Let’s get this off the table first: Relationships take work.
While Hollywood and sitcoms have fed us the idea of happily-ever-after, we are rarely shown what proper communication looks like or the actual conscious effort that a long-term relationship requires.
Because of this and because of life experience, many of us have developed unhealthy relationship habits and ideas. This can lead to the fostering and creation of unhealthy romantic relationships, such as co-dependency.
Then, there’s independence, which is good in some situations but can seriously flop in a romantic relationship. And lastly, there’s the holy grail of relationships: Interdependence.
In this article, we’re going to dig deep into these three types of relationships and which one you actually want (and how to get there). Let’s get straight to it.
Co-dependency means you turn to others to make decisions for you.
In a romantic relationship, this usually means doing whatever your partner wants to do or turning to them to make the final call on all decisions and choices. In other words, you trust them more than you trust yourself.
At the same time, it’s important to note that many healthy relationships have aspects of co-dependency.
For example, you might turn to your partner for decisions on certain subjects because they happen to know more than you and vice versa.
Independence, on the other hand, sways toward more self-interest actions and intents.
And yes, this is important in some respect. You should be your own person in any relationship. But it can also be damaging since it may mean you don’t truly invest in a relationship or the needs of the relationship and the other person.
Interdependence is the real goal.
This screams healthy and functioning in a relationship. It involves both parties pulling their weight and considering and caring for one another. It also doesn’t mean losing your sense of self, which tends to happen in a co-dependent relationship.
Again, relationships can have aspects of all of the above. But you really want to aim for interdependence to build those meaningful relationships in healthy and functional ways.
Gandhi even said,
Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being.
An interdependent relationship includes:
All of this creates a relationship where each partner feels valued and respected. They feel secure in themselves, but also know that they can turn to their partner at any time.
So, how can you achieve this type of relationship?
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Let’s really break this down in a step-by-step format. That way, you can assess where you’re at (and don’t worry if you’re at step 1, we all start somewhere!).
Before you even think about joining up with another, you’ll want to get to know yourself.
This means knowing your value and knowing what you want out of life, without the interference of another. The idea is to find someone that compliments these values and pursuits.
Therapy can help in leaps and bounds in this regard, helping you figure out what you need to work on. At the same time, just hanging out with yourself and figuring out your likes and dislikes can also go a long way.
While there is no way to measure this, you can likely gauge how well you know yourself by your confidence and self-esteem.
When stepping into a relationship and settling into one, keep in mind the idea of continuing to work on yourself.
Just because you’ve found your match, it doesn’t mean that growth and self-improvement aren’t important for the relationship with yourself and others, as well as for continuing to pursue your own goals.
Within an interdependent relationship, both partners are committed to growth and self-improvement. You cheer each other on. You help each other talk and think through feelings or conflict. In a healthy relationship, you should both support one another.
Healthy boundaries ensure respect and understanding go both ways.
And a lot of this comes down to regular communication. Talk about when things bother you. Discuss ways to address disagreements better. Build these boundaries and layers of respect with each other. It can help you both feel good and heard in your relationship.
On top of this, be vulnerable!
Create a safe space where you can both trust in one another to share. This is where the magic truly happens with relationships. You get to know someone on a deeper level, and this can bring so much meaning and fulfillment into your life.
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Society and civilization wouldn’t exist without these relationships.
As humans, we’ve got as far as we have because we are social creatures. We collaborate. We work together. This is how we are where we are. And all of this comes down to good communication, boundaries, and more, which are all present in an interdependent relationship.
So, strive for that! Keep working on you.
The goal isn’t perfection.
Rather, the goal is just to be a bit better than we were the day before. And you can absolutely bring this with you through your relationships with others. In turn, you’ll find greater happiness and even more meaning.
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