Relationships and Freedom

Have you ever met people who are really well defined, do what they want to do, stick to a certain career path… but are desperately lonely? Conversely, have you ever met someone who has lost their sense of self or identity in the myriad of relationships in their life?

Have you ever watched the sitcom ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ and found yourself feeling agitated over the lack of boundaries Raymond has with his mother (next door)? She basically runs the show and has free reign in Raymond’s life, marriage and home. I’m always amazed by the fact that Raymond’s wife doesn’t leave him. You have all this ‘connection’ and enmeshment going on with limited freedom and boundaries. On the other extreme, you might have watched ‘Weird Loners’, a TV show about some people who fear personal relationships.

We need connection. Relationships are the most important thing in life. We exist in relationship. Relational needs are real and to the degree that they are met, we will be fulfilled, secure and satisfied. Healthy relationships dispel anxiety and loneliness, and help us build the kind of resilience that keep addictive cycles at bay. But we don’t need relationship to the point of enmeshment, where we lose ourselves in the connection.

We need freedom. We need to be able to say NO to things, to set boundaries, to be free to be ourselves- authentic-honest-real. We need to be able to choose things in freedom, we need to be able to be in control of ourselves, rather than be controlled by others. Adults want to be treated like adults and feel like adults. A major hallmark of adulthood is freedom. But we don’t want freedom from relationships or loneliness.

The Balance we need is both. We need love and relationship. We need to be able to CONNECT in authentic, intimate relationships, but we also have the need to exercise FREEDOM in the context of relationships. It requires work and it is a battle at times to attain and maintain relationships and stay free at the same time, but it’s definitely worth it.

Find friends and build trust and relationships with people that you can be free with. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated out of freedom. Let your YES be YES and your NO be NO. Being defined and well differentiated as a person, but building healthy relationships is key.

Nick Gwynn