Independence is highly dependent in many cultures. Because of this, I’ll be focusing on Western culture. I’m going to put my disclaimer out now by saying I do not think any one approach is superior to another and I can see merits in multiple cultures and regions. For our purposes, I will be focusing on the West because the individual and independence is highly valued here compared to other areas.
It’s true even in our language. What we say affects what we think. What we say in our language travels through the generations and shapes our culture. You’ve probably heard it. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” which means that speaking up will give you the attention you need, and you will get it first. In contrast, an Eastern quote saying “The nail that stands up is hammered down first.” This quote says the exact opposite: that sticking out is not good and it will have consequences. There are plenty of studies of these differences between the cultures. To summarize, the Western world values the success of the individual. In the East, the individual’s success is not determined by solely their own merits, but by how they help the collective unit, such as the family or society.
We could delve further into the science, but the evidence is pretty solid: individualism is highly regarded in the West. While we may view family as important, each individual is encouraged to find their own success. Because of this individualistic approach, we are tend to be very independent.
Human beings are predisposed to be selfish creatures. Sure, we can be altruistic. We may be one of the most altruistic species in the animal kingdom, but under the charity, friend groups, and donations we give, we are still human beings in our environment trying to succeed. You better succeed too, or you have a high chance of being screwed.
Even if you have an “average” (not an extremely crazy family), they can only help you so much. Maybe your good natured family does not have the resources to help you. Maybe they are far away. Who can you rely on to help you, but yourself? I’m not saying it’s wrong to have dependence on someone. Having someone to lean on is nice. However, you should be able to stand on your own if worst case scenarios happen.
Let’s say you have a partner that you are dependent on financially and/or mentally. There is nothing wrong with that, but you should be able to be prepared for the “what if” scenarios. What happens if your husband leaves your for the Brazilian maid? Okay, for those who say that would never happen to you, let’s say your spouse is kidnapped by a clan of ninjas. What are you going to do now?
You should have a contingency plan. It’s not cruel to have a plan B. It’s not because you don’t have faith in your relationship. It is just a prudent and wise thing to do. If you still feel guilty, think: what happens, if heaven forbid, your partner is seriously hurt? You have to figure out how to survive in all aspects of your life.
Either way: a partner is not the be all, end all. People have friends besides their partners. Why dump all your troubles on your partner? Sure, they can take it, but why not share the wealth with your friends (I’m sure they share with you!) Having a support group outside your partner/family is a prudent thing in multiple ways. Some of you might say “I agree with you, but you’re still depending on other people.” To those people, I say that you are correct. However, you are still being smart about controlling your destiny by making the choice to protect yourself in all avenues. There is independence in that.
It also might sound a little cold when I say that you should have an escape plan if things ever go wrong with your partner or someone you depend on. This is independent of the love you have for the person. It is just wise to have a plan B. I am not saying this because I think “everyone is a jerk” or to be pessimistic. It is simply to cover the bases. Some of us are luckier than others and have very large support networks. You might never need to worry. Others have smaller networks whether it is due to space, time, or circumstances out of our control. Ultimately, it doesn’t hurt anyone, and you’re better for it, just in case. Having that plan makes things flow easier in hard times.