Relationships Vs. Entanglements

Eating right, exercising, taking your vitamins, meditating and still feeling drained? It's time to start looking at your relationships. The problem is, many of us are actually in entanglements masquerading as relationships. Entanglements rob us of energy and peace and unhealthy, dysfunctional relationships are really good at undoing the benefits of all that self-care we we know is so important.

So what is a relationship vs. an entanglement?

Relationships (The healthy, loving kind)

A healthy relationship is an interdependent connection between two people. A relationship is a mutually agreeable connection for a mutual benefit or sense of gratification, grounded in a set of agreed upon principles or boundaries that support or advance the agreements and the connection.

A healthy relationship is one where basic human needs are met and advanced - honesty, support, respect, safety and loyalty - that are sought through connection with others. Intimate relationships require those things, as well as, commitment, intimacy, responsibility, accountability, compassion, shared interests, forgiveness and compatibility.

In a relationship, both people are free to be themselves, there is no fear that what you’re doing, or being who you are will drive the other person away. In a healthy, loving relationship, neither person needs the other person to feel complete. Both people are self-awake, self-aware, self-reflective, self-referencing and becoming more and more self-actualized. Their thoughts and feelings are self-referenced and they are open to the love that’s present; the flow of love. In a healthy, loving relationship, it’s about two equals sharing their identity and resources, rather then needing something from each other. They are in harmony within themselves and each other; there are clear agreements about why they are together, what they desire to do and be together and they follow certain principles to maintain and accomplish those things in a way that meets their basic human needs. They are tuned into each other, they are relaxed with each other, they have fun together. Does this mean they don’t have challenges, difficulties, breakdowns? Definitely not. It means certain things are built into the foundation that holds and supports them together - agreements, principles, love, loyalty and safety.


Entanglements look like relationships on the surface. You may love each other, you may spend a lot of time together but you are not having a real relationship that is characterized by love and harmony. The main distinction between a relationship and an entanglement is this: the reason for the connection, the absence of clear agreements, the absence of foundational principles that support behaviors and expectations, or repetitive violations of love, loyalty, support, respect and safety.

An entanglement is, more often than than not, grounded in co-dependency, meaning the level of regard or respect is broken or missing. One or both people constantly puts the needs of the other person before their own needs and they forget to take care of themselves, and then they become mean, resentful and angry, or where one or both people can not see or does not acknowledge the other’s point of view, the problems the other person has or the needs the other person has. In an entanglement, one or both people want their partner to meet their needs because they don’t feel that they can take care of themselves. Also, one or both people can not see, or will not admit when they are at fault; one or both people hold on to and act out resentments. In an entanglement, one or both people feel rejected, abandoned, and lonely in the relationship but they stay anyway. In an entanglement, one or both people feel inferior or inadequate to the other; one or both people feel criticized, rather than supported and they stay and they complain. One or both people have difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings, so they withhold them.

In an entanglement where the people are co-dependent, the people involved have difficulty recognizing where they end and the other person begins, they tend to become totally enmeshed in the lives of their partner, taking responsibility over their affairs and problems in a very unhealthy way. The big issue is that most co-dependents are addicted to something - a pattern of behavior that creates the very problems that go in a relationship. Signs that you're in a an entanglement?

How do you know if you’re in an entanglement masquerading as a relationship?

1. You keep having the same argument or issue over and over and it doesn't change or get better.

2. You don't feel safe or understood. You have to shut down a part of yourself or behave in a certain way to get your partners approval and acceptance, or you fear your partners response to what you might think, do or say.

3. Someone always needs to be right. In a relationship, each person is aware of his or role in the problem and their priority is their own personal healing so that the relationship can grow. In an entanglement there are power struggles all the time, someone has to be the victim or the victor.

4. In an entanglement when one or both people refuses or resists their part of the responsibility for the issues that arise, which is when things get hard and draining. That's what entanglements do: suck the life out of you.

What to do if you’re in an entanglement.

We all come into relationships with unresolved issues from our past, and many of us have been in, or are in entanglements, it's not uncommon but it doesn't have to continue to be our story.

We need to look at the root cause of our participation in the relationship, then follow these steps, if we want to be in a relationship vs. an entanglement:

  1. Identify your blindspot - the repetitive pattern of behavior or experience we see everywhere we go: somebody’s always out to get, somebody’s always taking you for granted, you can never win, etc. Get Clear about that.

  2. Get clear about how you got into this entanglement. What were you looking for? What were you not talking about? What did you ignore abut your partner? What were you not willing to ask for? What did you deny about your feelings? Where did you not tell the entire truth about who you are and what you want and need in a relationship? The key is recognizing your patterns, your unmet needs and your patterns of behavior, because this is what poisons, pollutes and causes a relationship to breakdown into an entanglement. Sometimes we have to look as far back as our childhood, and if you need help, meaning counseling or therapy, seek help, you don’t have to do it by yourself.

  3. Make an agreement with your partner that you will both work on your pathological or repetitive patterns. Both people have to do the work. Both people have to take complete responsibility for what is going on. You think it’s them, they think it’s you but a non-co-dependent person is not going to choose a co-dependent person. We attract and draw to us what we are within, so when a relationship becomes and entanglement, both people have an equal degree of responsibility.

Finally, transform the relationship by doing the work, or you gotta get out, sis. Co-dependency can be healed, you can transform an entanglement into a relationship when both parties are willing to do the work. But when that doesn’t happen, you may want to end it, with peace of mind, knowing you now have the insight you need to create a loving, harmonious relationship in the future.