“For all the productivity and success advice I’ve read, shaped and marketed for dozens of authors in the last decade, I’ve never really seen someone come out and say: find yourself a spouse who complements and supports you and makes you better.” – Ryan Holiday
When it comes to success, we live in a very individualized culture that likes to emphasize the importance of being independent and self-reliant.
These beliefs are especially very common within relationships. You grow up hearing all the time that you’re in charge of your future, that you shouldn’t depend on other people, and that you’re in charge of your happiness.
If you depend on your partner, then you’re told you’re needy and that you should learn to develop yourself to be a more independent person.
However, in the book “Attached,” researchers 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 and Heller say.
Now we can try to overcome this, but Matt Lieberman, who is 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.
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 the pursuit of our goals? No it doesn’t. It turns out that our ability to take risks, to step out into the world on our own, and to be confident enough to pursue our goals actually comes from the knowledge that there is someone by us whom we can depend on.
This is known as The Dependency Paradox. In other words, the more effectively dependent people are on one another, the more independent and daring they become.
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 that love is somehow an obstacle to success, when in fact, it’s the catalyst.
In his book “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill, who spent 25 years studying the causes of success and failure, says that in every person he studied, a woman was always the motive for a man’s achievements. Hence the saying, “Behind every great man there is an equal or greater woman.”
This is the power of The Dependency Paradox.
It shouldn’t be surprising then that the average millionaire gets married early, many of whom got married before they were successful. These findings by Thomas Stanley suggest that if you want to be successful in life, you should find someone who complements you and who you can depend on.
Whether it’s a seminar, a conference, a book, or a personal development course, nothing will ever be as good for your success and personal growth than finding the person you’re going to marry.
Studies consistently show that married individuals live longer, they maintain better health, and they’re happier. Married individuals also do better financially than single individuals. Research has found that even after controlling for age, education and other demographics, married people make 10 to 50 percent more than single people. And it’s not because financially successful people get married, but because a healthy marriage between two people who complement each other naturally leads to financial success (Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher 2000).
Why? Because being with someone who supports you naturally makes you a better person. They challenge you, they show you what you need to work on, and they push you farther than you could’ve ever pushed yourself.
If you want to achieve success in life, learn to get rid of this false idea that you must be completely independent from your partner, and instead, 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.”