A relationship is the union of two individuals. An interdependent relationship allows both partners to grow together and be their best selves. Their relationship grows and thrives through communication and active listening.
A couple in an interdependent relationship takes equal responsibility and makes an individual effort to strengthen the relationship. They make time for personal interests and support each other in their dreams. They identify and value each other’s space and encourage their partner to pursue their passion. They are unified in their pursuit of happiness and harmony.
In this post, we talk about interdependent relationship and how it works.
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 co-independent 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 partners communicate positively. There is active listening and straightforward conversation, but no blame games. They prefer interacting with each other in a calm and rational manner. 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. Usually, setting boundaries is associated with controlling partners. However, 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 develop a stronger, healthier relationship.
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, cooperative, patient, and focused on common goals will help both partners maintain the balance in the relationship. Mutual respect and empathy are essential, as they strengthen the bond and promote a sense of interconnectedness between partners.
A relationship functions smoothly when the partners work together. Synergistic 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. Though they are intertwined with each other, they can work independently to help each other.
Being accountable for one’s actions is a crucial aspect of an interdependent relationship. Every relationship is bound to have conflicts and disagreements, but in a relationship where collaboration is the key, it becomes more important to recognize the need for owning up for one’s actions. Partners should also recognize their limitations and ask for help whenever required to maintain a healthy relationship.
No one can be free from mistakes. If a partner is considerate and forgives the unpardonable mistakes of their partner, you are in an interdependent relationship. Forgiveness and not holding on to grudges improves the quality of the relationship, besides keeping your emotional well-being in check.
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. If they have interrelated hobbies like if the woman likes traveling but does not like hiking, the man would exclude hiking from his travels when traveling with her. She would also let him hike whenever he wishes.
#2 One partner’s job requires them to work on 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. Communication is key in building a linked relationship, where you and your partner share your thoughts, feelings, and aspirations openly and honestly.
- 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, typically one partner is the controller and the other the controlled one or follower. There is an imbalance.
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 rather 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.
An anonymous mother recounts her experience of transforming her relationships from codependency to interdependency. She writes, “When my husband started heavily drinking and then taking pills, I felt like it was my job to make him sober. When my efforts failed, I felt like a complete failure…My value as a person was completely defined by the well-being of those I loved. I thought it was my role as a wife and mother to completely devote myself and my happiness to them. This way of thinking made it so that other people were responsible for my feelings of security and safety. At a certain point, I reached my rock bottom. I saw how vicious the emotional cycle was of trying to make him better/save him.
“What I now strive for is interdependency. I have learned how empowering it is to not allow others to make me feel whole and valued… It took a lot of trial and error for me to apply my interdependence to all aspects of my marriage. I remind myself every day to focus on myself and give myself the love and care that I crave so desperately from others. I have learned the importance of each of us being responsible for our growth while supporting and encouraging each other. I have set clear boundaries of what I cannot accept. My husband is aware of my boundaries, and my choices are to accept and love him as he is or walk away if any issue is a dealbreaker. I am the happiest I have been in a long time because I am now the source of my well-being (i).”
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is there any difference between independence and interdependence?
Yes. The independent self aspires to be unique, stands out among others, and likes to contribute their part of their responsibilities. They focus mostly on themselves and make sure that they are being heard and are likely to influence others. On the other hand, the interdependent approach refers to more consciousness about others and involves adjusting accordingly.
2. What is the interdependence of family members?
People belonging to the same family usually have a mutual influence on each other, which makes the family members interdependent. Even two relationships within the same family may mutually influence each other.
3. Can interdependence be achieved in any type of relationship?
Interdependence can be achieved in any healthy and balanced relationship where both individuals mutually rely on and support each other, fostering a sense of equality, trust, and interconnection. However, the specific dynamics and level of interdependence may vary depending on the nature of the relationship and the individuals involved.
4. How can a lack of interdependence negatively impact a relationship?
A lack of interdependence in a relationship can lead to an imbalance of power, resentment, or dependency and hinder personal growth and autonomy. It can hinder effective communication, compromise, and the development of a strong and healthy bond between partners.
5. What are some signs of a healthy interdependent relationship?
A healthy interdependent relationship is characterized by balanced give-and-take, where both partners feel valued, and their needs are met. It involves embracing vulnerability and emotional intimacy and fostering growth and personal development.
6. Can you be interdependent with someone with a different personality or lifestyle?
Yes, interdependence can exist between individuals with different personalities or lifestyles by fostering understanding, mutual respect, and finding common ground that allows for each person’s individuality while supporting and relying on each other in areas of shared importance.
7. How can interdependence be maintained in long-distance relationships?
Interdependence can be maintained in long-distance relationships by prioritizing effective communication, establishing trust, and finding ways to support each other’s emotional needs and goals despite the physical distance while fostering individual growth and maintaining a sense of autonomy.
8. Can interdependence lead to a loss of individual identity?
Interdependence has the potential to blur individual identity if personal needs and boundaries are consistently overlooked, but with effective communication and mutual respect, it can foster individual growth within a supportive relationship.
9. How does interdependence affect conflict resolution in a relationship?
Interdependence influences conflict resolution by highlighting the interconnectivity of partners’ well-being, promoting empathy, and encouraging collaborative problem-solving. It fosters a mindset that values mutual growth and understanding, leading to more effective and sustainable conflict resolution.
A relationship can be healthy only when both partners support each other and participate in each other’s growth. An interdependent relationship is characterized by healthy communication, the scope for personal growth, teamwork, and tolerance. Partners should understand each other’s needs, be honest about themselves, and work on improving their abilities. This relationship is ideal and provides partners enough freedom to pursue their interests while encouraging each other and supporting them in their endeavors. So, work toward establishing an interdependent relationship and enjoy a happier and more content life.
Infographic: Key Characteristics Of An Interdependent Relationship
Interdependent relationships offer a unique balance of independence and reliance while fostering healthy and strong connections. So, if you want to have an interdependent relationship with your partner, read through the infographic below, as it highlights the essential features of interdependent relationships.
- In an interdependent relationship, both the partners value and cooperate to maintain balance.
- Keeping clear communication and setting appropriate boundaries in a relationship may benefit both partners.
- In a codependent relationship, one person controls or dominates the other, and there is no balance.
We all need support from our partners, but how much should we rely on them? In this video, we delve into the contrasting concepts of codependence and interdependence, and offer insights on achieving an optimal balance.
Personal Experience: Source
- Laura Sels et al.; (2016); Emotional Interdependence and Well-Being in Close Relationships