Saturday, May 2, 2009

What Kind of Relationship Style Do I Have?

There are many varied styles of relationships. There are dependent, co-dependent, independent and inter-dependent. It is likely that whatever style of relationship we generally adopt with our partner, will be our style with all those with whom we associate. This information may be particularly helpful to us if we see the same type of difficulties surfacing in many of our relationships.

Dependent relationships may take place when one partner's investment in the relationship becomes extreme. This may lead to feelings of an inability to live without the other party. The over investor feels consumed by the relationship and may lose their individual identity. In this process, the relationship suffers as the over invested partner brings little back to the relationship. They are putting all their energy into only the relationship, and not living their own independent life.

Co-dependent relationships may happen when one partners needs consume the relationship causing the other party to constantly be in the position of supporter. This imbalance causes the partners to adopt roles in the relationship: caretaker, victim, persecutor. In this model, the relationship dwindles as the parties cannot be themselves. They must live within defined roles which may feel suffocating and stifle intimacy.

Independent relationships may occur when one of the partners fails to make a personal investment in the relationship due to excessive self interest. This precludes the development of intimacy. The uninvested party does not value the relationship and therefore creates imbalance through neglect. This may eventually leave the other partner feeling emotionally abandoned.

Inter-dependent relationships come about when two partners are willing to invest, commit, communicate, permit personal growth, support one another, and create balance. No one parties needs dominate the relationship. There is personal investment creating intimacy. Each partner has their own independent identity as well as an identity as party to the relationship.

It is likely that we have a blend of styles which identify our relationship pattern. We probably lean toward one overall style, but have some characteristics of others as a part of our overall relational style. Finding out how we interact with others, especially in intimate relationships, helps us understand ourselves and the reasons behind our interactions.

If we find we are not as inter-dependent as we had hoped, we can make positive changes toward that end. We can work on being more independent within our own lives, allowing us to bring more back to the relationship. We can focus on having a healthier balance between need and support if we find we are out of kilter. We can use the information we glean to better understand ourselves and our partners. This understanding can bring about increased intimacy as well as increased personal independence, resulting in our goal of inter-dependence.

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