Speaking on dependency
by Rob Coombs ID. Min. Ph.D.
Aug 03, 2014 | 582 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Remember the lyrics, “How do I live without you, I want to know? How do I breathe without you? If you ever go. How do I ever survive?...”

As fun as this song may be, it reflects a type of relationship that is quite unhealthy. Dependency is its theme, each word bemoaning the sad reality that life without the other is hardly worth living.

True-impaired, separated or lost relationship is one of the most difficult of all emotional traumas. In such a crisis we may long for the other to return or actually fantasize about not being able to live without the other.

Ironically, it is often the dependency needs that such feelings reflect that significantly contribute to the impairment of the relationship in the first place. Such dependency is a type of fusion when a partner seeks escape because he or she is feeling suffocated. Feeling someone cannot breathe without you can be an overwhelming responsibility, an unhealthy responsibility.

So we push the dependent person away in order to get some fresh air, a little room to breathe. Understandably, it’s uncomfortable to “know” that we are needed so badly that someone’s survival is dependent upon us.

A common reaction to dependency is a declaration of independence. “I will never let anyone hurt me like that again.” Simon and Garfunkel said it well ... “I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain; And an island never cries.”

The truth is, independence is still a reaction to need. It’s simply the other side of the coin. Rather than bemoan how badly you need someone for survival, you react to the pain by slamming the door to emotional need. Such a stance is really a lie. You still need someone, but because of the fear of the pain intimacy can bring, you keep your guard up so no one penetrates the independent facade and sees the pain lying beneath.

Between these two extremes of dependence and independence lies interdependence. Interdependence is not based on need, but on want. I don’t need you to survive, but I want you to share my life.

It’s no small difference. Interdependence reflects a heathy relationship where both members’ lives are enhanced by the relationship. Indeed, they do become better together than they are separately.

There is plenty of room to breathe as there is genuine respect for each person’s individuality. Both bring a unique, separate, fully functioning personality to the relationship that unquestionably makes life more worth living as a result of their togetherness.

Can a member of this relationship survive without the other? Yes. The end of the relationship, such as in the case of death, brings tremendous grief. But even so there is still an underlying understanding that life can and will go on. Such reasoning is based on the knowledge that one functioned before the relationship and can do so again after the relationship has ended.

True intimacy is born out of an interdependent relationship since the relationship is not colored by overwhelming feelings of need, whether they be dependency needs or independency needs. Rather one acknowledges “I don’t need this relationship, but I want this relationship.”

Perhaps I should try my hand at writing new rock lyrics. “I don’t need you, but I want you ... “

What do you think? Maybe I’m on track for the next big hit!