Dependency is a unique word – one with many negative connotations. We live in a world where being independent is so important, the thought of depending on someone or something is an ostracizing thought.
Think about your convenience store excursions. What is flooding the front of the store? Self-checkout kiosks. What about gas stations? Pay at the pump. Taxi services? There’s an app for that. We have gone from asking our friends and neighbors questions about the world to owning a hand-held device that has all that knowledge right there, in the palm of your hand. It’s only natural we stray away from the thought of being dependent on someone.
But unfortunately, that is a toxic way of approaching a relationship. As humans, we survive by being dependent on our loved ones. Think of a mother-child relationship. The child needs the mother for survival, and the mother thrives on taking care of her child. Without the dependency of one another, there would be no relationship. Without your motherly-figure, there would be no you.
Of course romantic relationships are different; we have different needs now that we are grown. However, that need for dependency, even in an independent culture, is still there. While we should always be responsible for our own feelings and actions, we can and should be dependent on our partner to provide us the security we need in a relationship. As humans, we have a desire to be wanted, valued, needed. Our partners provide this sense of security: someone who checks in with us, someone to aid you when you are sick, someone to approach you when they need advice, someone to hold when times are tough.
In our culture, we get so wrapped up in finding out “who we are” and “where we fit,” it’s no wonder people believe that they have to remain completely independent within their own relationship.
Keep in mind what was stated before, we should still remain accountable for our feelings and our actions in and out of our relationship. We are still autonomous beings. Confused? Let’s break down what dependency really means when it comes to relationships.
There are two kinds of dependencies in relationships, one is healthy, the other – not so much.
Interdependency is defined (via dictionary.com) as “mutually dependent; depending on each other.”
And co-dependency is defined (via dictionary.com, again) as “… a relationship in which one person is physically or psychologically addicted, as to alcohol or gambling, and the other person is psychologically dependent on the first in an unhealthy way.”
As you can see, when there is an individual in a relationship that is co-dependent on their partner, it is destructive to the relationship. But in the definition for interdependency, there is that word “mutually,” which is key. Couples thrive when there is a sense of security in a relationship – one where you mutually need each other.
Changing the way an entire culture thinks about relationships isn’t sustainable. But this change is crucial to an ever-evolving world and it can start with you. Try a new narrative when it comes to your relationship; don’t let society tell you it isn’t okay to rely on your partner to meet your needs. There is a healthy balance in everything.