Romantic relationships are an important part of our world. They affect our wellbeing in multiple ways. It is thus important to have responsible and sensitive conversations about what being in a relationship entails, what are some things that are often glorified in our culture but which may actually be toxic or unhealthy. One of those things is ‘codependency’. Because of how we have come to understand relationships, codependency feels more like a norm rather than something that needs our attention.
In a relationship, the codependent partner is generally low on self-esteem and thus puts their partner’s needs and desires before theirs, developing excessive reliance and desperate need for their approval. In the absence of their partner, the codependent individual feels as if their world is coming crashing down.
We have seen the idea of codependency being promoted since the beginning of time. And one of the biggest contributors for that has been popular culture.
Instead of problematising the concept of codependency, cinema, in fact, romanticises it. It glorifies the idea of losing ourselves to our lovers without having any boundaries even though, boundaries in a relationship only make them more secure. Cinema continues to supply us with the “I cannot imagine my life without you!” concept, which is still considered romantic, not realising how toxic that is.
One thing I can’t seem to understand is, how and why can making someone else your whole world ever be healthy?
Our beloved cinema has also provided us with another common and popularly used phrase, “I can’t live without you./ I’ll die without you.” These notions just go on to promote the idea that the norm in a romantic relationship must be that the partners have no real individual lives and responsibilities outside the relationship.
But why does love have to be at the cost of our identity and our mental health? And what does this do for young people who are just beginning to understand all of this?
Why is it that such ideas about love and romantic relationships are not considered important enough to be talked about while we are growing up? Till the time we keep hiding and shying away from having responsible conversations in our homes and schools, the misguided messaging from cinema will keep creeping in the minds of young adults.
Relationships are supposed to be a two-way street where both partners are equally involved in each other’s life and strive to be better versions of themselves, together. They are our safety blanket and it’s okay to want to be loved and cared for. However, when this safety blanket no longer feels comforting but suffocating, that is probably a sign that a relationship is not healthy. You have the right to be passionate about your partner and your relationship, but losing and abandoning yourself in the process isn’t necessary or romantic; it is toxic!