Happy Holidays—Or Else!

Being haunted by the idea that other people are “better” at holiday celebrations than we are can drive us to “fix” our own family’s time together. But this preoccupation with “getting it right” can become an emotional wedge between ourselves and those we’re trying to please.

“Fix You,” Conscious Uncoupling and Irrelationship

We think “Conscious Uncoupling’s promise of a “Happily-even-after” makes good sense. Our one big concern, however, is that the description of "Conscious Uncoupling" also provides ample opportunity for irrelationship to do its very best—that is, each incident of conscious uncoupling might just be an incident where a couple has stepped on a land mine of irrelationship.

If You Spot It—Maybe You Got It

What we have found when working with people, couples, families, organizations and groups with the irrelationship model the real trick is to keep the focus on ourselves. We've also found that most people who have thus far been interested in the irrelationship notion are interested because it speaks to them. That is, it speaks to us.

Compulsive Scaregiving

Without a sense of security built on shared investment in empathy, intimacy and vulnerability, early company successes and wishful thinking can lull us into a false sense of security. Sometimes, someone is unconsciously relegated to “scare” us out of our sleep and into the serious work of mutually building actual security into the foundation of the organization.

5 Benefits of Corporate Intimacy

Intimacy isn’t, perhaps, a term that’s thrown around very much in the workplace. But that doesn’t mean that intimacy isn’t a crucial factor in how we experience our jobs. What does intimacy look and feel like in the workplace? Let's talk about intimacy in the workplace.

The Bully as a Symbol/Symptom of Unsafety

How are our children supposed to convey to us that it doesn't feel safe to be a kid in today's society? As an issue that has captured national and international attention, the issue of bullying may be a message that our children are sending to us about a general sense of unsafety, a dropping of the ball, in our society's ability to care for our younger generation.

8 Ways Real Listening Will Help Your Relationships

Effective communication built on the bedrock of effective listening is vital to the development of empathy in any relationship. Such listening is the primary tool for: a. Disarming the anxiety driving irrelationship; and, b. Opening the way for intimacy. Here we present a list of some of the most powerful characteristics of listening to empower effective communication.

Writing a Self-Other Help Book

The authors of this original, innovative new text share with readers a reflection on the experience of discovering irrelationship in the clinical setting and in our own working dynamic.

Be Slick, Do Less, Get More

The irony of caregiving and caretaking is that the worst form of rip-off is doesn't occur when we give too much—what's better than a well-nursed grudge or a blast of righteous indignation? Actually, though, the real shakedown comes from having our own contributions refused.

9 Indications Your Psychotherapy May Need A Tune-Up

How do I know when my therapy is deadlocked? The following discussion was provoked by feedback we received on a blog entry on the “doctor-patient relationship,” and provides food for thought for both therapists and their patients.

Protected Against Presence

Presence can be an idealized—but powerfully defended against—missing ingredient in relationships that work as co-created psychological defense systems, called irrelationships. Presence, the very thing we say and think we want can be a terrorizing force threatening to erupt as love, care and compassion—the very things that irrelationship is built to protect us against.

The Language of Conflict

Conflict is a normal part of any relationship. Sometimes, though, conflict may be a signal that people with a profound commitment to one another are missing each other even though they sleep in the same bed.

Do I Have to Know Who I Am to Find True Love?

It is possible that the very notion of being "ready for love" can serve as a powerful defense against it. Many of us cling to the belief that self-knowledge, perhaps even self-love, is the missing ingredient in our histories of failed attempts. Do you wish you knew yourself much better? Do you imagine that if you did, everything would fall into place? Then read on...

What is Brainlock?

Now you get it: You are trapped—by your own brain activity and chemistry, by developmental patterns from the past, by the way your patterns and your partner's patterns interlock with one another, and by social forces that are hard to see. Read about how this becomes "Brainlock" and cements you (in a plural sense) into a state of irrelationship.

The Disposable Person—Being Unvalued in the Modern Age

Do you ever get the funny feeling that something isn't right? Not to make trouble or anything—but maybe you are right. Do you feel like you’re in a state of chronic interview, a cog in the system, a rat the race, and that seemingly significant people in your life—in romance and at work—may not care about you as a human being? Here's why...

The House Drunk: Finding Our Way Out Together, Part 2

Following up on the previous entry, Ray and his mother learn skills for building a real relationship despite the complications that are part of addiction. And here we are, learning how to do the hard work of building better relationships, together, when addiction makes it even harder.

The "House Drunk"—Irrelationship & Addiction, Part 1

Irrelationship is not alcoholism; but, it is similarly chronic, compulsive and progressive. Regarding families suffering from alcoholism and addiction, having one's role as a caretaker usurped by a foreign and anonymous source—even when treatment has been strongly encouraged or even demanded—is often an unexpectedly conflicted, confusing and complicated experience.

Is Human Connection the Antidote for Addiction?

In the 1970's Bruce Alexander ran an experiment to question the universality of the “drug-induced addiction.” He built a "rat park" where test subjects (rats) were offered enrichment rather than (the usual) deprivation. He found that when given a choice to bond with others, most test subjects do. Human parallels are drawn, comparisons with irrelationship are offered.

Seeing the Person Within the Persona

Irrelationship is about a lot of things: a co-created and shared defense, compulsive caregiving, Performing and Audiencing, suffering and feeling trapped and helpless. It is also about hiding out in a routine, a song-and-dance routine. That routine is like a mask that protects the self from observation—it is a persona-in-action (an enacted disguise).

The Meaning of the APA's Dealing With the Torture Scandal

After years of deception, and opposing strong and clear dissent from within its very ranks, the APA finds itself in a particularly awkward position. What does a professional organization which has lost its moral compass do when the news breaks? What does its reaction to the current controversy tell us about the APA’s organizational character?

Backing Away From Lovers' Leap

The heartfelt sense that we've met some long lost part of ourselves in that new friend with whom we so readily, easily, and fluidly fell into what seemed like the rare moment of intimacy within which we can share our "darkest" and "deepest" is irrelationship all dressed up to look, once again, like the cure to our disconnected state.

Friendship as a Moving Target

By keeping our need and desire for closeness with others diffuse, migratory and superficial we are able to play out irrelationship dynamics in larger social circles. We suspend—at least postpone indefinitely—our awareness of how we have secured ourselves from being realistically disappointed by people in our current lives.

Self-Other Help

As we are developing the irrelationship theory, model, and recovery process, we see it as our most primary of tasks to be inclusive of the experience of our readers, clients and colleagues. We are committed to building this model in a way that is in synch with our recover model: in a collaborative reciprocity with those for whom these ideas are resonating.

Between Obsessions

What if what our irrelationship—and obsessional-compulsive—routines are really protecting us from is how truly and totally at risk we are when we acknowledge and accept ourselves and our lives—those in it (our friends, our spouses, our children, our families) and our circumstances (our history, our experiences, our education, our jobs, careers)—exactly as is?

“Daddies Are Not Mommies”

Irrelationship starts as reversed caretaking often initiated because parental resources are stretched thin. Irrelationship is less likely if parents are being taken care of—if they are taking care of each other, are able to be empathetic, intimate with each other and to share parental responsibilities. A "Direct-Care Dad" is someone who does just that: Happy Father's Day!

Intergenerational Transmission of Irrelationship

Irrelationship can manifest powerfully in places where we least expect it to. Subtly, our family relationship patterns, when carefully examined, are shown to span generations. We are not as individual as we think we are... but we can choose to change the future by breaking the chain right now.

Monkey See, Monkey Don't

It important to continue to explore not just the sticky irrelationship dynamic that we have seen so many many of us get tangled up in, but also to ask: what are the resiliency factors? What allows one person from the same family to break the pattern, when others cannot?


Irrelationship does not just have to do with romance, but friendship too. Do you get into a fix with friends sometimes? Do you recognize in friendships troublesome relational—irrelational—dynamics that are tanking opportunities for genuine emotional connection? Do you regret friendships which have failed and wish that you'd been able to hang onto those folks? Read on...

GRAFTS: Variations on Our Irrelationship Song-and-Dance

Our specific song-and-dance routines—ways that we reverse caretaking role with our key caregiver(s)—become the basic blueprint the pattern of interaction we will develop to care for our key caregiver. These patterns can be called GRAFTS and the acronym describes—in a very basic broad stroke—some of the habits that can become part of our caregiving conditioning.

How Can We Get Relief With "Mad Men" Ending?

In Mad Men’s season six finale, Don Draper asks, “What is happiness?” He then answers, “It’s a moment before you need more happiness.” Substitute happiness for relief—or, perhaps, merely mistake relief for happiness, or satisfaction, or fulfillment—and you have yourself at the very eye of the hurricane of the whole irrelationship song-and-dance routine. Goodbye, Don.