You know the saying, “it takes two to tango?”
You can say the same about creating and maintaining a healthy, intimate relationship with your significant other.
It requires two people willing to be vulnerable, share their feelings and thoughts, communicate effectively, and support one another.
While there is no surefire recipe for building the perfect relationship, certain ingredients are essential for creating a strong, intimate bond.
Let’s learn more about interdependent relationships, what they are, and how you can create one with your partner.
What Is An Interdependent Relationship?
An interdependent relationship is a close, emotional connection between two people who mutually depend on one another for support and fulfillment without losing their sense of self.
Interdependence in relationships is characterized by excellent communication, trust, mutual respect, and a sense of shared responsibility for the relationship’s survival.
But what is interdependence? Interdependence is the state of being connected to another person in a way that gives you a sense of purpose and belonging without compromising your independence.
In an interdependent relationship, both partners are emotionally invested in the other’s well-being and are committed to working together to make the relationship work.
Both partners need to be emotionally and mentally healthy to have this type of relationship. They need to communicate effectively, handle conflict constructively, and support one another.
There are two key components to an interdependent relationship, which include:
- Both partners feel a sense of interconnection or “oneness” with each other.
- Both partners maintain a sense of independence, autonomy, and self-sufficiency.
In an interdependent relationship, both partners are emotionally and financially stable and can depend on each other for support without losing their sense of self.
It’s different from codependence when one person relies on another for their emotional or financial well-being.
If you’re not sure if your relationship is interdependent, ask yourself these questions:
- Do we rely on each other for emotional support?
- Do we share our thoughts and feelings?
- Do we communicate effectively?
- Do we handle conflict constructively?
- Are we supportive of one another?
- Do we have a shared sense of responsibility for the relationship?
If you answered yes to most or all of these questions, then it’s likely that you’re in an interdependent relationship. If not, don’t worry! These are all things that can be worked on and improved.
Is An Interdependent Relationship Healthy?
The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
In fact, an interdependent relationship is not only healthy, but it’s also the key to a lasting, fulfilling partnership.
It’s the perfect balance of giving and taking. Some benefits of being in an interdependent relationship include:
- You can Rely on Your Partner: When you have a solid interdependent relationship, you know that you can rely on your partner, and they can rely on you for support – emotionally, mentally, and even physically. You know they’ve got your back; you can count on them when things get tough.
- You Feel Safe to Be Yourself: In a healthy relationship, there is no need to put up a façade or pretend to be someone you’re not. You can feel safe being your authentic self around your partner and know that they will love and accept you no matter what.
- You Have Your Own Space: Although you rely on and are interdependent with your partner, you maintain a sense of independence within the relationship. You have your own hobbies, interests, and friends – and you know that’s perfectly okay.
- There is a Sense of Equality in the Relationship: Interdependence fosters a sense of partnership and equality in a relationship. You feel like you’re on the same team, working together towards common goals. There is no one person who is “in charge” or “better than” the other – you are equals.
What’s the Difference Between a Codependent and Interdependent Relationship?
Interdependent vs. codependent – what’s the difference?
A codependent relationship is one where one person entirely relies on the other for their emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
In contrast, an interdependent relationship is built on mutual respect and support.
In an interdependent relationship, both partners are emotionally and mentally healthy individuals who can rely on each other for help and guidance and can function independently.
Below are distinct differences between interdependent and codependent relationships:
- Lack of independence: In unhealthy codependent relationships, one person relies heavily on the other for their emotional needs and is often unable to function independently. But in interdependent relationships, both partners can function independently and have their own hobbies, interests, and friends.
- Acceptance: One of the most critical aspects of an interdependent relationship is accepting your partner for who they are – flaws and all. To do this, you need to have a strong sense of self-acceptance too. But in codependent relationships, one person often tries to change or control the other.
- Lack of healthy communication: Communication is often lacking or nonexistent in codependent relationships. Interdependent couples communicate openly and honestly about their needs and wants. They prioritize communication and avoid passive-aggressive behavior.
- Imbalance of power: In codependent relationships, there is usually an imbalance of power, with one person being the “controller” and the other being the “submissive.” But in interdependent relationships, both partners are equal and share power equally.
- One-sidedness: Codependent relationships are characterized by one person giving more than they receive while the other takes more than they give. But in interdependent relationships, both partners can give and receive equally.
- Dysfunction: Codependent relationships are often dysfunctional. A couple might enable each other’s bad habits. But interdependent relationships are healthy and functioning, with both partners supporting each other’s growth and development.
15 Steps To Building An Intimate, Interdependent Relationship
Are you looking to build a more intimate and interdependent relationship with your partner?
Do you crave the mutual respect, support, and healthy communication of an interdependent relationship?
If so, here are 15 steps to help you create a strong, intimate bond with your partner:
1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
One of the most critical aspects of an interdependent relationship is being able to communicate openly and honestly with each other about your needs, wants, and feelings.
If you’re feeling something, say it – don’t bottle it up. And if you’re not sure what your partner is thinking or feeling, ask them!
Healthy communication is the backbone of any relationship. Remember, your partner isn’t a mind-reader, so you need to tell them what you’re thinking and feeling for them to know h to handle the situation.
2. Spend Some Quality Time Together
Spending quality uninterrupted time together will help you create a strong bond. It means turning the TV off, putting your phones in a different room, and taking the time to focus on each other.
One way to do this is by setting aside some time each day (even if it’s just 15 minutes) to talk about your thoughts, feelings, and what you’re currently going through.
The quality time doesn’t have to be all serious – you can also use this time to play games together, go on dates, have fun or do an activity that you both enjoy!
The important thing is that you’re making a conscious effort to connect with each other on a deeper level.
3. Listen to Understand
Communicating your needs is only one side of the equation. Without listening to and understanding your partner’s needs, you’ll never be able to create a mutually beneficial relationship.
So, how can you learn to listen to and understand your partner’s needs?
The first step is to pay attention. It may seem easy, but in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s all too easy to zone out when your partner is speaking. Make a conscious effort to really listen, and don’t just wait for your turn to speak.
Another way to ensure you understand your partner is to repeat what they’ve said. Mirroring their words shows that you were paying attention and allows them to correct you if you misunderstood anything.
Finally, try to see things from their perspective. It can be difficult, especially if you don’t agree with them, but trying to understand where they’re coming from is essential.
Only then can you truly start to build an interdependent relationship.
4. Be Supportive of Your Partner
A healthy relationship is one where both partners are supportive and understand each other’s successes and challenges. Your partner goes through a lot in their day-to-day life, so it’s essential to be there for them whenever they need you.
One way to show support is simply by being present. If your partner is going through a difficult time, ensure you’re emotionally there for them.
Just being there to listen and offer encouragement can make a world of difference. You should also be accommodating of your partner’s needs. If they need some time to themselves, respect that and give them the space they need.
5. Always Respect Each Other’s Independence
When your partner is independent, it gives them the freedom and space to be their own person. It allows them to pursue their interests, goals, and dreams.
Having this freedom is an essential part of any relationship, as it helps to keep things fresh and prevents boredom.
Of course, there will be times when you need to rely on each other. But you mustn’t become too co-dependent, which can lead to possessiveness, jealousy, and resentment.
Instead, focus on building an interdependent relationship while existing as two independent people.
6. Set Clear Boundaries With Each Other
Does your partner know what you are comfortable with and what you’re not?
Do they know your triggers and your love language? If not, now is the time to discuss your boundaries.
Without clear boundaries, it’s all too easy to cross into the codependent territory where one of you is overly reliant on the other for emotional support. It can lead to an imbalanced and unhealthy dynamic.
Some things you may want to consider setting boundaries around are:
- How much time do you spend together vs. apart?
- What kind of communication is acceptable (e.g., text, phone calls, in person)?
- What kinds of emotions are you comfortable sharing with each other?
- What level of physical intimacy is comfortable for you?
Once you’ve set these boundaries, it’s essential to stick to them. If your partner crosses a boundary, calmly remind them of what you agreed on and why it’s important to you.
If they continue to cross boundaries or refuse to respect your wishes, that’s a red flag, and you may want to reconsider the relationship.
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7. Take Care of Your Own Physical and Emotional Needs
Taking care of your physical and emotional needs may seem selfish, but it’s essential for creating a healthy, interdependent relationship.
When you take care of yourself, you’re modeling self-care for your partner and showing them that you value your own well-being. It sets the foundation for a relationship where both partners feel supported and cared for.
Some practical ways to take care of yourself include getting enough sleep, eating healthy, nutritious foods, working out, and having a skincare regimen.
You can also practice self-care by taking time for yourself every day, even if it’s just 20 minutes to read or take a bath.
8. Do Not Judge Each Other
Nothing kills a relationship faster than judgment. When we are in a relationship, it’s important to remember that our partner is not perfect, and they will make mistakes – just like we do.
So, it’s essential to be patient with them and understand that everyone is human. If we can remember this, it will be much easier not to judge our partners when they make a mistake.
Likewise, you should be able to share your thoughts and feelings openly without fear of hurtful criticism and judgment. This sharing will enhance your connection and create a safe space for both of you to grow.
You can create a strong foundation of trust and respect by not judging each other.
9. Handle Conflict in a Constructive Way
Every relationship has its ups and downs, but it’s how you handle conflict that really matters.
Constructive conflict resolution involves openly discussing problems and working towards solutions together. It is the key to maintaining a healthy relationship.
In unhealthy codependent relationships, conflict is often handled in unhealthy ways, such as through passive-aggressive behavior, stonewalling, or outright aggression. It only leads to more hurt feelings and resentment down the road.
10. Appreciate Your Partner
Always show appreciation for what your partner does for you – both big and small gestures alike.
If they go out of their way to do something special for you, let them know how much you appreciate it. A simple “thank you” can go a long way.
Recognizing and verbalizing your appreciation will make your partner feel good and reinforce positive behavior in the future. It shows that you are paying attention to the things they do and that you value their efforts.
11. Be Willing to Compromise
In any relationship, there are times when you’ll need to compromise. Whether it’s giving in on what movie to watch or making a more significant decision like where to live, being willing to compromise is an integral part of being interdependent.
If you’re always trying to get your way or insisting on doing things your way, it will only lead to conflict and resentment.
However, be careful not to compromise too much, as you don’t want to lose yourself in the process. Remember, your partner should consider your values, beliefs, and boundaries.
12. Be Each Other’s Biggest Cheerleaders
A cheerleader is someone who tries to encourage other people by telling them that they can succeed.
In your relationship, be each other’s number one fan. Encourage each other to pursue dreams and ambitions. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything your partner does, but you should support them through the good and bad times.
If your partner is trying to achieve a goal, whether it’s getting a new job, going back to school, or working on a creative project, being their number one cheerleader shows them that you believe in them and that you’re there for them no matter what.
13. Never Compare Your Relationship With Others
A rule of thumb in relationships is to avoid comparisons between your relationship and others. Instead, focus on what works well for the two of you.
Of course, it’s okay to take inspiration from other couples and learn from their mistakes. Just don’t use them as a measuring stick for your relationship.
While it can be tempting to compare your relationship to those around you, ensure you resist the urge.
Every couple is different and has a unique relationship dynamic. Instead of comparing, focus on what works well for the two of you.
Are you two good at communicating? Do you have a strong friendship? Do you share similar values? Build on your strengths and learn from your weaknesses.
14. Make an Effort to Keep the Spark Alive
Once we get into a relationship, we tend to get comfortable with each other and let things slide.
It could manifest in many ways, from not listening when your partner talks to taking them for granted and not doing something to make them feel special anymore.
If you want an interdependent relationship, keeping the spark alive by making an effort with your partner is essential. It means being present and engaged while talking, trying to keep the romance and excitement alive.
You don’t have to go on extravagant dates or do something new daily. However, you can surprise your partner with small gestures, do things that make them feel good, and let them know that you’re still thinking about them.
15. Seek Professional Help if Needed
Relationships are challenging, and even the most interdependent ones can use a tune-up from time to time.
If you’re struggling to maintain healthy communication or find yourself stuck in negative patterns, consider seeking professional help.
A therapist can provide objective perspectives and offer guidance on how to work through complex issues.
Remember, interdependence doesn’t mean perfection – it’s simply a more balanced way of relating that can lead to greater satisfaction and enjoyment in your relationship.
Are You Ready to Build a Healthy, Intimate, Interdependent Relationship Today?
There is no magic formula for a perfect relationship. But if you and your partner are committed to growing together, interdependence is a good goal to strive for.
Remember, a healthy relationship takes effort, vulnerability, and a willingness to be open and honest with your partner.
So, the next time you feel disconnected from your significant other, ask yourself what you can do to bring the two closer together.
If you’re unsure where to start, try some of the suggestions above. And if you need additional support, don’t hesitate to contact a professional therapist.
They can help you navigate the challenges of building a healthy, interdependent relationship.