Are you in an irrelationship? Here are the signs to look for

Apr 02, 2023 12:47 PM IST

Check out what irrelationship is and how to identify the signs, so you can break free and find healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

Are you feeling stuck in a relationship that seems to be going nowhere? Do you find yourself feeling unfulfilled, lonely, or unloved despite being in a committed relationship? If so, you might be in an "irrelationship,". Relationships are meant to bring joy, companionship, and mutual growth to our lives. However, sometimes we may find ourselves in relationships that leave us feeling unfulfilled, frustrated, and trapped. This is where the concept of "irrelationship" comes in. An irrelationship is a type of relationship that is defined by the absence of emotional intimacy and connection. If you're wondering whether you're in an irrelationship, keep reading to learn about the signs to look for. (Also read: Signs of a secure relationship: Expert explains )

An irrelationship is a type of relationship that is characterized by a lack of emotional connection and intimacy.(Pexels )
An irrelationship is a type of relationship that is characterized by a lack of emotional connection and intimacy.(Pexels )

"An “irrelationship” is a behavioural song-and-dance that leaves one person working really hard to create intimacy and closeness, and one person refusing to engage. The important thing to understand is that the person “working hard” also has an unconscious agenda to avoid the anxiety and fear of closeness. So, while on the outside it might look like it’s the person who is closed who is the problem: both people are doing the dance together", says Jordan Dann, Psychoanalyst and Relationship Coach in her recent Instagram post. She further explained the concept of irrelationship in detail.

Understanding irrelationship and its signs:

  • An "irrelationship" is a pseudo-partnership. While it may contain the superficial elements of partnership such as marriage, cohabitation, spending time together, and having children; it is devoid of true intimacy and interpersonal contact.
  • This dynamic is actually carefully co-constructed, usually without the participants' awareness, precisely to avoid the openness, spontaneity, and reciprocity that characterizes true intimacy; while enforcing the relational rules and roles of early childhood.
  • Irrelationship is not a syndrome, illness, or pathology. This term defines a concept for a two-person psychological defence system, an active shield against the anxiety that comes with allowing someone to be close. It is a way for people to be alone in the company.
  • It is a dynamic that allows both people to conceal themselves when mutual relational contact feels unavailable or overwhelming. In short, it is a way to hide out from love - and from all the threats that come with being intimate, vulnerable, and exposed.
  • An irrelationship can contain two avoidant individuals, an avoidant/anxious dynamic, or a schizotypal individual with an avoidant or anxious individual.
  • This kind of dynamic protects those within it from the messy unpredictable business of intimacy because while intimate connections promise caring, compassion, and empathy, they can make good on that promise only in a climate of mutual emotional investment and risk-taking.
  • Irrelationship is a carefully scripted enactment of old relational patterns and roles with an unconscious defence against anxiety. One person gives; the other takes. One person works hard; the other tells them to work harder. One person dictates; the other complies or defines. In the end, both people are equal unconscious participants, blaming each other. "If you could just X, then we could be happy..."
  • If you find yourself saying, "I'm working so hard to be close and my partner refuses to engage." Maybe you're asking the wrong question. Maybe the question you should start asking is, "What's so interesting about trying so hard to create intimacy with someone who doesn't want that with me?" And then, ask yourself, "Am I willing to be with the anxiety that arises from that kind of closeness?"

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