A Double Take

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Is it just a play on words but is there a real difference between depending on someone and being dependent on them? There doesn’t seem to be any problem with our depending on someone that we feel can meet our needs but somehow a “switch” takes place resulting in our possibly becoming dependent on him or her. So what’s wrong with that? Well, if you go back to your childhood or your youngster’s aged two … otherwise known as the “terrible two’s” … there may be a great lesson that can be gleaned from that developmental stage. The obstreperous behavior that drives parents crazy is really a child’s attempt to become independent of his or her parents and function without their input or supervision. Of course, they aren’t capable of doing so but that doesn’t stop them from proclaiming that they can. They simply don’t enjoy being dependent on those who are caring for them.

Essentially, dependence is state of mind that results in our belief that we are no longer capable of dealing with our own affairs and must look to others to do so for us. It means that we give up our sense of responsibility for ourselves and had that over to someone else whom we deem is more capable than we of doing so,. Some might call it a “copout”, but in effect it’s a sense of giving up on ourselves in order to safeguard against our making mistakes. If someone else is responsible for us, then we can blame them for anything that might go wrong in the process. In other words, it’s like a free pass to go and do whatever we wish because “big brother” is going to take care of us no matter what.

But what kind of a taste does this leave with those people who choose this manner of living their lives? The saying that I’ve adopted is that “a dog will never bite the hand that feeds it, but a human will.” That may sound ridiculous but when you think about a dog feeding on whatever is given it, there is really no fore or afterthought as to the consequences. However, in my career … both personally and professionally, I have never met anyone who has enjoyed or prospered from becoming dependent on another person. In fact, My experience would show that there is always a good deal of resentment and anger toward the person upon whom the dependency lies. Interestingly, this will occur despite the fact that the dependent person will persevere in their attempts at creating this dilemma and the fact that the person being depended upon continues to foster the pattern.

This is known as a symbiotic relationship that can continue ad infinitum, ad nauseam over an extended period of time. Essentially, it becomes a love/hate relationship which, although is very destructive, is otherwise necessary in order for both of the ‘players” to carry out their roles. This pattern is not unusually a product of early training where children witness their parents or parental figures carrying out a similar pattern. Perhaps the most interesting, yet sad, part of this pattern is the tenacity that partners have in maintaining their respective roles in order to keep in going. The pattern indeed seems like a “double take” but when examined more closely, it makes perfect sense.

The dependent person needs someone to take over their lives for them and the person upon whom he or she is dependent needs someone who needs them. They might call it “love” or something else but whatever the label, it wears thin after awhile. Sometimes one of the partners will end the relationship out of desperation for the effects that it has upon them. At other times, if one of the partners does leave, they will fall into a similar relationship with another person thus creating the same thing with different characters. Examining the origins of these patterns for those who find them problematic is quite necessary in order for them to better understand their part and to make necessary changes.


Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.

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