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Psychologists often talk about the importance of basing your romantic relationship on love and not dependence but what does that really mean? And why do we care? 

Love is the feeling we feel when we are not looking for our partner to change or be different in anyway. It is when we are in the space of feeling total positivity towards them. 

Dependence is when we are looking for our partners to fill a need inside of us. It can look like wanting them to express their love in a certain way, or act a certain way around our loved ones, or for them to make decisions in their life the way we want them to.

The truth is in romantic relationships, we constantly fluctuating back and forth between love and dependence. It would be unrealistic to think a perfect romantic relationship consists of not wanting or needing anything from our partners (why even be in a relationship then). At the same time, what often destroys good relationships is people not being aware of the balance. 

The recipe for a successful relationship is as follows:

  • Fill all the needs in yourself that you are able to

  • Accept everything you possibly can about your partner

  • Whatever is left over communicate to partner with love 

  • Tell your partner you are grateful when they change to take care of you

As a younger person every single one of my relationships was based on me trying to feel the love and safety I didn’t feel in my childhood. My parents we're not raised with parents they could be emotionally dependent on and so they passed on the same process to me. They raised me to be smart, adventurous, compassionate, but also kinda lonely. 

When I got into the dating world all I did was look for people who could make feel secure and loved. This worked in some sense; I got lots of love and codling. What didn't work was I did not feel inspired by my partners or pushed to grow in any way. As soon as all of my needs were filled in relationships, I was not interested in them anymore. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum when my partner stopped telling me they loved me every second of the day I would turn into a needy mess. 

It was not until I took break from relationships to focus on myself that I was really able to change the cycle. In the time off: I went to therapy, I pushed myself to find what I loved about myself, got emotionally closer to my parents and took some surf trips all on my own. 

After getting really comfortable on my own, I started dating again, and when I found the man of my dreams I was ready. I worked on really getting to know him for him. Finding what I admired about him separate from my own needs. I loved how passionate he was about music, hockey, and his own business. I also loved his live in the moment attitude! 

Of course the deeper we got into our relationship, the more my dependency monster started to reel its head. I wanted him show me love the way I thought men should show love: cards, flowers, planned dates. As I ruminated about what he was doing wrong, it pushed me further away from him. 

Luckily this time I was prepared, the work I had done on myself had paid off… When I noticed myself wanting to be upset with him, I refocused on whether or not he was showing me love. It turns out he was: he was taking me and my loved ones out to dinner. He took up skiing because he knew I loved snowboarding so much, and he woke me up every morning with tons of kisses telling me how much he loved me. It was in this reflection that I realized I could either focus on what he was not doing or focus on all the ways he was amazing to me! 

Over the last 6 years there have been many examples of this process. Of course there are times when I ask for certain things that I cannot let go of. Overall it has surprised me that 99% of the things I thought I needed, I just needed to change my perspective on. The more fulfilled I am, the more unconditional love I have to give and guess what? The more unconditional love he gives me back.