There are many different ways that people relate to one another in relationships. People generally tend to relate to each other in three ways: Independent, co-dependent and inter-dependent. Some people are very independent in relationships, others are co-dependent (which means they put aside their own well-being to maintain the relationship).

Co-dependence leads to seeking validation and acceptance from others. The healthiest way we can interact with those close to us is by being truly inter-dependent. This is where two people are involved with each other, however, do not sacrifice themselves nor compromise their values in order to maintain the relationship. Having inter-dependence in a relationship is often recognized as the healthiest form of an intimate relationship. Inter-dependent relationships provide equality and balance. Being too independent -- or too co-dependent -- will not offer balance.

With inter-dependent relationships, one does not neglect their own needs. They recognize the importance of maintaining their own identity outside of the marriage and feel confident in expressing their opinions while still being sensitive to the other person. 

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One way of ensuring that your relationship is on the road to inter-dependence is to maintain your own identity and interests as an individual as well as balancing the couple relationship. This is very challenging for many couples especially if they have been in co-dependent or independent relationships in the past. 

Inter-dependent relationships require effort, nurturing and healthy boundaries. Establishing healthy boundaries in a couple relationship oftentimes requires eliminating guilt, self-doubt and focus on the other. Inter-dependence in a relationship requires balancing self (your own interests) and that of the couple interests; it does not mean we neglect the other. There may be times when one person in a relationship makes a sacrifice.  Compromising can help a couple achieve a balance between the needs of both parties, as long as one person doesn’t consistently neglect  his needs. It is often difficult to distinguish  dependent vs an inter-dependent relationship. Taking responsibility for your own happiness and not expecting your partner to be the answer for all your happiness can provide for a very healthy and loving new relationship.

At the Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains, NJ , we have a team of licensed professionals available day, evening and weekend hours. Achieving inter-dependence in a relationship requires work, however, can lead to more satisfying partnerships.  For further information please call 908-322-0112 or visit us at www.hellenictherapy.com or on Facebook.