“Building a supportive and nurturing relationship with our partner can help us create a stable base that makes us more independent and enables to pursue our dreams. This is the dependency paradox.”
Our partners powerfully affect our ability to thrive in life. They influence how we feel about ourselves, what we believe we are capable of, and they ultimately impact our attempts to achieve our dreams.
Even Mr. Self-Actualization (Abraham Maslow) himself argued that without bonds of love and affection with others, we cannot go on to achieve our full potential as human beings.
Once we choose a partner, there is no question about whether dependency exists or not. It always does. (1)
Countless studies show that once we become intimately attached to another human being, the two of us form one physiological being. (2)
Our partner regulates our blood pressure, our heart rate, our breathing, and the level of hormones in our blood. The emphasis of independence in adult relationships does not hold water from a biological perspective.
I want you to meet Jake.
Over the past seven years, Jake has busted his ass learning the ins and outs of the Financial Advisor Business in hopes of eventually opening up his firm.
Three years ago, Jake started dating Jessica. They got along really well, but she told him opening up his own firm wouldn’t be worth it and he should just stick out working for his terrible boss until he had enough to retire. Jake was in love with Jessica but didn’t feel his dreams were supported by her.
In every city, all across the world, individuals have their own personal life-changing aspirations. They can range from losing weight to starting a business to traveling the world. But when they’re not supported by the people they care about most, they are prevented from doing the very things that make them feel worthy of their dreams.
When a partner is supportive, we are more willing to explore and our self-esteem and confidence gets a boost, which allows us to go after our deepest desires. This not only improves the quality of our lives, but it also deepens and enhances our satisfaction within the relationship and our physical health.
But as many of us know, sometimes our exploration leads to failure, rejection, and painful experiences. When these bad events happen, our biological programming creates anxiety that leads us to seek proximity (physically and/or psychologically) with the person we love.
If they are supportive during this stage our stress will go down and we cope with our problems faster, which ultimately leads us to overcome the problem and continuing to go after our deepest desires.
Let’s see how this plays out with Jake.
After three years of dating Jessica, Jake tells her he is going to start his business with or without her. She has extreme difficulty with this and leaves Jake. (3)
Fortunately for Jake, he ends up meeting Amy two months later.
Amy thinks that Jake starting his own Financial Advising Firm is a fantastic idea. He can work his own hours, pick his clients, and make as much as he is willing to work. Jake is stoked. He has finally found the romantic support for his life dream. He starts his business and kicks ass for the first six months.
Then one of his high net worth clients, 37% of Jake’s business, transfer his funds to another Financial Advisory Firm. Jake is stressed and filled with self-doubt. That night he goes over to Amy’s house and tells her the news.
To his dismay, she isn’t comforting. She brushes off his stress and doubts about his future as a Financial Advisor. Over the following two weeks, Jake tries to get the support he desperately needs from Amy to help him bounce back from this, but she doesn’t budge and finds it silly that he even needs comforting. (4)
Jake ends up coping himself with alcohol to handle his stress and uncertainty. Eventually his dissatisfaction with Amy, due to the lack of intimacy and comfort, causes Jake to end things.
Jake ends up taking a trip to see his best friend. Through some talking and separation from work, Jake gains some resilience. When he returns to work, he works even harder to build up his client base and deepen his relationships with the clients he already has. (5)
Through one of Jake’s leads, Jake ends up meeting a daughter of a retired gentleman.
She’s very cuddly, warm and nurturing – all the things that were lacking in Amy. Debra is really supportive of Jake in his business efforts as well. In fact, she offers to help with Jake’s marketing. The first two months of help are perfect; Jake’s business is growing and his relationship with Debra was deepening.
But in month three, Debra started to take control of Jake’s marketing plans and started telling him how to run his business. (6)
Jake did appreciate the help, but eventually, Debra’s intrusive behavior caused Jake to view her and their relationship in a bad light. He felt that she limited his ideas and was trying to make the business hers. Over time, he began to resent her.
Six months into the relationship, he calls things off.