November 6, 2023


If you have ever said “I can’t live without you” to someone, please read this blog. You need to recognize those words are a red flag for you and your future. If you have said these words and sort of meant it figuratively, then disregard the rest of this blog. Those five words send shivers down my spine when I hear people say them to a loved one. All I hear is their lives are worthless without their loved ones, and that is just not healthy in any way, shape, or form.

In my 3 decades of work in mental health I’ve seen all too often issues related to domestic violence and murder/suicides related to people ending their lives due to break ups from partners and family. We see it all the time on the news about murder suicides.

There are a lot of movies made showing how people’s lives were train wrecks before meeting the love of their lives who changed it all for them. We make this type of theme into a romantic journey when in reality it is a clear red flag. If you cannot live without someone you need to do some heavy soul searching to find a healthier path without having to depend on other people.

In my Resolution Focused Therapy (RFT) I talk about using healthy grounds to replace unhealthy ones. I define a ground as a person, place, or thing that makes you feel safe and grounded when distressed. In the recovery world healthy grounds are important to help substance users get over a craving or a desire to use. In the trauma world, these grounds help us when we get triggered by flashbacks, anxiety, depression, etc. And in general, healthy grounds help us all get past the daily struggles of life and their insecurities. This is where many people grasp a significant other to feel better and get grounded. The problem is thinking that these new relationships will be the answer to their problems. They are not!

Relationships should never ever be based on the fact you need someone else to survive or remain healthy. If you have this need then you should seek help to improve your lives. Help isn’t someone else coming to the rescue. Help is finding a therapist or group that can help you with your insecurities, or past unresolved issues that have led you to needing another person to survive. It’s fine to recognize that your significant other makes you feel better about yourselves, but this should be the time to seek some assistance to improve your own self-worth.

In my decades of working with mental health issues, trauma, and addictions, I have seen too many people threaten to take their own lives or threatened to kill their loved ones when the relationships are ended. We have all witnessed domestic violence, mass killings, and murder/suicides surrounding this kind of thinking. We need to stop romanticizing the Romeo and Juliet theme.

Relationships should be about sharing in both your happiness together. I said happy and not unhappy until you met someone else. It’s about being comfortable and happy in your own lives. If you succeed in reaching happiness in your own lives, then when relationships don’t work out you mourn the loss but not feel devastated and doomed. In my emotional age blog, I discuss a little about being emotionally stuck back at unresolved points in your lives. This being stuck pertains to your emotional age. If you were emotionally immature before your relationship, then you will revert back when the relationship ends. I have also witnessed this behavior too many times.

I can’t live without you is a statement that means your lives were in turmoil before. This is not the time to delve into a relationship and further complicate your situation. You are rolling the dice with your future and dependent on another to give your life meaning. This is not a healthy scenario.

There are many people with unresolved pasts that find a need to rescue others. Many times, these rescuers unite with those who need rescuing, thus creating a very unstable and unhealthy relationships. This is just one example of how these relationships form under unhealthy conditions.

When I worked at a crisis center, both mobile and a hotline, I remember a call that has stuck with me to this day. We received a call of someone threatening to kill themselves and was blaming it on their loved one breaking up with them. There was no way to alert the police due to him driving around in his car. We then received another call from his loved one stating that her boyfriend called and was blaming her for his suicidal path. I decided to help her understand that regardless of the outcome she was not responsible for his actions. Luckily, by me talking to her she was able to recover from a tragedy that occurred. He did take his own life, but she was able to work through it by speaking with us before the act was done. This was a sad story but one that needed to be shared to make my point.

If you are in a situation where your relationship is built on my examples or statements in this essay, then take the time to get you and your loved ones the help you both need to develop individually therefore strengthening your bond. Don’t be victims to a romantic story built on needing other people to be happy in life.

I have some very dear friends who I thought of when writing this essay. They are good examples of what I am saying. Some lost oved ones to death, and others to break ups. All maintained a healthy individual ego and sustained the losses without destroying their lives. This is what it is all about.

If you are single and have had such relationships as outlined in this essay, seek help now so you do not continue to engage in toxic and unhealthy relationships. Not being able to live without a partner can only lead to further destructive patterns when relationships end.

In my clinical field, they have used co-dependency and now Self-love Deficit Disorder to describe what I’m stating in this blog. I don’t use those words in my vocabulary because it only states the obvious and not the dangers of dependence on another. My focus is more on the dangers these conditions create in our world. I also write to the masses and not to the academics in my field. I like to translate these human conditions into lay language to make my point.

In summary, let me be very clear about what I am saying. If you have put your happiness in another’s hand, then you need to rethink your life. You put all your chips in one basket, and it raises a big red flag for me. If you realize this and have acted, then kudos to you and hopefully you will use this time to rebuild your own ego and life. If you think this reliance on another person will keep you content and happy then you are betting your life and your loved one’s life on it, and that is never a good scenario.

Mind, Body, Spirit…Balance!

Vinnie Strumolo, CEO, CCO, LMFT