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Interdependency Versus Codependency 


Article by Asanti David

Photography by Asanti David

Partners and lifestyles are crucial aspects of relationships. Some relationships can have dependent partners, or semi-dependent partners, and are categorized as codependent relationships. Whilst others can have self-reliant partners and are categorized as interdependent relationships. An interdependent relationship is healthy, commemorates mutual backup, and builds individual ambitions and growth. Codependent relationships, on the other hand, are not healthy and are characterized by manipulative attributes and imbalance in areas of support and personal interest, causing stagnancy in the lives of its participants. 

What is a CODEPENDENT relationship?

A codependent relationship is an imbalanced relationship pattern where the parties involved need each other for survival. Oftentimes, one participant is a caretaker that feels responsible for the other person's happiness and does all that they can to please the other, ignoring their own desires. There are two people involved here; the “the giver”, who only feels valuable when making sacrifices or being needed, and “the taker” or enabler. This sort of dependency often leads to a lack of personal and material growth for both individuals.

Signs of a CODEPENDENT relationship:

  • The giver puts the needs of the taker first and does anything to constantly please the taker
  • One person always puts in MORE effort to avoid conflicts
  • One person may often request permission to do daily tasks and often loses their self-worth in the relationship
  • Individuals may constantly feel sorry for their partners and are always apologizing
  • These kinds of relationships are usually abusive
  • Both partners are unaware of their emotional capabilities and connections
  • Both partners experience stagnancy in financial and/or mental capacity 

What is an INTERDEPENDENT relationship?

In an interdependent relationship, the partners appreciate each other's existence, maintain balance, and have high self-esteem. The partners neither compromise their values nor subject themselves to their partners' needs but develop an emotional connection and sense of self. This relationship is characterized by the presence of mutual support between partners who take responsibility for their actions, acknowledge their feelings and healthily express their emotions fully.

Signs of an INTERDEPENDENT relationship:

  • Both partners engagingly respond to each other
  • They set healthy boundaries
  • They practice active listening
  • They develop time for personal interest
  • Both partners can refuse each other and are very approachable and open
  • Both partners aid in each other’s growth and expansion in all aspects of their lives  

Differences between an interdependent relationship and a codependent relationship:

  • Codependent relationships are categorized by constant reliance on the other, while interdependent relationships accept and encourage growth
  • Participants in interdependent relationships prioritize personal interest and a clear communication system, while those in codependent relationships sacrifice their desires for their partners and have a poor communication system 
  • Codependent relationships have no respect for boundaries and have difficulties with emotional intimacy, whereas there are clear cut boundaries in an interdependent relationship and no fear of intimacy 
  • Interdependent relationships practice mutual give and take, sharing honest desires, and providing safety for each other in vulnerable times. Codependent relationships are one-sided, where the giver always puts in their all and the taker's efforts are the bare minimum 
  • Partners in codependent relationships are afraid of being alone and are reluctant to trust others, while interdependent relationships are more secure and stabilized

While codependent relationships focus on always fulfilling our partners' desires, interdependent relationships tend to focus on building personal interest and goals while appreciating the presence of our partners. Although different strokes work for different folks, individuals should learn to build healthy interdependent relationships to improve their lifestyle.