Understanding Emotional Connections in a Relationship - Kamini Wood

Understanding Emotional Connections in a Relationship

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The success of our relationships depends mainly on how well we understand each other’s need for emotional connection. When it comes to relationships, especially romantic ones, most of us value connection above everything else. The emotional connection allows you to bond with your partner within a safe, healthy relationship that supports your growth and gives you the freedom to be yourself.

According to Dr. John Gottman, emotional bids are small signals of connection and affection that you regularly exchange with your partner. These bids for connection are responsible for the success of any relationship. Dr. Gottman’s research shows that happy couples turn toward their partner’s bids for connection about twenty times more than unhappy couples during everyday discussions and conflicts. Emotional bids can be expressed through words of affirmation, actions, or physical contact.

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Interdependence in a Relationship

Interdependence in a relationship means that you recognize and value the importance of vulnerability. It also means nurturing the emotional connection that you share with your partner while keeping a healthy sense of self within your relationship. Also, interdependence suggests that you can turn to your partner and react positively to each other’s bids for connection. At the same time, both of you have healthy boundaries. You create a safe environment for each other to be vulnerable.

Also, you have healthy self-esteem and personal interests outside the relationship and are truly committed to individual growth and your growth as a couple.

Interdependence and codependence in a relationship are two different things. A codependent person usually heavily relies on others for their sense of self and happiness. Codependency in relationships stems from insecure attachment and it’s usually expressed through mixed emotions such as dependence on another person for one’s identity and a deep fear of rejection. Besides, fusion and codependency in a relationship suggest that a codependent person cannot distinguish where their self ends and their partner’s self begins. Therefore, a codependent person has a fused sense of responsibility for their partner to meet all of their needs.

emotional connection couple holding hands

Codependence in a Relationship

Codependent behavior usually results from growing up in a dysfunctional family; it’s something people learn from family dynamics in their childhood.

Unlike interdependent relationships, codependent relationships are unhealthy and do not allow partners to be independent and grow. Codependent people usually have some characteristic traits, such as:

  • People-pleasing behaviors
  • Weak boundaries or no boundaries at all
  • Manipulation
  • Controlling behaviors
  • Unhealthy communication
  • Emotional intimacy problems
  • No personal life outside the relationship
  • Low self-esteem

Also, people with codependency issues usually develop one-sided, emotionally toxic, or even abusive relationships. Codependency usually leads to unhealthy patterns in communication, expectations, and behavior and prevents a person from having healthy, fulfilling relationships.

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Independence in a Relationship

The self-actualization need is an important human need. Therefore, nurturing independence in a relationship means that you strive for personal expansion while committing to a healthy union with each other. A perfect relationship simply does not exist. Like everything else valuable in life, healthy relationships require effort and work. A great way to build a strong relationship with your partner is to be vulnerable, open, and accepting.

However, independence in a relationship doesn’t mean not needing your partner for emotional support. An extreme sense of independence can get in a way of being able to connect emotionally with your partner and to respond appropriately to their emotional bids for connection.

On the other hand, healthy independence and interdependence within a relationship allow you and your partner to connect and bond while growing as strong individuals.

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