• Kety Lopez, LMHC

From neglect & co-dependency to interdependency

What are all these terms and what to do they mean when it comes to relationships? Relationships characterized by neglect & co-dependency are unhealthy and sometimes extremely toxic. Many times we get really confused because they could have extremely exciting moments that fulfil many of our voids and desires. Unfortunately, they also trigger our most deeply rooted anxieties and pain points. Hence many times people describe these relationships like roller-coaster rides, with extreme highs and lows. An interdependent relationship, on the other hand, is the healthy, balanced & fulfilling relationship we all envision and deserve. Below you'll find some common characteristics of each and suggestions on how to get to an interdependent relationship.

In a neglectful relationship we typically feel:

  • Objectified

  • Emotional needs are typically ignored or undermined

  • There are no common goals between partners

  • There's a sense that partners are too different and don't belong together

  • One partner rarely assumes responsibility for the troubles of the relationship or his/her own behaviour

  • One partner rarely apologizes

  • One partner rarely demonstrates vulnerability or asks for help

  • Sex might be the only form of intimacy

  • The relationship tends to be unstable with frequent break-ups and reconciliation

In a co-dependent relationship we typically feel:

  • Sopphocated

  • Partners may experience frequent guilt

  • Both partners are typically controlling in different ways

  • Individual goals are frown upon and provoke high anxiety for the other partner

  • There's frequent gaslighting in which one partner ends up feeling guilty for having a feeling/opinion/desire

  • Time spent apart is anxiety-provoking

  • There are frequent arguments over little things

  • There's resentment and selfishness present in both partners

  • Partners feel confused for having so much tension in spite of "loving each other so much"

  • Partners keep taps on each other and are constantly tallying up who's good and bad & who's right & wrong

  • One or both partner may have an unhealthy relationship with drugs/alcohol

In an inter-dependent relationship, we typically feel

  • Respected and valued

  • Both partners feel supported

  • There's a sense of fairness

  • There's open communication

  • There's honesty and it's easy to trust one another

  • Both partners have a separate identity

  • Both partners feel free and playful around each other

Basically, a healthy relationship springs when two people know how to come together as well as how to come apart. Needless to say, it requires two relatively healthy individuals, to begin with. Partners who are also committed to working on the relationship through open communication, patience and compromise. A relationship is a fluid dance that needs to be readjusted at all time depending on the rhythm of current circumstance.

Individually speaking, we must be in a relatively healthy state, either because we were fortunate enough to come from a healthy family or because we've done the work necessary to heal. Ideally, you wanna be able to check off most of these points to attract a partner that's equally desirable:

  • Have a sense of purpose

  • Be financially & emotionally independent

  • Know how to set and respect boundaries

  • Be able to tolerate and provide constructive criticism

  • Be able to establish open communication

  • Be able to show vulnerability and support our partners when they are showing it

  • Feel comfortable in our bodies

  • Feel comfortable with giving and receiving love & affection

  • Be free of drugs & alcohol

  • Have an open & curious attitude towards sex

Many things could affect our ability to engage in emotional and sexual intimacy especially if we have a history of abuse or neglect. I encourage you to do some soul searching and look into psychotherapy if that's your case. We must remain true to ourselves and commit to the pursuit of peace & love each and every day. We only have one life and we owe it to ourselves to make it as meaningful and as joyful as possible. A healthy, loving, interdependent relationship is definitely an essential component of a fulfilling life.

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