What is Enmeshment?


Enmeshment exists when one partner is overly consumed and obsessed with another person in a relationship.  It may be hard for outsiders to see where you end and the other person begins.  In an enmeshed relationship, you may think/say things like “You complete me” or “I can’t live without you”.  In this type of relationship, there are no clear boundaries.

An enmeshed relationship is suffocating and codependent.  Enmeshment can include only spending time with one other person.  It can also look like being unable to make a decision without that person’s opinion. Enmeshment is most often seen in intimate/romantic relationships, but can also exist between parents and children, siblings, and friends.

Most individuals who are in enmeshed relationships don’t realize how unhealthy it is.  Enmeshment may change who you are or cause you to lose your individuality in the relationship.  Enmeshment can also cause you to dress differently, change your opinions on things, lose your voice, and lose privacy.  You may also find yourself changing your mood to match that of the other person’s.

Enmeshment is dangerous because it can cause you to lose your identity.  You no longer are you, you are the version of you that the other person dictates you can be.  In addition, enmeshment is often about control.  You end up controlling your partner and they also control you.

Enmeshment creates a false safety net where there is literally no conflict.  This lack of conflict exists due to a compromise of values and opinions.  This is dangerous and may end up causing resentment on both ends of the relationship.

If you find yourself in an enmeshed relationship, please seek help!  You can get healthier by setting boundaries and lovingly detaching from the other person.

Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW

*Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Journey to Joy Counseling. Christy enjoys doing marriage/couples counseling, individual counseling, premarital counseling. She also provides family counseling, teen and adolescent counseling.

Journey to Joy Counseling serves the Indianapolis area, including Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.