An irrelationship is a shared, co-created, psychological defense system; it is a defense against the fear and anxiety that come along with allowing another person to matter. Irrelationship is a way of protecting those within it from the messy business of really relating, because while intimate connections promise caring, compassion, and empathy, they also require emotional investment and risk. Irrelationship is not a syndrome, an illness, or a pathology. It is a way of being in relationship, a dynamic—something partners do together.

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Many of us learn early on that being close to other people is dangerous, leaving us vulnerable in many ways. As we get older, we lose sight of how we feel about closeness, and fall into unconscious patterns of behavior which leave us unsatisfied, lonely and confused in and about adult relationships. The Irrelationship Group has named this basic template “GRAFTS”, a name which stands for “Good, Right, Absent, Tense, Smart, Funny”. Each is a behavior children use to make sure their primary caregivers are at least temporarily capable of delivering care. GRAFTS becomes the foundation for adult patterns of relationship which are characterized by the use of caregiving to keep intimacy at bay, rather than to express genuine care. This is the heart of what we call Irrelationship.

The 40-20-40 is a structured listening practice created by the Irrelationship Group to help people build mutuality by learning to listen with hospitality and speak from the heart, without blame or accusation.

Some children learn early that they need to take care of their parent’s emotional needs, sometimes physical needs. In adulthood, these deeply ingrained learned patterns of behavior play out in romantic relationships, with family an friends, and in the workplace. Here we examine how the core aspects of what drives these repetitive behaviors, and what we can do about it.

Discovery is the first step to change. The DREAM Sequence was created by the Irrelationship Group to help people move from Discovery, through Repair, Empowerment, Alternatives… building Mutuality all the way. Deep transformation is possible when we put in the time and effort, with proper guidance.