In today's relationships we are often led to value independence and be fully autonomous. Having this attitude can lead to overlooked hardships in our relationships. Maybe it's fear of losing one’s self? Often during times of high stress, emotions and pressure we have a need to showcase our independence.
Sometimes we just need to have our significant other hold our hand, maybe we need or want their approval and it means the world. Relationships can be a very scary thing.
Despite any reassurance sometimes our emotions get the best of us and we break down and maybe we even walk away only to later on muster up the courage to get what we truly want. This uncertainty can sometimes make or break our relationships.
Through this article I want to show you that being dependant on your partner can, actually lead you to greater independence while harnessing growth in a loving and caring relationship that we all crave and want.
It’s often seen that being “needy” or seeking the approval of my significant other is too much and is a shameful practise. In reality thinking you may need to cut such behavior can actually be a toxic thought. The truth is we all have emotional fears, stress and pressure. You’d be lying if you never relied on anyone. It is the love and support and dependency of your parents at a young age that got you here today. You were fed and clothed. Why can’t we depend on our significant other to help us through the hard times. What if I told you its okay that you don’t have to feel self conscious about holding your partner's hand while you’re stressed. What if I told you it's okay to depend on your partner and that it may be an evolutionary advantage?
We are wired at a young age to have our needs met, emotionally and psychically. Remember my previous articles neurons that fire together fire together; We are literally wired at an early age to depend on someone. From an early age we are wired to make sure our needs are met and if they are not you will continue to make your attempts on making sure those needs are met or until that closeness is achieved.
Giving your partner that extra little bit of security may be exactly what the relationship needs to move forward. Responding to your partners needs early on means you will have to spend less time putting out fires that may ignite. Sometimes the opposite happens: we find it hard to accept the support of our partner because we have a need to be independent, or at least show we are independent.
Dependency in Culture
I will admit. I can often see myself as needy and touchy. I love touch and I am often surprised when people don’t love it. The thing is, we are only as needy as our unmet needs. To our demise we seem to push away intimacy. We are scorned for public displays of affection, closeness and intimacy. To our own demise it’s creating a strange culture. Apparently, everyone has to be independent in order to fit in.
In western society it is embedded into us that we need to be independent and emotionally self sufficient. It was actually taught that at a young age we should be taught to take care of our emotional needs and maybe harden the fuck up. Shortly after we had this attachment theory that said cuddling up to our babies resulted in over needy babies and would leave us to cry for hours. Society wanted us, as babies, to be the “perfect child”.
Great! What does being the perfect child even look like? Good thing you asked! They wanted us to be self sufficient, we’d have no fear and we would solve all our own problem. The perfect child would not cry and not be attached to any person. If mom left there would be no crying and that child would go off playing.
Attached as Adults
In an earlier article I introduced four main attachment styles which I will go into more depth in future articles. There are four main groups stable, anxious, avoidant and anxious-avoidant. These four groups started out at our early ages as children and can change into adulthood. Every different style has basic psychological aspects to them ranging from how we view ourselves and beliefs on relationships.
A Canadian study showed that our attachment style as kids continued to play a major role into adulthood and through the remainder of our lives. As children we may want to be physically present with our parents at all times; the same goes as adults we may want to always be with our partner but we grew and know that the physical presence may be temporarily be replaced by knowing that our partner is there for us emotionally and psychologically creating a sense of calm and security.
The sad reality is that a large portion of our society still thinks that dependency is a bad thing. How we perceive relationships is often a bad thing. Even as we progress our society still pushes us to be co-dependant. Essentially two autonomous individuals living together as harmony. You best set boundaries and limitations. Your well being is not the responsibilities of your partners.
The truth is if you’re in a relationship you are a couple and as a couple you are a unit. Just because you develop a dependency on your partner does not mean you are incapable of taking care of yourself or that you lack as a person. The worst scenario is often seen as “needing” your partner.
The Biology of Dependency
While In a previous article I wrote about little about neuroplasticity and how our brains wire to be a specific way however beyond this, our biological makeup also supports our need to be dependant on one another. When we are a couple and acting as one unit our blood pressure, breathing and levels of our hormones are affected by our significant others. Dependency on our partners is something we need to accept. It’s not a choice. It’s in our biological makeup.
Dr. James Coan did a study where he shocked his patients. He took an image of his patients’ brain and gave them a 20% chance of being shocked and the fear lit up. He then noticed that having his patients holding their significant others hands the level of fear went away. Dr. Coan went a little further and decided to shock the patients significant other. What we found was something short of amazing. When he shocked his patients significant other their brains lit up the same as if they were the ones getting shocked. When they shocked strangers the brain pattern was totally different but the significant others remained the same. Having dependence on one another goes beyond hormones. Have you ever wondered why we hold hands?
We hold hands for lots of reasons but at one of the deepest levels we hold hands to send each other brains a signal. We are here together. This interdependence shows us an evolutionary advantage. Eventually it grows from “I am here with you,” to a stronger “you are me” and “I am you”. This is your interdependency growing. We lend each other our own energy, as we grow to be a larger unit than ourselves we share neural processing and we start processing for each other.
Once we choose that significant other that we make special to us new behavioral patterns kickin. It doesn’t matter how independent you where before or how strong your own will is. It happens, accept it. Evolution proves that we are more advantageous as a power couple. Physiologically we become one unit. If my girlfriend is upset I am upset. She is apart of me. Having vested interests in your relationship and the overall well being of your partner becomes an important advantage for both individuals.
This whole article I mention how becoming one is advantageous and something that happens but I just mentioned that we are both individuals again. Huh? Well let me explain further. Just because we are dependant on our significant others doesn’t mean we will give up all aspects of life. Having and knowing someone is at our side helps us step out into the world and try new things. It helps our confidence knowing we can count on that individual to be there for us if we get knocked down being our own individual. As we step out into the world we are independent while remaining dependant on our significant other. This is what we called the “Dependency Paradox”.
It’s Okay to acknowledge your partner's pain, or to let them cry, or even provide comfort. In reality is: you will be doing both of you a favor: you’ll increase your likelihood that next time, your loved one will get up by him or herself, secure in the knowledge that you are there for them if they need you. May your relationship be fueled with love and growth. Things aren’t always great, we may argue, and have some differences but that’s all a part of growth. In the end my friends… life is alright.
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Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Brassard, Audrey & Shaver, Phillip & LUSSIER, YVAN. (2007). Attachment, sexual experience, and sexual pressure in romantic relationships: A dyadic approach. Personal Relationships. 14. 475 - 493. 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2007.00166.x.
My own life experience