Interdependence: the sweet spot where we mutually give and take.
As an independent woman, I found peace being single. Enjoying the freedom to be spontaneous and self-directed, life was carefree and creative, but I knew something more would be possible if I could share my life and grow in intimacy.
Along came Kirk (my Mr. Right).
What awesomeness we shared in the infatuation stages – late night talks, spiritual fellowship, laughter. Then we got “serious.” I remember in the first phases of our committed relationship, I resisted Kirk’s invitations to think as a ‘we’, or what we call to be in “we consciousness”. Accustomed and safe in my solo life, I held tight to “I consciousness.” I spoke as an independent and made decisions as an independent. I was leery to jump all in with Kirk. And I wondered how healthy is jumping in? Isn’t that co-dependence? Why would I do that?
Is it natural to love like this?
But the deeper our love grew, the deeper my desire for sharing, togetherness, and coupling became. “Is natural to desire love like this? Am I getting too attached?” I questioned myself and my stubborn beliefs about independence. I had been taught that I must be self-reliant. I also had a fear of being codependent, (finding my happiness outside of myself and through another). But my heart brought me closer and closer to a bond with Kirk, and our shared life. I could only surrender to the connection. So, I sought out a better understanding of what healthy love can be.
I learned to reframe my righteous expectations of self-reliance and independence. I researched, studied and ultimately found that in a healthy relationship there is inter-dependence. Inter-dependence is this sweet spot where we mutually give and take. Where we do depend on each other, not to be whole, but to be two strong wholes joining to become a stronger team, together. There is inter-reliance for the good of the ‘we.’
It is not a sign of weakness to depend on a partner in life.
When done consciously, partnering can help us thrive, evolve and develop our potential. Dr. John Bowlby, a British Psychiatrist (1907-1990) and the founder of attachment theory called partnership ‘effective dependency’ stated that having a significant other to turn to for emotional support is a sign and source of strength, not weakness.
How liberating to desire, to need and to count on the support of another. How beautiful to be there for one another. How powerful to think about what works for the “we”, not just the “me” as I did in the past. This was a profound breakthrough for us. This is when I committed and our love became secure!
And now, I invite you to take in this insight deeply. “Emotional support is a sign and source of strength, not weakness.” Attachment is natural. There is freedom in relationship. Your partner can be a confidant, support and a catalyst for growth. I know that my Beloved is that for me and me for him.
A mindful, loving relationship creates well-being and joy down to the deepest core of your being.
Yes! It’s worth it to aim for an amazing love life – an honest and caring love partnership. When an intimate relationship is fulfilling and safe, life is good. In the research on love and marriage, evidence shows that happiness, health, and longevity are the result a secure, emotionally connected relationship.
Bruce Lipton in The Biology of Belief, goes so far as to write, “…self-love and being in a loving relationship …enhances telomerase activity and promotes a longer and healthier life.” More scientific data can be found including Dr. Daniel Siegel, a well-respected neurobiologist who reported in The New York Times, who writes, “Scientific studies of longevity, medical and mental health, happiness and even wisdom point to supportive relationships as the most robust predictor of these positive attributes in our lives across the life span.” (Ackerman 2012)
Authors and researchers like Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Sue Johnson are proving in their relationship love labs that finding security in relationship is not only healthy, it may be essential. Based on the work of Bowlby and attachment theory, Johnson and others show that adult love is indeed interdependent. In her book, Hold Me Tight, she explains that even though much of our current culture idolizes “self-reliance and independence,” our inclination as humans is to mate and couple.
I am so grateful that I chose to change my orientation from an “I” to a “we.” I chose our interdependent love for all the right reasons – security, connection, health, and pleasure.
My invitation for you (whether in relationship or looking for one) is to feel good about that yearning, not because you need someone to fulfill you, but because you want someone to grow with side by side. You want someone with whom you can give and receive affection, protection, and inspiration. No guilt necessary if you long for love. Celebrate it, and empower yourself to allow more love into your life.