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Co-dependence vs. Interdependence

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  • Co-dependence vs. Interdependence

    My boyfriend is a recovering alcoholic and I was a victim of marital rape. He's attending AA meetings, and is working hard towards sobriety each day. On the other hand, I am attending counseling to help me cope with the rape related self-esteem issue to include the trauma that I had with the 7-year exposure to such abuse, and to gain more control of my emotions as I wait for my divorce to be finalized.

    We are both concerned about the co-dependency (negative) issue, that we always keep each other in check. I always insist that for as long as we are open, supportive and honest with each other, and that we take responsibility of our own lives and work towards improving ourselves, we are interdependent (positive).

    Could anyone share some insights about this...am I seeing our situation wrongly or do I make a point? How could we improve our way of seeing it?

  • Seems like a rational approach. Time and communication will show if the two of you can make it together. It could be that as you heal you will go in different directions - or not. In either case you can be grateful for what you have the support you give each other now.

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    • if anyone deserves to be happy its you, sweetie. sounds like you are taking a mature rational approach - good luck. guess i dont really have any advice to give, but it sounds to me like you are going about it the right way!

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      • Thanks for your insights, it is encouraging!

        What I am also trying to understand more is the difference between co-dependency and interdependency. It seems to me like far more complex to explain and extract from the thread-like thinness of their distinction from each other.

        I would want to be aware of the red flags of co-dependency because both of us don't want to be there. We agreed to grow together, or even if separate, we will keep growing.

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        • My perception of this is that in any relationship there is degree of interdependency. I smile at you, you smile back, we both feel good about it - interdependency.

          Co-dependency carries with it a feeling of negativity. It is supporting or enabling negative or unhealthy behaviors or choices. Two alcoholics drinking together, taking turns buying the booze and holding each other up may have a caring relationship but they are enabling each other and promoting each other's negative behavior.

          My first husband's parents were an example, nice house, good part of town, she owned a business, did well, he held a steady job - drunk all the time. A functional drunk. They used to joke that he was only dangerous sober - couldn't handle that. For years she did things like run out early in the morning and move the car from where it was parked against a tree in a neighbors yard, to the garage and offer to pay for the damage. She enabled him to have the appearance of fairly full functionality, keep a job, pretend he did some sort of parenting, staying married enabled her to have an illusion of a 'good' marriage, a 'normal' family which validated her sense of herself as a 'sucessful' woman. They were co-dependant. Neither could maintain the facade without the other. Ultimately it fell apart, they divorced. Their daughter ended up an alcoholic a drug abuser, one son (my ex) had serial affairs, skirted drug abuse and couldn't keep a job for years (fortunately he got past that). None of them were happy.

          Interdependance, I see as more the, you pick up the dry cleaning, I'll stop at the grocery. Or I'll do the child care, housework, errand running, cooking and cleaning, you do the income.


          You are wise to keep aware of the possiblities and watch that you the relationship healthy and positive.

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          • that was a really good explanation wildchild. i also had trouble with those two concepts. so thank you.

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            • This is a very concrete explanation, and I do truly appreciate it. I just want us to be aware though that there are still some instances that we could be into co-dependency and we might be unaware of it. We just have to be quick in identifying it and be ready to shift gears.

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              • cp79

                this is a really interesting situation and a tough one at that.

                i am familiar with a couple older relationships where there is a built in codependency. i guess that is a central part of a lot of relationships, where one has to really lean on the other in a negative way to help them get through a tough period in their life.

                to play the devils advocate, what happens when the relationship helps the other achieve what they want, and each solves their own problems.

                i dont know, but does the relationship lose its purpose? sort of like ok, i got through with the help of that person, and thats was a central part of our relationship. but now that we dont have that anymore was that the thread that held us together?

                i am being blunt so that it may address what happens down the road for you.

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                • You have a point there, Higherroad. And you know, you might be right at some point. Going back, we sort of started as co-dependants: he's secretly dealing with his alcoholism and other emotional issues, and I with my troubled estranged marriage which until now is a chapter that needs closing (in paper). Months passed until we disclosed our dark secrets, and it was then that we felt that we are ready to accept each other's baggages, but are open to change and improve no matter what.

                  When we got to know each other more, we both realized that we want a healthy relationship, and preferably together. We recognize our need to grow, to be ready and nurturing for each other. But this won't be possible if I cannot be happy on my own or him, by himself. We need to search ourselves and while doing so, we provide support for each other... cautious enough not to be overbearing. It is a long way to go, and only time would tell.

                  I sometimes feel panicky being alone until now, because I was used to be with him so much that I almost lost my capacity to be independent and self-reliant. I am still working on it. I am looking forward to a new me...

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                  • more power to you cp79.

                    the time you spend alone will probably be the most productive time in dealing with relationships which is ironic. everyone things that if you have a lot of experience with relationships you are good at them.

                    but quite the opposite. its the relationship you build with yourself when alone that makes you better when you are in one. being in a relationship when you are still working on yourself brings a lot of unhealthy reliance on the "relationship". its almost like you need someone to fill the void.

                    cherish the time when you are alone as when you are in a good relationship you will look back and be grateful.

                    this has no bearing on where you are now in your relationship but just general food for thought.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by higherroad View Post
                      more power to you cp79.

                      the time you spend alone will probably be the most productive time in dealing with relationships which is ironic. everyone things that if you have a lot of experience with relationships you are good at them.

                      but quite the opposite. its the relationship you build with yourself when alone that makes you better when you are in one. being in a relationship when you are still working on yourself brings a lot of unhealthy reliance on the "relationship". its almost like you need someone to fill the void.

                      cherish the time when you are alone as when you are in a good relationship you will look back and be grateful.

                      this has no bearing on where you are now in your relationship but just general food for thought.

                      This was the thread that started my WH career! Woohoo!

                      Looking back, I can see how much he and I have grown. We tried to grow on our own, but we realized that our growth becomes rather stunted when apart. On the contrary, we develop well when doing so together. this doesn't mean we have to be joined-at-the-hip! It just means we are together, sharing the experiences, whether physically together or just in spirit. Having each other is the best experience ever.

                      We have made it a point to pursue our personal growth, and not rely on each other dependently to do it, otherwise, we'll fall back into co-dependency. Interdependency means we commit to pursuing our own growth individually, and then sharing it with each other - have something to share and bring to the table to nourish the relationship and lift each other up.

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                      • I have been thinking lately. How can I "detect" the early signs of co-dependency. Whether or not the other person involved is non-alcoholic, no vices to deal with. For example, emotional co-dependency? I have seen people who use up all the emotional resource that the other has, until it depletes. It is hard to catch onset, but once we know the danger signs, we can back off and be able to address it early on, right? But how?

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                        • Originally posted by happy ending View Post
                          sounds like you are taking a mature and rational approach
                          Agree.

                          That certainly is a good way to go about things.

                          I wish you both the best.

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                          • Originally posted by caterpillar79 View Post
                            I have been thinking lately. How can I "detect" the early signs of co-dependency. Whether or not the other person involved is non-alcoholic, no vices to deal with. For example, emotional co-dependency? I have seen people who use up all the emotional resource that the other has, until it depletes. It is hard to catch onset, but once we know the danger signs, we can back off and be able to address it early on, right? But how?
                            i think the earliest sign is resentment, in the person doing the giving. the person who takes has a feeling of entitlment. i can remember getting my idiot ex out of so many problems and he never said or indicated gratitute when i asked him about it, he seemed to feel that it was my responsibiltiy to save him from dealing with his responsibilities. it creates resentment, anger and an erosion of positive feelings!!

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