If you feel low, asking your partner to hold your hand or expecting an emotional connection makes you needy?
Should you avoid any sort of emotional dependency on your partner? Does that make you weak or codependent?
The prevailing idea is that true fulfillment and happiness should come from within, and you shouldn't rely on your partner to make you feel complete or joyful. Self-sufficiency is being idealized.
However, is being dependent in a relationship on each other a bad thing?
Before we get into that let see what codependency is.
What is codependency:
"Codependency is a term used to describe a dysfunctional pattern of behavior in relationships where one excessively relies on another for their sense of self-worth, identity, and emotional well-being. It often involves an imbalance of power and a lack of healthy boundaries."
If you tend to prioritize the needs and feelings of the other person above your own, and ignores your own, or if your self-esteem is closely tied to their approval and validation, then it will have detrimental impact.
Also, if you believe that you should go solo and you don't have place for others in your life you need to hear this - Access of anything is wrong, whether you dependent or altogether avoidant.
Look, we are biologically designed for human connection, love and warmth. And the moment we deny our basic need for connection and belongingness we send our system into hyperdrive creating emotional turbulence.
Why is codependency gaining a bad rep?
Back in the 1940s, John Watson and his behaviorist pals warned parents about the perils of letting their kids rely too much on others for comfort. They believed that kids should learn to soothe themselves or risk becoming weak and overly dependent. That's how self-sufficiency gained momentum.
Sure, there are cases where codependency can be harmful, like when it involves substance abuse or domestic violence. However, recent research and attachment theory tells a different story.
It seems we have put too much stress on being self-reliant and overlooking our basic need for connection. Dependency is a natural part of our biology and psychology. That's why how much we convince our self to be self-sufficient and independent there is a natural craving within us that want more. More in terms of having someone to share our life, our experiences of joy and pain together—After all, experiences are meaningful when shared with others.
Based on the attachment theory, if you see, people who are securely attached become beautifully intertwined and interdependent with their partners. It's like they're physiologically connected, supporting and relying on each other in a healthy way. And guess what? It's totally normal and okay!
Think about it. When you feel secure, calm, and content in your relationship, you naturally gain confidence to venture out into the world without clinging to your partner's side. You have a solid foundation that allows you to be your best self and take on new challenges.
It makes sense that someone who feels secure, calm and content in their relationship, will feel more confident about going out into the world.
When dependency turns ugly:
However, dependency, when taken to extreme or unhealthy levels, can have negative consequences on relationships. It's important to recognize that there is a fine line between healthy interdependence and unhealthy dependency. When dependency turns ugly, it can manifest in various ways:
Codependency occurs when you start excessively relying on the other for your emotional well-being, to the point where you lose your own sense of identity and self-worth. Making someone else responsible to make you happy is definitely unhealthy.
In codependent relationships, you see an imbalance of power, a lack of healthy boundaries, and a constant need for validation and approval.
"I need you to be there for me all the time. I can't handle things on my own."
Enmeshment is when the boundaries between you two become blurry and your lives become overly intertwined. It's like getting caught up in each other's lives to the point where it's hard to distinguish where one person ends and the other begins.
In enmeshed relationships, personal desires and goals can be sacrificed in order to keep the relationship intact.
"I don't want to disappoint you, so I always go along with what you want."
Unhealthy dependency can also show up as emotional manipulation. One partner may use emotional tactics like guilt-tripping or making threats of abandonment to control and manipulate the other person's choices and actions.
It's like using emotions as a tool to get what they want and keep you under their control.
"If you really loved me, you would prioritize me over everyone else."
Stifled personal growth:
When dependency becomes suffocating, it can hinder your personal growth and prevent you from exploring your own interests, goals, and passions. It's like being so dependent on someone that you forget about your own dreams and aspirations.
If you don't nurture your own growth you would end up lacking personal fulfillment and satisfaction in your life.
Inability to handle separations:
Unhealthy dependency can make it difficult to handle separations or spend time apart. It's like feeling extreme anxiety or distress when you're away from your partner, which can put a strain on the relationship and limit your personal freedom.
Having a healthy sense of independence allows you to handle time apart without feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
Finding the right balance between independence and emotional connection is key in relationships. It's all about creating a healthy interdependence where both partners have room to grow, be their own person, and support each other.
While it's natural to rely on your partner for emotional support, it's important to be aware of any unhealthy patterns of dependency that can hinder the relationship's growth. By recognizing and addressing these patterns, you can nurture a healthier and more fulfilling bond with your partner. Remember, it's about finding that sweet spot where you can both thrive as individuals while building a strong connection together.
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Together, let's embark on a journey towards healthier and more fulfilling connections!
Levine, A., & Heller, R. (2010). Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find - and Keep - Love. TarcherPerigee.