For the most part, people need people. Although our need for people depends on the person in the equation or what's going on with us in our lives, to quote poet John Donne, "no man is an island." It's just not how we're wired. But while needing people and even being dependent on other people is human nature, dependency can reach unhealthy extremes. For example, being codependent on your partner — or anyone for that matter — can be exhausting for not just you, but your partner, too. If you're constantly leaning on someone and expecting them to always drop whatever they're doing to be there for you, and they do, it actually extends past exhaustion and into debilitating territory for both of you.
In other cases, you can find yourself in a relationship that's free of codependency, but there's still a dependency/independency inequality. If you're perfectly comfortable to go out to dinner by yourself any night of the week, while your partner can't even conceive of walking into a store for 10 minutes alone, then we're looking at a whole other level of dependency.
While there's nothing wrong with being dependent, to a degree, if you're a fundamentally independent person, but your partner isn't, then there can be some issues. Even if your partner's dependency isn't on you, there are still signs that, when it comes to being independent, you're not on the same page. Here's what experts say to look out for.
1Your Partner Turns To Their Parents For Help A Little Too Often
Sure, turning to your parents for help sometimes can hardly be considered dependent — I mean, did they really think you were going to stop needing them after 18? But for someone to rely on their parents for everything, even things they could most definitely do themselves if they thought about it for a few minutes, is a sign of some dependency issues.
"If your partner quickly turns to parents when [they] need money, a car, a ride, an opinion or more, they may not be independent enough for you," New York–based relationship and etiquette expert of Relationship Advice Forum, April Masini, tells Bustle. "It’s one thing to be close with your parents and to know they’re there for you in a pinch. But when a partner is always calling on them for help instead of exercising independent decision-making or standing on his or her own two feet, you may be looking at someone who likes being propped up more than you care for."
2Your Partner Can't Manage Stress
While no one will ever say it's easy not to freak the eff out sometimes, according to Masini, a sign that your partner isn't independent enough for you is that, "Your partner falls apart at the earliest sign of distress, and stays [in a] mopey mood until bailed out."
Although stress can allow for someone to be mopey for a bit, sitting back and waiting for someone to save the day while you sulk is a highly dependent — and unfair — way to handle things. And, if you're the independent one in the relationship, this type of behavior from your partner isn't just unhealthy for you both, but is probably pushing you away, too. Even if you don't realize it yet.
3Your Partner Creates Unnecessary Drama
Along the same lines of not being to handle stress in a mature way, is the ever-popular creation of drama.
"If you’ve got a partner who creates drama to get help, instead of rising to the occasion or giving the problem a shot on [their] own, you may be with someone who’s probably not as independent as you’d like," says Masini.
Similar to stressing out and taking a backseat to an issue while making a mountain out of a mole hill, as they say, then just sort of staring at it, waiting for it to fix itself, are hardly the actions of an independent adult who wants to remedy a situation.
4Your Partner Can't Roll Solo
"If you’ve got a partner who is uncomfortable going places by themselves, you may be with someone who’s not independent enough for you," says Masini. "The extreme behavior is not wanting to go anywhere alone — for instance, a doctor appointment, a business trip, or even shopping. This is the person who has to have someone with them — not because they like the person’s company, but because they’re uncomfortable doing things themselves."
It's understandable that someone might not want to or, even be able to go to dinner by themselves (because it takes a lot of practice and self-confidence), but if even basic necessities, like, as Masini mentions, going to the doctors or on a business trip, can't be done, that's saying a lot about your partner's ability to function properly. Especially if you're around the corner having dinner by yourself and planning to hit up a movie solo later.
5Your Partner Can't Make A Decision For Themselves
It's one thing to call friends or family members for input, but if every time a decision needs to be made your partner has to turn to at least half a dozen friends to see what they would do in the same situation, that's a sure sign your partner isn't just too independent, but might even fear making decisions for their own life.
"When you are with someone who seems social — but is really unable to make decisions without the equivalent of a persona public opinion survey, you may be with someone who is not independent enough for you," says Masini. "It’s one thing to get the input of those you care about, but it’s another to have to survey everyone, and even still not be able to decide."
6Your Partner Avoids Rocking The Boat
"If you’ve got a partner who stays in a bad job, or a bad relationship with a friend or relative, and knows it’s bad — but doesn’t want to take steps to changes things," says Masini, "you may be with someone who is just not independent enough for you."
7You're Truly Baffled By How Your Partner Deals (Or Doesn't Deal) With Things
Speaking as the independent person in every relationship I've been in, I can say that being with someone who isn't independent is difficult. No matter how much I loved those men or how happy they made me, I often found myself frustrated because my independence was too much for them and their dependence was too much for me.
"If you’re a go-getter and a problem solver, being with someone who is not, can be a perfect match — or a disaster," says Masini. "But look for [these clues] in their behavior to help you decide whether this person is a compatible partner for you or not."
It might not always be easy to see right away that your partner has some dependency issues, but these seven subtle signs, once detected, will tell you all you need to know. Then, from there, you need to decide what's next for your relationship — work on it or part ways.