I’m on a mission to improve how we relate to each other. No one teaches us how to create good relationships and we end up putting up with ones that are bad for us in so many ways.
But what is a good relationship?
In short, a good relationship is known as an interdependent relationship. But before you can start moving towards an interdependent relationship you need to know where you are now and what you’re aiming for. This article goes through the three main types of connection.
There are three types of connection. These form a scale. At one end you have Independent Relationships and at the other, Codependent Relationships. In the middle is the goal, Interdependent Relationships.
Being independent is being fully in control of your own life. It’s taking care of your own wants and needs. Being completely self-reliant regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or not. This is a valued way of being in today’s society. It goes against our natural instincts as group animals.
If you’re in an independent relationship you put your needs and wants first and foremost above those of your partner and the relationship. You’re unwilling to compromise and won’t share with your partner how you feel or what it is you want.
Being too independent in a relationship leads to loneliness and loss of connection. It can mean the other person doesn’t feel important or that they’re contributing anything to your life. This causes arguments, frustration and you grow apart as a couple.
This can cause a cycle where being too independent creates relationship breakdown, supporting the belief you can’t rely on others and creating more independence which continues to make forming long lasting relationships difficult.
Co-dependency is where you’re excessively reliant on the other person. You rely on them to meet your wants and needs for you. You feel hopeless and helpless without them. It also means prioritising their needs to make yourself feel secure. You believe you do this because you love them, and it’s what you do when in a relationship.
Signs of codependency include:
- Say yes to things you don’t want to do
- Feeling your life is incomplete unless in a relationship
- Being most concerned with what other people think instead of what you think
- Believing that your family’s/friend’s/partner’s opinions and desires are more important than your own
In a codependent relationship, you don’t express what you need for fear of being left. You might not realise this is the reason. This fear is often seated deep in your subconscious and you can go through years of your life without ever needing to question it.
In fact, there’s an argument that this is a normal way of relating. It’s certainly very common, but perpetuating this stops us from moving to a better way of relating to each other.
Codependent relationships create inequality for the people involved. Over time this leads to frustration and resentment. It leads to a loss of your sense of self, which will damage or prevent you from fostering healthy self-esteem and confidence.
Codependent beliefs also prevent people from leaving bad relationships. You give away too much of your power and create this cycle where you become more dependent as time goes on, making it even less likely you’ll leave a bad relationship. This is why I think it isn’t helpful to tell people it’s just the normal way of relating to each other.
An interdependent relationship is one where both people, who can meet their want and needs on individually, choose to come together to support each other. It’s the middle ground between complete, closed-off independence and disempowering co-dependency.
In an interdependent relationship, you’re prioritising both sets of needs and wants equally. This is done through self-awareness and clear, open communication. Since both people’s needs and wants have equal importance, compromise is required. You work together to find that middle ground where you’re both be happy.
I want to be clear, this isn’t always the easiest option, but so worth it. I also believe that it isn’t that hard to actually achieve either. It does require frequent monitoring and nurturing but that doesn’t have to be difficult.
Interdependent relationships lead to long-term success, not just with the relationship, but in life as well. A relationship must support you to grow and become the best version of yourself. That’s so much easier when you surround yourself with people who will lift you up, support you and help build your self-esteem and confidence.
When I talk about both people in a relationship bringing 50% to the relationship, this is what I’m talking about. It is about you working together to achieve the best for both yourselves and your partnership. You can give your 100% to your half, but giving more than that pushes you over into co-dependency. This is why it’s so important to put your needs first.
I hope that has shown you what to strive for in your relationships. Remember:
- Independent relationships are when you prioritise your wants and needs over those of the needs of your partner or your relationship.
- Co-dependent relationships are when you prioritise your partner’s wants and needs over your own and become overly reliant on them to meet your needs.
- Interdependent relationships are when you can meet your wants and needs independently, but decided to work together with your partner to form a positive situation where both of your desires are being met equally.
Have a think about where you are on this scale right now.
Are you leaning too much towards one of the more challenging relationship types? How can you get back to a more interdependent relationship?
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