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What is Emotional Entanglement

Emotions create the very fabric of the intricate human experience, intricately binding us to one another in bonds that span from surface-level connections to profoundly deep relationships. At the core of these intricate connections lies the phenomenon known as emotional entanglement. This phenomenon profoundly shapes how we interact with others, navigate the complexities of relationships, and ultimately carve the path of our lives. Throughout this article, we’ll venture into the captivating realm of emotional entanglement, delving into its meaning, triggers, impacts, and strategies for fostering healthy emotional boundaries.

Understanding Emotional Entanglement

Emotional entanglement, also known as an enmeshment relationship encompasses a state where individuals become intricately interwoven with the emotions, thoughts, and overall well-being of others. It’s as if the lines that define emotional limits blur, leading to a shared emotional state that bears both positive and negative outcomes. This concept of ‘emotional entanglement’ isn’t confined solely to romantic partnerships; it can emerge within friendships, familial ties, and even professional relationships, adding complexity to the emotional landscape.

Causes of Emotional Entanglement

Causes of emotional entanglement are intriguingly complex, often stemming from a blend of psychological, interpersonal, and situational elements. To gain deeper insights into what drives this intricate fusion of emotions, let’s delve into some of the pivotal factors contributing to emotional entanglement:

Empathy and Mirror Neurons:

At the heart of human connection lies empathy, a foundational aspect of our relationships. Empathy enables us to grasp and share the emotions of others, creating bridges of understanding and compassion. This intricate process is facilitated by mirror neurons, specialized neural cells that fire when we experience an emotion ourselves and when we witness someone else’s experience of it. While mirror neurons have a vital role in knitting social bonds, they also contribute to the phenomenon of emotional entanglement.

When we engage in profound empathy, these mirror neurons can activate to an extent where we almost adopt the emotions of others as if they were our own. This intricate process can blur the lines separating our emotions from theirs, ultimately leading to emotional entanglement. Notably, individuals highly attuned to empathy are particularly prone to absorbing the emotional states of those around them, intensifying the sense of connection.

Past Trauma and Insecurities:

Past experiences wield a significant influence over our emotional reactions and the dynamics of our relationships. Individuals who have endured trauma, abuse, or substantial emotional challenges may be naturally drawn to those who have walked a similar path. This shared understanding can give rise to a potent connection, as both parties feel a level of validation and comprehension that might elude others.

Nevertheless, this connection can also pave the way for emotional entanglement. Those with unresolved trauma might encounter difficulty in distinguishing their own emotions from those of their partner or friend. Their lingering emotional pain might intertwine with the pain experienced by the other person, leading to a blurring of emotional boundaries.


Codependency represents a behavioral pattern where an individual’s self-worth is unduly tethered to the approval, validation, or happiness of another. Within codependent relationships, emotional entanglement often extends deeply. One person might bear the weight of responsibility for the emotional well-being of the other, often at the expense of their own needs. Individuals entrenched in codependent dynamics may grapple with establishing and preserving healthy emotional boundaries due to the intricate fusion of their sense of self with the emotions of the other. Consequently, emotional entanglement can include a cycle of emotional fluctuations that may ensue, where each person’s emotional equilibrium hinges on the other’s prevailing emotional state.

Intimacy and Vulnerability:

Intimacy involves sharing one’s authentic self with another, often revealing vulnerabilities, fears, and dreams. This level of emotional closeness can foster a deep connection that is both enriching and potentially entangling. However, when the boundaries between two people become too porous, emotional entanglement can occur. As partners or friends become intimately acquainted with each other’s inner worlds, they might unconsciously absorb and internalize each other’s emotions. This can result in difficulty distinguishing their own feelings from those of the other person, leading to emotional confusion and potentially an emotional entanglement.

Positive Effects of Emotional Entanglement:

Emotional entanglement, while having its complexities, can also bring about positive effects that enhance the quality of relationships and contribute to emotional growth. When managed in a healthy manner, emotional entanglement can foster a heightened sense of connection, support, and empathy. Let’s explore these positive effects in more detail:

Heightened Connection and Understanding:

Emotional entanglement can lead to a profound sense of connection between individuals. When people are emotionally entangled, they often share their innermost thoughts, feelings, and vulnerabilities without fear of judgment. This transparency creates a deep bond rooted in genuine understanding.

The shared emotional experiences provide a unique platform for individuals to truly comprehend each other’s perspectives. This understanding strengthens the relationship by fostering a safe space for open communication and promoting mutual respect.

Strong Support System:

In an enmeshment relationship, individuals are more likely to provide unwavering support to one another during challenging times. Since they intimately understand each other’s emotional landscapes, they are better equipped to offer the specific kind of support needed.

During periods of difficulty or adversity, having a support system that is emotionally attuned can be immensely reassuring. Emotional entanglement can lead to a willingness to lend a listening ear, offer advice, or simply be present in times of need.

Enhanced Empathy:

Through emotional entanglement, you frequently observe an upswing in empathy between individuals. As you grow more attuned to each other’s emotional states, your sensitivity to one another’s feelings and experiences becomes notably heightened. This amplified empathy transcends the realm of mere surface-level comprehension, empowering you to offer a profound sense of solace, validation, and a shared sense of belonging. Consequently, emotionally entwined relationships lay the groundwork for cultivating emotional intimacy that extends beyond the superficial, fostering a profound connection that delves into the depths of understanding.

Shared Joy and Happiness:

Positive emotions are also amplified in emotionally entangled relationships. Shared moments of joy, laughter, and happiness are experienced with a heightened sense of enthusiasm due to the deep emotional connection. Celebrating each other’s successes and joys becomes a mutually fulfilling experience. The shared happiness strengthens the bond between individuals, creating positive memories and reinforcing the emotional entanglement.

Facilitation of Personal Growth:

Emotional entanglement possesses the potential to foster personal growth and enhance self-awareness. As individuals forge intimate connections and establish a sense of ease in sharing their emotions, an avenue emerges for the exchange of constructive feedback, valuable insights, and diverse perspectives.

Through this candid interchange of thoughts and emotions in an emotional entanglement, the door to heightened self-awareness swings open. This heightened self-awareness equips them with the capacity to identify their strengths, acknowledge their vulnerabilities, and pinpoint areas that warrant improvement. The bedrock of support and understanding that characterizes emotionally entangled relationships constructs a nurturing environment conducive to personal evolution and growth.

Negative Effects of Emotional Entanglement

While emotional entanglement has its positive aspects, it also carries the potential for negative consequences that can impact individuals and relationships. When emotional boundaries become blurred and personal identities meld together, several adverse effects can emerge. Let’s explore these negative effects in more detail:

Loss of Identity:

One of the most pronounced negative repercussions of emotional entanglement is the potential erosion of your individual identity. As emotions intertwine, distinguishing your own feelings, desires, and beliefs from those of the other person becomes increasingly complex. This gradual erosion of identity may foster a sense of bewilderment and diminish your self-worth. You might find yourself blending into the emotions and needs of the other person, inadvertently sidelining your own values and aspirations.

Emotional Drain:

The ceaseless exchange and absorption of intense emotions in an emotional enmeshment can exact an emotional toll. Emotional entanglement can trigger a cyclical pattern of emotional highs and lows, leaving you profoundly affected by the fluctuations in the other person’s emotional state. This persistent emotional drainage may lead to feelings of burnout and fatigue, hampering your ability to safeguard your emotional well-being. With time, the weight of perpetually navigating these interwoven emotions in an emotional entanglement can take a toll on your mental health. It is important to set enmeshment boundaries to avoid this emotional drainage.

Conflict Escalation:

Within emotionally entwined relationships, conflicts and disagreements often take on an intensified fervor. The deeply intertwined emotions can amplify the impact of disagreements in an emotional entanglement, rendering conflict resolution a more arduous task. As you grapple to distinguish your emotions from those of the other person, disagreements have the potential to escalate into emotionally charged disputes. This dynamic of an emotional entanglement can strain the relationship and establish a self-perpetuating cycle of conflict that proves challenging to dismantle.

Lack of Boundaries:

In the realm of healthy relationships, clear emotional boundaries are the bedrock, delineating the point where one person’s emotions cease and another’s commence. However, an enmeshment relationship possesses the capacity to corrode these boundaries, giving rise to sensations of unease and a dearth of personal space. Your focus might predominantly center on the emotions of the other person, potentially making it intricate to prioritize your own emotional well-being. This blurring of boundaries in an emotional entanglement can usher in feelings of suffocation and impede your capacity to assert your individual needs.

Difficulty in Decision-Making:

The intricacies of emotional entanglement can introduce complexities into the process of decision-making. When emotions are deeply interwoven, your choices may be swayed by the desires and emotions of the other person rather than being guided by your own inclinations. This inclination can yield decisions that veer away from alignment with your genuine values and aspirations. Over time, this recurring pattern can engender sentiments of regret and exasperation as you come to realize that, in the pursuit of emotional entanglement, you’ve inadvertently compromised your own needs.

Overcome emotional entanglement with a NYC therapist today!

Enmeshment relationships occur when emotional lines get blurred and create emotional entanglement. We offer relationship therapy at Uncover Mental Health Counseling to set enmeshment boundaries so that you don’t fall into the emotional enmeshment trap. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Reach out to Uncover Mental Health Counseling to arrange a complimentary consultation call.
  2. Meet with a relationship therapist in NYC for your first session.
  3. Start receiving the necessary support to overcome emotional entanglement.

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