Dependence and entitlement often go hand in hand. Entitlement refers to an unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment, while dependence refers to relying too heavily on someone or something else. When combined, entitled dependence manifests as an excessive need for support or resources without appreciation or reciprocity.
This dysfunctional dynamic hurts relationships and prevents personal growth. Understanding entitled dependence is the first step to overcoming it.
What causes entitled dependence?
Several factors can contribute to entitled dependence:
- Overindulgent parents who give too much and expect little in return can breed entitled attitudes in children. Growing up, these children learn to take others’ support for granted.
- Enabling behaviors from friends, family, or partners reinforce entitled dependence. Doing too much for someone teaches them to become overly reliant.
- Underlying mental health issues like depression or anxiety can fuel entitled dependence. People may use demands and manipulation to cope with difficult emotions.
- Learned helplessness stems from consistently having things done for you, even when capable. This erodes self-efficacy and initiative.
- Narcissistic traits are linked to entitled behaviors. A lack of empathy, desire for admiration, and sense of superiority can drive excessive expectations.
Harms of entitled dependence
Left unchecked, entitled dependence can damage relationships, undermine mental health, and prevent personal growth. Potential consequences include:
- Strained relationships. Entitled demands drain loved ones, fostering resentment and distrust. Dependence prevents mutually supportive bonds from forming.
- Poor coping skills. Relying on others prevents learning healthy self-soothing and problem-solving tactics. This makes it hard to cope when support isn’t available.
- Helplessness and low self-esteem. Believing you can’t do things for yourself damages confidence and self-worth. You come to expect failure.
- Anxiety and depression. The inability to handle challenges independently along with damaged relationships contributes to emotional distress.
- Financial issues. Dependency can lead to poor money management skills and irresponsible spending if basic needs are always met by others.
Overcoming entitled dependence
Breaking free of entitled dependence requires diligence, self-reflection, and often professional support. Key strategies include:
1. Identify entitled thoughts and behaviors
The first step is noticing entitled dependence in yourself or your relationships. Signs include:
- Expecting constant help and support from others
- Demanding or manipulative behavior
- Lack of appreciation for what you are given
- Difficulty doing basic tasks alone
- Feeling you deserve special treatment
- Anger or resentment when support is not given
2. Challenge cognitive distortions
Faulty thought patterns enable entitled dependence. Common cognitive distortions include:
- “I deserve this”
- “I can’t do this alone”
- “I need this”
- “They have to help me”
- “I’m too special to do that”
Actively challenge these unreasonable thoughts when they arise. Ask yourself:
- Is this expectation realistic and fair?
- What am I capable of doing on my own?
- What would happen if I tried this independently?
- Am I showing enough gratitude for support given?
This can slowly shift your mindset.
3. Set healthy boundaries
People who enable entitled behaviors should set firm limits. Say no to inappropriate demands. Don’t do for someone what they can do themselves. Stick to defined boundaries consistently.
Managing expectations helps entitled dependents realize they must contribute too. It teaches personal responsibility.
4. Build coping skills and self-efficacy
The dependent person should work on managing emotions and building self-sufficiency. Useful skills include:
- Self-soothing techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or exercise
- Problem-solving and planning to accomplish goals independently
- Assertive (not aggressive) communication
- Managing finances, home tasks, self-care independently
Start small to experience successes and gain confidence in your abilities.
5. Seek professional help
For severe entitled dependence, therapy can address underlying issues. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps transform thoughts and behaviors. Other techniques provide emotional regulation skills.
Achieving healthy independence
With consistent effort, entitled dependence can evolve into secure independence. You maintain boundaries and take responsibility for yourself, while accepting appropriate support. Healthy independence enables stronger connections and personal growth.
The path requires courage, resilience, and commitment to change. But with self-awareness and proper help, entitled dependence can be overcome for a more fulfilling life.
- Entitled dependence manifests as excessive demands coupled with an inability to cope alone. It strains relationships and stunts personal growth.
- Contributing factors include parental overindulgence, learned helplessness, enabling behaviors, and underlying mental health issues.
- Harms include anxiety, low self-esteem, financial issues, and dependency. Healthy boundaries and building self-efficacy are key to overcoming it.
- With therapy, cognitive restructuring, and practicing new skills, entitled dependence can be replaced with secure independence and healthy interdependence with others.