Let’s Talk

What Is Enmeshment?

Q. Would you please address more about enmeshment and boundary issues?

A. Let’s Talk! Here’s how to “draw” enmeshment. Draw two circles side by side. Now move them even closer where the sides don’t just touch, they cross over the boundary of the other circle and create a shared space. That’s us when we become too entrenched in another person’s life.

It may sound like a good thing to be close and to care deeply for another person – but when the connection goes way outside the normal range, the relationship is not healthy emotionally.

That space can be a minimal or large area, but each enmeshed person has now lost some of his/her own individuality. In enmeshment, the problems of one person become the emotional burden for the other. Even the joys. Enmeshment is a codependency of the heart because your joy is all about and dependent on how the other person is functioning. If this person in your life is okay, you’re okay. If the individual is not okay, you are not okay.

Enmeshment is not two whole and healthy people sharing life – it’s two halves! Think about this: Which is a healthier relationship, a 50-50 relationship or a 100-100 relationship? Two emotionally whole people connecting and communicating is the goal, not two halves. It’s better math! It’s also interesting how a GOOD thing (a tight relationship) can go south. Many have shared with me the pain of enmeshment when their close relationship with someone got TOO close. I welcome your thoughts on how enmeshment has affected you.

For Deeper Reflection

Take some time in the next day or so to read Psalm 139. The plan for our lives is to be individuals, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com


  1. Excellent, succinct explanation of co-dependency, Dr. Helen. Thank you!