Independence, Co-Dependence, and Interdependence

Are you Independent, Interdependent, or Co-Dependent in Your Relationship?

If your first response was independent, you likely value being able to make choices on your own–to be seen separate from others based on the result of your hard work, ability, and determination. You can take care of yourself and make decisions without relying on the help of others. Your self-esteem is likely high as well as your overall confidence. Your comfortable level with interpersonal communication helps ensure that your needs are met. Work or personal ventures may take priority over relationships.

If your first response was co-dependent, you likely rely on others to help make decisions. You tend to seek others for their approval and recognition, rather than trusting your instincts. Perhaps you stay in relationships longer than you originally intended, as this is what feels “comfortable” or “familiar” in your family of origin. Communication, boundaries, and asserting your needs in a relationship can be challenging as you often place higher importance on the needs of others as your value and self-worth tends to be connected to others’ view of you.

Independence and co-dependence both have their limitations. For the individual who considers themself to be independent, where does a significant other fit into the dynamic? Is there space for building emotional intimacy while also maintaining a strong sense of self? In co-dependency, where is one’s sense of self, especially after the end of a relationship? Is one able to cultivate their strengths and areas of interest outside the relationship? Individuals who consider themselves both independent and co-dependent may find that there is something missing.

Let me introduce you to interdependence. In interdependence, there is more of a balance as both partners work together to meet the physical and emotional bonds within the relationship rather than being solely focused on the self or others. Interdependence is a place where the self can remain strong yet but can also mutually help meet the needs of their partner. An interdependent person knows who they are in and separate from their relationship. They can seek input from their partner, especially regarding decisions that impact the relationship while also being comfortable to make final decisions. Healthy communication and boundaries are important to them. They can become vulnerable within their relationship, leading to greater connectedness and intimacy. An interdependent person works to find balance–for family, friends, hobbies, and self-care as they strive to become the best version of their self and the best version of themselves within relationships.

Are you interested in moving towards relational interdependence? Therapy is a great place to do some individual work around self and relationships as well as couples work! Check out some of the common areas that are often explored in therapy that can help one move towards relational interdependence.

Exploring Sense of Self

Learn more about yourself. Explore areas such as “Who am I?”
Learn more about attachment and relationships.
Explore your values, interests, goals, hopes, and dreams.

Working with Boundaries

Increase your awareness of boundaries. Be able to recognize a boundary crossing.
Learn how to communicate your personal boundaries.
Practice assertiveness skills to help establish and maintain personal boundaries.

Finding Balance

Learn how to make time for yourself by establishing new routines.
Focus on your well-being and set SMART goals.
Prioritize areas in your life that are important to you.

Improving Self-Esteem

Address untreated mental illness and/ or physical health concerns.
Work on self-limiting beliefs and negative self-talk.
Establish daily habits that boost positive mood.

Becoming the Best Version of Yourself

Actively take steps to move towards living a fully authentic life.
Utilize therapy for continual self-improvement and relational growth.

To schedule an appointment with one of our professional counselors, click here.

Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC

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