How to Know If You Are in An Entanglement - and Not A Relationship!

Over the years, I have coached thousands of singles & couples - and often get asked about how one can know if a romantic relationship has the makings of one that will blossom and last over the long haul.

There are definite signs of a healthy solid primary relationship, as well as signs of an unhealthy entanglement. I will briefly outline these signs below - but also encourage you to check out more that is out there on this topic.

One resource I would like to credit for helping me to grasp the differences better is the work of Dr. Margaret Paul. And, she offers powerful guidance to individuals on how to become whole enough to be able to have a healthy relationship. (I highly recommend her book, Do I Have to Give Up Me to be Loved By You?)

Just a note: the signs of entanglement are many and varied, so the list for its characteristics below is not to be taken as complete. However, if one or more of these factors listed are present, it is time to take re-evaluate this romance!

So here are some definite markers of an entanglement and a healthy relationship:


1) One or both are emotionally immature. This often is accompanied by some destructive behaviors in one’s individual life.

2) The romance repeats dysfunctional patterns such as:

(a) communication breakdowns

(b) over-emphasis on sex (over time)

(c) angry outbursts followed by distancing

(d) emotionally shutting down

(e) one or both tend to feel victimized by the other

(f) withholding the truth

(g) an obsessive need to stay connected motivated by a fear of abandonment

(h) one of both are not able to set boundaries

3) Withholding parts of you for fear of driving the other person away

4) Predominant sense of unsafety

5) A lot of conflict and power struggles

6) Feeling not seen or understood a lot

7) More negative feelings than positive about the relationship



1) Both are emotionally healthy - and lead emotionally stable lives

2) Each are free to be themselves

3) Both feel safe and relaxed around each other

4) The relationship has:

(a) a predominance of love and affection

(b) humor and ability to have fun together

(c) mutual desire to be together motivated by adoration and respect (and not for someone to “complete” us)

(d) healthy sexual expression based upon love

(e) mutual comfort with space apart

(f) good communication - and a sense of freedom to share what is on either’s mind or heart

(g) honesty and openness

(h) a predominance of understanding one another

5) Both live from a place of radical self responsibility

6) Each is able to set boundaries in a way that deepens the connection

7) Differences or conflict are handled in a way that respects each other fully

8) More positive feelings than negative about the relationship


If you realize that you are in an entanglement, you may decide that it is time to move on or take a “time out” to evolve yourself. I will say that it is possible to stay connected with someone and transform an entanglement into a healthy relationship - with some dedication. I know this, because I did this in my long-term relationship with my late spouse years ago. We needed to develop our own selves more as well as the relationship - and eventually, the entanglement turned into a thriving loving partnership with two whole thriving adults!

I help clients either if they decide to evolve an entanglement to a healthy relationship or end their involvement and develop themselves more individually, so please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you would like some professional help in either case. And, there are so many resources out there to learn how to come from a place of wholeness, self love & self respect - and strengthen our ability to connect with others from an emotionally healthy place founded upon mutual love, honor and respect.

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