We all have different kinds of relationships in our lives, with our friends, family, spouse, lover, boss, employee and ourselves. Some of our relationships are great, while others are more unhealthy. There are those we invest so much time into but still end up crappy and unfulfilling, and there are those that are just perfect with almost no effort. Some make us lose a piece of ourselves but also gain a piece of ourselves.
We can find ourselves through relationships. Or we can lose ourselves in them like Amelia Earhart over the Pacific.
Yes, relationships are a fuzzy matter. But when all is said and done, there are three types of relationships which exist in all in our lives: the bad, the better and the best.
Getting to 1+1=3: The 3 Types of Relationships in Your Life
A loving relationship is one in which the loved one is free to be himself — to laugh with me, but never at me; to cry with me, but never because of me; to love life, to love himself, to love being loved. Such a relationship is based upon freedom and can never grow in a jealous heart.
– Leo F. Buscaglia
1. Dependent relationship (1+0=0)
This type of relationship is when one side is dependent on the other side, or when both are dependent on the other.
This is definitely the worst possible type of relationship. Since you feel that are not adequate on your own, you seek to find approval in the other person.
How often do we hear or see in our friends’ circle that someone is searching for his or her better half to bring them happiness? It’s sad, because true happiness can only come from inside ourselves. It’s psychologically impossible to be happy with someone else if you are not first happy with yourself. Unless we are enough for ourselves, we will never be happy.
You might say, “But there are people who are in a dependent relationship and seem happy, no?” And the main thing here is “seem.” People like that either lie to themselves (which is again unhealthy for the relationship) or perhaps enjoy having someone else fill all of their wants and needs so that they don’t appear alone. Or they could be on the other side of the equation, and enjoy having someone be dependent on them because it makes them feel indispensable.
In the first situation, you are the victim and you’re searching for someone to cling to. You will live your life through that person. In the second situation, you are the person who enjoys having someone need them because then you feel like they can’t drop you.
In both situations, both people lose.
That’s why this heading has the title 1+0=0. Because even when you have one person who is completely formed and wants to do something, the other person just keeps you down with their dependency.
This formula could’ve been 0+1=0 or 0+0=0. However you frame the situation, it’s unhealthy, unsustainable and doesn’t lead to happiness.
The people in this relationship don’t have their own life, they have their partner’s life. The partner’s life becomes their life.
But when you put your life’s value into your partner and forget your own, it can only lead to a breakup down the line.
Only when we love ourselves can we provide real love to someone else, and a kind of love that will provide the basis for growth, instead of a reason to rot.
When we are enough for ourselves, we come to the second type of relationships.
2. Independent relationship (1+1=2)
This type of relationship is when one side has complete independence of the other side.
This is the first step towards a healthy relationship. Independent relationships are the ones where we have two individuals, where each one has their own life, purpose, and a vision they strive for.
Their own life is their first priority.
Independent people are often more than enough for themselves, but this can mean that they can’t seem to find the place for someone else in their lives. That is the main problem with these types of relationships.
When you have two strong, self-reliant individuals, they question themselves often on whether or why they even need someone else. These individuals can be self-centered, and often lack a desire to cooperate with other people.
Because these people don’t want to or can’t see the benefits of sharing their time with someone else, these types of relationships can lead to problems such as emotional distance, feelings of constant competition, or high standards that the other person can’t handle.
I have been guilty of this in the past.
I had my standards and didn’t want to settle for anything less. It made me unapproachable, even for the people I consider friends. So I figured out a way to deal with this. But more on that in the next subheading.
The title here is 1+1=2,because two strong individuals can make something more — but not more than their collective sum.
Yet independence is still the first step towards the best possible type of relationship, which is:
3. Synergistic relationship (1+1=3)
This type of relationship is when an independent, self-reliant individual decides to share his or her life with another independent, self-reliant individual, to create a synergy that results in more than the sum of its parts.
I saved the best for last. The synergistic relationship is the type we should all strive for.
Synergistic relationships are based on both individuals being on the same wavelength, when they completely understand each other and don’t try to limit the space they occupy in each other’s lives.
The heading, 1+1=3, speaks to the power of the relationship, where the two partners combine to create something more.
Only when we accept ourselves fully and realize that true happiness can only come from within us, are we then able to build a synergistic relationship. Only then can you find a person with whom you can be fully you, and yet still have the feeling of building something larger. And when you do, it’s smart not to let that person go.
This doesn’t mean that you should leech onto that person and make the relationship dependent. I’ve seen this happen. Don’t do this. Just acknowledge that the person in front of you is someone with whom you can build a better future than by yourself, and put in the effort to nurture it and keep it strong.
For people already in synergistic relationships, I want to congratulate and tell you to keep it up.
For people in independent relationships, I want to ask you to recognize that not everything has to be done on your own. Try opening yourself up to other people, and see the magic that can be created.
For people in dependent relationships, maybe it’s time to stop and evaluate your life and your relationships. Keep working on yourself to build up your confidence, and strive to develop codependent relationships in all areas of your life.