Interdependence vs Independence
We are taught to be independent, strong and resilient. As women we are taught to not rely on a man for our survival. Men are taught to not show any weakness and to not seek emotional support. Obviously, being told to take responsibility for ourselves and our own happiness is a great thing. However, it’s made a lot of humans feel like depending on a parter is a terrible thing. And I’m here to tell you it isn’t.
Humans are tribal. We actually do need each other for survival. We are meant to live inside of small communities where we all pitch in with child rearing, protecting the tribe, hunting/gathering, entertainment, caring for the sick and even maintaining harmonious relationships. In the Western world this has all but vanished. Our culture is very every-man-for-himself versus community oriented. We have our families, but a large majority of those families are broken and unstable— not exactly a loving tribe to have your back. This is problematic because are not islands i.e we can’t do this thing called life alone.
Turning this independent rhetoric to dating and I will say even more so dating in a big city, the idea of being independent is HUGE. Everyone is trying to prove to every potential partner they meet and like, they don’t need them. Everyone is trying to avoid codependency to the point of isolation . We do have needs. We do want partnership. So, what are we do? The thing we need to be striving for is interdependence.
First, what is codependency? Codependency is excessive or emotional reliance on a partner. Losing yourself inside someone else. This is a huge problem and an extreme, just as independence can be. An interdependent relationship on the other hand is two people mutually relying on the other while still maintaining their autonomy. Interdependent relationships act as a safe bond for partners where they know they have support/love/care in the other while still maintaining their own sense of self and responsibility for their self.
A big component of finding and maintaining an interdependent relationships is each persons Attachment style. Those unbalanced in their Anxious Attachment will veer towards codependency, abandon themselves and their responsibility for their happiness and try to seek it solely through their partner. Humans unbalanced in their Avoidant attachments will veer towards extreme independence (I’m an island!) and create distance as to avoid intimacy. Both of these reactions are to protect themselves from pain, but of course ends up causing more suffering.
What are we do to find and maintain interdependent relationships? Depending on your attachment style the prescription for you will be different. Anxious attachments must first do the work on realizing any codependency tendencies they possess and begin to do the deep spiritual work to draw their outward seeking for validation back inside of themselves where it belongs. Anxious attachments need to focus on building their self worth and self love. It’s also hugely important to begin to build a fuller life full of things that light them up. Avoidant attachments need to practice depending on others. Their challenge would be to begin asking for help, in small ways, to those in their life and allow people to show up for them in the small ways. Even if it’s a task the human with Avoidant attachment could do themselves, allowing someone else to assist them in it or do it for them to practice letting go and letting someone in.
Nature mirrors interdependence for us beautifully. The flowers depend on the sun, rain and bees to keep them alive and populating. We too need each other and nature for not only our survival but our collective thriving.
If you’re struggling with codependency or your attachment style, I look forward to connecting over a session.