Validation is something we all enjoy as humans. We want to feel connected, heard, and seen.
For many of us though, especially if we were shot down a lot as kids, we grow into validation dependence and have difficulty functioning if someone is not constantly telling us how great or right we are.
In this episode, you’ll learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy validation, how to spot it in yourself and your partner, and how to strengthen your own sense of self so you won’t be as reliant on others to validate you.
I’m Andrea Giles. And you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast,
Episode #96: Validation Dependency.
Hello, and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast, where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more freedom than the life you’re currently
living but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hi everybody, I’m so happy to be here. I am, once again, recording this
episode from a hotel room, I have been traveling a lot lately, just running
kids to various things. This time I’m dropping a kid off at a camp in
Idaho, so I’m recording it in a hotel in Idaho. Anyway, I’m really happy to
be here. Right now, I am wrapping up my launch for my Know in 90? group. We
start soon. At the time that this episode comes out, we will be starting it
in the next week. And then a week after that, school starts already,
unbelievable how fast summer goes. Anyway, today I am going to be talking
all about validation dependency. I’m going to be sharing examples from the
view of the person who was betrayed by their spouse, and the person who did
the betraying. My hope is that this is one that you may feel comfortable
sharing with your partner, if this applies to you. And I think there will
be something in here for both of you.
Okay, so understanding if and how you are dependent on validation is really
important. The more you understand it, the more you can grow in your
capacity to not need it. So for the first part of the episode, I’m going to
talk about what validation actually is. I know most of you know what
validation is, but I’m going to go deeper into it. I want you to just
notice, as I describe it, what comes up for you? What do you feel on
yourself that feels familiar as I share these things? We’re not judging,
we’re just noticing, okay? And then we’ll be talking about how this shows
up in your partners as well. And of course, I will tell you how to grow out
of this validation dependency, so you’re no longer dependent on it, but
just enjoy it because it feels good, okay? All right, here we go.
Validation is something humans naturally crave. We are social beings and we
look for social cues that we’re doing okay. We want to feel attractive,
smart, wanted, justified, right, desired, normal, okay? It feels good. For
many people, it is something that is enjoyed, but not necessarily needed to
function day to day. We all want validation for the wrong reason sometimes
too, okay? This is totally normal. Sometimes we want validation because we
are having a day where we’re feeling bad about ourselves, or where we’re
judging ourselves for something, and we want somebody else to tell us that
we’re okay. That is normal. It’s very normal, if it doesn’t get to this
dependency stage, which we’re going to be talking about today, okay? Now
self-validation is the ability to recognize and acknowledge your own
internal experience. And that is what we’re going for. Validation
dependency is a different beast than just seeking validation, and it can
become quite destructive.
This form of dependency, this kind of dependency, is born from having very
little sense of self or sense of who you are, your inherent worth and
lovability. You generally have a very low ability to self-validate in this
space. It is born out of never learning how to love and approve of
yourself, so you make others responsible for your feelings. Self-dependency
is a form of self-abandonment. It is saying to yourself that others’
opinions matter more than your own. When this goes unaddressed, it can
continue to feed low self-esteem and make you turn to others to let you
know if you are okay. It’s very exhausting, it acts like a drug. With a
constant flow of validity, life feels manageable. But if it dries up, much
like a drug addict, a validation dependent goes searching for it, sometimes
quite desperately. One place we see this all the time is in social media.
You see accounts that are much less about sincerely sharing their lives
with others, and much more about how many likes, follows and accolades they
These accounts are very self-serving, and you can feel the difference
between these and accounts where life is just shared. People spend a lot of
time crafting the perfect social media page to bring in likes and shares.
But often, it is much less about being honest and letting people know about
you, and more about getting people to like and validate you. This kind of
mentality breeds validation dependency. Okay, so how does this show up in
infidelity? When people are new in relationships, this is often what it
looks like. “You validate me and I’ll validate you. I will hold up a mirror
to you that shows you all the wonderful, amazing things about you, and I
will not see or show you anything that is less than that. I agree to do
that for you if you will do it for me.” Then people move forward in
relationships and often get married. This work of constantly needing to
validate becomes exhausting and insincere. Why? Because we basically are
using this person to tell us we’re okay in the world, to make us feel a
And when the other person stops doing that as regularly, it can feel
threatening to your own sense of self. Also, if we have to continue to do
this for somebody else, and it starts to feel insincere ourselves when
we’re starting to see the person that we’re actually married to, and not
just the things we want to see, it can become exhausting to try to pretend
like we don’t see anything else but this wonderful, perfect version of the
person that we are with. In a healthy relationship, each person starts
developing their own sense of self, or they started developing that as
children. They hold their own mirror up and see who they are, and what it
might be for them or what it might be like for your partner to be married
to you. This is the work in longtime relationships. Now, for people who do
this work at home, in their childhood home, they may have had parents who
helped them to see themselves, to help them lovingly see their strengths,
their weaknesses, and look at it with a compassionate lens, really for
growth rather than criticism.
But for many of us, this is not the case, and they’ve been taught instead
they are okay, only as long as mom and dad are happy. Many of us were not
only not validated in our childhood home, but many of us were devalued,
told in subtle and not so subtle ways that our thoughts, feelings and
actions are wrong. So we carry that into adulthood and have a feeling of
being inherently wrong. So people get married or involved in long-term
relationships, and look to their partner to validate them and tell them
what they want to hear rather than telling them what it’s really like to be
married to them, both good and not so good. Infidelity, in many cases, is
born from validation-seeking. Let’s paint a scenario. There’s a married
couple who have three small children along with jobs, they’re both doing
their best to be productive, raise their children well, et cetera, but the
wife is exhausted.
She is really tired of some of the sloppy ways of her husband, his lack of
help with the kids. It feels like too much of a stretch to constantly be
feeding her husband false validation. She is tired and knows she’s not
being honest. So he starts resenting her, thinking she has changed,
thinking she’s too busy for him, too tired, doesn’t care, et cetera. While
those things may be true, in reality, what is really happening is she is
dropping the charade. She could no longer hold that mirror up to him and
tell him how wonderful he is because in many ways, he is not being
wonderful. He is doing the bare minimum and taking care of himself at
other’s expense. Now, back to him, he is feeling more and more unhappy at
home. And rather than internalizing this unhappiness and trying to
understand himself and what really might be going on, he feels like he is a
victim. Even if he is not openly looking for it, he wants someone, anyone,
to tell him he is okay.
He is either afraid, unwilling or just plain doesn’t know how to start
validating himself, so he becomes an easy target. Others can often sniff
this out. And very often, two people with the same way of thinking find
each other. They are both looking for someone to validate them, even if
it’s false. It is not deeply satisfying because it’s not based on truth,
but in the moment, it fills that need to be validated, and then they feel
okay in the world again. And then they need more and more of it. It is not
sustainable. So they go seeking it more, either with the affair partner or
someone else. And in the meantime, they’re often vilifying their spouse for
being mean or harsh or whatever. In reality, though, she’s doing the best
she can, trying as hard as she can, and just wants something more honest.
She doesn’t want to play the games anymore, she’s ready to grow herself and
the marriage into something richer and truer. But unbeknownst to her, he is
adding some destruction to the marriage.
Okay, now onto the one who is cheated on. Validation dependence can show up
here too. I work with a lot of women, and infidelity lands differently for
different people. Let me explain. For my clients who come to me, who have
grown up in homes where they have been validated, where they have been
heard, where they have felt like their thoughts and their feelings matter,
their opinions matter, infidelity does not crush them. It is hard and it
hurts, and they don’t love it, and it’s a harsh reality for them, but they
don’t go as deeply down the root of feeling like they aren’t good enough,
like they just must be a terrible person, or an awful wife or whatever.
They take it a little bit harder because it’s such an unvalidating move to
step out of your marriage. That the person who is stepping out is
unvalidating their partner by sending a message of, “There’s something over
here that I want, that I’m not getting here, or that I want more of.” And
it’s an unvalidating move.
So if you already have a pretty good sense of who you are, know how to
validate yourself, at least in part, that invalidation or invalidation by
your spouse is not going to hit quite as hard as someone who hasn’t learned
that skill yet, who doesn’t quite know how to validate themselves. For that
person, it can be completely shattering, completely gutting. And I talk to
all kinds of women. And I would say, honestly, that more times than not, it
is a latter that is the most common, where it feels very shattering. Why?
Because many of us just have not learned how to validate ourselves. Many of
us were either invalidated in our homes growing up, or by our spouses
enough times, that we have stopped trusting ourselves, stopped trusting our
own voices. And so this feels like the biggest invalidation, telling us
that the way we think, the way we feel, the way we are is not good enough.
And this is where there’s some work to do, okay? For many of us, we’re
still looking at our partner to hold up that mirror, to show us only the
So when they find out about the infidelity, they know that what they’re
really being reflected was either a lie or partially a lie. They may have
told you they’re so happy, how great you are, but leaving out giant pieces.
So for this person, her world gets turned upside down. Where does she get
her validation now? Many women at this stage go outside the marriage and
talk to lots of people about their situation, looking for validation that
they’re still okay. For some, they’re so ashamed because they’re making at
mean that they really aren’t worth loving, so they close down and don’t
tell a soul. If they decide to work on the marriage, this is the person
that is needing constant reassurance that her spouse still loves her, still
wants her, and will keep holding that mirror up for her. This space is
unhealthy though because she is not telling herself that she is lovable,
wanted, and worth being good to. She is handing all the power over to him.
She’s still in that dependent role.
Okay, so what to do about this? For many people, infidelity is the crack in
the foundation that wakes both of the people up to each other and to
themselves. It’s a huge wake-up call. They can no longer pretend like their
spouse isn’t who they think they are, both the good and less than stellar
qualities. It is an opportunity to see how we have participated in this
game and make some changes. So I’m going to share three things with you
that can really help to develop your own ability to self-validate. Number
one, look at the things you do each day, particularly involving other
people. If you feel inclined to post something or tell someone something,
ask yourself this question, “What is it I am seeking?” Be honest with
yourself. What are you wanting in return? What are you trying to get by
posting something, by telling somebody something? Just pause and ask
yourself that question. What are you wanting in return? Do you like the
Be on to yourself, if the answer is that you are wanting them to tell
you’re okay and right, and not challenge you at all, you’re probably
seeking their validation. Slow yourself down at this space and just allow
the discomfort of not getting that shot in the arm of validation. Practice
sitting with yourself. It will be hard and uncomfortable at first, but you
will really like who you are becoming as you learn this skill. It is a
skill, you’re developing a skill, okay? It will grow your awareness of how
much you depend on others for validation. Number two, when faced with a
decision, ask yourself the answer before you ask others. It also will feel
uncomfortable. You’ll have a strong urge to go ask somebody else, but
you’ll build trust with yourself and see the value of your own mind and
your own thoughts when you develop this. Normal, healthy behavior does
involve enlisting others’ opinions, for sure, okay? But put yourself first,
as your opinion truly matters most.
You can ask, “What do I think?” If that feels unaccessible, try one of
these questions. “If I knew the answer, what would it be?” or, “If a friend
were asking me,” you can even have somebody in mind here, “what advice
would I give? If so and so came to me and said, ‘Hey, I need to ask you
this question,’ what advice would I give them?” Listen to yourself, try on
some answers, and then live from those answers. This will allow you to get
to know yourself better, your likes and dislikes, knowing your own mind.
Number three, put a pause on social media. When working through infidelity,
it’s so, so easy to go online and see other seemingly perfect couples, and
compare and despair. This is very invalidating. It will feed your sense of
not being good enough, or not as pretty, or smart, or whatever it is, okay?
Give yourself a break, take a break. Push pause and just be with yourself.
Slowing down and being with yourself more often will help you heal.
You’ll be able to get to know yourself, see who you are being in the world,
and strive to show up as the best and healthiest version of yourself. The
goal here, my friends, is not to never ask for validation, to never seek
it. It’s all about balance, okay? The name of this episode is Validation
Dependence. Okay? We all seek validation, we’re talking about when we can’t
function without its independence, okay? It will always feel good, it will
always feel good, but the more you develop your ability to validate
yourself, to self-validate, when other people do things that feel
invalidating, it won’t knock you over so hard. And you’ll be able to stand
stronger in your marriage and not need as much from your spouse. And you
can have a much more honest relationship, where you can really be honest
with each other about what you see and what it’s like to be married to each
other, and hold mirrors up to each other that are truthful, that are the
honest-to-goodness truth of who you are married to and who you are.
Okay, to wrap this up, validation feels good and soothing, it’s okay. But
it becomes a matter of liking it or even wanting it rather than needing it
to feel okay in the world. That’s what we’re going for, that’s what we’re
trying to work through here, okay? Like I said at the beginning, this may
be a good episode to share with your spouse, if you see things that feel
familiar, within yourself, within your spouse. My guess is that many of you
have spouses who are validation dependent, who don’t know how to validate
themselves. And so when you are not feeding it to them, they go find it
elsewhere. And their skill to develop is learning how to validate
themselves, okay? I hope you found this helpful, thank you so much, and I
will see you in a couple of weeks. Bye-bye.
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
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