Most of us go through life clouded by our style of approaching relationships. At least in part, we live as independents, dependents, or interdependents.
The Independent Partner
Independents pull away in an attempt to keep from getting hurt. Independents tell themselves that if they simply don’t need their partner, they won’t get hurt. Independents hide, keeping everything in, not allowing anyone to know the innermost reality. Occasionally the independent ventures out with a tiny risk, testing the trust in the relationship. When the trust is even slightly stretched, the independent closes up and vows not to risk again.
The Dependent Partner
The dependent partner spends their time looking for approval. Dependents need the other person. Without the approval of their partner, dependents would surely fall apart. Dependents use others to soothe themselves when they are in pain. Dependents modify and adapt in order to be accepted. And if dependents aren’t accepted they over react and decide they must not be lovable.
Some of us swing back and forth. Or react one way in a certain setting and the opposite in another.
The problem is the extremes. The problem is we can’t hold both in tension. In the middle is interdependence.
The Interdependent Partner
Interdependents can value self and others. Interdependents don’t need to seek out the approval of others, but don’t need to avoid it either. Interdependents can live in relationship taking risks and sharing themselves. Interdependents remind themselves they are ok regardless of the other person.
When we are interdependent in our relationships, we are able to show up to others honestly without needing them to respond to us in a certain way. We can tolerate our loved one’s anger or disapproval without falling apart. We can hold onto our value and worth without relying on the other’s acceptance of us.
Two interdependents together can know each other intimately. And they can know themselves. They become two growing, maturing, valuable individuals that have decided to share life together.
These partners live the lives they want to live, together. It will take courage, intention, and a lot of work. But it happens. And it can happen to you.
If you want a more in depth look at interdependence, check out this article in Psychology Today.