Relationships; lovers, friends, family, are a beautiful part of humanity but sometimes challenging as we move through our life.
I love this poem which seems to sum things up brilliantly:
People come into your path for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
People come into your path for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you know which one it is, you will know what to do with that person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty…
To provide you with guidance and support…
To aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually…
They may seem like they are a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then without any wrongdoing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die…
Sometimes they walk away…
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand…
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled…
Their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has now been answered and now it is time to move on.
Some people come into your life for a SEASON.
Because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons.
Things you must build upon to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind, but friendship is clairvoyant.
Thank you for being a part of my life…
Whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime”
~ unknown author
Types of Relationships
I have learned that there’s also some correlation between the type of relationships you inhabit and whether or not they stand the test of time.
There seem to be four types of relationships:
Both parties are entirely independent with no reliance on each other for anything, they simply come together when they want to and do what they want to do. An example of this kind of relationship is two friends who rarely see each other, but when they do they have a great time.
They don’t need each other physically, emotionally or spiritually in any way, they simply choose to spend time together as and when they desire. These relationships can be fun and easy going, and some believe these relationships to be the epitome of healthy. However, they can also lack the feeling of deep connection and understanding which we humans appear to need.
One party is wholly depending on the other for her entire well being. Obviously parent and child falls into this category, but here we’re looking at relationships between adults. This relationship often comes about as a result of physical needs, when one person is sick and needs another person’s care and support. Dependence is challenging for long term relationships, people often cave under the strain of it, particularly if one party is sacrificing their needs for the sake of the other’s.
Both parties are entirely reliant on each other for their physical, emotional and spiritual well being. Both parties are completely focused and committed to each other with no time, space or energy for anyone and often anything else. This type of relationship is an intense rollercoaster. It often involves one person giving a lot and one person taking a lot.
These relationships can start off euphoric, exciting, addictive, but like any addiction, eventually becomes toxic. What starts off as adoring focus and commitment becomes fraught with jealousy, over-reaction, isolation, and general messiness. One party, or both is constantly seeking approval and reeling if she doesn’t get it. Co-dependent relationships can often be emotionally manipulative and even violent, with abuser and victim horribly connected.
A mutual, healthy reliance between two people. Imagine the infinity sign ∞ with flow and connection between both sides. Interdependence is a flow of giving and receiving, mutual reliance and understanding of needs. In my experience this is where the best relationships lie.
My Addiction to Codependency
Most of my life I’ve been drawn to co-dependency and though as an adult I have never been part of an abusive relationship, I have definitely been party to some unhealthy (with hindsight) co-dependent friendships far too often.
At first they feel so good. That wave of mutual adoration and the power they have to raise you up or bring you down.
All of your time has to be concentrated on them, and at first this feels loving and giving and juicy, but eventually it becomes a bind, claustrophobic and uncomfortable.
I’ve experienced the relationships which as they’re coming to the end the other party starts to use threats and coercion to keep the relationship afloat, or I’ve made a move towards independence and that doesn’t go down well – perhaps a move, or a change in job, or a new partner and suddenly the relationship buckles.
My co-dependent relationships have never ended well and yet for years I found myself going round and round in circles on the co-dependent cycle of addiction. It was no fun and I’m glad to be off it now.
I now find myself supporting many women to rediscover themselves by exploring their relationships. Seeing women move from toxic codependent relationships to inter-dependent or dependent relationships is a beautiful thing to witness.
So often true rediscovery of self comes with this transition.
What to Ask Yourself About Your Relationships
So, what do you do if you’re experiencing ick in your relationships? First, look at them, where does this relationship fit into the four categories? Here are some questions to ask yourself depending on each category:
Do you enjoy the independent relationship? Are you feeling as connected to this person as you would like? If not, what could you do to invite more connection into the relationship?
If this is a long term relationship, are you both comfortable with the level of dependence? Do you have agreements in place as to what you need/want/expect from each other? If they’re caring for you, how might you acknowledge their commitment and love? What CAN you do for them, no matter how small? If you’re the carer, what do you need to feel nourished and whole? Are your needs being met?
Have you got a history of being part of co-dependent relationships? Are your current relationships co-dependent? If you’re in the “feeling great” part of this relationship, what might you be able to do to move it from co-dependence to inter-dependence?
Where in the relationship are things out of balance? Who’s giving more and who’s receiving more? Are you able to adjust this balance?
If you’re isolated as part of this relationship are you safely able to make changes to move you out of isolation and connect with others outside of your relationship? If your relationship is currently toxic, how might you move away from it? (*If you are in an abusive relationship please please reach out to your doctor, a domestic violence charity or organization and find help. You don’t have to live with abuse, there is help out there for you.)
Are you acknowledging these relationships? If, like me, you’ve been, or are, addicted to co-dependency, you might have a hard time acknowledging the beautiful interdependent relationships you have, if so, how could you start to acknowledge and build on them? How can you support yourself to be okay with the more level feelings of interdependence rather than seeking the massive highs and lows of co-dependence?
Managing relationships is all part of the human experience and it can be tricky, but you can turn them around if you get curious and ask yourself some of the above questions.
How do you feel about your relationships right now?
With all of my love,
Photo Credit: Kristin Little