A dependent relationship is one in which one partner depends on the happiness, satisfaction, and acceptance of the other. This type of relationship is not healthy for the soul, but are we not all dependent on these things at some level or another? Even in healthy relationships, we go home to our partner to find comfort, support, and someone willing to listen to us and love us unconditionally. So where is the thin line between a healthy relationship and a dependent relationship, and how can we identify which one we’re in? In the following article, we will examine the signs of identifying a dependent relationship, what can be done to change it, and how to solve the problems that exist in it.
Most times, most of us confuse healthy relationships with those that are dependent. Here we will help you distinguish between the two using the following six warning signs:
We all want our partners to accept and love us as we are, but in dependent relationships, this is radically changed. Not only does one want consent and approval, but they are desperate and demand of it over a long period of time. Moreover, they are afraid to lose it - if they feel it's going to happen they'll do everything in their power to fix it.
In healthy relationships, problems that arise are solved together, as opposed to dependent relationships in which one spouse continues to create problems and the other is the one who solves them. These problems can be economic, social, familial, and so on, when the partner who raises them looks for the solutions in his or her partner and doesn’t take part in solving the problem him/herself.
In order to identify if you are in a dependent relationship, you need to think about whether there are moments when you feel happy with your partner, along with moments in which everything seems difficult, complicated and clearly not good. Think of it as a kind of endless roller coaster track; one moment you’re high and everything is good, but then something happens and you feel like you're spinning out of control - in fact, you feel unsteady and are just grasping for solid ground to feel safe.
Another simple test to check whether you are in a dependent relationship is to ask yourself what your friends and family would say. In healthy relationships, we aren’t ashamed or afraid to share and tell about our relationship with our friends and family, but if you are ashamed or afraid that someone will discover the truth about your relationship, then you are in one that is dependent and unhealthy.
Feeling sad when your partner is sad is basic and accepted empathy, but in dependent relationships, the situation is different because the dependent spouse, due to the strong need for acceptance, has difficulty dealing with the other's sadness or anger, even if it is not directly related to them. In most relationships, any negative feeling or emotion leads to fights which only deepen the rift and distance you from each other.
This is one of the obvious signs of a dependent and unhealthy relationship - when a big fight develops, one of you threatens to leave and the other tries to stop it and restore order. This is logical and acceptable in healthy relationships, but the essential difference is that in dependent relationships this happens frequently.
Having realized that you’re in a dependent relationship, breaking up might sound like a good and possible solution, but it’s not the best option, and probably won’t fix everything. You need to understand that the reason you are in a dependent relationship is probably because you are dependent to some degree or are attracted to dependent people. For example, if you're the kind of person who wants to solve problems, you'll always find a partner with problems that need solving. So, in order to get off of this unhealthy path, here are four ways you can understand how to maintain a healthy and independent relationship:
Dependent people are often in the same types of relationships with minor changes. For example, you are always with men who are afraid of commitment, or you are always with women who "nag" and aren’t satisfied with you. The smart thing is to understand and identify the common thing in your relationships and to know how to point it out and solve it, whether with a professional or through a personal learning process, the most important thing being to understand your love language so you can let your partner know what it is.
This stage is a bit challenging because it requires a lot of self-examination and deep soul-searching. You will probably have to try to go back to your childhood to understand why you have acquired such habits in search of dependent relationships. At this point, it would be wise to go and consult a professional - find someone you can talk to without judgment. It can be exactly the factor that will help you in finding the root of your problem.
If you understand that you are in a dependent relationship, it is very important that you be honest about it, both with yourself and with your spouse. Make some time, free of distractions, and start a dialogue about your concerns and worries. If one of you starts getting defensive or completely avoids the conversation, it is certainly a sign that you are in a dependent relationship. A frank and open conversation about your relationship may cause you to feel uncomfortable and may possibly be a real threat to your relationship, but the potential for growth and recovery is enormous if both of you can sit down and have a heart-to-heart conversation. The goal is to find ways of action for both of you that will make you feel safe in your relationship, with an emphasis on the individuality of each of you outside the relationship.
Do not be afraid to seek professional help, it is nothing shameful to consult a professional. Even if you have a personal one on one conversation with your partner, you may bring up things that can cause deep wounds that upset the conversation, so we recommend using a third party. Sometimes, such a conversation without a professional may cause one or both of you to experience a sense of discomfort and stress that can’t be fixed or mediated. When a professional is trained to help a couple speak freely and openly, he or she can help you lower your defenses and create a stress-free atmosphere that can make your conversation much more relaxed, with tips and guidance on how to work to correct the problems in your relationship.