- Gwyneth Paltrow discussed her relationship with husband Brad Falchuk in an interview for the January issue of Harper’s Bazaar.
- During the interview, Paltrow explained why she and Falchuk lived in separate homes for almost the entire first year of their marriage.
- “I think it certainly helps with preserving mystery and also preserving the idea that this person has their own life,” Paltrow said. “So this is something I’m trying to remain aware of now as we merge together.”
- Although codependency, what Paltrow seemed to be saying she was avoiding, can be detrimental to a relationship, experts say being a codependent person isn’t always a bad thing.
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Instead, the couple spent four days a week sleeping over at each other’s Los Angeles homes and, on days when Falchuk was spending time with his two children from a previous marriage, Falchuk and Paltrow would stay in their separate locations.
Paltrow said she came to the decision after speaking with her intimacy teacher and that she enjoyed the arrangement, which ended over the summer almost one year after their September 2019 nuptials.
Now, in a January cover story for Harper’s Bazaar, Paltrow further explained her reasoning for living apart from Falchuk for so long.
“I think it certainly helps with preserving mystery and also preserving the idea that this person has their own life,” Paltrow told Harper’s Bazaar, also joking that their sex life diminished after shacking up together. “So this is something I’m trying to remain aware of now as we merge together.”
Although Paltrow never used the word “codependency” in her interview, the Goop founder seemed to be hinting at the term, which is defined by one person’s need to get validation or reassurance from another. She suggested living apart helped her and Falchuk avoid becoming codependent.
In romantic relationships, codependency can manifest in negative ways, like feelings of inadequacy or resentment, but according to experts, codependency isn’t always a bad thing.
There are downsides to codependent relationships
Paltrow’s reasoning for living apart has some validity because being too reliant on a partner could put stress on a relationship.
If one person needs too much, for example, it could pose a problem, Lundquist said. “With codependency, it’s rarely that we mean each person is dependent equally on the other. If one is more dependent than the other, it is inequitable because there is an enabler and an enabled.”
In a one-sided relationship like what Lundquist described,one partner plays the role of taker and the other, the codependent person, plays giver with the roles rarely, if ever, reversing, according to Mental Health America. When this happens, a codependent person may sacrifice their own needs to cater to their partner, Lundquist said, placing the couple in a cycle of unequal giving and taking. If your romantic relationship resembles that of a parent and young child, you could be stuck in this negative codependent cycle, Lundquist said.
Another negative effect of codependence could be suffocating the other partner, relationship therapist Bukky Kolawole previously told Insider. “When a partner can’t get work done because you’re constantly asking them questions and needing approval, it’s impairing their ability to navigate their own life,” she said. If this happens, your partner may confront you and say they need space.
In that case, Kolawole said listening to your partner’s concerns, rather than blaming them for not being there for you, is the best course of action. Instead of continuing down a detrimental path of codependency, “be attentive to your own emotional experience and tune into that,” Kolawole said.
Codependency could also make your relationship stronger
Codependency isn’t always a bad thing though, and according to Kolawole, it’s normal for people to be codependent, especially when it comes to romantic partners.
“As humans we are designed to be interdependent. We need other people, especially in times of distress,” Kolawole said.
Kolawole said codependency often happens when one partner requires more – more attention, more validation, more support – than the other partner. “That can be a lot or too much for one partner, but for another partner, that could be fine,” she explained.
Typically, when a person is codependent, it stems from a place of anxiety and wanting reassurance, Kolawole said.
For example, if a codependent person’s partner is going away on a trip, the codependent person may be worried their partner will drift away or forget about them during the time apart. According to Kolawole, expressing this concern may come off as codependent or needy, since it suggests the person wants reassurance that their relationship will stay strong despite the distance. Doing so may be perceived as overbearing, but it can also be a good conversation to have, Kolawole explained.
That’s because in reality, most people don’t share their relationship-related anxieties out of a fear of being an overbearing partner. Kolawole wishes people would though, to better see the value of interdependence as “something that makes us normal and real.”
In fact, Kolawole says vulnerability is good for a relationship and hiding your vulnerable or codependent side could cause problems.
Matt Lundquist, a therapist and the founder of Tribeca Therapy, previously told Insider that most people mistake a deep connection and understanding for codependency. “Giving voice to needs is normal and wonderful and a lot of people I work with need to become needier, actually,” he said.
In fact, some of the most successful marriages have one thing in common: good communication. If couples don’t have conversations about their feelings, “over time their relationship will deteriorate. They will be living in an ice palace,” psychologist John Gottman previously told Business Insider.