Do you have an interdependent relationship with your partner, or is it codependent? Both types of relationships imply reliance, but one is less healthy than the other.

This article explains interdependent relationships and how they stand apart from codependent ones. The knowledge will make yours less of a headache to manage.

What is an interdependent relationship?

Strictly defined, an interdependent, secure relationship between two people exists if one or both of them provide the finances while the other or both of them attend to domestic matters. In other words, such a relationship entails a healthy exchange of support.

The Eight Traits of an Interdependent Relationship

You may think that you and your partner have a firm reliance on each other, but do you? Here’s how to tell if you do.

1. There are healthy boundaries.

If you are in a relationship that is interdependent and healthy, you and your partner would have distinct identities and know when you are encroaching on each other’s space. You would function well together and apart.

2. Each of you is unique, yet happily together.

You and your partner may share similar philosophies but would have individual needs and approaches. Although both of you have synchronized aspirations, each of you is a separate entity with different wants.

Both of you can reach compromises and share common ground when necessary. You can adapt to more challenging situations in the course of your relationship.

3. There is a synergy in your relationship.

What synergy means is that both of you will be more effective when you work together than separately. You radiate energy when you are in a room together, not apart. This research affirms that an interdependent relationship involves synchronicity and the power of ‘we.’

4. You respond to each other.

Neither partner puts his or her needs over the others. If either has an immediate need, both address it at once.

5. You communicate.

Both you and your partner will put in the effort to communicate effectively and get your points across. Each of you will take steps to avert misunderstandings.

6. Both of you practice active listening

You and your partner listen attentively when either of you has needs to communicate. Both of you will pay attention to non-verbal signals.

7. There are awareness and tolerance.

Both of you will know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You learn about yourselves from each other, growing together and as individuals. Each is willing to accommodate the flaws of the other.



What Is a Codependent Relationship?

Codependency occurs when one party in a relationship is utterly reliant on the other. Enmeshment happens, with the identities of both parties merging, but not in a healthy way. Partners may engage in undesirable behaviors.

So, how would you know if your relationship involves dependency? You can ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do you find yourself making extreme sacrifices to satisfy your partner’s needs? You may be in an unhealthy codependent relationship if you do.
  • Codependent relationships typically involve one partner supporting or enabling the undesirable behaviors of the other. If you are in a codependent relationship, you’ll find yourself covering these problems.
  • Are you always anxious about others’ opinions of you? You may be covering your partner’s unwanted behaviors. You may be in a codependent relationship.
  • Do you feel that your relationship hinders you from pursuing your interests? You may be making excessive sacrifices for your partner.
  • Do you avoid voicing your opinions because you’re afraid of arguments? Your partner may be dominating you.

How both types of relationships differ

There are apparent differences between both types of relationships. Consider your relationship with your partner. You’ll probably be able to tell if it is interdependent or codependent.

1. Mutual Reliance

Both parties will rely on each other if a relationship is healthy and interdependent. There is give and take. Conversely, one person does the giving if it is codependent, and receives little or no support In return. Research confirms the negative effect of a lack of reciprocity in romantic relationships.

2. Personal Growth and Leaming

A relationship that encourages partners to be interdependent promotes personal development. Both partners are self-sufficient and can function independently. In a codependent relationship, one partner enables the other’s negative behaviors, e.g. drug-taking by ‘helping’ or supporting them, likely financially.

3. Sense of Identity

Both partners in an interdependent relationship have secure senses of themselves and their identities. These identities would merge in a codependent relationship, with one person not being able to be himself or herself without the other.



Partners in an interdependent relationship would feel free to express themselves. One of them will sacrifice his or her interests to satisfy the needs of the other if it is codependent.

4. Feelings

Partners in an interdependent relationship make their feelings known to each other and will be free to experience them. They wouldn’t be able to do this if they are codependent.

5.Being Valued

People in an interdependent relationship know that they love and value each other, even in the middle of conflicts. Codependent partners, on the other hand, make their better halves feel insecure and worthless. There is a fear of criticism and rejection.

6.Ability to say ‘no.’

Those in an interdependent relationship can say no to each other without feeling as though they’ve not lived up to expectations. In contrast, one partner in a codependent relationship will make the other feel guilty about not giving in to his or her wishes.

7. Admitting mistakes

Both partners in interdependent relationships admit their mistakes and forgive each other freely. They are free to grow from their experiences. In codependent relationships, denial and self-doubt keep things stagnant.

In all, develop a relationship with your other half that is healthy and interdependent. If this article has helped you realize that you are in a codependent relationship, you may need to take decisive steps to rectify the situation.


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