Codependence is a very primitive way of being in relationships. The concept arises from the olden times, when people got married to ensure survival of the family. Marriages had strict roles, where the male was the provider and the female nurturer. While he brought food, she brought up the family. Relationships were solely transactional and there was not much thought given to emotional fulfillment or the dynamics of love flourishing in such connections; whereas modern definitions of relationships have evolved much since those days. Nowadays, a relationship is not just based on need or trade but also on enjoyment and personal fulfillment. The providing-nurturing dynamics are evolving as people worldwide are learning to be self-sufficient, especially women, hence the demands from relationships have escalated so much that the old structures in place are no longer serving our expansion as a collective species. We need new ways to define our relationships and our ways of being with each other. More and more people are looking for emotional fulfillment and love in a romantic connection, and they are willing to be single or break a relationship if they are not getting those things from their partners. Human consciousness has expanded and evolved to hold a grander reality, higher vibrational dynamics, and people are not content with a transactional kind of relationship anymore where there is only role-playing without any real connection, chemistry, intimacy or bonding among the partners. The primitive codependent relationship is toxic with an attachment dynamic where one feels the desperation to cling on to another for survival.
Let us examine the dynamics of codependence: codependent relationship dynamics from the past are stored in our cellular memory since generations and perpetuated in our modern day partnerships. Although relationships are transforming nowadays, still the change is slow. When one is codependent on his/her partner in a relationship, he/she feels a survival threat due to any form of separation, even temporary. So they cling on to their partners for life, displaying a strong sense of emotional attachment and neediness which produces very unhealthy dynamics in the connection. The sense of attachment is so strong that they give up their personal power and autonomy, abandon their true selves, afraid to be authentic or express their needs to their partners, in fear of losing them. So they continually engage in self-abandonment, self-sabotage, self-sacrifice, self-hate kind of behavior, where they renounce their own needs, wants or desires to be at the behest of their partners because they don’t believe their partners would meet their needs anyways. And this is precisely what creates the victim-control dynamics in relationships, especially the abusive ones. More often than not, it is an emotional abuse where the partner ignores or invalidates you, violates your boundaries or doesn’t respect you as an individual.
So what creates this co-dependency? To understand this we have to go back to our childhoods. Most of our emotional imprints are formed during infancy and puberty that blueprints our entire lives with certain behavioral patterns. And we are attracted to people who bring out these patterns in us so our unresolved issues can heal. If our emotional needs are neglected or ignored by our guardians as children, then we grow up believing we are not loveable, our needs are not important. We feel unworthy of love at the core of our being. So we learn to continually bypass our difficult or invalidated emotions in order to cope, but by doing so, they don’t go away, they fester! Rooted deep in our subconscious minds these unresolved feelings become trauma and show up in our adult waking lives as blind spots. For no reason, the partner may suddenly leave, reject or abuse in subtle ways, ignore, disrespect, maltreat us and we don’t understand why. This is due to the vibration we are emitting that we are not even consciously aware of, but they can be felt by our partners at an intuitive level. If we are convinced we are not loveable or unimportant, we will engage in self-abandoning behaviors without meaning to, belittling our own needs by glorifying that of others, which forces the partner to abandon us as well or not value us. The external world is just a mirror of our internal vibrations. Our reality is created by the thoughts and beliefs, conscious or unconscious, held in our minds as truths. Fetuses respond to the stress of their parents while in the womb. Those memories are stored in the body of the new born and show up later as blind spots or illnesses, without conscious knowledge of what is happening. If the parents are stressed all the time, it encodes the physiology of the child. To cope the child may mold herself, develop a conforming personality, become a people pleaser, unable to express her own desires, needs or be authentic, which leads to sickness and codependency. The child is trying to solve the parents’ problems all the time, because without the attachment she knows she would not survive. It is a survival mechanism. And when the need for this attachment is not met the infant cries all the time. This attachment dysfunction leads to relationship problems in adulthood, where one keeps trying to attach unconsciously instead of being authentic or communicating their needs to their partners. We are held hostage by our childhood unresolved emotions, until they can be understood, processed and released consciously. Then the exterior reality may change as well.
So in codependence, the mentality goes: I cannot survive without depending on you. One must understand that no aspect of divinity is less powerful than any other. Never think that you cannot do without another. Empowering oneself from within is key, where we see our own value and worth and then we share it with another in authenticity, instead of attaching in unhealthy ways and being at the behest of another. For this one needs to cultivate radical self-acceptance and self-approval. Own your feelings and needs, give them importance and share them with your beloved so there is reciprocity in the connection and the giving is not just one way.
The opposite of codependence is independence, which also does not serve to create a loving, healthy relationship. To understand this, read my article: is independence leading to loneliness? While there are increasing divorce rates in the western world precisely due to the independence mentality, the eastern world takes pride in keeping their relationships intact. However, many of those relationships are together not due to love, but an unhealthy sense of loveless attachment, abuse, fear of ending up alone and being scorned at by society. Many men, in these patriarchal societies especially, abuse women precisely because they know their wives will never leave them, hence take them for granted. Women are taught to put their husbands on pedestals and even after doing so, when they do not feel loved they grow resentful and bitter over time and the relationship dynamics go sour any which way. Husbands look for fun outside of the connection, whereas she remains the doormat, a dutiful wife. Nowadays, however, this is changing due to western influence as a lot of women are fighting out of the mold and encountering emancipation. But majority of relationships still function under such toxic dynamics, where men even believe they are doing a woman a favor by marrying her. If you listen to relationship coaches, or dating gurus it is all about teaching the woman how to catch him and keep him, how to get him to commit, how to make him stay, the no-contact rule, bla bla bla. Why so much manipulation? It seems like men don’t want to love a woman or commit or stay true to her? Men don’t enjoy a long heart to heart conversation? And how long can you play these games, until you are tired then give up and end up single or lonely within the relationship anyways? This is happening because of the imbalance of energies in relationships, giving away of personal power, self-sabotaging and self-loathing behavior. The external reality mirrors our internal states of being. Men do enjoy those things when the woman can hold her own dignity and not give it away in the name of love! This is hard for many women especially in disempowering patriarchal cultures, where she never learns to dignify herself or honor her own needs and desires while at the same time honoring those of her partners. She sees her mother, grandmother, relatives, neighbors, giving away their personal power to please their men, and she continues the same. And so the sins of the ancestors are revisited by the succeeding generations. In my travels across the world, I have seen this trend in many societies. Men are not just satisfied with a dutiful wife doting on them. No, they need a woman who is authentic and can stand up for her needs, wants and desires without being aggressive, demanding, blaming, shaming or judging him. And she too wants a man, who will respect, honor and love her. For that, she needs to respect, honor and love herself.
In codependent relationship dynamics, usually it is the woman who is so needy and dependent on the man, whereas in independent dynamics both feign that they don’t need each other. While one dynamic stifles, the other lacks a sense of bonding. To correct this we need to create interdependence in our relationships with each other, where we can rely on each other to fulfill our needs, wants and desires. Women should stop being so needy at an emotional level by fulfilling themselves from within and men should start showing their vulnerability to a woman and respect her for her role and contribution, without giving up their masculine traits of leading in the connection and providing a safe container for the woman to share her feelings in a circular manner. Just like in a dance, the man leads and the woman picks up the cues from him in order to know what moves to make. She gracefully swings into his arms then spins away. In a successful relationship this same energy is displayed. She is happy to see her partner and moves into his arms then after preparing him, spins out while sharing her own feelings and even dip all the way to the bottom then experience the joy of coming back up again with his sympathetic support and strong hold. That’s how the man provides a safe container for her to reveal her true self. Men suffer from emotional disconnection as they do not know how to open up, so when women share in a non-judgemental way, they too feel safe to express. Women should help them do this by being open when they try to share and not be too quick to fill in the gaps with her own opinions without even hearing him out completely. Men find it difficult to express emotions, so she should cultivate patience when he makes an attempt to do so. Read more here: interdependence, the key to relationships.
In essence, we all have the masculine and feminine energies inside us. Balancing our energies is the key to a harmonious connection. When you truly love another, you take the other as a part of yourself, not apart. When both parties come from that space in the connection, love flows automatically; it doesn’t need to be forced, controlled or manipulated. In the end, a successful relationship is not measured by how long you have been together, but how much quality time you have spent together.
Here’s a toast to your success in relationships!