We live in a very individualized culture that emphasizes the importance of being independent and self-reliant.
These beliefs are especially very common within relationships.
You grow up hearing you're in charge of your future, you shouldn't depend on other people and you're in charge of your happiness.
If you depend on your partner, then you're told you're needy and you should learn to develop yourself to be more independent.
In the book "Attached," Amir Levine and Rachel Heller talk about how this way of thinking in relationships is wrong, and from a biological perspective, false.
They point out that "numerous studies show that once we become attached to someone, the two of us form one physiological unit."
This means that when my partner feels sad, I feel sad.
When my partner is happy, I'm happy.
My partner regulates my blood pressure, heart rate and hormones.
So when she reacts, I react as well, and I won't be able to control it.
We become a unit, and as a result, I will do anything to protect her and make sure she's alright.
Therefore, "Dependency is a fact. It is not a choice or a preference," as Levine says.
Now we can try to overcome this, but Matt Lieberman, a professor at UCLA, says to forget it.
He says your brain is hardwired to connect, and because of that, you'll never be able to fully overcome this.
John Donne once said,
No man is an island
Levine and Heller say,
The need for someone to share our lives with is part of our genetic makeup and has nothing to do with how much we love ourselves or how fulfilled we feel on our own. Once we choose someone special, powerful and often uncontrollable forces come into play. New patterns of behavior kick in regardless of how independent we are and despite our conscious wills.
Does this mean that in order to be happy in our relationships, we have to give up other aspects of our lives, such as our friends or goals?
It turns out you don't.
Our ability to step out into the world on our own comes from the knowledge that there is someone by us whom we can depend on.
This is known as The Dependency Paradox.
The more effectively dependent people are on one another, the more independent and daring they become.
They know others will be there in their time of need to lean on, and they will act as support.
The people who believe they don't want to be in a relationship because they don't want to be "tied down" in the pursuit of their goals have bought into the lie they can't have both love and success.
They believe it's a trade-off.
Napoleon Hill, author of "Think and Grow Rich," spent 25 years studying the causes of success and failure.
He found that in every person he studied, a woman was always the motives for a man's achievements, hence the saying, "Behind every great man there is an equal or greater women."
This is the power of The Dependency Paradox.
Is it surprising then that the average millionaire gets married early?
Get rid of this false idea that you must be completely independent from your partner.
Let's take Levine and Heller's advice:
If you want to take the road to independence and happiness, find the right person you can depend on and travel down that road with that person.