Interdependence In A Relationship: What Is It? How To Develop It?

by Arshiya Syeda

You love traveling, but your spouse loves to stay home. You work 16 hours a day, while your other half gets more free time from their professional life. You love to socialize, while your significant other prefers alone time. An interdependent relationship does not see any of these as a problem. Your spouse is happy to let you travel with friends or family, they are okay to handle household stuff while you work late, and you are free to go for a party as both of you are fine with the idea of the other staying at home.

Interdependency between a couple brings in comfort and individual space. There is less nagging, disagreements, complaints, and fights. Let’s talk about what interdependence entails and how you can develop interdependence in a relationship.

What Is Interdependence?

Mutual dependence is better known as interdependence. Interdependence refers to two people who are mutually dependent on each other. It is a balanced relationship that gives equal importance to both partners. There is stability and cooperation. Each person is independent as well as thinks of the other’s needs and desires.

Interdependence includes an understanding of your partner’s physical and emotional needs, and there is a mutual respect in all aspects. There is an appreciation for the other’s presence without a feeling of addiction or obsessiveness. This makes the relationship strong and dynamic. Interdependent relationships allow room for growth and change for both parties without feeling threatened. It is about self-love as well as love for the partner.

An interdependent relationship feels secure with mutually agreed-upon rules and space for each other. But, it is not as simple as it seems. It usually is a connection between two strong individuals and takes some amount of compromise and work to reach an equilibrium.

Let’s understand why interdependence is healthy in a relationship.

Why Is Interdependence Healthy In A Relationship?

An interdependent relationship is probably the healthiest form of a relationship. It is characterized by mutual support, open communication, and personal space. These qualities are imperative for any relationship to survive the test of time. An understanding of what your partner wants and not forcing your likes and dislikes on them reduces the chances of disagreements. It is built on maturity and does not require one person to sacrifice anything to make the other one happy. Thus, interdependence allows peace, happiness, and comfort in the relationship, making it mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy.

Check out the next section to learn how to build a healthy interdependent relationship.

How To Build An Interdependent Relationship With Your Partner

To build an interdependence in a relationship, you need to foster a few things in it:

1. Balance: Interdependence allows a person to keep their identity while being with someone they love. It requires no sacrifices, and nothing is done beyond reasonable limits. A person loves themselves and maintains their own life as much as they dive into the relationship and keep each other happy. It is important to maintain this perfect balance where one does not put the partner above themselves but treats them as an equal.

2. Individual Identity: A sure way of ensuring that your relationship is on the path to interdependence is not to lose your personal identity while being a couple. Couples counselors point out the importance of allowing space and independence to grow outside of the marriage or relationship. Expressing one’s opinions while being sensitive to your partner is where interdependence steps in.

Maintaining your identity does not mean that you totally disregard your partner’s likes and dislikes. It means finding a way to respect each other’s values, needs, and habits. You can maintain your identity through work, friendships, or hobbies that you engage in independently. To stay connected to your partner, balance your independence with spending time together on activities you both enjoy.

3. Effort: An interdependent relationship requires time, effort, and nurturing. It includes awareness of one’s own needs. Relationships require compromise and some amount of sacrifice, but this should not be at the cost of your own dreams and well-being. It takes compassion and effort to achieve interdependence as a couple, and it leads to a healthy and satisfying long-term relationship.

4. Communication: To create an interdependent relationship, you both need to be honest and approachable. Both partners must communicate their needs and problems to each other. Engage in active listening and straightforward conversation and avoid blame games. Discuss everything freely, being aware of each other’s requirements, to prevent misunderstandings.

5. Boundaries: To build an interdependent relationship with your partner, both of you need to set healthy boundaries that will preserve your self-esteem and help you both be comfortable with or without each other at all times. Boundaries are not about building walls, hiding things from each other, or setting restrictions. It involves transparency in beliefs, values, desires, and limitations. It means drawing the line at how much you are willing to compromise.

6. Me Time: Take time out for yourself and do things that your heart desires on your own. In order to keep a relationship interdependent, you do not need to spend every free moment with your spouse. You do not need to cling to each other. Enjoy your solitude and get together when you want to without feeling guilty.

7. Tolerance: Disagreements and friction are common in any relationship when two individuals have different views and personalities. One must learn to be tolerant and compassionate of the other and focus on common goals in order to have an interdependent bond.

8. Teamwork: Any relationship requires teamwork. You and your partner must work as a team, complementing each other’s actions. Teamwork builds energy and strength in the relationship.

9. Loyalty: Just because you have a certain amount of freedom does not mean you are not answerable to your partner. And, it does not mean you are allowed to cheat. Be loyal and faithful to your partner to respect the integrity of your interdependent relationship.
Often, people end up becoming codependent with their partner in a bid to build a strong relationship. However, such relationships are unhealthy. Learn the differences between interdependence and codependency in the next section.

Interdependence Vs. Codependency

  • An interdependent relationship works on mutual support, while a codependent relationship is all about power and control.
  • Interdependent relationships are balanced and shared. A codependent relationship is typically imbalanced with one controlling partner and the other a follower.
  • Interdependence fosters both the partners’ self-esteem, self-confidence, mutual respect, and emotional safety, while codependency focuses on only one partner and their happiness.
  • An interdependent relationship allows an individual to grow and be themselves, but codependence demands change and compromise from one partner.
  • Interdependency is healthy, while codependency is a harmful psychological issue.

Scroll down to the next section to learn how to make your relationship less codependent and more interdependent.

Ways To Make Your Relationship Less Codependent And More Interdependent

Codependency is unhealthy and borders on obsession. It is when one partner makes all the sacrifices and does everything to make the other happy. They forget their own needs and happiness, and their world revolves around their partner. Interdependency, on the other hand, is a balanced and mutually respectful relationship that is healthy and individually uplifting.

Listed below are a few things that you need to engage in to make your relationship more interdependent and less codependent:

  • Communication
  • Honesty
  • Loyalty
  • Commitment
  • Compromise from both parties
  • Cooperation in problem-solving
  • Time-out for yourself
  • Weekly check-ins and discussions about the way things should be
  • Taking breaks
  • Establishing limits
  • Understanding and analyzing
  • Two-way efforts
  • Reality checks
  • Spending time with others who love you
  • Learning to say ‘no’
  • Engaging and responding
  • Clear body language
  • Creating a safety net
  • Seeing a therapist

Conclusion

Interdependency is as close to perfect as any relationship can be. It is a bond of equals, a comfortable balance between two people. But, it is not as simple as it sounds and involves lots of trial and error and initial discomfort. But, once you put in the effort to build a good interdependent relationship, you will lead a happy and healthy life.

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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).
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