Most would agree that the ideal family is one where members are close, loving, and supportive. But, is there such a thing as being too close to your family? Those experiencing enmeshed family signs would say yes.
Signs of family enmeshment can be difficult to see because they often present themselves as a loving, tight-knit family. But the truth is, the enmeshed family system is hard on everyone involved and often involves a level of control that you wouldn’t exactly call a strong family bond.
Definition of an enmeshed family
What is enmeshment? Watch this video to know more.
What is an enmeshed family? The definition of enmeshment is to tangle or catch in something.
Imagine a fisherman standing out in the water using his dragnet to pull in a couple of fish, only to find he’s pulled in more than fifty fish. They are all flapping against each other with nowhere to go.
When you think of an enmeshed family definition, it has the same energy: Families who are sometimes too close for comfort. The enmeshed family definition is one where there are no boundaries.
5 features of enmeshed families
The signs of enmeshment are difficult to see when you are living it. Here are five common characteristics of enmeshed parent child relationships to keep an eye out for.
Research shows thatcontrolling parents contribute to social anxiety in their children. By hindering their children from practicing social behaviors, parents limit the potential for children to become comfortable and confident around others outside of the family.
Children in an enmeshed family system often have trouble saying no. They are so focused on pleasing their parents that they will often give in to their mother or father’s wishes simply to avoid feeling guilty or creating conflict.
5. Easily hurt or betrayed
Enmeshed families have an unusual level of closeness and feel hurt when their child or parent does not want to spend time together. This can cause a disproportionate sense of betrayal over small situations, such as not spending a holiday together or breaking social plans.
On the other hand, one of the biggest enmeshed family signs is being too involved with each other’s lives, to the point of being controlling.
Children of enmeshed families lack their own identity and have a difficult time becoming dependent or autonomous.
15 signs of enmeshment in a family
Here are 15 signs that your family is going through enmeshment.
1. Parents are overprotective
One of the most notable enmeshed family signs is over-protective parents.
Many parents are protective, and rightfully so, but an enmeshment relationship will take a parent’s general concern for their child and turn it on its head.
Parents under these circumstances may feel threatened by someone else coming in and taking their child’s time, which is often why those with enmeshed family patterns find it difficult to have relationships outside the home, romantic or otherwise.
The enmeshed family system is often rooted in unhealthy emotions and creates a mismatched parent-child dynamic. Enmeshed parent-child relationships may even have an adult acting like a dependent and a child who is trying to take care of everything.
Unfortunately, many living under the enmeshed family definition have parents who face addiction issues. This is common because drug or alcohol dependencies are less likely to abide by family boundaries.
7. Struggles in romantic relationships
What is an enmeshed family have to do with romantic relationships? A lot.
Those part of this family dynamic may have difficulties maintaining romantic relationships. This is often due to guilt for not spending more time with their family or their partner feeling like second fiddle to the family.
Over-involvement by the family in romantic matters adds to relationship frustrations.
Those in an enmeshment relationship will often do things such as demand there be no secrets between family, invade tech privacy such as e-mails and text messages, and cross other boundaries such as reading a child’s journal/diary.
What is an enmeshed family? An enmeshment relationship makes children feel like they can’t form their own life goals. Even applying to a college out of town may make a child feel like they are abandoning their family unit.
15. Seeking out affairs and attention
One of the more common enmeshed family signs is young adults who always seek validation.
Those who have been in enmeshed family relationships who are now in romantic relationships may seek this validation (or a desire to be commitment-free after being tied to the family for so long) may be more prone to sexual encounters outside the relationship.
Now that you know the biggest enmeshed family signs, you’ll be able to identify whether your family falls into this category.
Having a few enmeshed family signs does not necessarily mean that your home life is or was toxic, but it is always best to grow away from codependency or situations that make you feel disrespected.
Stop the enmeshed family pattern by rediscovering who you are and setting healthy boundaries with your parents and siblings.
Therapy can be an amazing tool for moving on from an enmeshment relationship and getting to the root of any attachment issues you are dealing with due to your upbringing.
Finding out who you are is like breathing fresh air after years of pollution. Never stop fighting for your right to independence and respect – even if it means cutting family relationships out of your life.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.