Attention, effort, and fairness are about understanding, and working towards realizing our relationship values. Communication is about expressing yourself in a healthy way, listening, and hearing your partner. Communication can be blocked before it even begins through mind reading, predicting the future actions of your partner, stonewalling, and unexpressed expectations. Scoreboards, blame, always/never's, and holding the relationship hostage with threats of breaking up when at your wit's end can be easy patterns to fall into, but difficult relationship patterns to overcome… Are you a good communicator?
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.” — George Bernard Shaw
In a time of stressed relationships, imbalances in giving and taking, entitlement, unfulfillment, and expectations, we complicate our experiences of care and support. Relationships are important for every area of life: your health, wellbeing, career, family, chosen family, friends, and community. Relationship distress can impact your immune system and even shorten your life. Healthy relationships protect you from stress and help you thrive. Working mindfully to accept and understand how we affect our environments and relationships, and vice versa, promotes successful long term change and growth. Let’s create a systemic strategy for universal progress.
Intimacy & Sexuality
Intimacy is a feeling of being close, emotionally connected, heard, seen, understood, valued, and supported. Sexuality has the potential to be a powerful and positive force that deepens intimate connection. It can also have many of its own challenges that come from each partner: their past experiences, social influences, and how we see ourselves in their eyes. How do you tune into your relationship? How do you tune into yourself? Having needs does not make you needy or codependent. Vulnerability and intimacy requires bravery...
Self as content
We have a personal narrative that includes objective facts, subjective details, social roles, gender roles-- so many different scripts. Authentic community nurtures us and is central to our identity. We can be adaptable in our identities. However, sometimes we can be lost in the 'rules,' experiences, and habits of the relationships we live in. We can give up our psychological flexibility in our relationships by filling in a familiar role, or struggling against a seemingly familiar experience unknowingly. You become one with the dance that you do, and sometimes forget that you are dancing all together. We are the relationship patterns that work for us, and the ones that don’t work for us. What are your values and boundaries? Do they define you or do you define them? Are they old, antiquated habits or do they serve you as you grow?
Support for diverse relationships
Many people avoid seeking mental health services due to feeling they will not be understood-- or worse, that they will be judged. The feeling of being flawed or different can lead to shame, avoidance, and anxiety. Feeling different can make expressing yourself and your relationships feel tedious and hopeless. In affirming therapy, it is important to both embrace a positive view of diversity in identity and relationships, as well as acknowledge and address the negative influences on diverse clients. Support and validation have to land where you need them, not just where other people think you do.
Ghosted, modern love, digital relationships
It can happen to anyone at any time, no matter how much investment you’ve placed in a potential partner. Are we always looking for someone just a little better than the person we’re chatting with? It takes courage to admit when we are wrong or we’ve knowingly hurt someone. Once you become self-protective at the expense of other people’s feelings it could be hard to stop. Or maybe you just don’t believe it’s possible for relationships to grow and change, or for attraction to deepen as time goes by. Maybe ghosting is better than a handful of empty apologies. The social cues present in traditional breakups are disorientingly absent when you are ghosted or broken up with via text-- you question yourself. You can’t work through what went wrong. Like reactions to traumatic experiences, it can be too easy to draw troubling conclusions that affect your wellbeing; how you think about yourself, others, and the world; and how you approach your next relationship.
“Apologies without change or atonement are just manipulation.” - Ingrid Solano, PhD