Many clients dance the line in their relationships between achieving emotional intimacy and being addicted to the relationship. The key to an emotionally intimate relationship is that you are an emotionally healthy person to start with, otherwise you may fall into the trap of your relationship becoming addictive. This week Imagine Hope will share the specific differences between these types of relationships as shared by Covington and Beckett in their book "Leaving The Enchanted Forest". In an intimate relationship you are peers vs. In an addictive relationship there is a power differential
When someone is your peer, you feel you can be equal. There is an ability to be friends and feel comfortable having a voice with that person. When the relationship is addictive, you might feel the other person has more of the power in the relationship. This can be intimidating and quiet your voice with them. You might notice you compromise who you are to make the relationship work because of this.
In an intimate relationship it feels mutual vs. In an addictive relationship it feels imbalanced
When both people feel the connection and strive to deepen it, intimacy develops. This is when both individuals are open and vulnerable, bring up issues, and make compromises. Both people hold the relationship at the same priority level. When a relationship is addictive, there are clear imbalances. One person may feel stronger about the relationship working out, so they try everything to make it work. You may notice that one person does more initiating of spending time and making contact with the other. This relationship can feel overwhelming and clingy at times.
In an intimate relationship there is choice vs. In an addictive relationship there is a loss of choice
Intimacy does not happen out of the need to be with the other person, but out of the desire to be with the other person. When you need someone, you might feel you don't have a choice to not be with them. Having a choice and say so in the relationship creates more balance and equality. It can deepen the connection because it is not out of neediness, but out of healthy desire of the other person. An addictive relationship can cause someone to feel like a victim by the other person and that they didn't have a say so. Intimate relationships don't have victims because each person sees how their choices allow and teach the other person to treat them.
This is such important information to make sure your relationship is healthy, intimate and fulfilling! Keep checking in all week for more info to see if your relationship is intimate or addictive!
Source: Leaving the Enchanted Forest: The Path from Relationship Addiction to Intimacy by Stephanie Covington and Liana Beckett
Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC
Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.