A relationship based on the pursuit of specialness, in which we try to a) have a special or exclusive interaction with b) a special person so that c) we can feel more special. Can exist between lovers, friends, or any non-enemies. The term, “special relationship” is a synonym for “special love relationship” (there is only one fleeting reference to “special hate relationship”—see T-16.IV.1:1—and the idea is not a part of the concept of special relationship). The ego’s system naturally produces a hostile, painful relationship with the world, which deprives us of the love we want. To keep our allegiance, the ego must provide something that offers a semblance of the love we really want, yet still is of the ego. This is the special relationship, “the ego’s most boasted gift” (T-16.V.3:1). It seems to be a Heaven on earth, a haven of love in a world of hate, our greatest hope of happiness in a world of pain (see T-16.IV.3). Yet it is an illusion of love, a love that is unlike God’s, for He knows no special love. It is a disguise, a form (or an appearance) of love that covers a content of hate and attack (see T-17.IV.8-9), a content exactly like the rest of the ego’s system, which results in the same separateness, guilt and fear. We can describe the relationship in stages: 1. First we search for a person different from the rest, one who is more special and has a special body with special parts (see T-15.V.2-3). Yet this process separates that person from her wholeness, for she is the whole. It reduces her from infinite magnitude down to a little pile of body parts (see T-15.V.7). 2. Then we offer her special behaviors and gifts that give her our specialness and, ultimately, give her our special self (see T-16.V.7-8). These “gifts,” however, are attacks designed to make her guilty and so induce her to give her special self in return (see giving/receiving). 3. We (almost certainly) do not receive from her the specialness we think we paid for. So we resort increasingly to taking vengeance on her for not reciprocating (see T-16.V.1). Whether we break up or stick it out, we almost inevitably feel disillusioned (see T-16.IV.4). There is truth in this response, for the love was an illusion. 4. The Holy Spirit, however, would not deprive us of these relationships (see T-17.IV.2:3) or have us throw them away. He would transform them into holy relationships, through forgiveness and the holy instant. Yet most holy relationships are still special relationships (see T-18.V.5:2-3); they have accepted the goal of holiness but have not yet reached that goal. Also called the unholy relationship in chapters 17-22. See shadow figures. See T-15.V,VII, T-16.IV,V,VI,VII, T-17.III,IV.