RELATIONSHIPS: The Non-Enchanted Relationship | Great Health Guide
RELATIONSHIPS: The Non-Enchanted Relationship

RELATIONSHIPS: The Non-Enchanted Relationship

“The Non-Enchanted Relationship” written by Dr Matthew Anderson published in Great Health Guide (March 2017). In this article Dr Anderson highlights the factors typical to unhealthy and non-flourishing relationships ie non-enchanted (N-E). We can all learn from Dr Anderson and find ways to improve our intimate relationship. 
Read other Relationship articles on Great Health Guide, a hub of expert-inspired resources empowering busy women to embody health beyond image … purpose beyond measure.

Relationships: The Non-Enchanted Relationship

written by Dr Matthew Anderson

Are there many non-enchanted relationships? If truth be told (and I intend to do that rather bluntly here) then the answer to this question is MOST. Most relationships that end up in marriage and/or living together would qualify as the non-enchanted (N-E) kind. The N-E is a relationship in which both partners say ‘I love you’ but don’t really mean or understand it, in the ‘enchanted’ sense. They use the words but the deep, heart bursting, life-transforming, grateful to be in the presence of the lover, ‘I cannot imagine living without you’ sort of love, is not present. At best it is a kind of comfortable friendship and at worst (and most) it is a form of attachment. By attachment I mean mutual dependency, often called co-dependency by contemporary couples’ counselors.


The non-enchanted relationship begins when two individuals meet and find one another reasonably attractive. Yes, there may be some physical attraction and yes, each one sees certain positive characteristics in the other. In some sense, they enter a process much like buying a car. A list of desirables is drawn up and the person to be considered is put to a test to see how many items on the check list they possess. If the number of yeses reaches an acceptable level (never 100% and often no greater than 50%) for both people, then the couple begins to spend more time together and probably becomes physically intimate. Then the attachment begins.

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Instead of deep love, mutual need arises and need becomes dependency. Each one needs the other for comfort, safety, predictability, protection from loneliness and sexual contact/release. The couple calls this love and the mutual need deepens. When co-dependency reaches critical mass they decide to make a commitment which often means marriage.

At this point two options emerge. The couple can choose to walk the path of friendship or they can choose Merger/ Alienation. The first path most often results in a sustained and even growing relationship that can last a lifetime. The second results in conflict, pain and divorce. In my four decades as a couple’s coach I have seen hundreds of relationships of the Merger/Alienation sort. They are the ones most likely to seek help and in my estimation they are the reason for the current rate of divorce.


1. The Path of Friendship. Friendship is an acceptable motivation for marriage (in my opinion). It can produce a strong, respectful, caring relationship that grows and lasts. It works especially well if both partners have similar expectations (seek friendship and not romantic love) and value maturity, good communication and respect.

2. The Path of Merger or Alienation. This relationship path is more unconscious and more toxic. It has two potential directions and both most often end in divorce. One direction is Merger and the other is Alienation. I have briefly described both below. Merger means that the two individuals merge psychologically and begin to operate as one being. Personal boundaries are blurred, emotions are mixed, individual identity is lost and one does not move or think or feel without being influenced by the other. This condition is often marked by increasing disrespect, verbal abuse, immaturity in behavior and communication, a sense of powerlessness to affect the other and an inability to create distance without anger and conflict.

Alienation means that a deep connection was never formed between the partners and friendship never develops. Instead emotional distance increases by the year until two separate lives exist within the formality of marriage. Intimacy, if it ever existed, disappears. Meaningful communication ceases and the relationship becomes a co-existence that can appear stable by onlookers but internally is filled with unhappiness, loneliness, despair and depression. Sadly, because of lack of conflict, this marriage mirage can last for years until one partner finds the courage to admit the truth and take action.

I imagine that this article might seem rather negative yet I am convinced that many unhappy marriages might be prevented if more people faced these facts about relationship. The question is this: how does this information affect you? What relationship path are you on or in? What now? I will be writing articles about that path soon. Let me know if that interests you.

Author of this article:
Reverend Matthew Anderson has a Doctor of Ministry specialising in counselling and has extensive training and experience in Gestalt and Jungian Psychology. He has helped many couples and singles successfully navigate relationship issues. His has a best-selling book, The Resurrection of Romance. Matthew may be contacted through his website.

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