What is emotional surveillance in a relationship, and why is it toxic?

What is emotional surveillance in a relationship, and why is it toxic?
What is emotional surveillance in a relationship, and why is it toxic?

” What do you have ? You seem mad at me, are you sure that’s okay? », despite its benevolent and empathetic appearance, this type of sentence is much more unhealthy than we think. These questions actually come under “emotional monitoring”, which can be literally translated as “emotional monitoring”, as indicated by the media “Well Good”.

This toxic behavior, adopted by certain people in relationships, consists of analyzing their partner’s emotions in order to reassure themselves that they have potentially acted badly. It is a way of seeking validation from others, to satisfy their need to please and their need for security. “For some people, especially those with a history of trauma, this can become excessive. We seek to see if the emotional environment around us remains safe. So we start looking for disappointment, anger, fear, shame, all those things,” explains Israa Nasir, psychotherapist, to our colleagues.

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Emotional monitoring, not to be confused with empathy

Conversely, empathy is part of emotional intelligence, and is considered positive and helpful. “To show empathy towards others is to notice the emotions of others in order to support them, while emotional monitoring is the desire to use others to soothe oneself,” explains Tirrell De Gannes, clinical psychologist. This form of hypervigilance can be linked to anxiety, a lack of self-confidence, a feeling of insecurity or even a type of avoidant attachment, which prevents you from communicating your emotions in an appropriate way. . This vicious circle can be extremely heavy and exhausting, both for the person exercising this emotional surveillance and for the person who is the victim, although the initiator is not necessarily aware of it.

5 tips to stop monitoring your partner’s emotions

If you tend to monitor your partner’s emotions, there are several keys that can help you change this behavior. Set limits for yourself, avoiding investing too much in what the person in front of you feels, and reconnecting with yourself. In this sense, mindfulness exercises can be useful. Also learn to identify and name your uncomfortable emotions, why not by writing them down on paper, to better regulate them. Finally, try to detach yourself from what others think of you. Obviously, all of these tips are not necessarily easy to apply alone. Therefore, it may be interesting to consult a therapist, if you feel the need.

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