Codependent Independence

Here in the United States, we’re gearing up to celebrate the Fourth of July this weekend. With a holiday celebrating our country’s independence so close, it has me thinking about what it means to be independent, which, of course, leads me to writing.

In a romance novel, we all want to see strong, independent women and strong, independent men. But just like the United States is a member of the UN and relies on its allies, the hero and heroine of a romance need to rely on each other. Yes, I’m saying the independent man and woman need to be dependent on each other. How does that work?

Well, think about it for a moment. Independence is great; so is self-reliance. However, I’m sure all of us have had to rely on others at one time or another, whether at work or in our personal lives. No matter how independent the hero and heroine are, their strengths should support the weaknesses of the other half of the relationship. That teamwork, that completion of a person is what romance is all about: finding that one person who makes you whole and loves you through everything.

The next time you read a romance--or write one, for that matter--think about the hero and heroine. Do they show strength and independence? Do they also show weakness that only the one they love can fulfill? That codependence and knowing they can rely on each other no matter what happens is one of the signs of a strong relationship, and a strong, lasting relationship is what brings the true happily ever after ending essential to a romance novel.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting ideas and an important topic, but I would like to suggest the word "interdependent."

    In the disability field, we have spent a lot of energy thinking about independence and perhaps our experience would be helpful here. ie. Can a person who can't use their legs ever be independent? Is a heroine with two kids ever independent? Are any of us truly independent? Or do we even want to be? The answer is no if you think in conventional terms.

    The word codependent comes from the addiction and psychology literature and often has negative connotations leading to 12 step programs to NOT be co-dependent. Don't think we want to go there.

    We have chosen to use the term "interdependent" and want to think in terms of personal choices. Your examples of the UN and a couple looking for a strong, lasting relationship are excellent examples. Hope this helps.
    Mary Albright