by Kelly Everson
Recently, people have been becoming increasingly interested in discussing the fine line between the two terms of dependence and interdependence. The target of these discussions and debates are to point out the ups and downs of each term; also to understand how to better utilize them for a balanced life and a more balanced relationship amongst people.
What do dependence and interdependence mean?
The term dependence is basically when someone relies on something or someone to thrive, or simply to survive. In fact, at some point in all people’s lives, being dependent on others is just normal, and even essential, to survive in this complex world. As a child, for example, one is totally dependent on his/her parents, who help their kids acquire the necessary skills to interact with others and, most importantly, to develop the skills needed to be self-sufficient human beings. Therefore, without firstly being dependent on someone or something, there can be no chance to later become independent or interdependent.
On the other hand, interdependence occurs when two or more people rely on each other to achieve mutual benefits. This is a relationship based on the concept of living and working together hand-in-hand to develop a situation in which both parties offer a means of assistance to strive together.
Commonalities and differences:
Both terms, however, have similar and different attributes. To know these similarities and differences is to know where to draw the line when it comes to answering the question “To be or not to be?” and to determine which one of these answers is better.
The distinct shared value of the two terms is the very word “dependence” as both strive to function in the existence of someone else; whether it’s as an individual or more than one person and whether it’s a one-sided total reliance or mutual reliance. Another similarity lies with the reason behind the act of dependence, which is to succeed as individuals.
Here are the main differences between dependence and interdependence:
While “dependence” involves one person who is dependent on another person or on a number of persons, “interdependence” involves two or more people who depend on one another.
“Dependence” is a one-sided relationship where one person takes the whole advantage of others, whereas “interdependence” is a mutually beneficial relationship which involves two or more parties.
“Dependence” indicates a total reliance on others. On the other hand, “interdependence” indicates a partial reliance on each other where each party offers equal benefits.
The ups and downs
Just as there are advantages of each, there are also disadvantages of being dependent or interdependent.
Advantages and disadvantages of dependence
At one stage in anyone’s life, being dependent on others isn’t necessary a negative thing; on the contrary, it might be necessary in order to take the right steps towards life’s goals. This means putting an unwavering trust in others’ hands, which is not always as easily done as spoken. Trusting others is an attribute that not everyone has and it sometimes requires taking courses or certain measures to develop this trust. Depending on others thus requires trusting that the results would be as desired, but at the same time continuing this trust even if the results aren’t as expected.
However, too much dependence is negative when it becomes a destructive force in one’s life. When someone turns into being over-dependent, he/she can no longer function well as an individual and wouldn’t have what it takes to survive alone. At the same time, over-dependence, when prolonged, can destroy the relationship between the dependent and his/her supporters because they would feel used.
Advantages and disadvantages of interdependence
Interdependence is positive when it highlights a social perspective. It enables people to interact, work, and live together while bringing about mutual interest for all. Society strives on such interaction and improves relationships amongst people. It is also important for a couple’s relationship that they support one another for the benefit of their family well-being.
Just like too much dependence, over-interdependent relationships have risks of their own. They can risk the person’s individuality aspects which are vital for survival. Because interdependence interaction is amongst people, it is highly influenced by the moods, actions, and reactions of others. For example, marriages can be subject to divorce at any period of couple’s life; if the couples are too interdependent, their chances of survival after the divorce takes place are slim and they would need to be rehabilitated as separate individuals.
The best approach is the positive approach
There are no definite positive or negative sides to dependence and interdependence. The trick here is to know where to draw the line to ensure that one is not completely drawn into one of the two extremes. Taking the positive aspects from each perspective is the best approach. This means maintaining one’s originality while living in harmony side-by-side and bringing out the best in both approaches.