The YES Pattern in Relationships - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

The YES Pattern in Relationships

Humanity is in the process of learning how an individual can have themselves and be in relationship with another person at the exact same time. At the current moment, most of humanity does not know how to do this. Many people feel like they have to choose between having their own personal truth (including thoughts, feelings, preferences, aversions, desires etc) and being alone. Or to be close, connected and together with others at the price of giving up their personal truth. When they do this, there is very little authenticity in the relationship. Very little actual honesty. Being inauthentic is exhausting. It feels bad. It feels like closeness, love and connection is conditional upon putting on an act and being different than you are.

This behavior of learned inauthenticity begins in childhood. Many parents the world over see children like a raw ball of clay… as something to be molded into what they want and what they think is best. Their children learn to think and say and do whatever pleases them, regardless of whether or not those things are in fact ‘true’ or authentic for their child. The consequence of not doing so, is punishment; the most terrifying of which is isolation, ostracization, exclusion and abandonment. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: The Freedom/Connection Split Within Humanity.

Growing up in this kind of environment is both painful and exhausting. It also feels complicated and restrictive and therefore, not easy or free. This experience gives rise to a strong desire to have a relationship where you don’t have to do this. It gives birth to the opposite desire in fact. To have a relationship that is so unconditional that you feel completely accepted for who you are and totally free to think, say and do anything. And that you will be validated for those things, no matter what they are.

The problem with this, is that it usually creates a pendulum swing. When we swing the pendulum, we run the risk of simply living out the opposite unhealthy extreme. To learn more about this, you can watch my video titled: What is the Pendulum Swing in Healing?

This pendulum swing can be summed up as “Perceiving YES as love.” People who fall into this relationship pattern are absolute “you are free to think, be, say and do whatever you want… and you’ll always have my approval for any of it” freaks. They want this for themselves and so, they give this experience to others. They surround themselves with people who approve of everything, validate everything and give them the freedom to say, be and do anything and everything. And they do the same for others. They try to set up a ‘no consequences’ for anything sub-reality in the friendship itself. There are some problems with this arrangement though.

  1. Relationships based on this level of mutual yes, can only last short term. Inevitably the day will come when one person’s truth will bring them into a zero-sum game with the other. Something they think, say or do will oppose the best interests of the other. At this point, the other person will say “NO”. This “NO” is a trigger. It makes the person fall back into the feeling of being controlled, having to act, not being free, and being conditionally loved. They will feel like they are forced to have to either comply or rebel. If they comply, they will hold resentment and the other person will be seen as the bad guy. If they rebel, they will bulldoze the other person’s best interests. They are likely to end the relationship because they will tell themselves the story that it isn’t actually as good of a relationship as they thought. It is now too complicated and restrictive. It is reminiscent of the way their childhood felt… Controlled and conditional.
  2. Unbeknownst to the people who feel amazing in this kind of relationship, this relationship is not actually about freedom and unconditional love. It is about mutual Enabling. Enabling as it applies to this conversation, is when a person contributes to and supports the other person’s dysfunction. In other words, they end up saying “YES” to the very things that will do harm that very person. But they will call it loving and unconditional.
  3. This kind of relationship is only possible if you are in fact detached and not actually deeply connected to the other person. It is a false sense of closeness. The freedom required by people with this pattern is so extreme, it is a state of aloneness. You can only unconditionally approve of everything another person thinks, says and does, if those things have no impact on you. And for it to have no impact on you, you have to be really, really disconnected and detached from them. This makes it a “you do whatever you want and I do whatever I want” relationship.

To illustrate this concept, I will give you an example. There is a group of four friends. They all suffered from similar experiences in childhood, where they couldn’t really be themselves and avoid consequences. They subconsciously all love each other’s company because they feel the opposite with each other. They know that no matter how many other people disapprove of what they are doing and disagree with their point of view, it is a guarantee that the people in this group will agree with them and approve of the decisions they are making. They will feel validated instead of invalidated and like it does not matter what they do, there will never be a consequence.

One of them has a huge problem with commitment. But she feels amazing because whenever she decides to drop her latest boyfriend or show up late, or change her mind about her direction in life, she can always find the other three and they will totally understand her and make her feel like she is making the right choice.

One of them only finds connection through opposition. He loves to establish connection with the other three by triangulating them all against whoever is bothering him in his life. The good thing is, he feels so un-gaslit by them. Over months, they have shown him that his perspective is right on the money. They agree that it is so insane how without fail, people just end up going bad and no matter how right and good he is, they end up hurting him all the time.

One of them is doing ayahuasca tonight. All of them have been told it is a bad thing to eat animal products before doing ayahuasca. But she decides she’s in the mood for pizza. Getting pizza would be fun! The good thing is, they can all come up with justifications for why it’s fine for her to eat pizza, even though she’s going to do a journey later that night. She loves how game her three other friends are at joining her in the fun. It feels liberating.

One of them decides he wants to move to Germany. He’s being called there. The other three feel sad to know they will get to spend less time together. But talk themselves into the idea that if he goes, they’ll just go visit him in Germany, after all, they love travel and they need to let him go, otherwise they would be limiting him. They wouldn’t want anyone to do that to them. The ease with which all parties can just say yes to separation feels totally freeing and loving to all four of them.

It makes perfect sense that if a person grew up in the kind of environment that creates this pendulum swing, the energy of “YES” would feel more loving and more like freedom.  It would feel like you could finally have yourself and be in a relationship at the same time. But consider that either both yes and no have nothing to do with love or that both yes and no have a place when it comes to love. To love is to take something as a part of yourself. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: What is Love? If you take something as a part of yourself, you cannot say ‘Yes’ to everything.  You cannot approve of everything. You cannot be unaffected by what that thing thinks, says and does.

For this reason, I want you to ask yourself: To what degree is the ‘yes’ in your relationships; whether it is agreement, validation, permission, approval, or freedom healthy? And to what degree is it just a reaction (an unhealthy pendulum swing) to the painful conditions of your earlier relationships?


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