Psychological Autonomy…Got it! (mostly)


Lancer (2013) states “Autonomy implies being an emotionally secure, separate, and independent person. The lack of autonomy not only makes separation difficult, it naturally also makes people more dependent upon their partner. The consequence is that people feel trapped or “on the fence” and wracked with ambivalence. On one hand, they crave freedom and independence; on the other hand, they want the security of a relationship – even a bad one. Autonomy doesn’t mean you don’t need others. In fact, it allows you to experience healthy dependence on others without the fear of suffocation. Examples of psychological autonomy include:

  1. You don’t feel lost and empty when you’re alone. [check]
  2. You don’t feel responsible for others’ feelings and actions. [uh, mostly…working on it]
  3. You don’t take things personally. [making progress!]
  4. You can make decisions on your own. [absolutely – the hard part is dealing with the resistance]
  5. You have your own opinions and values and aren’t easily suggestible. [absolutely]
  6. You can initiate and do things on your own. [yep]
  7. You can say “no” and ask for space. [um, NO. This is an issue]
  8. You have your own friends. [another issue…]

Often, it’s this lack of autonomy that makes people unhappy in relationships or unable to commit. Because they can’t leave, they fear getting close. They’re afraid of even more dependence – of losing themselves completely. They may people-please or sacrifice their needs, interests, and friends, and then build resentments toward their partner” (para. 11-13).


Lancer, D. (2013). Are You Trapped & Unhappy in Your Relationship?. Psych Central. Retrieved from


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