Two people in a truly committed relationship are connected by a number of threads. Individually, these threads are fragile. But when they are together, they make a strong bond. Among the most important things that keep this bond stronger are trust, commitment, intimacy, and compassion.
A lesser-known and often overlooked factor keeping couples together is interdependence.
It can be considered as an invisible key to the longevity of a relationship. Wondering what interdependence is and how it is important to the relationship? Read this MomJunction post on interdependence in relationships, and you’ll understand.
What Is Interdependence?
The term interdependence refers to two people or entities being mutually dependent on each other. Interdependence balances the relationship by giving equal importance to both the partners.
An interdependent relationship is one where the partners value each other and cooperate in every possible way to maintain stability. The partners in such a relationship are coindependent but not codependent, which means they think of the other’s needs and desires before their own.
The couple understands each other’s emotional and physical needs and respects them without being judgmental. This makes an interdependent relationship strong, balanced, and dynamic.
Why Is Interdependence Healthy In A Relationship?
An interdependent relationship is defined by aspects such as mutual support, clear communication, and giving personal space to each other. These qualities are necessary for a relationship to survive, which makes interdependence one of the significant parts of a romantic relationship.
In an interdependent relationship, a partner knows what his or her beloved wants. Partners do not force one another to do something they don’t like, and there aren’t as many disagreements either. Interdependence breeds maturity and removes the need for one person to sacrifice or compromise to make the other happy.
Essential Elements Of Interdependent Relationship
Certain characteristics make a relationship interdependent. Some of them are explained here.
1. Healthy communication
Being approachable and honest in communication is necessary for the relationship to work. In an interdependent relationship, both the partners communicate positively. There is active listening, straightforward conversation, but no blame games. They discuss everything freely, being aware of each other’s requirements, leaving no space for misunderstandings.
When healthy boundaries are set, both the partners can have their self-esteem and feel comfortable with or without each other. Establishing boundaries doesn’t mean limiting or restricting each other. Instead, it means being transparent with your values, beliefs, limits, and desires, and drawing the line at how much you can compromise or adjust to make your partner happy.
3. Personal interests
Every individual has their own desires, which they indulge in for some ‘me time’ every day. In an interdependent relationship, partners do not always cling onto one another. They enjoy solitude and can easily get back together when they wish to, without feeling guilty or responsible for the other person’s happiness.
Friction is inevitable when two unique individuals with different requirements and preferences come together in a relationship. But being tolerant of each other is what makes the relationship interdependent. Being compassionate, patient, and focused on the common goals will help both partners maintain the balance in the relationship.
A relationship functions smoothly when the partners work together. Teamwork helps in building strength and energy in a relationship. When a couple puts in individual effort, the bond becomes long-lasting. That’s how interdependent couples are co-independent on each other.
Not sure how interdependence works in a relationship? Here are a few examples to help you understand it better.
#1 The man loves traveling, but the woman likes to spend her free time at her home. In an interdependent relationship, neither of them forces the other to do anything. The woman gives the man the freedom to travel alone or with friends. And the man lets his partner relax at home.
#2 One partner’s job requires them to work in a tight schedule, with them sometimes being at work for more than 12 to 16 hours a day. And the significant other manages the other responsibilities without complaining. When the partners support each other without nagging or complaining too much, the relationship becomes an interdependent one.
Interdependent relationships don’t just happen. They are built, one day at a time.
How To Build An Interdependent Relationship?
Not very happy with the relationship? Feel like there’s some imbalance? Don’t worry. Here are a few simple ways that you may follow and make your relationship steady.
- Establish healthy limits: To make your relationship independent and balanced, create healthy channels of communication. When the communication is transparent between the two, and individual priorities are set, the relationship would function properly.
- Work on self: Usually, people tend to forget or overlook their own wants and wishes once they fall in love, instead of focusing on their personal growth. Working on oneself should run parallel to the development of your relationship. This will help you become a better person.
- Understand each other: One of the chief elements of building a relationship is to understand your partner well. You should know about your significant other’s likes and dislikes, wants, interests, and every other detail of life. When you have clarity on what they want and what you can give, there won’t be room for misconceptions.
- Be real: You should not hide or lie to your partner. Always be who you are to establish an open and independent relationship. This will help you to trust your partner, have deeper conversations, and be assured about the longevity of the relationship.
- Spend time with your loved ones: Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you should always spend time with your partner. That kind of demand puts a lot of pressure on each other. To maintain interdependency, you should also have healthy relationships with other people in your life, including family members, relatives, and friends.
If interdependence makes a relationship balanced, then what is codependency? And what role does it play in a relationship? Find more about it in the next section.
Interdependence vs. Codependency
An interdependent relationship works on mutual support. These features help the partners to grow together. On the other hand, the codependent relationship is all about control and power. Thus, the relationship is not in balance. An interdependent couple shares responsibilities and understands each other’s needs. But in a codependent relationship, partners try to control each other instead of respecting each other’s desires, moods, and feelings. Codependent partners cannot tolerate disagreements and blame each other for anything that goes wrong.
Interdependence helps in improving the partners’ confidence, self-esteem, and promotes feelings of emotional safety and mutual respect. Codependency is all about focusing on oneself than on the partner. An interdependent relationship lets the individual be who they are, but a codependent relationship requires them to change or even compromise for the other. Hence, the interdependent relationship is balanced and healthy, unlike the codependent relationship.
To be happy with each other in a relationship, a couple needs to be interdependent. Codependency can be harmful and may not survive in the long run. Open the windows of happiness in your relationship by adhering to the characteristics of an interdependent relationship and see how content your life becomes.
What’s your take on interdependence in a relationship? Tell us about it in the comment section below.