A Relationship Made of Dependence: The Paradox of Love
Building a supportive and nurturing relationship with our partner can help us create a stable base that makes us more independent and allows us to seek our dreams. This is the dependency paradox.
Every relationship is dependent to some degree. But in a relationship built entirely on dependency, chronic anxiety begins to creep in.
Our partners have a powerful impact on our ability to succeed in life. They influence how we think about ourselves, what we believe in, and how we try to achieve our dreams.
Even Mr. Self-Realization (Abraham Maslow) argued that without bonds of love and affection with others, we cannot go further to reach our full potential as human beings.
A relationship based on dependency
As soon as we decide on a partner, the question no longer arises as to whether there is a dependency or not. It always exists.
Countless studies show that once we form an intimate bond with another human being, we form a physiological being.
Our partner regulates our blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and hormone levels in our blood. The emphasis on independence in adult relationships is biologically invalid.
I want you to find Günther.
For the past seven years, Günther has worked his ass off learning the financial advisory business with hopes of one day opening his own business.
Gunther and Annike
Günther started dating Annike three years ago. They got along very well, but she told him that starting his own company wasn’t worth it and that he should keep working for his terrible boss until he had enough money to retire. Günther was in love with Annike but didn’t feel that his dreams were supported by her.
In every city, all over the world, people have their desires that change their lives. This can range from losing weight to starting a company to traveling around the world. But if they aren’t supported by the people they care about most, they are prevented from doing the very things that make them feel worthy of their dreams.
When a partner supports us, we are more willing to break new ground and our self-esteem and confidence are boosted, allowing us to pursue our deepest dreams. This not only improves the quality of our lives but also deepens our relationship satisfaction and physical health.
But as many of us know, sometimes our exploration leads to failure, rejection, and painful experiences. When these bad events happen, our biological programming creates anxiety states that drive us to seek closeness (physically and/or psychologically) with the person we love.
When they support us at this stage, our stress levels decrease and we cope faster with our problems, ultimately leading us to overcome the problem and continue to pursue our deepest desires.
Let’s take a look at how Günther works.
After dating Annike for three years, Günther tells her that he will start his business with her or without her. She has extreme difficulties with it and leaves Günther.
Gunther and Renate
Luckily for Günther, he finds Renate two months later.
Renate thinks it’s a fantastic idea for Günther to start his financial consulting firm. He can set his working hours, accept his customers, and do as much work as he is willing to do. Gunther is excited. Finally, he has found the romantic support for his lifelong dream. He found his company and was successful in the first six months.
Then one of his wealthy clients, who accounts for 37% of Gunther’s business, moves his fortune to another financial advisory firm. Günther is stressed and full of self-doubt. That evening he goes to Renate and tells her the news.
To his dismay, she does not comfort him. She wipes away his stress and doubts about his future as a financial advisor. Over the next two weeks, Günther tries to get the support he desperately needs from Renate to recover from this, but she doesn’t give in and thinks it’s stupid that he needs comfort at all.
Günther eventually copes with alcohol himself to manage his stress and insecurity. Eventually, his dissatisfaction with Renate due to the lack of intimacy and comfort leads Günther to end things.
Günther takes a trip to visit his best friend. Through a few conversations and the separation from work, Günther gains some resilience. Upon returning to work, he works even harder to grow his client base and deepen the relationships with the clients he already has.
Through one of his clues, Günther finally finds the daughter of a retired gentleman.
Gunther and Catherine
She is very cuddly, warm, and caring – all the things that Renate was missing. Katharina also supports Günther in his business endeavors. She even offers to help you with Günther’s marketing. The first two months of help are perfect; Günther’s business grows and his relationship with Katharina deepens.
But by month three, Katharina began taking control of Günther’s marketing plans and telling him how to run his business.
Although Günther appreciated the help, Katharina’s pushy behavior eventually led to Günther seeing her and their relationship in a bad light. He felt that she was limiting his ideas and trying to make the business hers. Over time, he began to hate her.
Trusting circle of security
He breaks up six months into the relationship.
Gunther and Lotte
Within two weeks Günther finds Lotte in a supermarket. She is empathetic and responsive when things are not going well in Günther’s shop. She is encouraging, not pushy or hostile when Günthers tells her about his ambitions and ideas.
Not all people are equally willing and able to take the risk of living the life they want or to ask for the support they need to do so. Not all romantic partners are equally capable and motivated to provide you with a secure base that helps you explore new avenues, or a haven when things go wrong. In addition, existing beliefs and expectations that partners bring to the relationship can become self-fulfilling prophecies in the relationship.
It’s easy to see that when Günther couldn’t find his basic attachment needs, he experienced chronic anxiety – just like the rest of us. Not only do our emotions become a cocktail from hell when our love partner doesn’t support us, but so does our physical health.
Some of us gain weight. Some of us drink more alcohol or stuff our faces in a chocolate and peanut butter bathtub. Having a partner who doesn’t consistently support us can be a crippling experience that can stunt our growth and ruin our health.
Ironically, when someone meets our intrinsic needs for attachment and makes us feel comfortable by providing us with a secure base and haven, we not only become more resilient but also physically healthier and live longer.
Günther’s business and his relationship with Lotte are thriving today. They have their ups and downs like all of us, but their unconditional love and support for one another is the foundation of their success.
The paradox of love
Our partners not only have a huge impact on our relationships but also on the way we feel about ourselves. Being dependent on your partner doesn’t mean you have to sew your body together like a centipede and give up other aspects of your career, your passions, or your friends. Paradoxically, the opposite is the case.
The ability to make a difference in the world outside of our relationships often comes from knowing that there is someone by our side we can count on in good times and bad.