How to Balance Dependence and Independence in a Relationship

Most likely, you’ve seen the perfect Instagram representation of a new relationship, where the two people are attached to one another, oblivious to their surroundings, unmindful of their friends, and only talk about how wonderful each other is. That is the cliché of having too little independence and too much attachment to one another.

However, the stereotypical picture of a long-term relationship is one in which the partners are completely aloof, never conversing when dining together, slipping out late to laugh with friends, and then returning home to gloat over each other. It’s the cliché of having too much independence and too much space.

I mean, they both sound bad, don’t they?

What makes a relationship ‘healthy’?

Thus, it may surprise you to learn that both are somewhat present in good partnerships. We must occasionally turn to one another and seem a little needy and sentimental. At other times, though, we must be able to step back and find other ways to meet our needs. An intimate, well-adjusted, and pragmatic partnership is produced by the mystical balancing act between the two states.

Despite how we may have felt in the beginning of our romantic relationship, we all know that one person cannot be everything to us. As a result, we must be able to find inner strength and happiness on our own and not rely on a spouse to give it to us. I encouraged couples to become more independent when I first started working with them.

I responded by asking how they might turn to themselves more when they remarked, “I turned to you and you weren’t there.”

But as I gained more expertise, I understood that wasn’t sufficient. The majority of couples still ask themselves, “Why do I feel like my partner doesn’t have my back?” when they enter therapy. Primary connections are meant to be our rock, our refuge when life’s stresses get too much for us, a place where we may find solace and support. And we are entitled to request that our house serve as our safe haven. Being needy makes perfect sense. I now focus more on helping couples alternate between turning toward and away from one another. In addition, we practice accepting ourselves when we feel afraid and struggle to maintain our composure.

Lots of things can throw off the balance in a relationship

Perhaps our spouse has been unfaithful, lied, is unresponsive, or seems to value other pursuits over our time together. When something breaks and we don’t feel safe and secure, we may become clinging or aloof. Anger, persistent requests for more time spent together, frequent and easy bruised feelings, and jealousy are signs of clinginess. Shutting down, occasionally refusing to communicate, going out more frequently, having an affair, and feeling powerless and hopeless are all signs of distance. However, beneath all of those behaviors is a depressing sense of loneliness. In the end, it’s painful when the one place we go to find love and tranquility feels unstable.

The prevailing belief in marriage counseling these days is that making a strong connection with your partner is the best way to heal from injured feelings. It is recommended that couples construct more intimate activities, look each other in the eyes, and calm each other down when they are angry. And each of those things matters—as long as it’s balanced with a healthy, fulfilling existence outside of marriage. This enables each partner to understand their own value. must be aware of what the other wants from them. to understand that they aren’t remaining out of fear or a lack of confidence in their ability to thrive outside of marriage.

Independence and dependence are two sides of the same coin

Some customers worry that if they focus on one end of the spectrum, they won’t be able to maintain their hold on the other. I won’t need anything from her if I start preparing my own breakfasts and cease depending on her for care. Alternatively, “I’ll become too dependent on his opinion of me if I ask him to compliment me.”

However, the truth is that finding the balance is doable—possibly even straightforward. We need to move back and forth between the two, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It is a never-ending dance. To better care for ourselves, there’s always space for us to withdraw or separate from our partners. As long as we keep in mind that it’s acceptable to need them and that it’s proper to return.