There are many different ways to behave in a relationship.
Some people in an intimate relationship retain a high degree of independence, while others may become codependent, meaning one person consistently puts the other’s needs before their own.
Interdependence in a relationship is often recognized as the healthiest form of an intimate relationship.
Moreover, the official definition of interdependence is: the quality or condition of being interdependent or mutually dependent on one another.
Thus, as the definition indicates, people who live in an interdependent relationship tend to respond equally and in a balanced way to each other’s needs.
But how do they do this?
Before dwelling on this point, let’s analyze the three types of romantic relationships that exist.
Types of romantic relationships: which do you belong to?
Simply put, there are three dimensions of romantic relationships:
independent love relationship
The dependent love relationship
Our theme today: the interdependent love relationship
In the independent romantic relationship, no one wants to compromise and both partners pursue their desires independently of the other.
It’s a bit like, “I do what I want”. Many couples try to pass this off as the ultimate freedom in a relationship, but in fact, it’s mostly indifference.
Conflict is inevitable and the couple is often unhappy.
In the dependent love relationship, both partners use each other to fill an emotional void. Thus, the man is dependent on his companion and vice versa.
They dominate each other, exploit each other and both reduce themselves to objects. This is the most common couple dimension in our modern world.
Generally, the couple is miserable!
In the interdependent romantic relationship, the two partners seem in osmosis. They respect each other and they respect the points of view, the desires and the needs of the other.
Everyone does their best to make the other happy, while respecting who he/she is. This loving dimension is very rare in our modern world.
Yet it is the only kind of love that can really be considered love.
So how do interdependent couples work?
1. Compromise or be dependent on each other?
Relationships often involve compromise and there is a distinction between compromise and dependency. In fact, the pursuit of autonomous goals comes at a cost in interdependent love relationships.
Sometimes a person in a relationship makes a sacrifice. For example, if one of the partners gets a job that represents a great opportunity, but involves moving to another city, the other person can also move.
In an interdependent relationship, the partner who has a new job will likely reciprocate, making a sacrifice for the other person.
Compromise can help a couple achieve a balance between the needs of both parties, as long as one person does not consistently neglect their needs.
It is also useful to focus on the gains brought by the relationship instead of focusing only on the costs.
2. Both partners are completely invested in the romantic relationship
Dependent relationships require effort, care, and healthy boundaries. Becoming aware of one’s own needs and goals is an important step towards reciprocity in relationships.
Making the conscious decision to compromise or sacrifice for another person can be positive as long as it does not undermine the individual’s sense of self and well-being.
Indeed, codependency leads to seeking validation and acceptance from others; connectedness is about finding acceptance within yourself and then welcoming additional support from outside sources.
Achieving interdependence as a couple will take effort and compassion, but will lead to healthy and satisfying long-term relationships in the future.
3. The couple works together to achieve a healthy balance
Achieving interdependence in a relationship is not always easy. Indeed, interdependence is a healthy way of relating, because each person is involved in the life of the other without sacrificing their values.
If you feel like you always put your partner’s needs ahead of your own or vice versa, your relationship may be unbalanced or not really interdependent.
The first step to overcoming this problem is communication. Couples can discuss how each is feeling and figure out how to accommodate so they can make decisions together that take into account the needs of both.
4. Both partners keep their individual identity
One way to ensure your relationship is on the path to interdependence is to maintain your own identity as an individual and as a couple.
Indeed, people who live in an interdependent relationship recognize the importance of maintaining their identity outside the couple and feel confident in expressing their opinions while remaining sensitive to the other person.
You maintain your identity through your work, your friendships, or your participation in activities that you practice independently.
To avoid disconnecting from your partner, balance your independence with spending time together doing things you both enjoy.