Codependent relationships can seem like they have a lot in common with interdependent relationships. When you’re deciding whether your relationship is codependent vs interdependent, you may feel like they’re too similar to make a decision.
However, there are key differences that set them apart from each other. So, if you’re looking for ways to make your relationship healthier and strictly interdependent, use these 8 signs to guide you.
This post is all about codependent vs interdependent.
CODEPENDENT VS INTERDEPENDENT:
1. You and your partner practice effective communication
In an interdependent relationship, you and your partner talk to each other openly. Despite how scary it can be, you feel comfortable sharing your open and honest feelings with them. When you two do open up to each other, that vulnerability is met with kindness and compassion.
Rather than escalating a problem into an argument, you two care enough about effective communication that you are grateful that your partner can be open with you.
For that reason, you listen to them and respond to them from the position of someone who cares and values them. They treat you with the same respect.
In a codependent relationship, at least one partner will not feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and being vulnerable. This comes from a fear of abandonment that is deeply rooted in codependent relationships.
2. You have a sense of safety in your relationship
You feel safe to make mistakes and learn within your relationship if you have healthy interdependence. This means that you can argue, walk away, and come back with the assurance that your interdependent relationship has not changed as a result of conflict.
However, codependent couples will often get scared of doing the work to develop a strong emotional bond like that. To develop safety in a relationship, you have to be open with each other about your fears and get vulnerable.
Codependent people struggle to get vulnerable because that vulnerability opens them up to rejection. Codependent partners may unknowingly be afraid of telling the truth about their needs in a relationship because that will disrupt unhealthy behaviors and relationship dynamics.
3. You and your partner have a system of mutual support
Your partner trusts you and you trust your partner. They’ll support you when you need it and you’ll do the same for them. It’s normal for interdependent couples to go through periods when one partner puts in more effort than the other.
Whether you experience a death in the family, go back to school, or raise children, your relationship needs to go through periods of change and find a new normal that works for everyone. Loving relationships look different for everyone, but they do require mutual support.
So, if one partner needs to do more work during a hard time, that does not automatically translate to codependent behaviors. Codependent relationships appear to have mutual support.
That support will immediately fall onto the shoulders of one person, who takes on the role of “caretaker” whenever the other person needs help. Typically, these roles change and the power dynamic stays the same.
4. You work on personal growth outside of your relationship
You are a person outside of your relationship. The odds are that, whether you are a codependent person or an interdependent person, you will say that you understand this. Most codependent people don’t want to admit that their destructive behavior is usually not obvious.
It comes up more frequently when their partner needs emotional support. Codependent tendencies are always present.
This can hamper individual growth because a codependent person may check their phone twenty times in an hour because they’re worried their partner is upset with them going on to see friends.
Maybe that person is distracted at work because they argued with their partner the night before and they’re scared their partner will leave. Your codependent relationship will be threatened by both you and your partner trying to achieve greater autonomy outside of your relationship.
5. You have a clear sense of self-worth as an individual
You know that you are worthy of love regardless of how your partner acts. Codependent people will often say they have healthy self-esteem. But, this is easily disproved the moment their partner argues with them or makes them question themselves.
People in codependent relationships will define their identities and self-worth based on their ability to care for their partner or be cared for by their partner.
An independent relationship is a healthy relationship because all partners understand they are worthy outside of their relationship. Whether they have low self-esteem or high self-esteem, their negative beliefs about self-worth are not caused by their relationship.
Instead, their own sense of self is not damaged by an argument with their partner. They see their self-worth and their relationship as separate.
6. You have a strong sense of self and know your values
No matter what kind of relationship you are in, it can be difficult to differentiate yourself from the relationship. The longer you date someone, the more intertwined your emotions, decisions, and identities become. This is not bad on its own. It’s normal to change with your partner.
However, you need to strike a healthy balance between your own emotions, your own feelings, your own thoughts, and your partner’s.
When your relationship is based on mutual respect, like an interdependent relationship, it makes sense that you might consider one of your own decisions because you’re now considering your partner.
You may start to experience an imbalanced relationship once you forget your values and your own needs or persuade your partner to make decisions based solely on your desires and values.
Once you consider your partner’s needs more important than yours or believe they should value your needs as more important than theirs, you are becoming codependent.
7. You and your partner have set up healthy boundaries
Healthy boundaries are much simpler than most people think. They tell family members, friends, and romantic partners how you prefer to be treated. Personal boundaries are typically specific to words and actions that trigger you.
They let people know how you will react to their harmful words and actions so that you can avoid getting triggered. For example, you may tell your mom that it hurts you to hear her complain about your father.
So, when she starts complaining on the phone, you will change the subject or hang up. You can also set healthy boundaries with your partner. If this makes you nervous, that’s okay.
It does not mean you are codependent. However, if you think that either there’s no reason to create boundaries or that boundaries would destroy your relationship, then you are not in a healthy relationship.
8. You can differentiate between your needs and your partner’s needs
Oftentimes when couples argue, they’re arguing over different experiences and interpretations. One person needs one thing and that’s what they’re asking for, whereas the other person needs something else entirely and that’s what they’re asking for.
In a healthy interdependent relationship, interdependent partners will realize they can fulfill the needs of their partner while also asking their partner to fulfill their own needs.
However, if you are in a codependent relationship, it’s difficult to differentiate between your needs and your partner’s. Instead, codependent relationships typically favor one person’s needs over the other person’s because that helps define the identity of both people.
One cares for the needs of the other person and the other person is the one whose needs to be taken care of. It’s never too late to identify your emotional needs by asking yourself what feels good in a relationship.