Is Dependency Always Bad?

I am often asked when I talk about love addiction Is dependency always bad?

My AnswerNo, not at all.  There are three types of dependency:  Primary, Addictive, and Autonomous.  Primary Dependency refers to those times when we borrow parts of another person’s ego functioning for specific needs and a limited period of time.  When we were children we needed parent figures to nurture, protect and guide us until we had the ego development to do the same ourselves.  Primary Dependency in our adult relationships is healthy when it supports our health and growth, when it is asked for directly, or when it assists someone with a legitimate need.  I have the flu and I ask someone to make me chicken soup, is an example.  Primary Dependency is not okay when it is assumed, it is expected, stunts our growth or is the way the relationship functions most of the time.   A person expects, rather than asks, their partner to organize their chaotic life, is an example.  Addictive Dependency refers to taking care of others at our own emotional expense or encouraging them to take care of us at their expense.  We use and abuse.  We attempt to feel whole by looking to others to satisfy our hunger for security, sensation, power, identity, success, belonging or meaning.  We deny parts of ourselves and use power plays to keep others engaged.  It is unhealthy because it is based on fear and control.  Addictive Dependency is parasitic and limits our spontaneity, creativity and capacity for intimacy.  I say yes because I am afraid of your reaction if I say no, or I have anxiety when I think of a relationship ending, are examples.  It is useful only as a temporary mode of relating while we are learning to love ourselves,  heal our fear and develop tools for healthy belonging.  Autonomous Dependency (interdependency) refers to when we are relating in an atmosphere of openness and trust with equal personal power, clear identities and healthy egos.  When in Autonomous Dependency we feel safe to disagree, be vulnerable, have needs, be autonomous, have differences, be close, be creative and talk about what is uncomfortable.  Giving is from the heart and has no conditions.  It is always healthy and because of our human needs, it cannot be sustained for long periods of time.  Mutual giving in an emotionally supportive way is an example.    Healthy relationships alternate between Autonomous and Primary Dependency.

Most if not all human relationships have all three dependencies.  Moving from Addictive Dependency to Autonomous Dependency requires we have healthy support systems in place.  (Primary Symbiosis).

For more detailed information on this topic, check out my book Is It Love or Is It Addiction or my pamphlet Signs of Healthy Love

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