While love is wonderful for our well-being, not all relationships are healthy.

‘Soul ties’ refers to an intense connection between two people who share a lot in common, such as beliefs, hopes, and tastes. Unfortunately, not all soul ties are positive. Some soul ties lead people to stay in unhealthy or even destructive relationships that can hurt their mental health.

How can that happen?

The beginning of a romantic relationship activates what is called an “attachment style.” Every person develops their attachment style from their very early relationships as the deep emotional bond and connection that a child experiences with their primary caregiver(s). Those early relationships are the school that teaches people how to connect with others.

If the relationship between a baby and their caregivers is stable, safe, caring, and loving, they develop a secure attachment. Secure attachment is characterized by a sense of trust and comfort in relationships. But when the relationship between a baby and their primary caregivers is challenging, babies can develop insecure attachments. Insecure attachment refers to a relational style where individuals have difficulty establishing trust, fear abandonment, and struggle with emotional intimacy.

Even as adults, individuals who have insecure attachments may be worried about being abandoned and seek excessive reassurance in their romantic relationships. Codependent relationships are typical of people with insecure attachments.

A codependent relationship is a dysfunctional dynamic where two or more individuals rely on each other too much for their self-worth, validation, and identity. Codependent relationships often result in destructive behaviors, such as sacrificing personal needs and neglecting their emotional well-being.

When soul ties become codependent relationships, they develop unhealthy dynamics. For example, codependent relationships can appear in couples in which one member has a substance abuse problem. In these relationships, one person may enable or support the addictive behavior of the other, often neglecting their own needs in the process. In return, the codependent individual may feel a sense of purpose or validation by taking care of the substance abuser, while the substance abuser may rely on the codependent partner for emotional support, financial stability, or covering up their addiction. This complex dynamic can perpetuate the cycle of substance abuse and prevent both individuals from seeking help or breaking free from the soul tie. 

When soul ties become codependent, they can be a constant emotional rollercoaster with both partners feeling a sense of emptiness when not together. Codependent relationships require professional help to address and establish healthier patterns of relating. Everybody can learn how to develop healthy relationships and heal from negative experiences. 

If you think you are in a codependent relationship, seek help with a professional who can provide support and guidance.