How to Have a Conscious Relationship

How to Have a Conscious Relationship

When I fell in love with my boyfriend, I could only see the good in him. He was funny, warm, generous, and kind, and I allowed that first impression to be sealed into my brain. I made assumptions based on what I initially saw about his capacity to love and be loving. I formed expectations from him based on my imagined reality that he would never do anything to hurt me. I made assumptions that he would treat me in the ways that I expected and hoped to be treated.

All these assumptions that I made ended up hurting me tremendously when I discovered he wasn’t all I had wanted him to be.

When we first meet people, we have a tendency to make associations based on our previous experiences and our preferences.  And with the people closest to us, we assume that we understand them and that we can predict how they will act or react.

If we are unconscious in the relationship, we will stay so married to our beliefs, that we won’t realize we need to check in with our partner to see if our assumptions are correct.

First impressionsPeople are not just their first impressions. Our first impressions about somebody could be based on what people (consciously or unconsciously) present when at their best. But if you are in a long-term relationship, you may realize that your first impressions may not be indicative of who that person really is. As you get to know them closer, or on a daily basis, you may grasp that people may not be capable of being what you expected them to be.

The Importance of Reflective Listening

Assumptions can destroy our relationship if they aren’t addressed. They may arise from poor communication with our partner. Not discussing our thoughts and feelings with our partner, not asking questions or listening to them leaves room for nothing but assumptions that lead to unrealistic expectations, poor decision-making, and inevitably, disappointment.

When making assumptions, we believe that we have the all facts, while we actually don’t have all the information we need to assess the situation correctly.

Reflective listening means that we mirror back what we think we have heard. Asking questions to clarify your understanding  is the best way to prevent making assumptions, and the damaging beliefs and pain that go with it.

Bids for Emotional Connection

couple interactingDr. John Gottman from the Univeristy of Washington and the Gottman Institute, can predict with 90% accuracy if a couple will still be married 15 years later only after watching them for 15 minutes. Other researchers subsequently showed that when properly instructed, people could make almost as accurate predictions based on just 30 sec of videotape. This means every second of your interactions count.

According to Dr. Gottman, every interaction is a bid for an emotional connection. A bid is everything we say or do to signal that we want an emotional connection. It can be via a question, a gesture, a look or touch.

There are three ways we react to an emotional bid:

  1. ) Turning towardturning toward

Sends a signal that you care about your interactions and that you accept and support your partner. Turning toward says to a bidder: “I hear you”, “I’m on your side” and leads to growth and development of relationships.

Partners in healthy relationships make bids towards each other to create, keep, and re-establish the connection. During his research, Dr. Gottman noticed that happy couples turn towards each other about twenty times more often in their everyday interactions that couples in distress.

2.) Turning away (ignoring)

turn awayTurning away says to bidder: “I don’t care about your bid”, “I’m not interested, and you are not worth my time”.

This makes the bidder feels lonely, rejected and isolated. Turning away leads to a negative sentiment override, where a general negative feeling in the relationship predominates anything positive. When a bidder is turned away from, they tend to give up pretty quickly.   There overriding sentiment becomes, “Why bother?” and the relationship tends to end quickly.

3. ) Turning against

Turning against says to bidder: “I don’t respect you”. “I don’t value you”. “I want to hurt you”. “I want to drive you away”. The relationship eventually disintegrates and ends if the couple doesn’t find a way to repair.couple turning against

Every interaction you have with your partner can add to or subtract from your Emotional Bank Account with your partner. Turning towards your partner increases the value of your emotional bank account, and serves as a reminder of your mutual feelings, support, and commitment. Whereas turning away and turning against your partner withdraws from the Emotional Bank Account.

When you are both conscious of your response to bids for connection and understand the consequences of your behavior, you can make more intentional choices about how you want to show up in the relationship.

If you find yourself turning away or turning against your partner, or if they are doing the same to you, ask is there an unspoken truth between us that needs to be said.

happy coupleWhen in the early phases of a relationship, staying conscious in your relationships can help you determine who is safe to keep and who to let go of. The more you know, the better you will be at finding someone capable of giving you what you need in relationships. Once you are in a committed partnership, being conscious of how you respond to your partner’s bids is vital to making love last.

Are you struggling with love?   Do want more easy and harmony in your relationships? If you need support in getting the relationship you want, check out my Learn to Love Again program and contact me here for a complimentary consultation.

 

 

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