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This is one of a series of articles on Lesson 4 - optimize your relationships. These articles build on Lessons 1-3, and prepare
you for Lessons 5-7.
YouTube video asks 20 questions about "relationships":
All adults and want healthy, satisfying relationships for their and their kids' sakes. The questions and answers
below focus on key things adults
need to know to attain that prize. Note
Q&A articles seek to raise your awareness, not preach absolute
truths. The items
apply to relationships between
personality subselves (your inner family) as well as
to you and other people.
These article assumes you're familiar with...
the intro to this nonprofit Web site, and the
Fromdecadesof living, youknow a lot about interpersonal relationships. Do you
know enough? Paradoxically,
until you study this article and
Lesson 4, you can't answer that.
If your curious, take this
relationship quiz and return here.
you have no trouble forming and maintaining social relationships with
adults and kids of both genders, then review these Q&A items to validate
what you already know. If you do have trouble, reading these Q&A items may begin to
help you improve that. This is specially true if you have divorced or never
When does "a relationship"
Itexists whenthe presence or
absence and the behavior
of one or both persons have a "significant" mental-emotional-spiritual-physical
affect on the other - face-to-face and apart.
Significant is a subjective judgment.
The importance of a relationship to each person is proportional to...
the priority of what each person needs
(Q4) from the other, and...
the degree of satisfaction or
the relationship causes each person.
For example, do
you have an important relationship with your mother? Your favorite TV newsperson? The mayor of
Philadelphia? Your postmaster? Your doctor? Your plumber? Your
favorite author? Your Higher Power? Some people feel all living
things "relate" because we all affect each other. Do you
What is a functional or healthy relationship? A pseudo
relationship? A toxic
Premise - relationships exist to fill a mix of each
person's local and long-term
needs. A healthy (functional)
relationship promotes the wellbeing, satisfaction, and growth of both
people over time. So relationships vary between "very nurturing" (need-satisfying) and "very
This is also true with each relationship among the dynamic
make up your
(low > moderate > high) of a relationship or group is determined by how
well each person feels their needs are satisfied over time (Q4 below).
In a pseudo (strategic) relationship, one or both people pretend to feel
interest, concern, and caring which they don't really feel. Usually this
happens when person B has something that person A needs and values, and may
withhold; or when person A fears something about person B. It can also
happen if either person is psychologically
with other people.
Pseudo relationships can also occur because a person's subselves need to
something painful ("I really don't love my mate.") or they feel
guilty and/or ashamed
to reveal something that will cause one or both of them discomfort. ("I am
often really bored by you.")
A toxic relationship is one that "significantly" (a) hinders filling
needs and recovery from psychological wounds, (b) increases the
wounds, and/or (c) promotes wounds in vulnerable others, like minor kids.
This brief YouTube video expands on this:
mutually-compatible interests, lifestyles,
friends, and values, including
To build or improve
relationships among your subselves and other people, start by
defining your version of these key relationship ingredients. Then take responsibility
for learning how to acquire them with important adults and kids.
proposal to expand your perspective and
promote constructive discussion.
are some relationships more satisfying and enduring than others?
Think of the most satisfying relationships
Now think of several that were notably "unsatisfying." What has
made the difference? Premise:
relationships exist to fill
each partners' unique mix of
Four key factors in most relationships are whether each partner
values their respective worth and needs
genuine mutual respect), and each
assert and negotiate
their needs, values, and boundaries effectively; and...
each person stays
of their and their partner's needs in calm times and conflicts; and each .
the difference between dependent, codependent. interdependent, and independent relationships, and why
do I need to know this difference?
Try saying your definition of "dependence" out loud. If you accept that all
relationships exist to fill a set of personal needs, then a
"dependent' relationship is one where one or both partners needs help from
the other to
fill some key needs they feel they can't fill otherwise. By definition, all
child-adult relationships are dependent, until kids become self-sufficient
A codependent relationship
is an extreme case of this, where a
loses their personal
and compulsively focuses on the welfare, needs, and behaviors of
another person. Many people feel that the psychological condition (vs.
"disease") of codependence is a form of relationship addiction.
this for more perspective and options.
This brief YouTube video provides more perspective on codependence:
relationship exists when both people (a) are usually guided by their
true Selves, and (b) genuinely feel something like "I want to (vs.
need to) be with you, and I can live well enough without you if I
An independent relationship
exists when one or both people (a) want to spend time and energy together,
and (b don't really depend on their partner to fill key personal
needs. This is common when one or both people are significantly
and can't form genuine
with other people or living things.
Relationship satisfaction depends partly on how each partner's preferred
type matches the other's preference. The most stressful mix occurs when a
dependent person chooses an independent ("unavailable") person. The least
stressful is with partners who are both minimally wounded, mutually aware,
and interdependent. Have you experienced that?
Aware adults and older kids can use
this distinction to
understand and avoid significant relationship frustrations, and make more
informed relationship choices - specially during courtship.
What's needed to repair a relationship cutoff?
A cut-off occurs when an adult or child decides to avoid contact with
another person because they expect it to be painful and frustrating. Usually
the core problems are a mix of these
barriers. Each barrier can be improved,
if and when each person wants to do so - starting with putting their true
Self in charge (Lesson 1) and learning to communicate effectively (Lesson
This YouTube video summarizes key ideas about cutoffs:
I suspect that having few or nogenuinefriends is caused by
inherited psychological wounds: excessive
distrusts. These can combine
to promote an inability to
bond with (care about) other people.
These wounds can be reduced over time by self-motivated personal
- which may happen in mid-life or later. See
enmeshment, and why
should our family adults care about it?
relationship is shaped by the clarity and stability of each person's
am me, you are you, and we're separate, worthy persons with unique
talents, values, and limits, and some common interests and friends.")
early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse ("trauma") are ruled by a
false self without knowing it. One effect
of that can
be that their personal identity and boundaries are fuzzy, weak, or unstable.
That can promote relationships where
one or both people can't distinguish their own needs, feelings, values, and perceptions from their partner's. ("What do you want for dinner? Oh, I
don't know - what do you want?")
Clinicians describe such
relationships as enmeshed or fused.
is a symptom of psychological wounds, It can be mild to extreme, and one way or reciprocal. See
this article on codependence for more
perspective and options.
enabling, and how can our
family adults avoid and/or reduce it?
Sincepublic awareness of
codependence bloomed in the 1980s,
enablinghas grown an additional meaning.
It refers to behavior which
unintentionally encourages unhealthy attitudes and choices in another person
- often some kind of
enables Sal'saddiction to stock-market excitement by not
confronting him on his losses and denials.")
A common type of enabling occurs when a family member or friend avoids
confronting a person who is unaware of or
wounds. This is widespread now, because...
most isolated, addicted, and troubled US adults and kids seem to
be significantly wounded, psychologically, and...
In my professional opinion, significant enabling is a symptom of
the real problems: psychological wounds +
To lower the risk that you're
unintentionally enabling psychological wounds and/or
unhealthy behavior, work patiently at
Lessons 1 and 2. For
more perspective, read this
with (confronting) an unrecovering addict, which is the opposite
Try answering this out loud. Then compare your answer to this:
Intimacy between two people occurs when they mutually focus on - and may
reveal honestly - their deepest feelings and needs about themselves,
their partner, and their relationship. "Feelings" can include needs,
fears, desires, emotions, delights, fantasies, disappointments, love,
admiration, confrontation, shared memories, guilts, fears, frustrations,
hurts, and dreams.
True intimacy usually (always?) involves vulnerability to indifference,
scorn, misunderstanding, and rejection, Intimacy can be expressed
verbally and/or nonverbally, and may be spiritual, emotional, and/or
physical. It may exist for a moment or for hours. Sexual interaction
may or may not cause or be part of intimacy. Many associate intimacy
with "private" thoughts and feelings - things that would not ordinarily
be shared with other people.
Five requisites for true (vs. pretended, or pseudo) intimacy are
freedom from internal and environmental
mutual willingness to risk total
present-moment honesty with yourself and your partner.
Psychological wounds can
cripple or block these requisites - specially excessive shame, guilts,
fears, distrusts, and distortions.Lesson 1 here offers a way to reduce these (and increase shared
intimacy). For options on improving marital intimacy, see
decide if thebenefits
(need-satisfactions) outweigh thediscomforts of remaining in
if you choose to reduce or end the
relationship - including ones with parents, a mate, toxic children,
or a punitive
(broken bonds) and
forgive yourself and the other person/s;
life purpose, and move toward
manifesting and enjoying it a day at a time.
These steps are most apt to work if your
(capital; "S") puts your
at the top of your life-priority list. Is that true for you now?
For more perspective, see these
options for relating well enough to
significantly-wounded adults and kids.