Another late night out with Seet and gang, playing DotA as usual. Somehow on the car we got to the topic of how passive girls are (which always happens because of Seet’s model girlfriends, who tend to be passive) and Nick commented on how unhealthy it was to have a relationship where the two partners are dependant on each other.
Being a science student, of course I couldn’t let him get away with that without some justification. So I asked what was wrong about a relationship like that, and how a relationship with two people who were independant of each other is better. Nick’s example was the pathos associated with people who couldn’t stand on their own, and had to have someone else in their lives to make them feel more complete – my rebuttal was the counterargument that a relationship with two people completely independant of each other add no qualities to the relationship to make it ostensibly any better than a co-dependant one.
We got to my block before I could really get into the meat of the matter, but I do recall saying something about it being more a matter of whether or not you think you SHOULD have a relationship to begin with. I mean that the soppy little girls (and guys) who always talk of finding someone to complete them are, subconciously or otherwise, expecting to belong to a relationship. That hole in their lives they’re waiting for someone to fill is an emotional complex for companionship that they somehow think they are ENTITLED to.
In the case of more “independant” people, I would guess they see a partner as being an enhancement to their lives, meaning they realize they don’t HAVE to have a relationship in their lives, but having one might make it better (or even worse). Love is not an entitlement, but more of a coincidental occurence, perhaps.
Of course, this is all very slipshod argumentation. I have no results to back my statements, which in any case are rather ill-defined. What do I mean by “independant relationships”? What am I thinking of when I say that?
In the context of my social circle, I think I mean most of all emotional independance, in the context of providing intimate emotional support, the kind you can’t get from even close friends or family. I might also mean personality-dependance, where you look for someone to compensate for your own lack in some personality traits (though I myself have never had this problem, it just seems sick). The only example I can think of in my own limited life would be some friend whose girlfriend was this sad little peep who cried when watching horror movies, never initiated conversation and spoke in a whisper most of the time. The friend was outgoing, boisterous and generically of a sunny disposition. We never really knew whether or not to say their were compatible or not, though I fancy he always treated her well.
Most of my friends are or will be middle-upper-working class professionals, with partner-expectations of the same financial capacity, so financial dependance doesn’t really seem much of a problem in my social context. Even the most anachronistically chauvinistic amongst us (you know who you are!) are looking for non-monied marriage. No problems there.
So does what I have argued applied to the kind of dependancies I have thought of? I think it’s rather scary if they do.
Consider if you thought relationships were an entitlement, ie that you are supposed to have one or that there’s something wrong with you if you never have had a romantic interlude. Then consider people who are emotionally/personality dependant on their partners (surely you have seen some?). Are their personal failings because of this expectation? Do they deliberately sabotage themselves so that when they do get into a relationship they can feel it’s worth more somehow?
I turned to my favourite search engine for answers, and dug up some articles on relationships. Here’s one by a trained counsellor, though I find myself unconvinced by her arguments also (due to lack of scientific argument). Here’s an article from the National Mental Health Association about co-dependance as a mental illness(!!!). I think of great significance is their checklist of symptoms to look out for. It’s seems quite easy to agree with it (for me), though I don’t think I am a very dependant person. And here’s another about Victim Behaviour and the Poor Me Syndrome, just to make Nick’s point about unhealthy co-dependance.
But I’d just like to bring up a point, having watched so many arthouse flicks with dysfunctional families (and having been brought up in an ever so slightly dysfunctional one myself) – after reading all that stuff about the unhealthiness of co-dependance, what have all those articles actually said about this form of behaviour being good or bad about the relationship? I’ll grant that it’s rather obvious to see that being in a co-dependant relationship is bad for the people in it if they are considered individually, but if you read carefully, you’ll see they all say nothing about whether a codependant relationship is really a worse one than one in which the partners are completely indenpendant of any need for each other. If they do allude to it, it is in this way – co-dependance is bad for the people in the relationship individually. They become mentally ill. And mentally ill people cannot possibly have a “healthy” realtionship.
What’s a “healthy relationship”? Is it the same definition of healthy as when used to describe people individually? It lives a long time, has no major illnesses, and doesn’t require artificial aid to survive? Do these apply to your recent romances? Do I want a healthy relationship? Some prescribed goodness in my romance? A tick of confidence from my doctor to say I’m doing just fine? A definition would be nice, so that I know if I’m doing something wrong in my relationships. And I found one here.
It’s frustrating that a happy relationship is always being defined by the processes that create it (supposedly), like being based on respect, having honesty, having trust for each other, etc and not any traits intrinsic to itself. It’s kind of like describing loaves of bread by the virtue of the fact that they were baked in ovens at certain temperatures.
Taken any philosophy modules ever? If you have you’ll be starting to feel a little suspicious by now. It looks like there’s gonna be a circular definition somewhere, and a lot of crass definitions worked out by psychologists more eager to bringing economic and functional well-being to their patients than to provide any real answers.
I think that’s as far as I’d like to think about this topic. Shouldn’t touch with the short end of a long stick unless you’re a qualified counsellor or someone qualified to tell other people how “healthy” their relationships are, I guess.
But personally? I’ll stay fucked up in my fucked-up, co-dependant, cholesterol-laden relationships, thank you very much.
(added later)Oh, wahahaha… turns out Nick was paying attention too. Note that his views are significantly different, but it makes sense ad hominem, I guess, since he’s in a pretty healthy, inter-dependant relationship whereas I’m in the sick perverted one with all the problems and complications. Go figure.