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.

Irrelationship Is Not Codependency

Codependency may sometimes dovetail with irrelationship to the point that they’re not easily distinguishable. They may sometimes seem like kissing cousins, but at the level of purpose and of points of origin, they’re decidedly not identical twins.

Doctor-Patient Communications are Out of Whack

Given the high-stakes of medical testing and treatment, the doctor-patient relationship is shaped to varying degrees by apprehension and fretfulness for both parties involved. When there is irrelationship between doctor and patient, it is more likely that there will be irrelationship between the healthcare system and everyone else.

What is Relationship Sanity?

Insanity is defined as repeating the same behavior and expecting different results. But how might we broach a definition of relational sanity? If we accept a simple and straightforward definition of sanity as "soundness of mind," could we say that experiencing ourselves as being loving and lovable is a (if not the) definition of relational/relationship sanity?

Brainlock 101—How We Can't Help Becoming Stuck

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.

Happy Mother-Someone's Day

As there are "good enough mothers,” there are also good enough "mother-someones" who do not give up when things go terribly awry, but are able to use the failures and derailments as opportunities to work together to right the wrongs, get the relationships back on the rails together—to repair interactively.

Care for Nepal

Irrelationship is a shared defensive system that serves the purpose of shielding the participants from true connection. How might this be relevant for something as seemingly clear-cut as disaster response where responders and organizations trying to help are acting from altruistic motives? What can irrelationship tell us about care for the caretaker in disaster relief?

When Is a Doormat Not a Doormat?

Irrelationships may cross the line into frank abuse. However, the abused partner's seeming acquiescence may not be simple acceptance of the unacceptable. Despite his abusiveness, she may believe her partner needs what she has to offer. And her abuser may be equally committed to demanding it even while refusing to validate it.

Caring For Mother Earth

The Earth is our par excellence caretaker. The Earth is a source of care that—like any "sane" caregiving mature relationship—will only be able to offer and give care if the love and care that we come up with, offer, and implement as individuals, communities, societies, and as a planet constitute genuine reciprocal—we care for the Earth, the Earth cares for us—solutions.

Business As Unusual

Bring it or blow it. Can you stand the feeling of intimacy and closeness in a new business relationship? Does this throw you off your game and make you back off, or blow it? In this entry we address how it is that irrelationship can trigger old, and familiar anxieties, kick up old song-and-dance routines, and ultimately, cause you to fail in your entrepreneurial efforts.

Letting Things Have a Life of Their Own

Turning people—turning all things—into projects is a very effective defense against allowing them to have a life of their own. Irrelationship provides a place for our attention to be focused instead of on our fear of real relationship, real intimacy. The conclusion to this brief case study provides an exemplar for how we can recover from the irrleational defense—together.

To Fix or to Build?

People prone to irrelationship commonly make projects of fixing other people’s problems in much the way some people are drawn to the challenge of rescuing a foundering business. However, while saving a failing company is an exhilarating exercise for some, fixing another person’s life is usually attractive only to people who need to deflect awareness of their own anxiety.

Hiding From Relationship—In Relationship

Suppression of the high emotional investment called passion is both the benefit and the cost of irrelationship. A side effect is the suppression of the full range of emotional experience. A mutually created irrealtionship protects both partners from the dangers and anxiety that come with passion and intimacy, but the price is very high.

Together/Apart in Irrelationship

When acting as Performer or Audience, the long-term need to be in healthy supportive relationships is sacrificed to the immediate imperative of smothering our deep-seated discomfort, thus putting us radically out of balance with others and ourselves. We can live like this for awhile. But at some point, the debt will come due, and must be paid back—with interest.

Irrelationship’s Audience—Who Helps the Helper Help

The "Audience" in irrelationship, though apparently passive receivers of others' (Performer’s) ministrations, are actually caretaking others in their own way. Though it may look like passivity—i.e., they allow others to believe that their controlling and caretaking made them feel happier and their lives better—they are very actively keeping themselves safe emotionally.

Irrelationship's Performer—Human Antidepressants

The song-and-dance routine of the "Performer" is driven by the need to distance himself from his own anxiety and pain by taking care of his primary caregiver (usually a parent). He will often develop into the do-gooder, caretaker, rescuer or hero, but those are roles cultivated from childhood, usually emerging from a distinct relational—or irrelational—pattern.

"What's He Building in There?"—Anatomy of an Irrelationship

In irrelationship, we believe that we doing all the heavy lifting, either by giving, accepting or accommodating. Sooner than later, this creates smoldering resentment and distress on both sides. This disconnect is the result of each partner’s continuing as adults to play care taking roles that they took on toward their caregivers when they were small children.

The "What's It For?" of Irrelationship

Those in irrelationship tend to have complimentary histories that prep them for the roles they act out for one another. The Performer ceaselessly performs “routines” designed to make the Audience feel better. But the Audience’s apparently passive role is just as much a performance: The Audience’s part is to make the Performer believe that the “feel better” routines work.

Irrelationship's Patient Zero Couple

Irrelationship is what happens when two people co-create/-maintain a way of relating that protects them from love's dangers—from the anxiety and insecurities that go along with being vulnerable to the risks of being in love. We are going to follow a couple as they explore the ways that irrelationship protects them from empathy, intimacy emotional risk and investment.

Tinder, Accessibility and Geo-Locating Love

From the irrelationship perspective, showing up for love with an open heart and mind—giving ourselves and each other a chance to set ourselves aflame one swipe at a time—might very well be among the most essential strategies for pulling a fast one on the psychological defenses that we use to keep ourselves distant from those who threaten our hearts with real relationship.

The Heart of Confidence

Is your experience with early caregivers the last word? Are people in irrelationships doomed to a life of keeping others “at a safe distance” and never sharing an intimacy? Not necessarily. Developing an “earned secure attachment” is entirely in the cards for those willing to look at their histories and do the work of clearing away the confusion about ourselves and others.

The Heartbreaking Origins of Irrelationship

The heartbreaking origins of irrelationship are examined through an incident where a young child feels that she has been able to effectively provide care for her younger sister. The ways in which this child's care taking routine was born of a family crisis, and ways to intervene in the budding development of irrelationship are explored.

Comprehensive Irrelationship Case Study

Irrelationship is what happens when people co-create/-maintain a way of relating that protects them from love's dangers—from the anxiety and insecurities that go along with being vulnerable to the risks of being in love. Without further ado, let us now introduce Vicky and Glen, who are our "patient zero" couple for understanding how irrelationship really works—and doesn't.

Hooking Up Again? Or, Got a Bad Case of Repetition?

Hooking up again to treat that late-night loneliness—despite that "morning-after" feeling you get every time? In other words, do you have a bad case of Repitition Compulsion ("RC's")? Take a look at what Freud might say about those after-hours booty-calls!

What's Wrong With Reciprocity?

Analysis of irrelationships indicates that people learn to choose irrelationships because their childhood environment rewarded behavior that was directly contrary to our prosocial instincts. The caregiving model becomes reversed in early childhood so that the child assumes responsibility for her caregiver’s emotional state and well-being. This tends to feel like martyrdom.

Reciprocity and Its Discontents

What is it about the world we live in that has frightened us out of the flow of reciprocity? We believe that people who wind up in irrelationships do so because they grew up in an environment that rewarded them for becoming responsible for their caregiver's well-being. Ironically, sometimes this is accomplished by making an ineffective caregiver feel effective.

"Men, Women & Children" and the Location of Irrelationship

Jason Reitman believes that he is at his best when he focuses his lens on relevant topics—what he calls, "locations"—of the moment; and, in that, he has most certainly hit the mark (again) with Men, Women and Children. Perhaps inadvertently, he has also exemplified how irrelationship is one of the current topics—locations—of the day.

Sexual Intensity 101

Here, for a change in focus, is some great news about irrelationship: what it's covering up, defending against and disallowing, is true, intimate, empathic interconnection, which, once worked through, can lead to new heights of amazing sexual intensity. But that's only part of it...

"Gone Girl" Goes to the Darkest Reaches of Irrelationship

David Fincher's (2014) adaptation of Gillian Flynn's (2014) novel, Gone Girl, is a parable—albeit extreme—of the darkest elements of irrelationship. An irrelationship is a pseudo-partnership. It may look intimate, but it's actually carefully constructed—usually without the participants' awareness—precisely to avoid the anxiety's that come with intimate relationship.

Don't Hit Send! A Simple Guide to Online Relationships

The ways in which we relate to people online can be similar to how we relate to people in general. However, important inhibitions may function at a lower level in the online environment. Here are some ways that irrelationship dynamics may surface online and suggestions for how to manage the potential risks.