Singletude, Interdependence & Independence

This is being reposted in response to a conversation in the Facebook group about codependency, dependency and interdependence.  This discussion is also in Getting Back Out There (GBOT).  GBOT is about getting ready for healthy love and that should begin the very day you breakup. It’s work, it takes work and it’s about changing your mindset. Check your singletude. Until you get that right, you will not get relationships right.


It is not difficult to define healthy relationships. In healthy relationships, love is an action. In healthy relationships there is no abuse, no manipulation, no control and no criticism (constructive feedback, yes, but not criticism). It’s balanced and back and forth and give and take. Sometimes you give 99 percent and your partner gives 1 percent. Other times it’s your partner giving 99 percent and you are giving 1 percent. It’s about supporting each other through life’s adversities…you are a team…an unwavering partnership that works when things are good and when times are hard. No matter what.

If you look at a relationship and can say “I love my partner, I am loved by my partner, I care for my partner, I am cared for, our reasonable needs are met, compromises are made and our relationship enhances our lives. We are fulfilled, well rounded people who care for each other. Our relationship is a priority but we each have our own interests and friends and time to ourselves.” then you are in a healthy relationship. It’s not that there are never issues or there are never arguments, but that the issues are worked out in a spirit of cooperation and not competition.

And what we are talking about with love and caring and compromise and caring for ourselves as individuals is what interdependence looks like. There are 4 states that come into play when we’re talking about this: codependence, dependence, independence and interdependence.

Short and sweet:

Codependence is a pattern of learned, maladaptive behaviors. Codependents tend to be involved with people who may be self-destructive, unreliable, emotionally unavailable, abusive or needy. The codependent tries to control everything without acknowledging their own needs and this leads to a circular pattern of unmet needs. Codependents lack healthy boundaries and the ability to be truly intimate with others.

Dependency is usually not a balanced state. Usually one person is more dependent on the other, on the relationship. And this dependency leads to a very very negative experience within the relationship. And it’s very hard to see if you’re in the throes of it. You think you are forgiving and forgetting and being the understanding partner while the other walks all over you. But you are dependent and that’s a very unhealthy state to be in.

Independence is exactly what you would think it is. It’s the ability to be alone and be okay with it. To live life without the pressing need for a partner. But it is ALSO (most importantly) the ability to be self-sufficient IN a relationship. Many people “act” independent without a relationship but then collapse into codependency or dependency in a relationship. A TRUE independent person doesn’t do that.

Interdependence is all that is stated above. It is about different areas of needs being met by both partners and for both partners. There is intimacy, communication, caring and support. It’s a team and a partnership. It’s being together and appreciating each other in good times and bad. It’s about you are my partner and I appreciate you and I support you in becoming the very best person you can be and you do the same for me. When times are good or bad.

As I say in GBOT, it’s about, “The sun does not have to be shining for me to shine my love on you.” Only happy, whole people can contribute to a relationship like that. You have to be happy and whole when alone and you have to remain a happy, whole person with your own friends, interests and outside life when in a relationship. There has to be love and trust for that kind of balanced “go away and come back together” to exist.

Now about SINGLETUDE. Singletude is what I call your attitude toward being single. It can either be negative or positive.

Many people (most?) see being single as second, a very distant second, to being in a relationship. Not just a healthy relationship but ANY relationship. Most people see being in a bad relationship as better than being single. This is a bad singletude.

And there’s a problem with it. The problem is that if you are not okay with being alone. If you don’t know how to fulfill your life and know who you are, you will NEVER EVER EVER be able to build an interdependent relationship. In other words, only codependent or dependent relationships await you.

Two empty people cannot make a whole relationship. Two halves do NOT make a whole where healthy relationships are concerned. You must must must be a whole and happy person who practices self-care and is TRULY independent before you are capable of an interdependent relationship.

If you have a negative singletude, if you don’t think you can be good at being alone, then you are doomed. Truly doomed. If you sigh and daydream and just wait until the time when Prince or Princess Charming comes coursing through your life…it’s never going to happen. The prince or princess will turn into a frog as soon as they have your codependent ass nailed to a chair in their dysfunctional life.

There ARE nice things to being in a relationship and every relationship, no matter how bad, has good moments and moments that almost match your idealized notion of relationships and happily ever after. There are things that ONLY a relationship can give you…but it’s not worth it if it brings more heartache and sorrow than moments of joy or idealized romance.

And before you can get into a relationship where misery is not the end result, you have to have a positive singletude. You have to recognize the importance of living a fulfilled life and the part it plays in a healthy happy life whether that life is coupled or not.

You have to figure out how to make your life matter. How to make your life mean something. Not just in conjunction to another but to the world. How does your life matter to the world? If it doesn’t, it should. If you can’t see your intrinsic value, you can’t sell it to someone else. No one worth anything is going to be attracted to someone who has no clue what their life is worth outside of a relationship.

Single is not a step down and dating is not something you have to go through to get to happily ever after. You have to look positively at being single and dating in order to do coupling, healthy interdependent coupling, successfully. You also need to look at being single positively so that it’s not “OH NOT NOT THAT!” when you’re in a relationship on the rocks or going nowhere. It HAS TO BE a positive alternative to being in a suck ass relationship. If it’s not…guess what?…only suck ass relationships await you. Being single has GOT TO BE better than being in a bad relationship and the ONLY WAY to make it that way is to make it the best thing when you’re single. Otherwise you will avoid the dreaded singleness by being in dreadful relationships. Not a good choice!

And sometimes singledom is thrust upon you even if you do find your true love in a wonderful interdependent relationship. And the grief you feel over losing this person to death or illness will be easier to deal with if you have faith in yourself to be okay alone. It’s just the way it is. That is life. Life renders you alone a lot of times for a variety of reasons. You have to learn for it to be okay.

Check your singletude. Figure out if it’s positive or negative and how to change it so that you can turn into a happy, healthy independent person who will be attracted to happy and healthy independent person who will be capable of an interdependent relationship.
Copyright 2007-2018 Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.
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About Susan J. Elliott

Author, Attorney, Grief Counselor, Media Commentator, Motivational Speaker, Relationship Expert, Breakup Coach BA English Mount Holyoke College, magna cum laude, High Honors, Phi Beta Kappa M.Ed., Counseling Psychology, Cambridge College J.D. University of California, Berkeley Licensed to practice law in federal and state courts in NY. Licensed but Inactive in Texas and District of Columbia Creator of the Getting Past Your Past and Getting Past Your Breakup programs, seminars, workshops, bootcamps, videos, blogs and podcasts Author of Getting Past Your Breakup, Getting Back Out There and the GPYP Workbook
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