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Dependence and Independence in relationships

The historic male/female relationship model is of the caring female and the protective male, who compliment each other and in so doing feel ‘complete’ as individuals – a model of mutual dependency.

In this stereotype the female is characterized as a feelings type, sensitive and vulnerable. Females are considered to be intuitive, open and receptive. They are the ones with the empathy, the good listeners. Meanwhile, they are expected to be dependent on the male for support and protection.

The male stereotype is the polar opposite of the above. The male is strong, unemotional and driven by logic and a ‘rational’ mind. He is the protector and the one ‘in charge’, who knows best and makes all the decisions. He holds all the power (or at least thinks he does!).

The product of all of this is the societal model of the stay at home mother and wife, and the husband as provider.

The trouble with the mutual dependency model is that it is a recipe for ‘neediness’, where individual happiness is dependent on another – and we all know that we can’t depend on others behaving in predictable ways, which are aligned with our needs and desires.

But, of course, with the arrival of the career woman and men discovering their soft side we are much more enlightened now, or are we? Popular culture continues to romanticize the old stereotype, which is still deep in our collective psyche. As a society we have still to fully embrace the notion that we can be complete and whole without another.

The truth is that we all have both a ‘female’ and ‘male’ side, both of which need to be acknowledged and nurtured. So we should access and develop trust in our intuitive (female) side and have confidence to act (male side) in accordance with this inner wisdom. This is ultimately our only dependable source of ‘completeness’. Your first and most important love affair has to be with yourself.

Of course, humans are social animals and the joy of living comes from giving and sharing our lives with others. The extent to which this is a reality for us is dependent on the quality of our relationships. It may seem like a paradox but there is no escaping the fact that we need to be complete in ourselves (independent), if we are to attract fulfilling, functional and loving relationships into our lives.

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