On dependence and independence in relationships

– health versus toxicity in couples –

A huge challenge facing many couples today is finding a balance between dependence – the need for the other person – and independence – supporting and looking after our own interests. Where and how do we find the fine line that separates a healthy attachment and a normal, natural dependency from the tendency to spend a lot of time away from the partner, with interests and concerns that don’t include them?

The answer is specific to each couple and there is no perfect recipe that can be used in the kitchen of any relationship. We are different and we also had different models of what a couple is in our own families of origin.

A primary need of humans is the need for attachment. Attachment defines the emotional bond that develops between people and is a basic element of being human.

Psychologist John Bolby was the first attachment theorist. He wanted to understand the anxiety and suffering a child experiences when separated from the important people in their lives who provide care. The type of attachment a child develops in early childhood then influences the quality of the relationships they develop as adults.

There are 4 types of attachment

  • Secure attachment develops in those children whose main needs have been met, who have lived in a safe and secure environment. They are the adults who will be able to have stable and satisfying relationships, who are comfortable having someone depend on them but who also depend on another person. They are generally people with high self-esteem, open and understanding, who manage to solve problems that arise in the couple’s relationship in a constructive manner. ;
  • Ambivalent or anxious attachmentis formed in those children who have experienced inconsistent and changing care in childhood from their mother or attachment figure. The adult with such an attachment is very relationship-focused, even hypervigilent about changes in the relationship. They are people who want relationships, desperately need love, but always question their partner’s love and availability. He is often worried that his partner might leave him, he finds it very hard to believe that he is truly loved and because of this he always needs confirmation and proof of love. ;
  • Avoidant attachment develops in those children whose emotional, physical and safety needs were not met at all during childhood. The unavailability of the parent makes the adult with such an attachment expect that his or her needs will be rejected, that he or she does not deserve the love and support of the partner. Although it needs to be close to a person, at the same time it does its best to push them away. They tend to avoid close relationships so as not to relive childhood rejection traumas.
  • Disorganized attachment is often developed by people who have lived experiences by abuse physicalverbal or sexual in childhood. Carers child are of those May many times o source from fear, child primind constant criticism and threats from these. People with a style of attachment disorganized le is very hard to have trust in others and se facing often with problems by health problems mental (disorders by personality disorders, addictions. and so on.).

In framework relationship by relationship we have need of login with partner but and by independence. O login too close maybe lead to the feeling of suffocation that a feels partner, but too much freedom and independence maybe generate distancing emotional, impression that partner we do not wants and not is enough of interested by person Our.

🦋 In the first stage of a relationship – called by psychologists the stage of symbiosis – there is a great need to get to know the other person, we are eager and fascinated to discover their universe: passions, friends, values, concerns, family… In this first stage the time spent with the other person, our willingness to spend as much time together as possible is very high, significantly reducing the time we spend on ourselves. Our passions and friendships can take a back seat and this doesn’t seem to affect us. In the symbiosis stage, the differences between the partners don’t matter, there is not much fighting at this stage. We don’t seem to mind our partner’s over-reliance on us. This is often seen as proof of love.

☁️ Things change as you enter the second and third phases of the relationship respectively: differentiation and autonomy. Thus, after the period of falling in love, partners begin to notice what makes them different, what they don’t like in their partner, limits are imposed and rules for living together are established. A big problem at this stage is pride manifested under the excessive desire to change the other so that things happen“the way I want them to”. Autonomy follows, where each partner is much more self-interested, time spent with the other doesn’t seem as important. The dependence on our partner that we initially showed can now seem suffocating, we no longer have time for ourselves and our passions. Partners blame each other for either a lack of interest or an exaggerated preoccupation with the external environment.

☯️ Reappropriation and interdependence are the last stages of the relationship.It is in these stages that partners come to understand how conscious efforts must be made to have a fulfilling relationship. A relationship is like a flower: too much sun dries it out, too much water drowns it… It takes time and willingness to make a flower bloom.

Here are some tips for maintaining a balance between dependence and independence and having a healthy relationship:

💜 Make time for your passions: going to the gym, dancing, keeping up with a relaxing activity such as reading, massage, playing computer games, watching a movie, etc.

💜 Be oriented to your partner’s needs and meet them: the art of compromise is a lesson you need to learn and apply in your relationship. Knowing how to let go and do what your partner wants or needs is one of the ingredients of a balanced relationship;

💜 Develop yourself personally: know yourself, trust yourself and learn to express your choices and desires – being in a balanced relationship is not about being afraid to express yourself;

💜 Be aware of the type of attachment you have: look at your personal history, the relationship your parents had, the pattern and thought patterns taken from your family of origin;

💜 Acknowledge and work with your emotions: it’s important to manage negative emotions such as anger, fear, jealousy and not expect it’s our partner’s job to fix them. The partner can be an emotional support, a counsellor and an objective observer but it is our responsibility to be aware of them and to work with them;

💜 Maintain ties with your own friends: a balanced relationship means being able to continue relationships with friends or family. A partner who loves you won’t force you to give up your friends or family time. It is true that here too there must be a balance and the time given to them must not be longer than the time given to the relationship;

💜 Spend quality time with your partner: do enjoyable activities together, share administrative chores, enjoy and be grateful for your relationship.

It is important for each partner to recognise their needs and trust themselves in order to develop a balanced and happy relationship. Instead of being dependent on each other, partners should support each other in achieving personal goals and share their lives, building a strong relationship based on mutual respect, trust and love.

Author: Psih. Oana Amaziliței – Clinical psychologist / psychotherapist, Med anima Iasi clinic

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