how [one's] present behavior can serve the attainment of future goals” (Simons, Vansteenkiste, Lens and Lacante, 2004).

These are essential developmental milestones that many HCP (high-conflict) and abusive personality disordered individuals (histrionic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, etc.) fail to achieve at the age appropriate time. If you’re dealing with a woman whose hostile dependency is part of a personality disorder or personality disorder traits, I don’t know if it’s possible to successfully navigate this developmental task in adulthood.”

The telltale sign of hostile dependency is the anger it generates, in both the dependent person and the person depended upon. Most ex-husbands are incredibly angry and resentful about having to financially support their ex-wives—grown adults who either refuse to support themselves or who erroneously believe they’re entitled to a better lifestyle than they can generate on their own. This is also evident in husbands who have to play nursemaid to their wives’ every emotional need and/or are stuck shouldering the entire financial burden in their families because their wives refuse to work.

Given that these women project their unresolved mommy and daddy issues onto their partners/ex-partners/children, it makes sense that they feel entitled to ungodly amounts of lifetime spousal support/attention/time/special treatment/etc.

Unfortunately, since these women’s parents failed to teach them how to self-soothe, to be responsible for their choices, to have empathy, to experience consequences for their choices and raise them into responsible adults, we’re stuck with these perpetual greedy infants, terrible two-sters and arrogant, nasty adolescents. Worse yet, these women-children are passing their dysfunction on to the next generation.”

Solutions to Hostile Dependency
1.      Contain Your Anger
2.      Take a Time-out for Healthy Action
3.      Make Healthy Fighting Agreements –
a.       Take turns listening to each other
b.      Talk out their feelings
c.       Focus on one topic
d.      Paraphrase what the other has said
e.       Ask good questions to facilitate understanding
Avoid the furious four” fighting tactics:
1.      Name-calling
2.      Threatening divorce
3.      Throwing or hitting things
4.      Walking out on a fight
4.      4. Learn to Apologize


1 comment:

mista maQ said...

Wow! I never saw that one coming but it explains a lot of things. Serious analysis!