What Is Interdependence in a friendship/relationship?

An interdependent person recognizes the value of vulnerability, being able to turn to their friend or romantic partner in meaningful ways to create support and a bond.

They also value a sense of self that allows them and their friend or partner to be themselves without any need to compromise who they are or their values system which is a vital aspect of interdependence.

Being dependent on another person can to lead to an unhealthy relationship and be toxic long term.

Growing up, we are usually taught to place a high value of independence, to be somewhat self-contained, with a high value placed on not needing others for support.

As valuable as having a sense of independence is, taken to a far extreme, this can get in the way of us being able to connect emotionally with others in a meaningful way.

Interdependence does not necessarily mean Codependence

When it comes to Interdependence, its important to bear in mind that it is not the same thing as being codependent. A codependent person tends to rely heavily on others for their sense of self and well-being. There is no ability for that person to distinguish where they end and their partner begins, there is an enmeshed sense of responsibility to another person to meet their needs and/or for their partner to meet all of their needs to feel okay about who they are.

Traits of a codependent relationship include things like:

  • Poor/no boundaries
  • People pleasing behaviors
  • Reactivity
  • Unhealthy, ineffective communication
  • Manipulation
  • Difficulty with emotional intimacy
  • Controlling behaviors
  • Blaming each other
  • Low self-esteem of one or both partners/friends

Codependent relationships and friendships are not healthy and do not allow partners or friends room to be themselves, to grow and to be autonomous. These unhealthy relationships involve one partner, or both, relying heavily on the other and the relationship for their sense of self, feelings of worthiness and overall emotional well-being. There are often feelings of guilt and shame for one or both partners when the relationship is not going well.

Why Interdependence Is Healthy and necessary

With regards to Interdependence, it must be noted that it involves a balance of self and other within the relationship or friendship, recognizing that both partners or all parties are working to be present and meet each other’s physical and emotional needs in appropriate and meaningful ways. Partners are not demanding of one another and they do not look to their partner for feelings of worthiness. This gives each partner space to maintain a sense of self, room to move toward each other in times of need and the freedom to make these decisions without fear of what will happen in the relationship.

Suggestions and steps on building an Interdependent Relationship

The main key to building an interdependent relationship is to be conscious of who you are from the beginning. Many times people are looking for or entering, relationships or friendships simply to avoid feeling alone, without any personal reflection of who they are, what they value, and their goals for the relationship. Taking time for this kind of personal reflection allows you to enter a new relationship with an awareness of self that is critical for the establishment of an interdependent relationship.

the following are ways to maintain a sense of self in a relationship:

  • Knowing what you like and what matters to you
  • Not being afraid to ask for what you want
  • Spend time with friends and family
  • Continue pursuing your personal goals
  • Be mindful of your values
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no”
  • Don’t keep yourself small or hidden to please others

What are some of your ideas for maintaining a healthy interdependent relationship?
Let us know in the comments below

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EP78 – Are You Interdependent though?

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EP78 – Are You Interdependent though?
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