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awkward turtle

So a few nights ago, a few friends and I were talking about relationship management.

The real key to maintaining a good relationship really, is synergy. Synergy is when two sources of energy combine to create an energy that is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

There are four levels at which people can coexist: Dependence, Independence, Co-dependence, and Interdependence.

Dependence is when you rely completely on another person for survival. The best example here is the parent-child relationship. 1+0=1 (Energy)

Independence is when you rely completely on yourself for survival. The ultimate example here is Tom Hanks in Castaway. But apply that self-sustainance to life in society. You take care of you. 1+1=2 (Energy added.)

Co-Dependence is when two people rely on each other to survive. One cannot live without the other. Each provides something the other is missing. 1+1=1.5 (Negative synergy/energy divided.)

Inter-Dependence is when two people rely on each other to thrive. The can survive on their own, effectively independent. But they form a bond and the synergy created allows them to achieve more than what they could on their own. 1+1=3 (Synergy/energy multiplied.)

The funny thing is, most people spend their early lives being Dependent. They lack a complete, mature sense of self. They are missing something. They eventually meet someone else who shares these characteristics. The two develop feelings for one another and !POOF! we call it love. Opposites attract, yin-yang, “you complete me.”

But guess what? These two people are really Co-Dependent. What seems like real happiness is really just a transient state. Why? Because two people who fit together like puzzle pieces, who compensate for each other’s shortcomings, are bound to change.

As a relationship grows and one finds fulfillment in other areas of their life, they’ll begin to notice themselves changing. Over time the missing pieces will fill from life experience.

However many years down the road, each person has changed and grown. They look at one another and decide, “You’re just not the person I fell in love with.” They’re right. As people change and grow, the holes in their lives fill and form new holes. Each person while they may care for the other, no longer gets fulfillment from them. The puzzle pieces no longer fit. “We’ve just grown apart.”

What”s really sad is that neither person is at fault. There were probably intense feelings at first, and maybe long after. But they fall out of love, not because the other person changed, but because their needs have changed.

They were in love with what the other was, not who the other was. Co-Dependence is tragic, because people leave one relationship and immediately search for a new person that will fit their new self. Thus, the cycle repeats. What’s even more sad is that this type of relationship is what we expect. It’s what Hollywood sells us. It’s what popular music is written about. “I need you.” “I can’t live without you.” “You complete me.”

Then there is that rare relationship. You’ve seen these people, though seldomly believe it when you do. These people are completely content. They may not live in the best of circumstances, but they appear to be truly happy.

These people are Interdependent. Each partner can survive on their own. Each was happy on their own. They weren’t even looking for love when they found each other. But somehow, when they met they knew. They probably weren’t each other’s type. The circumstance in their lives probably didn’t fit well. But they understood each other and somehow it worked.

Over the years, these people change and grow, almost continuously. Yet because the relationship was founded on the attraction between two independent people, two people who didn’t need each other to feel complete, they grow together. It doesn’t matter that they change, because it’s who they are that counts. They respect each other as a whole person and don’t count on one another for survival. And so, Interdependent relationships thrive, rather than just survive.

Another interesting and rare phenomena is that occasionally, under the rarest of circumstances, two people can go from Co-dependent to Interdependent together. But this happens so rarely, that it is often better to cut loose and grow on your own. When it does happen, it’s because both people mature togther and achieve an Independence together. They somehow learn to be complete people while staying in a relationship. But again, this is the exception to the rule, and not worth betting your life on.

To keep a good relationship going, always make sure that there is synergy. Keep the energy flowing and the output greater than the sum of the parts. The day-to-day details matter very little when every day you’re a better person than the day before.

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Categories: Uncategorized
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  1. January 31, 2010 at 3:10 pm

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