In the case of romantic relationships, we live in a culture that suggests that this is the most important type of relationships that we have. Our partner is meant to be more than just someone we love but also a soulmate and a constant companion, which can help us build a beautiful relationship. However, this type of ideas can also have a dark side and lead us to developing enmeshed relationships. What are enmeshed relationships? Are they good for you? Let’s take a look.
Any relationship can become enmeshed, like a parent-child relationship, for example, but it can also be the result of a romantic relationship. When we talk about an enmeshed relationship, we mean a relationship in which there are no boundaries and where the two partners are excessively close and dependent on each other. The main characteristics of an enmeshed relationship are that the people within it become defined primarily by the relationship rather than by their own individual characteristics.
Let’s take a look at some examples. In an enmeshed romantic relationship, the partners will probably try to do everything together and will have few activities that they do separately, usually only things like work. Leisure time is often spent together. The partners might rely primarily on this relationship and neglect any others. They might become isolated from other people, including their family members or friends. They will tend to feel anxious when separated and associate their emotional well-being with being within the relationship or around their partner. In a way, an enmeshed relationship might sound appealing because it implies a close connection between the partners and a lot of sharing between them. However, this type of relationship is associated with a lot of drawbacks.
First of all, it creates a situation where the partners depened on each other for everything, from emotional support to shared hobbies, which can put a lot of pressure when the partner cannot meet these demands. Secondly, it makes people isolated from the outside world and their other significant relationships. This means that each of the partners might lose valuable relationships and opportunities and also that they might become dependent on the relationship for everything, from emotional support to material help. This can lead to issues if the relationship is not going well because the partners might not want to break up or feel that breaking up would destroy them emotionally.
While they might seem appealing, enmeshed relationships, in contrast with close relationships, are more trouble than they are worth. It can be important, therefore, to set boundaries in a relationship starting early on. Each partner should work to maintain personal space and activities that they can do without their partner. It is also important to pay attention to other relationships outside of the romantic relationship. Having a healthy personal space and outside connections can prevent the relationship from pillar of love.
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