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Co-dependency vs. Interdependency
Is it normal for one person’s happiness to be dependent on another person? Isn’t that co-dependent?
In my last two blog posts I addressed co-dependency. I explained that a key to understanding co-dependency is that while one person does something destructive, the other person benefits in some way.
Another key point is that the other person may be acting out of fear rather than love, and I gave some examples of what it would look like to cater to another person out of love or even patience. In these latter cases, I wouldn’t call the situation one of co-dependency.
Finally, I wondered whether consistently putting oneself last is a sign that you are out of touch with yourself. If you are, then it is just easier to cater to someone else then to figure out what you want yourself.
There’s another aspect to this question. Suppose two people are so dedicated to one another that they wouldn’t dream of making a plan to go to the movies or out to lunch without discussing it with the other person. Suppose this couple is so tied to one another that after they have grown old and one passes away, the other person’s world falls apart. Is that co-dependency?
No. That is healthy. That is just as it should be.
See, there’s something to love that goes beyond feeling for one another. It’s about wanting to give to one another. It’s about feeling connected and wanting to maintain that connection. It’s about caring for the well-being of another to the same degree as you care for yourself.
And it’s also about balancing this feeling and this giving with allowing the other person space.
What would that look like?
- Your partner goes on a business trip. You miss him but you’re happy for him to be out there accomplishing things.
- Your partner wants to go to a bang-bang shoot ‘em up movie and you hate them. You go anyway to give him company.
- You enjoy chick flicks and your partner, who sometimes falls asleep at them, tells you he nevertheless would enjoy taking you because he likes to see you happy.
- Your partner is seriously ill in the hospital and you feel as if the world came to an end. You can go home, function, go to work, take care of the kids, but you can’t help but feel worried and lost.
Having a relationship of interdependence means each person feels like a person in his or her own right and yet the other person adds a dimension that only she or he can fill. I think this is exactly how human beings were meant to pair off. Although each person is whole, the other is somehow part of oneself.
If all the other criteria for co-dependency discussed in previous posts are not there, then if you and your spouse feel this kind of close tie to one another, consider yourselves fortunate.