Like many of you, I have been through my share of drama in relationships.
The slamming of doors, days of avoidance or all-out arguing, as well as hours of crying both alone and to friends and family about the travesty that my relationship had become.
It was as if the dynamic turned into a green monster that had taken on a life of its own.
In a sense, this is true. The dynamic is a cycle not easily broken.
Typically one person is pushing and pursuing and the other is running and avoiding; meeting in the middle is not something that happens easily, if at all. It is not more the fault of either—each typically carries the same weight when it comes to responsibility in the way that this plays out.
This pursuing can show up in a lot of different ways. It can be too many text messages, the constant need for validation, always wanting to know what the other is doing—anything that stems from what deep down is the need to cling. The more that one runs the more the other feels the need to pursue, and the more that that person pursues, the more the other feels to need to pull away.
This dynamic truly is a beast that feeds itself.
This is what has been termed as a codependent relationship, which sadly, the majority of people who struggle in their relationships are up against.
Long-term recovery is not as simple as one person not playing their part on one or a few occasions, as these tendencies can sometimes have become deeply engrained. Our patterns can even stick with us from one relationship to the next.
Once a couple finds themselves in this destructive loop, it is extremely difficult to break the cycle, but it can be done.
What an interdependent relationship looks like is that where both parties have both first found independence.
True independence is easiest to be found outside of a relationship, but if each—read: each person can begin to see their role in this dynamic, and if each is able to find some space to rediscover hobbies that they love, the ability to spend time alone and to re-connect with themselves, they stand a shot at coming back together with the ability to not only sustain their relationship, but thrive as a couple.
If both can reunite—after an emotional or physical reprieve, or if a new relationship can start, with both parties having their feet on the ground—nobody is carrying anyone else, nobody is leaning on anyone else for validation or acting out of a need for the other to “complete” them, and both will have the space to grow.
Despite what various aspects of our culture has taught us, none of us need to be completed or fixed, and none of us need to complete or fix anyone else. The need to find or be a prince, princess or hero will only contribute to a codependent dynamic and once that relationship is established it is difficult to change.
I used to wonder how two people could ever have the type of relationship that lasts for years or even decades. After all, I seem to reinvent myself constantly. I am so frequently changing my career and have interests in new hobbies—my mindset and worldview even changes with time, and I not only allow, but expect that my partner has the same desire to pursue new passions and evolve as a person, at whatever pace is right for them.
It is in a combination of this interdependent dynamic and a mutual curiosity that this balance can be achieved.
If two people really love each other with open hearts, and are independent and secure enough in themselves, they can walk through life hand in hand without having to lean on each other.
Their hands are connected all the while, but they are free to look in the other direction, and to give their attention and energy to things other than the relationship.
Both feel secure because of this strong connection that they work to maintain, so neither feels threatened by the others’ independence.
They can be connected at the heart and soul level—a healthy connection that does not revolve around neediness, possessiveness or anything else that may stem from fear or insecurities, but rather a mutual respect, a genuine interest in what the other is thinking and doing, playfulness even, and a realization that one never really knows the other, as theirs is not a static existence.
They are constantly changing, like the clouds in the sky.
Every day they are their own original work of art, and it is our choice to see the new beauty that our “other” brings to the dynamic, and to others as well.
Despite the effort and self-awareness that is required, a true interdependent relationship can be that of “one + one = three.”
Real love is not an emotion, but is something else entirely. If two people can encourage each other to truly and freely be them self, love itself can act as it’s own separate entity, nourishing the growth of both parties even more than if they were alone.
Author: Katie Vessel
Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Chrismatos at Flickr