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.

War Is An Irrelationship

War may be seen as irrelationship. World leaders perform caretaking routines to make us think they keep us safe. And we, the audience glued to our TVs, act as if this strategy will actually make the world safer. But only mutually-created and universally-sustained peace will resolve our unending conflict with our neighbors on the next street or the next continent.

The Benefits of Bad Relationships

A truly intimate relationship is a deep, free, and responsive connection with another person who really matters to us. But when the other person matters a great deal to us, we also feel vulnerable to injury, rejection, and abandonment. Some people attempt to protect themselves from these experiences by forming what we call irrelationship.

A New Understanding of Compassionate Empathy

Sharing our deep feelings is the way out of the isolation of loneliness. It creates a doorway into the practice of what we call compassionate empathy. Compassionate empathy is the key to getting out of an irrelationship. Compassionate empathy is built on the skill of sharing honestly with another. It makes isolation difficult to maintain, it undermines self-obsession.

How To Build An Anti-Irrelationship

Learning to be open to what drives the need to control relationships opens the way to true intimacy. We don’t say the way is easy or even that it’s a straight shot from beginning to end—nothing in the human mind or behavior is! But we do say that the willingness to work with rather than on our partner is the first step on the hopeful way to empathy and intimacy.

10 Responses to Helpless Sadness in the Face of Ferguson

Our planet and everybody on it seem to be in deep trouble. What can be done about the impossibly complicated and dangerous situations permeating our lives and consciousness? A beginning could be made by riffing on a "Top 10" of popular contemporary blog postings looking at Ferguson and other recent tragedies that a lot of us don't know how to begin even to think.

Where Does Compulsive Caregiving Come From?

The need for tightly controlled irrelationships begins to develop in early childhood in response to a perception of “environmental” threats to our personal well-being and safety. To continue to feel safe, the child will do anything he has to do to make his caregiver feel better so that he feels better. This is the birth of compulsive caregiving—irrelationship style.

Does Irrelationship Underpin the Entertainment Industry?

Does irrelationship underpin the entertainment industry? Are entertainers inherently Irrelationshippers? Are many entertainers, in the act of performing, taking care of others at the expense of their own well-being? Is being "entertaining" acting out a self-designed solution to childhood deprivation?

Is Your Relationship a Straightjacket Built For Two?

In irrelationship, both parties are invested in using what looks and seems like a connection with another person to maintain a safe distance from intimacy—in short, to hide. Once they’ve agreed to the set-up, it’s locked in—we call this Brainlock. What the key players in irrelationship—Performer and Audience—do to maintain it is called their song-and-dance routine.

Is Your Relationship Real?

Many people come into psychotherapy because they repeatedly find themselves in stale, unsatisfying relationships. Why? Do bad relationships actually have something to offer? We began to investigate and found that relationships are sometimes the best place to hide from closeness and intimacy.