Monday, December 11, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Dependency is a problem when it affects your happiness

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dependency can get unhealthy when it affects your happiness

Q: How much dependency do you think is healthy in a relationship?

Dependent

Carolyn: Don't know. Since there are different ways to be dependent, you'll need to define dependency. If you're speaking in emotional terms, then feeling as if you couldn't be happy without this person in your life is where I'd draw the line for unhealthy dependency.

Re: Dependency:

Anonymous: Could you explain this more? I definitely feel as if I would be devastated if I lost my wife, and it's difficult for me to imagine what life without her would be. That makes me overly dependent?

Carolyn: I see a difference between being devastated by someone's loss and being unable to recover from it. You can be devastated and still recover the capacity for joy, affection, laughter, immersion in a hobby or cause — all while missing the person, and even while feeling as if a piece of you is gone. If you trust that you will eventually recover your happier emotions in the event of a loss, then I think your investment in someone is deep but healthy. I'm making it sound so easy to pin down when it's not, but I hope that at least makes sense.

Re: Dependency:

Dependent again: Well sure, I'd agree that feeling like I'd die without my partner would be unhealthy dependency. I'm worried more about subtle entanglements, such as the fact that in our current living situation, I have financial commitments I couldn't meet were he to suddenly walk out on me. Or that he's included in plans I've made more than a year in advance. Things like that.

Carolyn: I didn't say die; I said be incapable of happiness; and I was "speaking in emotional terms." Different beasts. Scheduling things with someone a year in advance doesn't sound like dependency to me. To appreciate how normal such scheduling is, in fact, just flip it around: How strange would it be to refuse to plan things because he might leave you or die tomorrow?

As for the financial commitments, though, you do sound as if you're counting on someone else to an unhealthy degree, especially if your relationship isn't one (like marriage) that affords you at least some legal and financial protection.

For your own peace of mind if nothing else, you need either to work actively toward reducing these commitments, or to have a viable Plan B. Both would be even better.

Re: Dependency:

Anonymous 2: Does this answer only apply to romantic relationships? How much dependency is healthy in a friend/best friend relationship? How much dependency is healthy for sister/brother/mom/dad relationship?

Carolyn: Since the advice is essentially to beware when the source of your quality of life or happiness lives outside your body, I don't think it's limited to romantic relationships. You can apply it to friends, siblings, parents, prized possessions, pets, jobs, a geographic area, anything. Honor the moment by accepting that it can end at any time.

Comments

Tell Me About It: Parentsí extreme sheltering feels creepy

Parentsí extreme sheltering feels creepyQ: My daughter, 11, has three friends from school. One girlís parents are generous hosts. "Emma" is an only child and has a pool, fun toys, great snacks.The problem is that Emmaís parents donít let Emma be a gu...
Published: 12/10/17
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Dec. 11-17

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Dec. 11-17

Katy Perry: The Teenage Dream songstress roars into Tampaís Amalie Arena on Friday ($45.75-$195.75). amaliearena.com. Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights begins Tuesday, bringing fun celebrations including Hanukkah in the City at the Sundial St. Petersb...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/10/17
Wild weather expected, 2 boat parades canceled

Wild weather expected, 2 boat parades canceled

Boat parades that were planned tonight in South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach have been canceled because of weather fears.Organizers said they will not be rescheduled. Heavy rain is expected to approach the gulf coast near sunset Friday ahead of a stro...
Published: 12/08/17
Fun and profound Hanukkah celebrations around the Tampa Bay area

Fun and profound Hanukkah celebrations around the Tampa Bay area

It’s time to observe the Festival of Lights, starting at sunset Tuesday and ending Dec. 20. Many congregations seem to be having a great time, because Hanukkah celebrations this year are hilarious. There’s a menorah made of fidget spinne...
Published: 12/08/17
From Hogwarts Castle to your home, digital projectors give a real light show

From Hogwarts Castle to your home, digital projectors give a real light show

At night, Hogwarts Castle is suddenly dusted with snow in steamy Florida. It’s not really snow, but light causing this trick of the eye. Projectors and sophisticated software then send ghosts across the castle towers. A turret spins and turns i...
Published: 12/08/17

Tell Me About It: Self-awareness best way to break bad habit

Self-awareness best way to break bad habitQ: I recently had a friend tell me that I have become arrogant since I entered a new career in which thereís a culture of snobbery and one-upping.I was defensive, and would really have liked to believe she wa...
Published: 12/08/17

Tell Me About It: Exís attempt to make amends falls flat

Exís attempt to make amends falls flatQ: My first love e-mailed me out of the blue, after 10 years, to make amends as part of his AA program. The lengthy e-mail detailed my exís love for me, regrets, and urged me to consider a phone call or FaceTime ...
Published: 12/07/17
Three shades of comedy this week: Game Grumps Live, Harlem Globetrotters, Liberal Redneck comedy tour

Three shades of comedy this week: Game Grumps Live, Harlem Globetrotters, Liberal Redneck comedy tour

VIDEO STARS: Game Grumps LiveYou thought video game players were wasting their time, but these days professional players are packing stadiums and making more money than youíll ever see. They also give us hilarious shows like Game Grumps Live, coming...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17

Tell Me About It: Remarks about food choices grow tiresome

Remarks about food choices grow tiresomeQ: Iím going on vacation soon with my in-laws, siblings-in-laws, and their spouses. Over the last few years, Iíve been working on eating fewer unhealthy foods like bread and dairy, and as a result I feel much b...
Published: 12/06/17
A guide to holiday events at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens and more theme parks

A guide to holiday events at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens and more theme parks

Instead of shoveling snow, Christmas in Florida means celebrating the holiday season in shorts and T-shirts at theme parks and local attractions. Some parks even haul in “snow” for an authentic holiday vibe. While the last two weeks of t...
Published: 12/06/17