Humans are inherently dependent on each other. We nurture relationships, live in communities, and
love to help and take care of each other. And there is nothing wrong in doing this. But this entire
dependency game turns toxic when we become co- dependent instead of being interdependent.
Interdependency is inborn
First, let us understand what interdependency is.
It is our natural instinct to help, support and provide encouragement to each other. Doing this helps
both the parties to feel more confident and capable of battling their inner fears, sailing through
tough times and pursuing their personal goals. When you are dependent on each other without
compromising on your unique identity and needs, you create a fine balance of dependence and
independence. This is called healthy dependence or interdependence.
Interdependency does not hold you back. Rather, it empowers you to be the best version of yourself.
It supports you in a way that you are better prepared for life. When you share an interdependent
relationship, your self-esteem soars, your respect and love for each other grows, you are able to
express your needs with ease and you start feeling more confident of dealing with the world on your
own. This is because you agree to accept the help from someone else without sacrificing your own
needs or losing your individuality.
Interdependency v/s co-dependency
Interdependent relationships thrive on mutual give and take whereas we see clear imbalance
between giving and receiving in co-dependent relationships. In the later, one person does most of
giving while the other person is mostly on the receiving end.
A codependent relationship is like two vines that intertwine so tightly that they become dependent
on each other for support and growth. While this may seem symbiotic at first, each vine eventually
begin to compete for resources and struggle to grow independently. Similarly, codependent
relationships usually begin feeling supportive and interdependent, but can eventually become
unhealthy as the parties become overly reliant on each other. Eventually, the giver is so engrossed in
giving and fulfilling the needs of the receiver that his sense of goals, need and individuality is
completely lost or ignored. The outcome is a burnt out or resentment.
A co-dependent partner is reliant on the other to feel worthy, loses his own interests, goals, and
values, fears conflicts, rejection, criticism, and abandonment, maintains poor boundaries, and is in
denial of the situation.
The origin of unhealthy dependence
Imagine being a child who has never been heard or appreciated during the formative years. It is
natural for him to yearn for love and acceptance. People who have experienced childhood traumas
are likely to nurture an unhealthy dependence in the future. With a strong urge to feel validated and
worthy, they most likely assume the role of a giver and sacrifice their own needs and personality to help and please others. Because they feel devoid of purpose and unlovable without being validated by an external source and performing their role as a caregiver, many codependents become stuck in
unhappy, unfulfilling, and abusive relationships.
Codependent individuals struggle to function independently because of a habit of relying on others
to compensate for a fundamental lack of self-esteem. Conversely, the situation becomes toxic for
the receiver as well, who feels incessantly nagged and given unsolicited advice by the co-dependent
This makes it crucial for us to heal the root cause of our emotional issues- childhood trauma or
something else, and build relationships that foster happiness, satisfaction, and opportunities for