The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

This New York Times bestselling book is an overview of the concepts, behaviors, and skills that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship.

$17.00

Description

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is the culmination of Dr. Gottman’s lifelong work: an overview of the concepts, behaviors, and skills that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship.

Just as Masters and Johnson were pioneers in the study of human sexuality, so Dr. John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage. Straightforward in its approach, yet profound in its effect, the principles outlined in this book teach partners new and startling strategies for making their marriage work. Dr. Gottman has scientifically analyzed the habits of married couples and established a method of correcting the behavior that puts thousands of marriages on the rocks. He helps couples focus on each other, on paying attention to the small day-to-day moments that, strung together, make up the heart and soul of any relationship. Packed with questionnaires and exercises whose effectiveness has been proven in Dr. Gottman’s workshops, this is the definitive guide for anyone who wants their relationship to attain its highest potential.

eBook
Purchase the eBook version here.

Reviews

“Gottman comes to this endeavor with the best of qualifications: he’s got the spirit of a scientist and the soul of a romantic.”

Newsweek

“An eminently practical guide to an emotionally intelligent — and long-lasting — marriage.”

—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

Continuing Education
10 CE’s are available for $29.99. To purchase CEs, visit here to download the form or contact PESI/CMI Customer Service at 1-800-844-8260 for more details.

Specs

PublishersRandom House/Crown/Harmony

Release Date2015

MaterialPaperback

Page Count296

Continuing Education10 CE hours

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What Is Emotional Labor, and How Does it Affect Your Marriage?

What Is Emotional Labor, and How Does it Affect Your Marriage?

Wives and mothers often handle most, if not all, of the invisible work in their relationships. Here’s how to help carry the load.

You might think that your wife has an innate ability to remember your mother’s birthday or which Friday it is that your son is performing in his school play. And you probably know plenty of other dads who have women in their lives who appear to possess some sort of organizational genius when it comes to family scheduling and household tasks. That’s because even enlightened, helpful, and considerate men have blind spots when it comes to what they think men and women are responsible for in family life.

Once, as an experiment, I stopped cleaning the bathroom sink. Eventually, I asked my partner if he’d noticed how disgusting it had gotten. He hadn’t. I also often marvel that I’m somehow the only one of us who can remember which cupboard the glass baking dishes belong in. He cooks dinner maybe once a week, but I need to give him several hours to emotionally prepare for the task and also offer suggestions of what he could cook that I would like and would not be too difficult for him.

I may sound like I’m venting. And I am a little. And everyone is different. But these little elements of managing a household, however, are kind of like tentacles on the monster of society’s broad and often unspoken expectations of nurturance from women. But here’s the thing: According to researchers, this idea that women are naturally more nurturing than men just isn’t true. It’s merely an outdated notion that society has adopted.

Many women bear the weight of not only managing their feelings but also their partners’ in order to accomplish the daily tasks. This is often referred to as “emotional labor,” or the invisible work necessary to manage households, often in spite of working outside the home as much as their partners. It’s described as the mental load of “always having to remember” in a comic about emotional work among new parents that went viral last year. Constant management of their entire families’ needs takes a toll on women and especially wives and mothers, who often grow exhausted and resentful if their partners ignore the invisible burden. If a husband finds himself asking his beleaguered wife “what can I do to help?” chances are the question came too late.

Many women bear the weight of not only managing their feelings but also their partners in order to accomplish the daily tasks that need to be accomplished. This is often referred to as “emotional labor,” or the invisible work done to manage households,

The idea that all women are born nurturers is likely a holdover from the Industrial Age, when work and home lives became separated for the first time, says Rebecca J. Erickson, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Akron University in Ohio. As work moved away from the homestead, women became the executives of sorts of the family sphere.

“The problem is that those expectations haven’t changed since women entered the workforce,” she says. “The belief that women primarily are in charge of and accountable for the emotional climate in the home is still part of the invisible work that women do. And part of the issue about that is that it’s seen as something natural in women as opposed to something that takes time, energy, and skill.”

According to a paper published last year in the journal Sex Roles, more than 60 percent of both men and women reported that women tend to remind their partners more often about things that need to be done. Men also don’t experience the societal pressure to take charge of the family to-do list like women do, the researchers at William Paterson University and Columbia Business School also concluded. In addition, the Paterson-Columbia researchers found that men were much more likely to issue reminders about things from which they’d personally benefit, such as making sure their wives remembered their promise to buy him a new suit jacket for a work party, whereas women’s reminders were typically more selfless.

“The belief that women primarily are in charge of and accountable for the emotional climate in the home is still part of the invisible work that women do. And part of the issue about that is that it’s seen as something natural in women as opposed to something that takes time, energy, and skill.”

“It’s not that women are innately better able to remember and multitask — we were socialized this way,” says study co-author Janet Ahn, Ph.D., professor of psychology at William Paterson University. “It arose out of need. Society socializes women that we’re the ones to fulfill other people’s needs and that good girls help other people out.”

That these ideas are so deeply ingrained is precisely why many men might be surprised to hear that their partners feel they bear an unfairly heavy emotional workload in the marriage. Ahn says she hasn’t met a single woman who has told her that this dynamic doesn’t exist in her home, yet many men she meets seem defensive about her research and insist that they take on just as much organizational work in their relationships.

Men, per Ahn, often say they’re perfectly willing to help when women tell them what they need to do, for example, but don’t understand that expecting women to delegate every conceivable task is a big part of the emotional labor women are sick of typically having to do. For example, if a husband is going to the grocery store but asks his wife about what he should buy or for meal-planning, well, that’s not really helping with the emotional workload.

“The emotional tasks of running a family don’t always get defined because they’re so typically absorbed by women, and men often don’t see them as actual labor like they do with instrumental tasks, such as taking out the garbage or doing the dishes,” says Jennifer Lois, Ph.D., sociology professor at Western Washington University and author of Home is Where the School Is: The Logic of Homeschooling and the Emotional Labor of Mothering. “Women, on the other hand, are socialized throughout their lives to pay attention to relationships and the emotions of other people.”

“Men know they need to contribute with housework and childcare but often don’t understand how to have a conversation about the emotional work that needs to be done in a relationship,” 

Modern gender relationships, thankfully, are getting better. And the line between what moms and dads are responsible for is blurred. Parents can help erode gender-based stereotypes that foster unfair expectations in the next generation by being good role models, Ahn says. Kids who grow up seeing Super Mom do everything and Dad on the couch with a beer are more likely to recreate those scenarios when they grow up. So, it’s essential to not only manage the emotional workload, but also show kids that their parents truly share the work of the household and daddy doesn’t just “help out” occasionally to be nice.

One can also try to express more gratitude when their partner reminds them of tasks that need to be done and acknowledge that the completion of those tasks benefits the family. Part of that is being more mindful in your relationship, which, can be helpful in lessening your partner’s emotional load and therefore improve your marriage.

If it’s not something one normally does, they could, at some point in the evening, put their phone down and ask their partner to tell them about their day, and make an effort to really be present and listen, suggests Erickson. Such conversations aren’t about fixing problems, but letting her vent and being present, she says.

Another trick: establish a family Google calendar that both partners update – and share equal responsibility over. It can be helpful for men to see a visual representation of everything their partners have been keeping track of because it’s likely more than they realized, Ahn says. And by jotting something on a calendar, even though adding stuff does take a bit of work, outsourcing it, in a sense, removes the cognitive load of having to remember it and remind each other about it.

Ultimately, making emotional work more equitable isn’t just about making sure children are fed and toilets are clean, Erickson says. It’s about how one conveys caring for each other. 

If frustration sets in about emotional labor within a marriage, it’s because one isn’t paying attention to their partner’s needs — and this is also a better time to ask than when she’s struggling to heft a heavy box of winter clothes on a closet shelf that you’ve been stepping around for a week. You can say something like, “I want to be a more equal partner to you but don’t always know what you need from me, so I’d appreciate your help to figure out what those things are, and I’ll try to anticipate them on my own as we go on,” suggests Lois.

Ultimately, making emotional work more equitable isn’t just about making sure children are fed and toilets are clean, Erickson says. It’s about how you convey caring for each other. Ask yourself what kind of relationship you want, she suggests. Is it a partner who’s exhausted and feeling unsupported and bitter?

“Men know they need to contribute with housework and childcare but often don’t understand how to have a conversation about the emotional work that needs to be done in a relationship,” she says. “Love is supposed to come naturally, but it takes work getting outside of yourself to show care and concern for another person by being attentive.”

“Love isn’t a feeling,” she adds. “It’s a behavior.”

How to Know When It’s Time to Let Go of Someone You Love

https://time.com/5373451/break-up-someone-love/

andrej_k—Getty Images/iStockphoto
August 27, 2018 2:59 PM EDT

If you’ve ever seen a romantic comedy, you’ve likely watched two people who find a way to be together — no matter what obstacles stand in their way. The reason is always simple: They’re in love. But off screen, love isn’t always enough to make a relationship last.

In fact, the feelings caused by romantic love can be so strong, they can convince people to stay in relationships that are unhealthy, unfulfilling and ultimately unhappy — whether they realize it or not. For example, when people looked at photos of their romantic partners, dopamine — a chemical associated with reward that makes people feel good — was released in their brains, a 2015 study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found.

The way these chemicals make people feel can make them overlook logical decisions like leaving an unsatisfying relationship, says Julie Wadley, founder and CEO of matchmaking and coaching service Eli Simone. “When people are in love, they’re driven off of the drug, the endorphins,” she says. “The chemicals that tell you you’re in love with this person are firing.”

While being in love undoubtedly feels good (and is good for your health,) these feelings alone don’t spur solid, lasting romantic relationships. Here, experts explain some of the signs that indicate it may be time to let go:

Your needs aren’t being met

Every person has different “requirements” that need to be met in a relationship, according to Wadley. These needs can be emotional, like wanting quality time with your partner, or functional, like requiring them to competently manage money.

When one partner feels that the other isn’t fulfilling a requirement, Wadley says, it’s important to communicate that. If that person’s partner isn’t willing to try harder to fulfill that need, it’s probably time to move on, she says.

One of the reasons people stay in relationships that don’t meet their needs stems from the negative views our society has about being single, according to Wadley. It may seem like if they leave the relationship, they may never find something better. But Wadley says that mentality wastes valuable time and perpetuates a person’s unhappiness. “You could be taking that time to find someone who will give you what you need,” she says.

You’re seeking those needs from others

When you get promoted at work or you’re faced with a family emergency, who is the first person you want to tell? In a fulfilling, healthy relationship, the answer to those questions should be your partner, according to Wadley.

It’s great to have trusted colleagues at work, but Wadley says if you’re constantly turning to a “work husband” or “work wife” for support, it may be a sign that you’re not getting the support you need from your partner. “If you’re like, ‘I have a choice between talking to my boyfriend and talking to my guy friend, the guy who is constantly giving you that emotional affirmation that I need — I’m going with the friend,’” Wadley says, “Something’s not right.”

If either you or your partner is seeking emotional or physical fulfillment from people outside of your relationship, Wadley says it’s a clear indication that it’s probably time to end the relationship.

You’re scared to ask for more from your partner

It’s natural to feel uncomfortable talking to your partner about what you need and may not be getting from your relationship. But Wadley says open lines of communication are essential to lasting, healthy partnerships.

“People may think, ‘That’s going to make me sound needy and emotional,’” says Wadley. Instead of speaking up, they suppress how they feel, continue on with their dissatisfaction and feign contentment out of fear of feeling like a burden.

“Then something happens that breaks the camel’s back,” she says. And the argument that ensues can wind up being more damaging to the relationship than it would have been if you had addressed it sooner. Hiding your true feelings about how your partner is treating you likely prolongs the unfulfilling relationship, rather than saves it, according to Wadley. If you can’t get past the fear of confronting your partner, it’s probably time to seek help or part ways, she says.

Your friends and family don’t support your relationship

Lindsay Chrisler, a New York-based dating and relationships coach says you should take stock of how your trusted family members and friends feel about your relationship. “If nobody in the community supports your relationship, that’s a red flag,” she says. If the people who love and support you see that the person you’re in love with isn’t making you happy, it’s a good idea to listen to their opinions, according to Chrisler.

If you decide push aside your friends’ and family’s concerns, it may lead to another sign that it’s time to let go of the relationship: “You’re starting to lie to your friends, you’re starting to lie to yourself,” says Chrisler. When you isolate yourself from your loved ones in order to avoid listening to their concerns, they’re probably right — the relationship probably isn’t, she says.

You feel obligated to stay with your partner

People are more likely to stay in relationships that they’ve already invested time and effort in, a 2016 study published in Current Psychology found. This is similar to a money investment phenomenon known as the “sunk cost effect.” A prior investment leads to a continuous investment, even when the decision doesn’t make you happy.

“When it comes to people and relationships, time does not necessarily equal success,” says Wadley, who added that many of her clients are reluctant to leave an unhappy relationship because they want to reap the rewards of their investment.

But simply investing more time in a relationship with someone you love won’t fix the problems. If both partners aren’t willing to work to fulfill the other’s needs, the relationship probably isn’t worth more time.

You’ve been working on your relationship for more than a year

Of course, when two people are in love and have spent years together or have started a family together, there is a stronger incentive to work out the problems, says Chrisler. Her advice is to seek couples’ counseling if both partners want the relationship to work. But she caveats that you should set a time limit of one year.

“If you spend too much time in indecision, it will erode the foundation of the relationship to the point where you can’t really make it back,” she says.

After about a year of actively working on the relationship and unsuccessfully trying to meet each other’s needs, the difficult decision to break up is likely the best decision, according to Chrisler.

You don’t like your partner

While it may sound counterintuitive, Chrisler says you can actually be in love with a person you don’t like. If that’s the case, you may get by day to day, but it will be nearly impossible to make it through difficult times together.

All couples have disagreements, but people in healthy, loving relationships keep the mindset that “this is my friend, and I’m going to get through this with this person,” Chrisler says. “And I don’t know how you get through those things without liking them.”

Still, it’s never easy to walk away from someone you love — even when the relationship isn’t working, according to Chrisler. The key, she says, is to listen to the logical part of your brain, instead of submitting to the euphoric chemical reactions that love can cause.

Your partner is abusive

It’s possible for people in an abusive relationship to love an abusive partner. One in four women and one in 10 men have been victims of intimate partner violence, according to a 2015 survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2010 study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health found that more than half of the women surveyed saw their abusive partners as “highly dependable.” One in five of the women surveyed said the men possessed significant positive traits, like “being affectionate.” Researchers found that these views contributed to some victims staying in abusive relationships, among other reasons — like isolation, extortion and physical violence.

When it comes to abuse of any kind, Chrisler says it’s crucial to safely find a way out. “It’s difficult to get out of those relationships,” she says. “You have to really love yourself.”

10 Signs Of Communication Issues In A Relationship

Tense Couple Eating Breakfast Together

Image by iStock

 

Love relationships are fabulous when things are going smoothly, but when troubles begin, our often-unhealthy default communication techniques can cause even more harm. Unfortunately, these unhealthy habits can lead us into unproductive cycles that bring unnecessary struggle and pain into our romantic relationships.

If communication is not your forte, don’t worry. Below are 10 signs you can look for to help you increase your communication awareness and enrich your relationship in the most mindful, uplifting ways.

As you review the signs, strive to keep judgment of yourself or your partner to the side. The more objective you are, the more beneficial your insights will be. In fact, you might want to make notes as you read. If you—or your partner—engage in any of these habits, just make a note using a 1-to-10 scale regarding the severity of the issue. Remember: The goal is to raise your awareness in a positive way, so put on your “relationship researcher hat” and have fun!

1. One person needs to win.

If you find that you focus or your partner focuses on winning—getting your way or being “right”—in arguments, you’re on the wrong track. Healthy communication focuses on a collaborative, win-win attitude that makes room for both individuals’ perspectives.

Unhelpful: You are so irrational; your opinion is just plain wrong.

Helpful: Your perspective is different from mine. I’d like to know more about your thoughts so that I can understand you better.

2. Blaming and shaming are at work.

When one or both partners get into the shame-or-blame habit, communication—and the relationship—go downhill. Rather than blaming or shaming a partner, focus on the nature of the problem itself—not attacking the person who made the error.

Unhelpful: Our bills are past due again; if you were smarter, you’d get a better job, and we wouldn’t be in this situation.

Helpful: We’re a bit behind on our bills. Let’s sit down this weekend to work out a budget and payment plan. With a little bit of teamwork, I know we can get our finances under control.

3. Criticism instead of healthy feedback.

Although many people are sensitive to receiving feedback, almost no one appreciates being criticized. The difference between the two can be overt or subtle, so strive to get used to offering positive, healthy feedback rather than negative criticism.

Unhelpful: You’re completely inconsiderate and selfish. You’re not even thoughtful or responsible enough to let me know when you’re running late.

Helpful: I understand that the commute can be unpredictable, yet I feel hurt when you don’t let me know you’ll be late. I’d truly appreciate a quick text or call when you’re running behind.

4. Eye contact and body language are off.

Body language can sometimes speak volumes. It’s easy to slip into negative habits during conversations with a partner. From eye-rolling and looking away to folding your arms or walking away during a conversation, negative body language can signal disrespect, irritation, anger, and dismissiveness. These subtle and not-so-subtle behaviors are a passive-aggressive way of controlling conversations in a highly negative way.

Healthy communicators tend to focus on the speaker, make good eye-to-eye contact, and physically lean in during the conversation.

Unhelpful: Why am I snickering and rolling my eyes at you? Because you’re so irrational.

Helpful: I feel so connected to you when you hold my hand and really look at me when I’m talking. I feel seen, valued, and understood. 

5. Multitasking gets in the way.

It’s a busy world, but short-changing communication by multitasking generally results in fragmented attention; this leads to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Multitasking also sends this message to a partner: Whatever else I want or need to do is more important than giving you my undivided attention.

Unhelpful: What’s wrong with you? Can’t you just let me do other things while you talk?

Helpful: You’re my priority, and what you have to say is important. Let me stop what I’m doing to focus on our conversation.

6. Angry, passive-aggressive, or passive tactics are in play.

When anger, passive-aggressiveness, or passive behaviors are the norm, positive communication is almost impossible. Angry comments—verbal assaults—are a sign of trouble. Sarcasm and jokes used as weapons are passive-aggressive strategies that create dynamics. And passive behavior—not speaking your truth or shutting down—gets in the way of healthy communication.

Unhelpful: You’re f-d up. And you think you’re a good partner? Why don’t you just get out of here?

Helpful: I feel really angry when you dismiss opinions. I need a break right now to re-center; I’m taking a walk around the block and will be back in 15 minutes.

7. Interrupting is the norm.

Interrupting sends the message that another person’s message is unimportant or incorrect. If patterns of interrupting are chronic (or getting to be), frustration and resentment arise.

True, active listening involves slowing down to actually hear what another person is saying without interjecting an opinion. In fact, interrupters are generally very poor listeners; rather than listening, their own internal dialogue—which spews out as an interruption—is proof that their attention is self-focused rather than other-focused.

Unhelpful: Stop! What you’re saying is absolutely wrong! Let me tell you how it is.

Helpful: I listened fully to what you had to say. Is there anything else? I want to make sure you’re finished before I share some thoughts. 

8. Disagreements become fights.

As a firm believer that partners in healthy relationships tend to disagree rather than fight, it’s important to notice whether a difference in opinions quickly escalates into a fight. Fighting creates a warlike atmosphere where anger and resentment thrive; fights rarely end with a positive solution. Disagreements, however, often bring couples into a space of feeling mutually seen and heard. These couples know that they can safely disagree on topics without being attacked.

Unhelpful: You always want something. If it’s not a new car or your latest hobby, you’re after a trip somewhere. Now you want to redo the backyard. Isn’t enough ever enough for you?

Helpful: I’m feeling a little stressed about redoing the backyard right now. I’ve looked at our budget, and it would be a struggle this year. What do you think about holding off until next spring? We can set money aside and really do it right. How does that sound to you?

9. Technology interferes with face-to-face time.

From cellphones and computers to ever-present television screens, it’s easy to get lost in the world of technology. If you find yourself retreating to technology (or any other activity) in favor of face-to-face time with your partner, it’s a sign that your communication—the desire to really bond with your partner—is suffering. And intimate communication, like any skill, needs regular practice to stay in good form.

Unhelpful: Giving the best of yourself to your work or personal interests and leaving little energy to communicate with your partner.

Helpful: Setting aside time every day to talk with your partner. Whether by taking a walk together, sitting down to share coffee, or having dinner at a table together (instead of in front of the TV), your communication—and your relationship—will flourish.

10. Resentment and unsolved issues lurk in the background.

If one or both partners stockpile issues instead of addressing them as soon as possible, trouble is brewing. Some people hold on to issues to use as weapons in later arguments; and even when the other partner tries to resolve the issues, the passive-aggressive person often chooses to maintain the stockpile. Others compartmentalize issues in the hope that the problem will go away.

While some minor issues do fade if left unaddressed, many are recycled issues that are never solved. When core hurts, resentments, or irritations are not addressed, it’s a sign that positive strategies are needed.

Unhelpful: I’m not going to forgive. I don’t care if you apologized and made things right. I want you to pay for what you did for the rest of your life.

Helpful: I’m hurt and feel like we need to get to the roots of what happened. My fear is that you might hurt me in the same way again; it’s important to me that you are genuinely accountable for what you did. I think it will do both of us a world of good to gain more clarity and understanding. We can then start fresh.

Taking next steps.

Be patient with yourself and your partner as you venture into the often-unfamiliar world of healthy communication. Keep at it, stay mindful, and do your best one day at a time. Before you know it, your practice will pay off by bringing you and your partner closer than ever.

Here’s more on how to fix a lack of communication in relationships.

Do the 36 questions to fall in love actually work?

https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/love-sex/relationships/a32618/36-questions-fall-in-love/

Ask these. Stare intensely. Fall in love. (Apparently…)

a couple
Sophie Mayanne

“Tell your partner something that you like about them already,” is the 31st question I ask this usually very nonchalant guy over FaceTime. We’re two hours and thirty minutes into this video call, testing out the ’36 questions to fall in love’ theory. He tells me he likes my smile and I can’t help but blush at that response. When asked, I share something more superficial, telling him I like his body, precisely everything about it and, in that moment, I feel a sense of coyness that I hadn’t felt in a little while.

36 questions to fall in love

Created in 1997 by psychologist Dr. Arthur Aron, 36 questions to fall in love is a study, conducted at Stony Brook University, New York, that tests accelerated intimacy between two strangers. Dr. Aron conducted this test by bringing a heterosexual man and woman together with a list of 36 questions to test out, followed by four minutes of sustained eye contact. This couple got married six months later.

a couple
Adrian Rodriguez Garcia
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Broken up into three sets, each section gets more and more personal. From ‘Question 1: Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?’ to ‘Question 36: Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.’

The point of the study is to test the social psychology of relationships and create closeness, although Dr. Aron states that the closeness is intended to be a temporary feeling. So, you’re not expected to immediately fall in love as soon as the 36th question is answered, but you should feel something. Right?

“The questions allow people to understand that we’re all human, and that is so connecting”

Before testing the study out for myself with a guy I used to date, (I really wanted to try out these questions and had no one else to ask, okay?), I was curious but cynical. I’ve never believed in love at first sight or when characters in movies become obsessed with one another within three days, so I didn’t expect a miraculous surge of adoration to wash over me but I was keen to discover something new about someone I already knew and ask questions I wouldn’t tend to ask.

The advantage of the structured 36 questions

Our answers to ‘Question 9: For what in your life do you feel most grateful?’ was the same – family, while ‘Question 16: What do you value most in a friendship?’ revealed our compatible need for thoughtfulness and having people around us that have our best interests at heart. These questions were some of my favourites.

a happy couple kissing
HEX

There are three questions out of the 36 that centre friendship, including ‘Question 20: What does friendship mean to you?’ and ‘Question 27: If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.’

I personally think that a good romantic relationship should have a good friendship at the foundation as the friendship element is what makes your bond strong, meaningful and genuine, not attraction and a couple of shared interests.

“Psychological intimacy is a prerequisite for passion”

It was particularly useful for us to have a list in place with questions neither of us had created or over analysed. I spoke with relationship psychotherapist, Matt Davies, who seconded this notion for first-time daters. “When you’re first meeting, if you don’t have a structure, what you’re doing is you’re generating all kinds of superficial chat,” he says.

“Psychologically you’re assessing, ‘Do I like this person or not? Do I feel safe with them?’ But, with that out of the way, the questions provide you access to finding out whether you feel comfortable and safe with them.”

Unlocking vulnerability

The 36 questions are key in unlocking that vulnerability and genuineness that a lot of people struggle to show generally, let alone when seeking love.

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a couple kissing
Masafumi Nakanishi

Questions like ‘18: What is your most terrible memory?’ (my answer nearly made me tear up) and ‘30: When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?’ tested how honest and open we could be with one another, which aren’t traits that are often explored early in a potential relationship, due to fear of opening up or sharing personal things ‘too early’.

Dr. Davies says, “Psychological intimacy is a prerequisite for passion. [The questions] allow people to understand that we’re all human, and that is so connecting. It’s the opposite of alienation, where we might think somebody is better than us or we’re one down or one up. I think that is really important to help with intimacy.”

And ignite intimacy it did – while we were already comfortable and familiar with one another, we both learnt something new. Forget the simple things like our favourite colours or favourite movies, we unlocked deeper, emotional experiences such as my sister being in the hospital being one of the worst times of my life and him crying in front of a previous partner.

Do the 36 questions to fall in love work?

a happy couple
Sophie Mayanne
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The initial cynicism I had definitely eased up as the questions progressed, although I didn’t like every single question due to their vagueness and repetition. However, perhaps that’s what’s needed. The vague elements of some questions allowed us to be as open-ended as possible, while the repetition of the questions that asked us to say positive things about one another fulfilled my biggest love language.

Once we finished the questions, we joked about whether we were in love yet. Well, we’re still not dating but the enhanced closeness we felt has got to mean something.

Full list of 36 questions to fall in love

Set I

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Set III

25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling …”

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share …”

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

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29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

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‘I Learned How To Spot Narcissists On a First Date’

https://www.newsweek.com/i-learned-how-spot-narcissist-first-date-1578380
Long-lost ‘Twin Sisters’ Find Each Other on TikTok, Plan DNA Test

I grew up within a family that included narcissists, but at the time I had no idea what was going on. I felt that something was wrong and that led me to search for the truth by seeing a range of psychotherapists and ultimately, me training to be one.

Later in life, I discovered the concept of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and its devastating impact on others. Narcissistic traits can include grandiosity, a need for admiration and to be the center of attention, as well as a sense of entitlement, envy, self-importance and a lack of empathy for others.

Learning this helped me make sense of my experiences and validate myself. I now work fluidly and my psychotherapy background influences my work as a life coach; where the focus is on the future and learning how to overcome the trauma of the past. Of course, my knowledge of narcissism has also helped me to recognize it in relationships described to me by my clients in sessions. I have been able to point out emotional abuse they have been subjected to.

Recently, I became aware through my work as a therapist and coach that narcissists often give themselves away before they step into a relationship. The first tentative meeting can offer clues as to the narcissistic traits and behaviors that will be revealed in a subsequent relationship.

This is how I have seen narcissistic tendencies play out on a first date, and while not all incidents involving this type of behavior will indicate narcissism, the examples I use occurred with clients who went on to have relationships with people who displayed many other narcissistic traits.

1. Can they control you? Are you willing to adapt and easy to manipulate?

A narcissist is typically addicted to “narcissistic supply”, a desire for constant admiration and attention. Being involved in a romantic relationship with a partner who is willing to give what you need and who you are able to control can often provide that supply. Gaining control can mean undermining their partner’s confidence and feeding their insecurity, all while making them believe that the narcissist is “the one.”

One of my clients was feeling confused about her relationship. Even though she accommodated her partner as much as she could, she never seemed to get it “right.” She was keen to make the relationship work, but felt helpless. Her partner changed his tune almost daily, so she never knew what to expect or how to react.

I asked her about her first date with her partner. They met at his apartment, had a glass of wine before walking to a restaurant he had booked. He was a lovely, lively guy who chatted away, smiled a lot and seemed easy to get along with. During the walk something changed. He became quiet and withdrawn and when they sat down at the table my client felt uncomfortable and began asking herself if she had done something wrong. Anyway, the waiter passed the menus and when he offered the wine menu my client’s date answered: ‘No, no wine for us’. My client wanted another glass of wine, but she didn’t say anything and went along with his decision.

In retrospect, we were able to discuss that if she had ordered a glass for herself, it might have indicated to her date that he could not control her easily. Mood swings and controlling behavior is typical of narcissist testing whether their partner is willing to accommodate them without criticism.

2. Do they show immediately that they need you to be empathic, kind and willing to forgive others?

Narcissists naturally attract empathic people because empaths are beneficial to the narcissist, who needs to make sure that they can continue to behave as they wish.

One of my clients was struggling with her partner but she often seemed to be making excuses for his unpleasant and abusive behaviour, saying it only happened “when he is tired” or that it “wasn’t that important” to her.

Again, their first meeting told a story. They went for a walk and soon after they set off, they came across a couple with a jumpy dog. When the dog jumped up, my client’s date jumped away, shouting abuse at the couple. His reaction felt out of proportion and my client told me she was taken aback by the force of it. As they walked on he told her he hated it when people took on more than they could handle and subsequently made others pay the price. But he was also upset that he upset my client, and she then comforted him and was extremely understanding. Despite not understanding his behavior she soothed him. What I believe to be his narcissistic traits and this pattern of requiring her to soothe him continued throughout the relationship.

Narcissism, relationships, dating, narcissist
Stock image. Getty/iStock

3. Is your date putting themselves above you, needing admiration or to be the center of attention?

Narcissists typically thrive on being the centre of attention and I have noticed through conversations with clients that on a first date they can test to see if they will receive the attention they need. One of my clients was so in awe of his girlfriend that he didn’t mind that their first date completely revolved around her. He took in every word she said and nodded at the right times, totally engrossed. Only later did he realize that she hadn’t asked a single question about him or his work.

My client didn’t mind, at least, not at the time. In general, he didn’t need to play the first fiddle all the time. He is laid back and happy for others to do the talking. But my client began to feel devalued in his relationship. Whenever he wanted to discuss situations that revolved around him, his partner was dismissive.

He didn’t want to be controlled and silenced by his partner and when he noticed how unbalanced the relationship was, he ended it. Narcissists are often looking for partners they can mould and they don’t want an ego to compete with.

4. Is your date showing signs that they want someone to rescue them?

Narcissists are often looking for a partner who will come to their rescue. Someone who will take the blame and responsibility and focus all their efforts on the narcissist’s happiness.

One of my clients admitted she struggled to say no and if she couldn’t accommodate someone, she felt it was her fault and she lost sleep over it.

On her first date with her current boyfriend it became clear that he felt life always against him, negative in his outlook.

It took us a while to get to a point where my client could recognize that there was codependency at play, where she was caught in a trap of trying to “fix” her partner and his seemingly narcissistic tendencies. The next steps were facing this and building up her self-awareness and confidence. My client is still with her partner but luckily, she is a much stronger person now.

Having so much experience with narcissistic abuse makes it easy for me to recognize signs of narcissism at any stage of a relationship. Not every instance of the behaviors mentioned above will indicate that the person you are on a date with is a narcissist, but I suggest always reflecting on behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable. It took me decades to see the blind spots in my own life and I feel strongly for people who are currently facing struggles in relationships.

As a therapist and coach I will never tell a client that I think their relationship is damaging, instead it is my role to empower my clients to come to their own realisations through questioning and feeding back what they tell me.

Educating others to the signs of narcissism in the early stages of a relationship is important for me, as it might prevent the involvement and development of damaging and often abusive relationships, those with a narcissist.

Dr Mariette Jansen is a psychotherapist, life coaching and author of From Victim to Victor – Narcissism Survival Guide, which is available here. Jansen has a PhD in interpersonal communication from the University of Utrecht and trained in psychotherapy at London Metropolitan University. You can find more about her work at www.drdestress.co.uk.

All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

Should You Talk On The Phone Before A First Date?

Life and Love

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Making Adult Friends Is Hard: Here Are 40 Reasons Why

Summary

  • Introversion, fear of rejection, pragmatic reasons (like a health problem), low trust, lack of time, and being too picky may make building new friendships difficult.
  • One study found that the most important factors were “low trust,” followed by “lack of time” and “introversion.”
  • Older people were more likely to report that lack of time and pragmatic reasons prevented them from making friends.

In recent research published in Personality and Individual Differences, researchers conducted 30-minute semi-structured interviews on 20 participants in a university laboratory seeking to discover what makes adult friendships difficult to create. Once the interviews were complete and coded, an open-ended survey on the matter was conducted on 108 new participants to further probe and validate the responses given in the semi-structured interviews.

The following 40 reasons were revealed, structured into six broad categories:

Introversion

  • I am introverted
  • I feel embarrassed when meeting new people
  • I do not speak easily to people I do not know or have just met
  • I am shy
  • I expect others to take the first step
  • I am not social
  • I do not meet many new people, because I do not associate much with others
  • I do not open up easily
  • I do not feel comfortable for others to know things about me

Fear of rejection

  • I fear rejection
  • I think about what others might think of me and I get anxious
  • I fear that others will judge me negatively because I do not have many friends
  • I am worried that I will not be accepted
  • I find it difficult to communicate with others
  • I find it difficult to figure out what I need to do in order to start a friendship
  • I am insecure
  • I do not think I make a good first impression

Pragmatic reasons

  • I have a disability that makes it difficult for me to socialize
  • I have a health problem that prevents me from socializing
  • I have psychological problems that prevent me from making friends
  • I live in a country whose culture is different than my own, which makes it difficult for me to make friends
  • I am in a tight-knit group of friends that prevents me from making new friends.
  • I live in a place with few inhabitants and I do not meet new people

Low trust

  • I do not trust others easily
  • I am cautious
  • I am suspicious
  • Lack of trust due to bad past experiences
  • I feel that others approach me with a purpose other than friendship
  • I am very selective with whom to make friendship
  • It is difficult for me to find people who are really interested in friendship

Lack of time

  • Lack of time
  • I work long hours and have no time for friendships
  • I devote all my time to my partner and have no time for friendships

Too picky

  • I do not feel like making new friendships
  • My age: I feel I have grown old enough to start new friendships
  • I do not easily give others the opportunity to become my friends
  • I easily reject people as potential friends
  • It is difficult for me to find people with who we have common interests
  • I find it difficult to find people who match

A follow-up study conducted with 622 participants (with a mean age of 33.7 for women and 34.1 for men) revealed that among the 40 reasons, the most important factors in the prevention of making friends were “low trust,” followed by the “lack of time” and the “introversion,” further discovering that “low trust” was a primary driver for women in comparison to men. Older participants were more likely to find lack of time and pragmatic reasons preventing them from making friends, in line with evolutionary reasons.

Facebook image: fizkes/Shutterstock

About the Author

Warning Signs of a Trauma Bonding Relationship

           A very good description of something often encounter.

              Rory

https://www.instyle.com/lifestyle/hump-day/trauma-bonding

Here’s how to tell if you’re in this toxic, addictive relationship — and how to break the cycle.

By Dr. Jenn Mann

Mar 11, 2021 @ 11:40 am
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
What Is Trauma Bonding?
Credit: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images

DEAR DR. JENN

When things are good with my boyfriend, they are so good! But when they are bad, things get really ugly and he can be very emotionally abusive. (Afterward, he always apologizes and promises to do better.) We are very intense people who moved in together after only knowing each other for a few months. While Covid was a factor, I also felt a lot of pressure to move quickly. I’m concerned about the conflicts we are having but I can’t imagine going on without him. We are very bonded. —Locked in

DEAR LOCKED IN,

This type of back and forth, up and down relationship can be very intense and emotional. I have seen it many times before. In psychology, we say that the most effective reinforcement is what we call intermittent reinforcement. As it was explained to me in grad school, “the rat hits the bar hoping for the pellet and does not get it every time or even every third time. It gets the reward randomly.” This type of behavioral conditioning is highly effective. What do rats have to do with your relationship? The intermittent positive behavior that you get in between these “ugly” incidents keeps you hanging on. The anticipation of the affection, attention, or sex that follows these periods of conflict and high-stress levels actually bonds you to your boyfriend. This is known as a trauma bond.

Some experts believe that this becomes an addictive cycle. The rush of stress hormones like cortisol can make a person feel exhilarated during conflict. When reunited, the dopamine and oxytocin triggered in the reward center of the brain can fool you into thinking that you are in love. This emotional rollercoaster can create an obsessive quality to the relationship. Even when you end a relationship like this, it can be hard to stick with it. Studies have shown that going through a breakup can trigger activity in the same regions of the brain that get activated when we are in physical pain, not to mention that we experience a drop in the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that create feelings of pleasure and happiness. This depression combined with the craving to be with the object of our affection can leave us feeling like we need to get back together to get the high we once had.

Typically an abusive relationship (physically or emotionally) follows a pattern, known as the cycle of abuse. This starts with the tension-building phase where you feel like you are walking on eggshells, working double time not to set him off. Then comes the incident, which can include physical, emotional, or verbal abuse. During this stage, there is usually a lot of blaming, anger, threats, and intimidation. This is followed by the honeymoon stage, which is the hook. During this period he acts like the man you fell in love with. He promises he will never do whatever terrible thing he did again. He is romantic and caring. This may include gifts or big gestures. This can create sympathy for the abusive person and further the emotional bond.

This type of trauma bond is especially common in domestic violence situations, with hostages, child abuse, kidnapping victims, or cults. But it can occur in relationships that are emotionally or verbally abusive as well.

Who Is Most Vulnerable To Trauma Bonding

People who have a childhood history of abuse — physical, emotional, sexual, or neglect — are most vulnerable. Growing up in a volatile, neglectful, or abusive home can make this type of behavior seem normal or feel familiar. Having low self-esteem or feeling that you are unlovable can make you overlook unacceptable behavior in order to get some crumbs of love.

Warning Signs of a Trauma Bonding Relationship

Relationships where trauma bonding occurs have many different signs. Ask yourself the following.

  • Have you become isolated from your friends?
  • Is this relationship hot and cold?
  • Has your trust been exploited in the relationship?
  • Do you find yourself obsessing about the relationship and the related conflicts?
  • Do you feel this is the only person who can meet your needs?
  • Do you find yourself walking on egg shells around your partner?
  • Have your friends or family express concern about your relationship?
  • Do you find yourself making excuses for your partner‘s bad behavior?
  • Are you getting showered with love or gifts after an abusive episode?
  • Do you find yourself feeling overly grateful for any attention or affection that is shown to you by your partner?
  • Do you find yourself feeling like you are walking on egg shells, afraid you will set your partner off?
  • Do you find yourself constantly making excuses for him or his behaviors?

What You Can Do to End the Cycle

Leaving an abusive relationship when you have a trauma bond can be very difficult. It is difficult for people who have never had that experience or are not professionals to understand why you don’t just leave. Oftentimes, leaving is a process that takes time.

Here are a few things that you can do that may help.

  1. Get therapy. This can better help you understand why you have been drawn to such a destructive relationship and help you to gather the strength to leave. If finances are a concern, look into low-fee clinics in your area or those that allow for telemedicine therapy.
  2. Call a hotline. It can be very helpful to speak with a domestic violence or women’s help line. They are free and anonymous. This can be a good outlet to talk through some of these issues or to make a safety plan to leave.
  3. Try to create more activities in your life that give you oxytocin and positive connections. Finding things that help you escape, relax, and feel good can help replace some of the destructive choices.
  4. Nurture your connections with people who care about you. Oftentimes, in an abusive relationship, there is a tendency to isolate. Take the time to reach out to old friends and family members who care about you. This support is crucial for you to be able to take care of yourself.

In Hump Day, award-winning psychotherapist and TV host Dr. Jenn Mann answers your sex and relationship questions — unjudged and unfiltered.

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Why Did My Partner Lose His Feelings for Me?

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/peaceful-parenting/202102/why-did-my-partner-lose-his-feelings-me

Key Points:

  • If a partner gradually becomes less attentive and caring, there may be a mismatch in emotional intelligence.
  • Emotional intelligence involves three components: self-awareness, social awareness, and empathy.
  • Healthy relationships require ongoing empathy and understanding for long-term success.

Initially a partner seems attentive, sensitive, and adoring. Yet these traits diminish as the relationship unfolds. One person feels the emotional chasm deeply and is desperate to recover the bond. The other seems cold and indifferent. As one party attempts to dig in and address deeper issues, the other claims everything is fine and avoids any discussion about what he or she is feeling.

In this situation, the person who is left in the dark often feels as if he or she is to blame. Questions like, “Was I too needy, too demanding, or too insecure?” might consume the person. These thoughts are understandable when a partner, without explanation, withdraws love.

Yet the person missing their partner may not have done anything wrong. The rift may be the result of a mismatch in emotional intelligence. Three hallmarks of emotional intelligence include self-awareness, emotional attunement to others (social awareness), and empathy.

At the outset of a relationship, both people are on their best behavior to woo the other. Supportive, complimentary, and kind, a partner may seem as if he or she embodies the characteristics of an emotionally intelligent person. Yet if several key characteristics do not endure, it may indicate he or she lacks the essential ingredients necessary to maintain a healthy and hearty relationship. Three signs may indicate a partner has a low EQ and, therefore, difficulties sustaining closeness in a romantic relationship.

First, the partner lacks self-awareness. He or she is unaware of the impact that his or her words and actions have on a partner. After saying something insensitive, he or she is often shocked and angry to hear the statement affected the partner negatively.

For example, Shannon and Rick are eating lunch with friends. Shannon brags to the group that she is the breadwinner and that she and Rick wouldn’t be taking their trip to the Caribbean if it were not for her.

In the car on the way home, Rick explains that he was embarrassed and hurt by her comments. Shannon fails to see how her words impacted Rick and she defends herself: “I was just telling the truth. I’m not going to lie. If you don’t like it, you need to get a better job.”

In this scenario, Shannon refuses to see how her behavior affects Rick and instead deflects responsibility and projects blame onto Rick. Her inability to look at herself and glean insight exemplifies a deficit in self-awareness.

Alternatively, if Shannon is self-aware, she reflects and attempts to see the situation from Rick’s perspective. Realizing she devalued Rick with her statement, she immediately feels remorse and says, “It was selfish of me to say that. I was wrong. I was trying to impress them and it wasn’t okay to throw you under the bus. I am so sorry.” Due to Shannon’s self-awareness, she is able to quickly resolve a conflict in the relationship.

Detachment from uncomfortable emotions may also indicate a deficiency in self-awareness. Frequently a partner will deflect and project in an effort to avoid uncomfortable emotional states such as accountability and remorse in addition to withdrawing from a discussion to escape feeling discomfort. Both responses may lead to an inability to own one’s part in a conflict and identify the feelings that compel behaviors that hurt a person. The lack of insight may cause this partner to continue repeating the mistake in the relationship.

Second, a partner who is not emotionally attuned to his or her partner may be missing an essential ability necessary for remaining close. Recognizing a person’s emotional state usually leads to a  conscientious response. A failure to do so may breach the connection.

For example, Jane arrives at Taylor’s house after work. Taylor is cleaning her oven and does not notice Jane’s sad expression. Taylor chats about her day and tells Jane to “speed things up” because Jane needs to pick up dinner. Taylor is not sensitive to Jane’s demeanor. Jane quietly confides that she lost her position as lead manager on a project she is passionate about. Taylor, indifferent to Jane’s disappointment, glibly says, “That’s too bad. We’ll talk more tonight about it. You need to go pick up the food.” Later that night, Jane goes home devastated because Taylor forgot to re-visit the issue.

The following day, Jane waits for Taylor to remember she needs support, but instead Taylor texts her and shares the news that her new Yoga matt arrived in the mail. Jane explains to Taylor that she is hurt that Taylor has not offered support. Taylor turns on Jane and tells Jane that she is not a “mind reader” and Jane is “too sensitive.”

On the other hand, let’s say Taylor is in tune with Jane. She notices Jane’s sad expression and quiet demeanor immediately when she enters the kitchen. Taylor drops what she is doing and goes to Jane. She asks if something is wrong. Jane explains her situation and Taylor empathizes, “You are so disappointed. I get it. I would be too. She hugs Jane and says, “Let’s pick up dinner together. We can talk more in the car.”

In this example, Taylor is emotionally attuned to Jane instead of consumed with her own immediate feelings and needs. This allows Taylor the opportunity to be there for Jane. She is conscientious, supportive, and empathic which sustains the closeness in the relationship.

Third, a partner’s lack of empathy may sabotage the closeness in the relationship. Empathy is the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes in order to attempt to truly understand their experience. Resonating with a person’s feeling state allows the partner to feel understood, less alone, and connected to the person who “gets it.” Empathy does not require a partner to fix a person’s problem or provide advice. It simply equates to resonating and communicating an understanding of what the person feels.

For example, Ron is getting out of the shower and he slips and falls. He lands on his hip. Shelly is in the next room and doesn’t get up to check on him. While staring at the TV she snickers at his clumsiness and yells, “Be careful!” Ron hobbles to his room and gets dressed. The pain subsides but he is stunned that Shelly appears unconcerned. When he enters the living room, Shelly says, “You need to get a better shower door. That one leaks. No wonder you fell.”

Conversely, Shelly hears a thud. She runs to the bathroom door and asks if Ron is okay. When Ron opens the door, she says, “That must have hurt. It sounded like you went down hard. I bet you’re sore.” She sits with him for a minute to make sure he is okay.

Getting close is easy but staying close requires that two people possess certain emotional capabilities. A discrepancy in emotional intelligence may cause a division. An emotionally intelligent partner may face the issue head on and work hard to mend the relationship while a partner with low emotional intelligence wishes to avoid the discomfort necessary to resolve conflict. His or her response may be to abandon the relationship. Two people with low emotional intelligence may be a match, but often the union is superficial and based on a mutual fueling of egos. Nonetheless, if a person feels emotionally abandoned by a partner, it may not be his or her fault. It may be the result of a mismatch in emotional intelligence.

9 Signs Your Partner Doesn’t Respect You Enough

While fun dates, a shared sense of humor, and lots of love will take you far, nothing’s more important than having respect in a relationship. And knowing the signs your partner doesn’t respect you can help you spot a problem before it spirals.

“Respect is an important component of every healthy relationship, yet it’s absolutely critical for the long-term success of a romantic relationship,” Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. “When a sense of solid respect is present, partners tend to feel more appreciated, seen, and safe in the relationship. When respect is not present, partners will tend to feel wary, angry, and deeply resentful.”

Disrespect can take many forms, but it typically has the same outcome. Studies have shown that a lack of respect is one of the main predictors of a breakup. And while breaking up is often the best course of action when a partner is rude, disloyal, and uncaring, it may be possible to inspire positive improvements.

As Manly says, “This dynamic can be changed with conscious effort. Respect — like most key principles in relationships — is an attribute and a skill that can be honed with mindful attention.” It might mean pointing out areas that need to change, going to couples therapy together, and — if you’re willing — giving a partner a chance to change.

It’s up to you what happens next. But experts say if you spot any of these signs, it’s a sign your partner doesn’t respect you, and that means the relationship needs work.

1

They Ignore Your Boundaries

Healthy relationships are all about establishing and respecting one another’s boundaries. So if a partner repeatedly ignores or tramples all over yours, it’s clear a “lack of respect is at work,” Manly says.

What’s more, boundary crossing can take many forms, and often gets worse over time. “Whether a partner borrows money and doesn’t return the funds, invades personal space, or engages in unwanted physical advances,” Manly says, none of it should be taken lightly.

2

They Keep Lying To You

There’s a reason why lying is a leading cause of breakups. As Manly says, “Dishonesty is one of the most disrespectful and destructive behaviors in any relationship.” It shows your partner doesn’t care about the impact their actions have on your life, and that they’re only thinking about themselves.

Lying has no place in a respectful relationship, and yet it’s something that’s so easy to brush under the proverbial rug. “People tend to rationalize overt lying or errors of omission,” Manly says, but “dishonest behaviors are indefensible — and always a sign of disrespect.”

3

They Give You The Silent Treatment

While everyone’s entitled to a breather when they’re upset, take note if your partner consistently gives you the silent treatment whenever trouble arises in your relationship. Think shutting down, sulking in another room, or sending your calls to voicemail.

“The silent treatment functions to keep you in suspense of what will happen, and unsure of what you did wrong and how bad it is,” Dr. Fran Walfish, a psychotherapist and author, tells Bustle. It also makes it impossible for you to share your side of the story, which is why it’s considered a form of control.

In fact, this manipulation technique has a name — stonewalling — and according to research from Dr. John Gottman, often means end of a relationship is near because it’s just so toxic.

4

They Use Your Insecurities Against You

In a relationship, you’re supposed to feel safe enough to open up, share deep thoughts, and lean on your partner for comfort and support. So if yours ever takes the things you share and throws them back in your face — whether it’s to hurt you, win an argument, etc. — consider it a major red flag.

“When a partner speaks down about you, or uses your insecurities and limitations to their advantage, […[ these all are indications that your partner does not have enough respect for you,” Josh Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle.

If you spot this habit, it may be something you can work on overcoming as a couple. “Transgressions should be apologized for and corrected,” Klapow says. But if your partner continues to disrespect you in this way, it may be best to end the relationship and move on.

5

They Call You Names

Speaking of arguments, take note of how your partner acts during them. “From screaming, name-calling, and […] threats, verbal abuse is a significant sign of disrespect in a relationship,” Manly says. “When we don’t pause to carefully consider and choose our words — and when we purposefully engage in damaging verbal attacks — disrespect is evident in the weaponization of words.”

It might also show up in the form of “light-hearted” jokes that actually feel mean. “Mockery, misplaced humor, and sarcasm are subtle signs your partner disrespects you,” QuaVaundra Perry, PhD, ABPP, a board-certified psychologist, tells Bustle. “While humor should be part of any healthy relationship, it should not be used to make light of your concerns.”

6

They Always Interrupt When You’re Talking

Does your partner consistently talk over you, interrupt your stories, speak for you, or finish your sentences? “When we cut off a person midstream, we are sending a message that says, ‘What I have to say is more important than your thoughts. I don’t respect what you have to offer,'” Manly says.

It’s not only rude, but it often points to deeper held beliefs, including thinking they’re “superior” — which is obviously a problem. “As a general rule, respect means that our partner treats us in all situations as an equal,” Klapow says. “That means being courteous, communicating clearly, and asking questions about our wishes and preferences, and treating us as they would themselves.”

7

They Don’t Value Your Time

If you’re always the one changing your plans to accommodate your partner’s, if your dreams are constantly put on hold in favor of theirs, or if your partner never seems interested in what or who is important to you, Perry says it’s all a sign of disrespect. “This type of disregard is inappropriate,” she says, “and signals your partner does not equally appreciate your values.”

8

They Have Personal Habits That Are Inconsiderate

In a long-term relationship, it’s totally normal to occasionally feel irritated by some of your partner’s qualities or quirks — like the fact they chew with their mouth open. What’s not normal is if their habits are purposefully inconsiderate, or if your partner refuses to communicate or compromise with you.

“Personal habits can become big issues between partners, particularly when one partner feels disrespected by the other’s actions,” Manly says. “Basic cleanliness and lifestyle habits, such as washing dishes, cleaning countertops, etc., can become highly problematic when one partner feels disrespected by the other person’s lack of attentiveness.”

So let’s say you approach your partner about wanting to have a more fair and balanced relationship, maybe by divvying up these chores. If they repeatedly don’t make an attempt to change, or actively do things to go against what you talked about, it’s a sure sign of disrespect.

9

They Don’t Allow You Privacy Or Independence

In a respectful, equal, and balanced relationship, both partners remain individuals who are free to make their own decisions, pursue their dreams, and go about their day. But if your partner doesn’t respect you, it’ll start to feel like none of that is an option.

“A partner can demonstrate disrespect if they do not allow you to have time to yourself and require you to explain any activities done without them,” Perry says. “It can also show up in their snooping through your personal belongings, such as your mail or journal.”

If you ever feel like your partner doesn’t respect your privacy or independence — or if any of these other signs feel familiar — take an objective look at your relationship. Your partner may be able to make a change. But this might also be the push you need to move on.

Sources & Experts:

Dr. Fran Walfish, psychotherapist and author

Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist

Josh Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist

QuaVaundra Perry, PhD, ABPP, board-certified psychologist

This article was originally published on

Gottman Series – Building Love Maps

Drs John and Julie Gottman have studied couples for over 30 years using the scientific method. They have created two categories of couples: the Masters & the Disasters. In this series, learn 3 behaviors that the Masters practice to keep their relationships healthy and strong. This week, I discuss the Master’s first behavior: Building Love Maps.

Sound Relationship House: Build Love Maps

The Sound Relationship House: Build Love Maps

The Sound Relationship House: Build Love Maps

Love Maps help you develop greater personal insight and a more detailed understanding of each other’s life and world.

One of the most significant theories created by The Gottman Institute is the Sound Relationship House. In Dr. John Gottman’s book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” those seven principles are connected to each level or floor of the Sound Relationship House. Those levels are:

  1. Build Love Maps
  2. Share Fondness and Admiration
  3. Turn Towards Instead of Away
  4. The Positive Perspective
  5. Manage Conflict
  6. Make Life Dreams Come True
  7. Create Shared Meaning

And the two walls holding up the house are trust and commitment, which are essential to all relationships. The first level of the Sound Relationship House is Build Love Maps. The principle of building Love Maps is simply this: knowing the little things about your partner’s life creates a strong foundation for your friendship and intimacy.

Why Love Maps are so important

The research found that emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s worlds. This is having a richly detailed Love Map: the term for that part of your brain where you store all the personally important information about your partner’s life.

These couples made plenty of cognitive room in their minds for their relationship. They remember the major events in each other’s histories, and they keep updating their information as the facts and feelings of their spouse’s world change. They know each other’s goals in life, worries, and dreams. Without such a love map, you can’t know your partner.

From knowledge springs not only love, but the fortitude to weather marital storms. Couples who have detailed love maps of each other’s worlds are far better prepared to cope with stressful events and conflict. Partners who are already are intently aware of what each other are feeling and thinking aren’t as thrown off course by changes and stress in each other’s lives. But if you don’t start off with a deep knowledge of each other, it’s easy for your relationship to lose its way when your lives shift with the challenges and stressors that come to you over time.

How to build Love Maps

Start creating and strengthening your Love Maps today. Try to answer the following questions about each other and find out how much you know about your partner’s world.

Love Map Exercise:

  • Name your partner’s two closest friends.
  • What was your partner wearing when you first met?
  • Name one of your partner’s hobbies.
  • What stresses your partner right now?
  • Describe in detail what your partner did today or yesterday.
  • What is your partner’s fondest unrealized dream?
  • What is one of your partner’s greatest fears or disaster scenarios?
  • What is my favorite way to spend an evening?
  • What is one of your partner’s favorite ways to be soothed?
  • Name a person your partner dislikes.
  • What is your partner’s ideal job?
  • What medical problems does your partner worry about?

Asking these questions will help you develop greater personal insight and a more detailed “map” of each other’s lives and worlds. However, getting to know your partner better is an ongoing process. Updating your love maps regularly together by sitting down and catching up. Remember, the more you know about each other, the more you feel a strong connection, and the more profound and rewarding your relationship will be.


The Marriage Minute is an email newsletter from The Gottman Institute that will improve your marriage in 60 seconds or less. Got a minute? Sign up below.

‘I Only Want to Date Men Who’ve Been Through Therapy!’

Source: ‘I Only Want to Date Men Who’ve Been Through Therapy!’

Dear Polly,

I recently went through a mental health crisis triggered by burnout, then a breakup, both right before lockdown. I feel good now, and I know a big part of what got me here is having consistently done the work to honor my inconvenient feelings over the past half-decade. I have worked with a therapist to unpack how my childhood fuels my perfectionism, I work every day to cultivate self-compassion for my deeply flawed self and others. I’m 30, and though I love solitude and I’m too pessimistic about climate change to procreate, I also believe that being in deep, sustained relation with another person is one of the big wonders and joys of being alive. I know at some point I’ll start dating again. That’s where I falter.

My relationship was the serious, cohabiting type. People were probably expecting some kind of schmaltzy Instagram engagement announcement from us any day. Neither of us cared about these heteronormative milestones, but we had different expectations of what it takes to make a long-term relationship work. I may not have been set on marriage, but I did want a partner that actively showed up to connect with me on an emotional level, with each of us mining the depths of our own bullshit to learn how to better relate to one another and build a productive and joyful life together. My ex, on the other hand, was confused about why I always wanted to make things more complicated than they needed to be. He wanted to coast through life, never feeling the depths of despair but never quite reaching the height of joy either.

I live in the U.K., and I’m struck by the fact that a significant number of women I know are in some form of this exact relationship dynamic: emotionally avoidant men who are disinclined (both culturally and personally) to see any reason to fix that, partnered with emotionally evolved (if anxious) high-functioning women who are secretly harboring hope that their partner one day decides to Do the Work to make the relationship better. I hoped my ex would Do the Work for so long. We started going to couples therapy in the last few months of our relationship, but by then it was too late. As someone who thinks doing your own shadow work is the most fascinating and urgent part of being alive, it was hard to find myself dating someone who more or less saw the whole thing as a frivolous lark. My feelings sent him into fight or flight mode every single time we had conflict.

As the dust settles, I’m wondering: Is it okay for me to categorically state that I will never again bind my life to someone who hasn’t been through therapy? I know therapy may not be for everyone on earth, but I’ve yet to see an alternative that is rigorous and practical. If I do move forward with that belief, I have to acknowledge that my dating pool will be almost comically small.

Friends say I just need to get over this one; we all fall in love again. And sure, maybe one day I’ll fall so madly in love with someone that I’m able to overlook the warning signs of their emotional avoidance. But I’m not sure I actually want that to happen. Nothing feels more important to me than being able to honor the full spectrum of my big, inconvenient, and complex feelings for the rest of my life, without any shame or suppression — even if that means I have to do that while steering my own ship.

Am I the Avoidant One?

Dear AITAO,

In my experience, most men are avoidant, most people in Western societies share the belief that vulnerability is weakness, and many high-functioning professionals have a stunning ability to gloss over emotions and back away from human complexities —  in themselves, in others, in the world. Our disjointed, individualistic, workaholic culture feeds us the myth that personal achievement and personal wealth are the foundations of human happiness, and anything that slows or blocks a person’s path to riches and glory is an inherent waste of time or, at the very least, a questionable use of one’s resources.

Many people today seem to believe that feelings are inconvenient and thorny and need to be swept out of the way as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Moreover, some people treat therapy more like a SoulCycle class: less a way of exploring their darkness, and more a way of becoming a more smooth and efficient animal.

And as you know, efficiency is somewhat at odds with the patience and openness required by deep self-discovery. When you’re Doing the Work, exploring past traumas, understanding your own shadow, cultivating an inner life, and excavating your shame, you’re seeking out new mysteries and new layers all the time. Being surprised or embarrassed or alarmed by what you find inside yourself is part of what makes it all so rewarding. It’s part of dare I say the FUN of therapy and of independent self-discovery. So in my opinion, that’s the big question you want to ask when you encounter a prospective mate. More than “Is this man avoidant?” or “Is this man in therapy?” you want to ask, “Is this man curious and open to learning new things — about me, about himself, about his past, about my past, about the world?”

When someone really wants to understand how your mind and heart work, it shows. People like that ask open-ended questions and listen to the answers. They’re attracted to the workings of your mind, thrilled by the big ideas you throw into the mix, excited by the process of excavation itself. In contrast, less curious people will attach tight little morals to the things you say — “You got through it, that’s the important part.” “Sounds like a good learning experience.” “Boy, that’s a lot. Glad it all worked out fine in the end.” People who talk like that are anxious to wrap everything up and then close the book, put it back on the shelf, and never think about it again.

I’m guessing that’s not remotely your style, based on your letter. It’s not my style, either. And when I’m dealing with someone who keeps pushing me to reach some predetermined conclusion, like it’s not just uncomfortable but it’s aggravating for them to have to stay in some exploratory nowhere land with me, I usually don’t end up investing as much in that relationship. I prefer conversations that spin out and remain open ended. I like people who get excited when they encounter new wrinkles and layers and ideas along the way. I love curious people who enjoy rambling, collaborative conversations about emotions and ideas and everything else under the sun.

But let me also say this: I really like avoidant men (and avoidant people in general). Everyone in my family of origin is avoidant. They feel like my tribe. So my favorite people tend to be a weird blend of these two worlds: intellectually and emotionally curious people who are pretty open but still just a tiny bit shut down and insecure in various ways. I like people who are conflicted but curious, who lead with their intellect but who are also trying to evolve emotionally in spite of not knowing what the fuck they’re doing on that front most of the time.

It can be a little limiting to think of men as either totally avoidant/unavailable or completely available, open, sensitive, feelings-embracing. The truth is much more nuanced than that. I would caution you to use those labels to describe just one dimension of what you’re looking for, with a lot of men falling somewhere in between the two extremes.

And also? Pay close attention to what you find attractive! These days most of us are so cautious about labeling other people as good or bad, my type or not my type, healthy or toxic that we forget to trust and also explore our own attractions and desires without judgment. “Oh no, I’m chasing another remote man!” we tell ourselves, only to discover that the man in question isn’t all that remote, and in fact, we’re naturally drawn to men who are just absent-minded or preoccupied because there’s a lot going on in their heads. Likewise, it’s easy to write someone off as too confessional or sensitive for you at first simply because your initial conversation just happened to start off that way, but if you got to know the person more slowly, they’d seem more balanced over time.

Now, it’s true that the world is packed with emotionally incurious people. And why wouldn’t it be? It takes a certain amount of confidence and security to want to know more about trauma, darkness, and layers of emotional complexity, in yourself or others. It takes a crisis or a major loss for most people to face themselves or to want to understand their own desires and needs. Something big needs to go wrong: a career setback, a divorce, the death of a loved one, a scary health diagnosis, a big falling out with friends. Otherwise, why go looking for trouble, particularly if other people have hinted that you’re a little shutdown? Most people are pretty insecure and pretty afraid of finding out the truth about who they are. They don’t even want to know what their true desires are, because what if those desires don’t align with how they’re already living or where they’re pointed? The risks of slowing down, stalling out, and questioning everything are too great.

Even though most people value human connection enormously, they often don’t realize that what’s blocking their path to happiness is their inability to feel their own emotions and connect meaningfully with the people around them. Many people struggle with intimacy. There’s a panicked voice inside that kicks in any time they’re about to get closer to someone, that urges them to move away from any strong connection. Even if they start out showing up, their buried insecurities and traumas make them increasingly remote and cold with the people who are, ironically, the closest to them emotionally. Some part of their brains is always trying to keep them safe from all emotional investment.

Some of these people are avoidant and some are anxious, but mostly, they’re afraid. They don’t want to be vulnerable, they’re afraid to connect, they don’t want to be seen by others. Their underlying belief is that once they have enough friends, find a mate, and start to succeed at their careers, happiness will magically be theirs. They have to hit the wall sometimes to realize that they don’t feel happy because they’ve put their feelings aside for so long that they can’t access them anymore.

So part of what you’re looking for is actually bravery: someone who’s curious, engaged, interested in ideas, and unafraid of the unknown. Are men like this common? Definitely not, but they do exist. Should you lower your standards or cast a wider net simply because men like this are rare? I don’t think so. I think you should dare to believe that the kind of man you’re looking for will materialize before your eyes if you open your heart wide enough. Is that deluded? Is it magical thinking? I don’t personally care that much if it is. I’ve seen it work too many times not to believe in it wholeheartedly.

If you want to fall in love again, it doesn’t help to tell yourself a story about how rare it is to find someone worthwhile. Instead, you have to keep believing in your own process of self-discovery and keep enjoying the folds of your mind. When you embrace all of the possibilities offered by the world and enjoy the endless potential for passion and joy within you, you stand out to other people who are trying to do the same thing. Just taking that leap and believing in joy is sometimes the most important step. This world is big and full of beauty. Keep reminding yourself of that, every day, and watch yourself become a sparkling model of the love and the joy you seek.

Polly

 

10 Ways Narcissists and Alcoholics Are Similar | Psychology Today

Source: 10 Ways Narcissists and Alcoholics Are Similar | Psychology Today

How to cope with the challenges of relating with narcissists or addicted people

Just Dance/Shutterstock
Source: Just Dance/Shutterstock

While narcissism is a personality disorder and alcoholism is an addiction, narcissists and alcoholics share several characteristics. Recognizing these commonalities can help you understand and cope with people who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, untreated alcoholism, or both.

Both narcissists and alcoholics tend to be:

  1. Driven by their drug of choice. Narcissists’ drug of choice is attention. Alcoholics’ fix is a drink. Both narcissists and alcoholics tend to view others as either enablers (who will help them get attention or maintain their addiction) or as potential threats (who interfere with their campaign of self-aggrandizement or their freedom to drink).
  2. Opportunistic. Lacking empathy and feeling superior, narcissists feel they have the right to do whatever they want, despite the rules or costs to others. By the same token, alcoholics become highly resourceful at procuring drink. In a sense, addictions such as alcohol are narcissistic acts — putting a drug above all else, no matter what the cost to others.
  3. Shame-based. Avoiding shame drives much of narcissists’ behavior. Narcissists often shame others to cover their own inadequacies. For alcoholics, drinking numbs or masks the shame they carry.
  4. Self-absorbed. Both narcissists and alcoholics feel entitled. For narcissists, relationships are all about them. For alcoholics, the freedom to drink is primary. While both narcissists and alcoholics may seem to function normally when not triggered by a loss of narcissistic supply or when not under the influence of alcohol, over time their self-absorption will inevitably emerge.
  5. Untruthful. Narcissism is characterized by pretense. Narcissists feel they can do no wrong and lie freely to promote their image. Similarly, denial keeps addiction in place. Denial manifests for alcoholics in many ways, such as saying they can stop drinking anytime they want, lying about when they drink, or refusing to acknowledge that their drinking has costs. That’s why participants in 12-step programs introduce themselves followed by the phrase, “I’m an alcoholic.” It helps break denial.
  6. Avoidant of introspection. Narcissists shun self-reflection. Doing so would risk encountering the emptiness they carry. Similarly, addiction can cover insecurities and lack of self-esteem. As long as an addict uses, those feelings go largely unaddressed. The longer feelings are unaddressed, the more daunting it can become to look inward and face them.
  7. Blaming. Narcissists are quick to blame others for making them act as they do. Narcissists rarely apologize or admit wrongdoing. That would feel weak, which is anathema to narcissists, who must feel superior and beyond reproach. Similarly, alcoholics have plenty of excuses for why they drink. Although many alcoholics may apologize for their behavior and promise to turn over a new leaf, without a commitment to recovery and plan for doing so, their repeated apologies and broken promises eventually carry little weight with those close to them.
  8. Emotionally inauthentic. Narcissists have “as-if” emotions — demonstrations of feeling that are designed to present a positive image or manipulate others. Similarly, alcoholics can shed crocodile tears over the costs of their addiction, but such displays often are meaningless. In addition, the defense mechanisms of narcissists and the power of addiction for alcoholics make it difficult for either to sustain long-term authentic relationships.
  9. Prone to withdraw, stonewall, or attack when confronted. Narcissists and alcoholics can become highly defensive if you question their actions or point out their unhealthy behaviors. Both may sulk, become non-communicative, or lash out at you for pointing out the faults and dysfunction they desperately seek to deny or hide.
  10. Destructive both to self and others. Those close to both narcissists and alcoholics experience deprivation, rejection, and feeling manipulated. In addition, over time, both narcissists and alcoholics sacrifice their well-being, reputation, relationships, and self-worth in pursuit of feeling superior or the highs from drinking.

Some individuals have both Narcissistic Personality Disorder and an active addiction. Coping with someone with a dual diagnosis can be more difficult than if that person suffered from only narcissism or untreated alcoholism.

The following approaches can help you cope with someone who is a narcissist, an alcoholic, or both:

  • Recognize that people with personality disorders and addictions hold self-serving and distorted views of themselves and others that they are resistant to give up.
  • Recognize that you can’t stop another’s narcissistic or alcoholic behaviors.
  • Recognize that you don’t cause someone else’s narcissism or addiction.
  • Don’t make excuses for the dysfunctional behavior or narcissists or alcoholics.
  • Don’t try to protect narcissists or alcoholics from the consequences of their dysfunctional actions.
  • Be clear on what you will and will not tolerate from a narcissist or addict.

Copyright © 2020 by Dan Neuharth PhD MFT

An earlier version of this post appeared on PsychCentral

The Impact Of An Avoidant Personality On Relationships

Source: The Impact Of An Avoidant Personality On Relationships

A few years ago, 32-year-old Kari* formed “a deep emotional bond that began to border on romantic” with a woman she met over Twitter. She was in a relationship at the time so she didn’t take it further. But after leaving her boyfriend earlier this year, Kari decided to reconnect with her.
“Things quickly became intimate between us,” she recalls. When the woman sent her a thoughtful gift in August, Kari decided “it was time to really try and make something out of this and show her I care.”
Kari promised to travel across the country to visit the woman for her birthday (COVID permitting). She’d take her to a spa and a fancy hotel, they’d explore a quaint town together. “I told her I’d handle everything – the planning, the finances. I was getting a bonus at work so it wouldn’t be a financial burden.” The pair stayed in touch in the weeks leading up to the birthday and Kari confirmed the trip was still happening.
The kicker? “Her birthday came and went and I planned nothing, did nothing, said nothing.”
Kari is giving us an insight into the mind of an avoidant woman, an attachment style more typically associated with people who identify as men, whether it’s the elusive dreamboat on Hinge who ghosts you several dates in or the commitment-phobic boyfriend who pulls away, claiming to feel “suffocated”, every time you initiate closeness.
“Children who have some of their needs met but many neglected tend to develop an avoidant style.
BHAVNA JANI-NEGANDHI
”In the 1950s, British psychologist and psychiatrist John Bowlby developed attachment theory, a framework for understanding how our earliest relationships with our parents or primary caregivers can affect our lifelong social and emotional development. It has since been applied to adult relationships, notably by psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr Amir Levine and the psychologist Rachel Heller in Attached, a guide to using attachment theory to find love. By identifying your own attachment style and that of your partner or potential partner, Levine and Heller argue, you can build stronger, more fulfilling relationships.
There are three main attachment styles: secure, anxious and avoidant (take the test yourself to find out your own). Secures are comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving, while the anxiously attached are preoccupied with their relationships and struggle to feel secure with their partner. Avoidants like Kari are independent, emotionally distant and tend to equate intimacy with a loss of independence.
“Children who have some of their needs met but many neglected tend to develop an avoidant style,” explains clinical psychologist Bhavna Jani-Negandhi. As a result of their experiences, these children learn to rely on themselves to meet their own needs and come to believe that they don’t need others for intimacy and emotional support.
As adults, avoidants may select emotionally unavailable partners or be emotionally unavailable themselves, says chartered clinical psychologist and Counselling Directory member Dr Jane Major. They may “struggle to voice their needs and emotions or share their vulnerability due to a, perhaps unconscious, fear of being exploited, abandoned or left alone with unbearable feelings, based on past experiences.”
While Kari says she “had every intention and every desire to follow through”, she couldn’t. The woman ended things soon after. “She said she couldn’t do this anymore – I’d hurt her too deeply and had shown no accountability.” Kari apologised and reluctantly accepted her need to move on.
Then, a few weeks ago, the woman reached out about her dog passing away, giving Kari a final chance to make things up to her. “I didn’t respond.” Kari explains herself: “It wouldn’t have been fair for me to emotionally engage her, it would’ve been selfish, bordering on taking advantage of her painful experience, because I knew I’d just continue to lean in to my avoidant attachment style.”
Kari first discovered she was avoidant when she started therapy 12 years ago. The therapist thought learning about attachment styles would help her understand some of her “bad interpersonal behaviour” (Kari’s words) which tainted her earliest friendships and evidently continues to blight her romantic life. “Everything in my life suddenly made sense – why I couldn’t form the same close bonds as others, why I never reached out or felt lonely, why I was obsessed with video games.”
“I realise there are some complex and difficult things I need to tackle before engaging others in the future. It was a painful lesson that I wish I never had to learn – or at least, not with another person that I cared about involved.
KARI, 32
”The day after Kari ended things with the woman, she brought up her avoidant attachment style in therapy again. “Now, I realise there are some complex and difficult things I need to tackle before engaging others in the future. It was a painful lesson that I wish I never had to learn – or at least, not with another person that I cared about involved.”
Kari says it was “the worst thing I’ve ever done to someone” and left her feeling the lowest she’s ever felt. Yet each time a relationship, like that one, ends, she admits to feeling “relieved and happy to be alone again. I get exhausted and am glad that they have some perceived fault I could hyper-focus on so I don’t have to carry on the relationship.”
Kari pinpoints the origin of her own avoidant behaviour to her relationship with her mother: a “career-driven [and] emotionally aloof” woman who gave birth to her too young and, as the sole provider for the household with a prestigious marketing career, was unable to care for her during the early years.
As a kid, Kari was constantly labelled a “flake”, “aloof” and “unreliable”. She never showed up for plans with friends, even if she really wanted to go. “My friends joked that they always had to physically come and get me. My mum even paid me to leave the house.”
Kari’s avoidant attachment style also affects her familial relationships – she missed her grandfather passing away because she “felt uncomfortable about the emotion involved with [her] family” and several adult friendships have dissolved, too.
“I’ve burned many friendship bridges down when the issue of accountability for my unreliability comes up and my inability to reciprocate feelings in a traditional way.” She’s had to learn to manage expectations with new people who come into her life – they need to know that she’ll rarely attend birthday parties, go to the cinema or show affection towards them (despite perhaps wanting to). Warning people of what they can expect from her as a friend – that is, very little – “is key to living a happy life for me, so I try to invest in explaining myself to people I want to keep around.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re my soulmate or the coolest person in the world. My brain simply doesn’t know how to attach and all I can do is work to reduce the harm it can do.”
Although Kari’s story is testament to the fact that women can have an avoidant attachment style, avoidant behaviours are typically associated with men. Psychotherapist and Counselling Directory member Anne Glynn says that while avoidant attachment appears to be more common in men, she’s worked with “a significant number” of avoidant women. “In most cases they will have experienced childhood trauma, such as sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, parental violence or the death of a parent.”
Glynn has also worked with several men in relationships with avoidant women, “who have suffered because of their attempts to maintain intimacy and trust with them.” The reason that avoidance is more typically associated with men, Glynn believes, is because some of the attitudes we associate with this style can seem ‘masculine’, such as toughness, lack of emotion and independence.
“We all recognise the stereotype of the hard-to-pin-down ‘commitment-phobe’ and this term is usually reserved for men. We imagine that women will want to seek relationships, love, commitment, intimacy and motherhood and it is perhaps unsettling for us to think of women who don’t conform to our expectations,” Glynn concludes.
But as with any behaviour that you’re committed to stamping out, it’s possible to change your attachment behaviours. Therapy is highly recommended, says Barbara Honey, senior practice consultant at Relate, to understand how you first developed this trait. “Taking small risks, like daring to express an emotion or gradually allowing yourself to get closer to someone” can also help avoidants change their patterns.
And if you’re in a relationship with an avoidant, “you may frequently find yourself anxious and afraid that your expectations of security and clarity are unreasonable.” Glynn reassures: “They aren’t. Levine and Heller [the authors of Attached] say, ‘You are only as needy as your unmet needs’.”
As for Kari, she encourages her fellow avoidants to try therapy and be completely honest in their sessions. “Maybe one day you’ll be able to form neurotypical emotional bonds, maybe you can overcome the vast distance between you and others. I haven’t reached that part of my journey. I don’t think I will. For now, communication is the key to my happiness and the key to not hurting others around me.”
*Surname withheld to protect interviewee’s identity

People With Iron-Clad Platonic and Romantic Relationships Share This One Trait | Well+Good

I really like the message here.

Rory

Source: People With Iron-Clad Platonic and Romantic Relationships Share This One Trait | Well+Good

Mary Grace Garis

Photo: Getty Images/nd3000

Even amid a pandemic, finding creative ways to connect with others is so important. But since this cortisol-spiking year has also been ripe for spiking interpersonal friction about everything from mask-wearing compliance and politics to human rights issues and beyond, keeping bonds with loved ones healthy and happy is no small task. According to a recent meta-analysis of 174 papers and 203 unique samples published in the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, though, the key to having smoother platonic, romantic, and familial relationships is psychological flexibility.

Psychological flexibility (also known as “emotional flexibility” and “mindful flexibility”) refers to being mindful and present when faced with an interpersonal conflict or stressful situation. It encompasses having a tool kit of life skills to help you manage any points of tension that may arise. And, according to licensed marriage and family counselor, Melissa Divaris Thompson, LMFT, psychological flexibility allows you to see things from a bigger and broader perspective, even when relationships become challenging.

“Being psychologically flexible allows you to see the other person’s side and work on a compromise.” —Melissa Divaris Thompson, LMFT

“Being psychologically flexible allows you to see the other person’s side and work on a compromise,” says Thompson. “This can bring safety and trust into a relationship and allow [someone] to feel heard and seen. It also allows you to be able to have difficult conversations to work toward a deeper feeling of intimacy. Being psychologically flexible in relationships is necessary for keeping the relationship feeling balanced, fair, and intimate.”

This grace under pressure can be especially meaningful for couples. The research also found that psychological inflexibility—which is marked by inattentiveness, avoidance of difficult thoughts and feelings, and getting derailed by various setbacks and experiences—can have potentially damaging results, like lowered satisfaction and emotional support, and increased conflict and aggression.

Basically, when you focus on increasing your emotional flexibility, you increase the freedom and space to find your own truth while simultaneously hearing out the other people in your life. You’re also better able to gracefully pivot when things, uh, don’t necessarily go your way in a given situation. So, how can you increase your ability to practice psychological flexibility?

Essentially, psychological flexibility encompasses a variety of mindset switches, including the following five:

  • Being open to new experiences, no matter how hard they might be
  • Having a mindful awareness on the present matter at hand in day-to-day life
  • Allowing yourself to process feelings without clinging to them
  • Making contact with core values, even on particularly stressful days
  • Persevering toward goals, even in the face of setbacks

If any of those factors are things you typically have challenges with following, the best strategy for increasing your psychological flexibility is to increase your own self-awareness. “The more effective and best way to be more psychologically flexible is to do your own inner work,” says Thompson. “This could look like psychotherapy, meditation, or any other inner reflection. Or, it could simply involve taking time just for yourself and getting clear about how you feel about certain things.”

Making Amends – Experience Life

An excellent primer on the subject.

Rory

Source: Making Amends – Experience Life

Psychologist Tamar Chansky, PhD, on how to gracefully say you’re sorry.

Woman and man hugging after reconciliation

Expert Source: Tamar Chansky, PhD, author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: Four Simple Steps to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want (DaCapo Lifelong, 2012)

You owe someone you care about an apology. Perhaps you had an argument with your spouse in which you blew up and said things you regret. Maybe you neglected an important obligation, and inconvenienced and really angered the person who had to fill in for you. Or you did something selfish and thoughtless that wounded a friend.

Time has passed — weeks, months, perhaps even years — and you haven’t approached the injured party to apologize and make amends. Your initial resistance to saying you’re sorry might have been the result of an anger hangover or some other uncomfortable emotion. But now time has passed, and your procrastination hangs over you. The incident was difficult enough — now you have to come to terms with your delay and the other bad feelings it may have caused.

Owing an apology and not making it is a little like having a toothache: You think you can ignore the pain, but it has a way of gnawing at you, refusing to leave you in peace. How to get out of the trap? Psychologist Tamar Chansky suggests a few simple strategies for making amends.

Barriers To Overcome

  • Fear of the wronged person’s anger. We often procrastinate in the first place because we worry that the person we’ve wronged is upset with us and we’ll have to bear the brunt of that fury — made worse, of course, by the intervening time. Apologizing, we fear, will only stir up bad feelings. So we let sleeping dogs lie and accept the lesser misery of avoiding the situation.
  • Shame-based resistance. Many people resist apologizing, Chansky says, because admitting that they did something wrong activates their shame. They identify doing something wrong, and saying so, with being a bad person across the board. “And nobody wants to sign up for that,” she points out.
  • Apology as a sign of weakness. “Many of us have been raised to resist apologizing,” Chansky says, “because we’ve been taught that it’s a sign of weakness.” We may fear that the person we are approaching will see us as vulnerable and take advantage of us.
  • Residual resentment. “When we think that the other person was in the wrong, too, and actually owes us an apology as well, we may be reluctant to go first, or to apologize at all,” says Chansky.
  •  The idea that your apology is too late. “Many of us were taught by our parents to apologize too quickly,” says Chansky. “We may have been forced to apologize before we were ready, before we really felt sorry. As grownups, then, we may think that the time that’s elapsed has diminished the value of our apology, that it’s become like stale bread.” We’ve missed our chance, we think, to really have an impact.
  •  Fear that it’s not a big deal. It sounds counterintuitive, but Chansky points out that one barrier to apologizing might be fear that the other person has forgotten the wrong or the slight, or that the issue wasn’t a big one for him or her in the first place; if we bring it up, we’ll learn that we aren’t as important to that person as we thought we were. The result might be that we feel embarrassed and worry that we look foolish, “hung-up,” or obsessive.

Strategies For Success

  • Realize that a genuine apology usually takes time. Chansky points out that “instant apologies” like those our parents may have insisted we make can be premature and unconvincing if we don’t really feel sorrow or remorse. Part, or perhaps all, of our delay in saying we’re sorry may be the natural development of those feelings over time. It’s not an excuse for further delay, now that we realize we were in the wrong, but it’s a good reminder not to be impossibly hard on ourselves.
  • Think of time as your ally. If a lot of time has passed between the incident and the apology, Chansky says, the person to whom you owe the apology may actually value your action more, not less. “Given the time that’s passed, you could so easily have not apologized, but you did. The fact that you are making the effort now only increases the significance of the act. A sincere apology never ‘goes bad.’” Do not, however, use this as a justification for more misery-inducing procrastination.
  • Put your fault in perspective. “Being able to see the thing we’ve done as simply one action that wasn’t right, not a stain on our whole character or our whole life, can keep us out of the bog of shame,” says Chansky. “We’re apologizing for something we did, not for our whole existence.”
  • See openness as a sign of strength. Apology, which is the act of putting the real you forward — flaws and all — rather than hiding out in fear, is a sign of strength of character, not weakness. And, says Chansky, it will likely be seen as such by the person to whom you are apologizing.
  •  Do it for yourself. “You’re apologizing not to get a particular outcome,” says Chansky, “but to do the right thing from your side and clear your conscience.” This will help you keep your equilibrium if the other person is angry, or if you find that what you did had less effect on the other person than you thought. If the person minimizes it, you can simply say, “I’m really glad you feel that way, but what I did has been weighing on me.” This attitude will also help remind you that even if the other person bears some blame for the problem between you, your responsibility is to take care of your side.
  • Use the steppingstone method. To handle the anxiety of speaking with the person involved, Chansky suggests not going directly “from silence to ‘I’m so sorry,’” but approaching the apology via a preamble. “You can begin by saying something like ‘There’s something I need to tell you, and it’s hard for me to talk about it, but I really want to.’ This helps you warm up, and it tunes the other person into your sincerity.”
  • Write and rehearse. Another method to reduce apology anxiety, according to Chansky, is to prepare by writing down what you want to say to the other person and rehearsing it. You won’t read what you’ve written or recite your apology in the actual encounter, of course — that needs to be spontaneous and heartfelt. But a little prep can calm you down a lot.
  • Keep a sense of purpose. “Nothing burns through anxiety better than a sense of real purpose,” says Chansky. “Rather than thinking about how scared you are to make the apology, or what the other person will say, ground yourself in the simple fact that you intend to do the right thing, no matter what.”