A relationship based on the pursuit of specialness, in which we try to a) have a special arrangement (an exclusive relationship) with and b) receive special treatment from c) a very special person, so that d) we can feel more special. Can exist between lovers, friends, or any nonenemies, though the Course discussions seem to primarily have romance in mind. 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:
- 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).
- Then we offer her special behaviors and gifts that give her our specialness and, ultimately, give her our “self” (see T-16.V.7-8). These “gifts,” however, are attacks designed to make her guilty and so induce her to give her “self” in return (see giving/receiving).
- 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.
- 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 are holy relationships-in-training; 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-VII, T-17.III-IV.