A co-dependent relationship is unhealthy and can lead to people getting hurt. In an interdependent relationship, a couple can trust each other, rely on each other, and help each other to grow. Whereas in a co-dependent relationship, an unhealthy dynamic exists and causes a couple to put too much strain on each other, and expect unrealistic results.
I remember watching a friend start a relationship and seeing it become very intense and co-dependent very quickly. They started to forget other hobbies, ignore other friends, and spend all their time together.
Another friend of mine was sharing her concerns with me because a good friend of her’s had started a relationship, and wouldn’t do anything without the other person. If there weren’t at work or asleep, they were with each other. They did nothing without the other person.
These couples started to expect the relationship to provide for all their needs, all their fulfilment, and all of their worth; which no relationship can do.
These couples started to expect the relationship to provide for all their needs
Yes, it’s okay for a new couple to want to spend lots of time together, yes it’s okay to change your lifestyle and say no to other things when you’re in a new relationship, but we don’t want to destabilise it and sow problems for later down the road.
When a relationship becomes co-dependent, a couple starts relying on each other for every little thing, and it can become unhealthy. I believe that this is setting up a weak foundation, and can end up suffocating the relationship.
Filing our lives up with friendships, wider hobbies, wider interests, creating a full life that we can share with someone we love is amazing. Relying on someone to fulfil everything that our other relationships, interests, and wider hobbies should fill, is dangerous.
Three Things To Avoid
I think there are three things we need to remember when we start building, or as we keep building, our relationship, so that we avoid co-dependence.
We need to remember to avoid:
- Making Them The Source Of All Our Fulfilment
- Ignoring Their Faults
- Not Talking To Others
Making Them The Source Of All Our Fulfilment
A couple in a co-dependent relationship think that this single relationship is enough to bring them all their confidence, self-worth and fulfilment. They think just being in each other’s presence is enough.
We can’t expect an imperfect person to give us everything we need, it’s impossible. We need our identity to be based on more than one relationship.
We can’t expect an imperfect person to give us everything we need
A couple in an interdependent relationship realise that their relationship is enriched by having interests and support and friendships outside of their relationship. They feel more fulfilled, and they can allow each other to grow because they realise things outside of them are important.
It allows the relationship to be a relationship between two people that love each other, rather than the place where absolutely every answer needs to be found. (Read Unhealthy Relationship Expectations We Should All Know.)
Ignoring Their Faults
In a co-dependent relationship, because a couple becomes each other’s main, and sometimes only source of self-confidence, nothing can be done which may end the relationship. This means that any faults, and problems, go unchallenged and unchecked.
Interdependence means accepting there are things that need work on
In an interdependent relationship, the couple realises that neither one of them are perfect. They decide to work on issues together and put in the hard work. Which means they will challenge each other, work on dynamics that are unhelpful, and ultimately help each other to grow. (Read How To Communicate Well When We’re Annoyed.)
Interdependence means accepting there are things that need work, and not just ignoring a problem in case it makes the relationship end. But working through it to make it better.
Not Talking To Others
This one can’t be taken literally of course, people in a relationship will obviously talk to others. But in a co-dependent relationship, the couple spend so much time with each other that they don’t have deep talks or connect with others in a meaningful way.
Or, even if they are with others, they are constantly texting, or messaging or face timing each other, meaning they aren’t fully present or really talking to those around them.
In an interdependent relationship, the couple makes time for other people. They realise not suffocating each other all the time actually means their relationship will be stronger. It means the relationship doesn’t need to be the answer to all their problems.
Imagine if we avoided being co-dependent, and avoided trying to make one relationship the source of all our needs. No imperfect person, no one person, can truly fulfil us. Obviously, our romantic relationship can be a big part of our lives, but it can never be everything. (Read Are You Making The Relationship Mistake That Causes Unhappiness?)
The relationship made us feel safe, and secure and viewed with a healthy perspective.
Imagine if we had relationships that allowed us to grow, that are fulfilling and also enriched us but are part of a wider enriching life too, where the relationship made us feel safe, and secure and viewed with a healthy perspective.
So let’s avoid Making Them The Source Of All Our Fulfilment, Ignoring Their Faults, and Not Talking To Others.
What is the one thing you could do this week to implement one of these principles (more)? Comments welcome below.