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Friday, April 14, 2017

Relationship Alert - When Givers Become Takers

Newly romantic partners want to care for each other in every way they can. Ever watchful for any overt or covert expression of desire, they are attuned to their lover’s needs without resentment or obligation.

As they become committed to a long-term relationship, many of those same partners tend to give each other less of the exquisite attentiveness they had experienced when their love was new. The priorities that they put aside to make one another center stage gradually emerge.
Initially devoted relationship partners don’t intend to lose the focused caring they once so easily gave to each other. They anticipated that their initial levels of passion and romantic connection would understandably somewhat diminish as the relationship matured, but they welcomed the comfort and security that came with creating mutual experiences and significant memories.
Sadly, as most people feel more secure in a future together, many intimate partners forget that level of treasuring must be maintained. Those sacred and intimate moments that were central to their new love require recognition and regeneration to stay available. But, too often, as intimate partners relax into the comfort of a committed relationship, they can too easily forget how they once were the most important center of each other’s lives.
That process is further complicated when each partner doesn’t experience the lessened availability in the same way. What is important to one may not be as much so for the other. There are countless examples. Many men, for example, feel that their long-term partners are not as sexually interested as they continue to be and many women equally miss the emotional connection they once could count upon. Or, if both partners have careers, they may need to resurrect work obligations they’ve put aside when the relationship was new. Family obligations, kept submerged while the partners were focused on each other, now raise demands to pay tribute.
Whatever the causes, one or both partners have actually become less automatically available to one another. They were once each other’s first priority, easily entitled to ask for whatever was desired. Now, they may have to ask for what once was offered freely. Time, affection, attention, support, interest, energy, and priority, once bountiful, now often must be negotiated.  
These changes can happen very slowly and may go unnoticed by even the most devoted of partners. They still love cherish their relationship and are readily available during a crisis. That assumption can lure a couple into believing that they can still count on those sweet spots of automatic and complete availability whenever they might need to resurrect it.
Sadly, that is not true. Unless that depth of devotion and caring is continually regenerated, it can quietly diminish, leaving one or both partners and bereft at a time of need.
What do Couples Need to do to Keep Their Sweet Spots Alive?
1)    Stay Current
Many people who leave relationships regret their decision later, wishing they had tried harder before quitting. In the heat of battles that seemed unavoidable and unending or unable to regenerate discovery, they could not stop the disintegration in time. 
Life’s requirements intervene in all relationships. Legitimate unexpected challenges, chosen obligations, unresolved differences, and postponement of important interpersonal issues, can easily combine to keep a couple too busy to focus on each other’s needs.
As a couple moves from intertwined to parallel, many intimate partners begin to do the relationship in their own heads and forget to check out whether or not their other partners still think and feel the same way. They have forgotten who they were when every detail of their lives was mutually experienced and all their resources were combined and mutually allocated. It doesn’t take long before their initial deep connection can become a past memory, replaced by a pretense of intimacy that they believe is more alive and available than it is.
2)    Balancing Resources With Demands
All long-term relationships are subject to changing requirements and the subsequent need to redistribute resources. Some of those resources are subjective and others are objective, but both are important. Subjective resources include time, energy, compassion, availability, or emotional support. Objective resources might be allocation of finances, shifting of responsibilities, new means to increase resources, more efficiency in resolving problems, or sacrificing personal needs.
In spontaneously generous relationships, couples decide which partner’s needs should claim the relationship’s resources at any one time, and how that decision best benefits the relationship, both in the short and long run.
What is essential is that both partners feel hear, see, appreciated, and cared for because those decisions are made together. They have a clear sense of what their mutual values and ethics are and they talk openly about what each needs to make things work. They also understand that desires and needs will not always feel justified to either in the moment, but that both completely trust the fairness of the other to compensate when time allows.
3)    Agreement on Priorities - In Everyday Life and During Crises
When lovers are new to each other, they diligently search for the ways to agree on the major aspects of life. That includes how they behave with each other and also how they see the world the same way.
As relationship partners share this journey, some thoughts and feelings will be consciously or unconsciously suppressed to ensure that harmony prevails. Understandably, as the relationship matures, those previously submerged thoughts and feelings will emerge and create frictions that were not previously part of the relationship.
Successful couples are ever-ready to face those new disagreements and to remold their relationship in the process experiences together. They are well aware of the current emotional, physical, financial, and life crisis demands on their combined resource, and maintain flexibility to rearrange them in the most relationship-effective way they can.
Often, one partner may want some of those unexpected or chosen new demands more than the other or at different times. The commitment to fairness, to openness, to negotiation, and to compromise is clearly evident in couples who love each other want to keep it alive and regenerating. They trust that an imbalance is some situations or at some times, will be generously compensated in another. They know how to rate priorities and do everything they can to find agreement in those decisions.
4)    Special Availability During Crises
New lovers are each other’s first priorities whenever and however they can be. Whenever either reaches out for help, for sustenance, for reassurance, or for support, the other does everything he or she can to provide what is asked.
As the partners re-enter the world outside of their treasured intimacy, they realize that other priorities will limit the automatic availability they had. In quality relationships, both partners consistently re-evaluate their needs and availabilities to make sure they stay close to each other along the way.
A couple’s ability to update one another as changes in their individual needs emerge is crucial for this agreement to work. They also know that there might be situations where one may inadvertently let the other down. Both are committed to understand that there will be unexpected events, and some that cannot be changed.
In short, couples who stay in mutually generous relationships have each other’s backs. They are careful to not take advantage of one another and trust the other partner’s good intentions even if he or she cannot give what is asked.
5)    Remembering Their Automatic Love and Generosity
New love is a sacred and beautiful time in the lives of all lovers. The sweetness and non-judgmental acceptance both feel creates a sanctuary of comfort and confidence. Though it cannot last per se in exactly the same way, it can be remembered and saved as the treasure it was, and brought back when times are hard.
Couples who don’t want to slip into the trap of apathy and parallel lives feel the alarm of losing each other early in the game. When that emotional trumpet sounds, one or both call the other back to remember and recreate those original “sweet spots” where irritation and impatience were slow to come and compassion and forgiveness were abundant. They search for the place in themselves where they recognize how empty life would be without each other and how important it is to forever protect their connection.
* * * *
No person can be generous, available, caring, and willing to sacrifice for the other at all times, and all intimate partners, no matter how devoted, must choose self over the other at points in time.
Successful partners forgive each other during stressful times and trust that their partner will do the same for them. They trust each other’s thoughts, feelings, and reasons when those times happen. That helps them to return as soon as possible to their shared commitment of generosity and devotion.











Friday, March 31, 2017

Has Your Intimate Relationship Become a Pit Stop?

When a couple comes in to see me for therapy, I often start our first session by asking each of them the following question: “Where are you currently the most alive, the most self-respecting, the most interesting, and the most involved in your life?” 

If they are newly in love, the answer is most likely to be when they are together. Sadly, when they have been together for a longer period of time, they are more likely to innocently confess that they feel that way more often outside of their intimate relationship.  

Somewhere between the honeymoon stage and the commitment to a long-term partnership, many couples stop being spontaneously intrigued by one another and begin to search outside their relationship for more excitement and discovery.  

Some choose infidelity and risk the security of their primary partnership. Just as many others stay sexually faithful but still look outside the relationship to other interests. When one person does this at the expense of the other, that left-behind partner may end up becoming a pit stop for the other.  

There are two definitions of a pit stop. The first, better known to most, is the place where racing cars pause for fuel and service in the midst of an auto racing competition. Those pit stops are essential in-and-out sanctuaries that every race-car driver knows can make the difference between winning or losing.
But the broader definition of a pit stop is any brief interruption in a person’s preferred journey where he or she can get basic needs refreshed in order to move on to what is more important. In an intimate relationship, one partner is living an existence outside of the relationship that is richer and more compelling, while the other has become a glorified refueling station.
How do pit stops develop?
Discovery is the core element that keeps people spontaneously interested in the early stages of a new relationship. New lovers can’t get enough of one another’s taste, smell, thoughts, behaviors, cultures, social connections, family issues, religious and social beliefs, time, energy, and attention. They often put many of their other priorities on the back burner just to keep feeling what they are. There are so many delicious experiences and so much to learn that the partners seem marvelously content just focusing primarily on one another.
As those same partners commit to a long-term relationship, they are more likely to opt for predictability and security over new risks and challenges.  Those once-enamored lovers may have become good friends, but do they truly and urgently seek one another out again for new experiences? They can so easily lose the edge that once supported the mystery and curiosity that made their relationship so exciting.
What is likely to happen to an intimate relationship when intimate partners know each other so well that discovery is essentially over? What happens to a lover’s psyche when predictability overshadows the mystery and challenge of the unknown?

The absence of newness, whether intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, or physically, too easily becomes the same-old, same-old harbinger of boredom. No other feeling is as likely to entice a partner to search for those all-too-human desires elsewhere.
Too often, when people have been together for a while, they also stop sharing the experiences they’ve had outside the relationship. When they reconnect, they are more likely to share only limited expressions of logistical requirements or things that are more newsworthy.
What once was a mecca for interesting exchanges and mutual rehabilitation has slowly become a place to just minimally check in, regenerate, and prepare for the more demanding and intriguing challenges outside of the relationship. If one partner is doing that and the other is not, a pit stop has begun.
Those once-enamored lovers may have become good friends, but do they truly and urgently seek one another out again for new experiences?
Why Don’t Intimate Partners See This Coming?
This process can develop so slowly that many couples don’t realize that it is even happening. They have been led to believe that a stable, secure, predictable relationship is a healthy one. But situations are never static, even if they appear so on the surface. Every living system, relationship, or process is always either growing or decaying. Like continuing flowering plants that grow new blooms as the old fall away, they must be connected to deeper roots that can either nurture them into greater growth or diminish their nourishment over time.
That truth applies to politics, families, business, physical health, and love relationships as well. The partners in a stagnant relationship who do not challenge one another into continuing growth and discovery will eventually find themselves bored and apathetic to each other’s deeper needs. As their investment in the relationship lessens, so will their ultimate payoff decrease.
How can you tell if you’re becoming a pit stop for your partner?
Use this guide to answer the following ten questions.
1 = Never
2 = Occasionally
3 = More often than not
4 = Most of the time
5 = Almost all of the time
1)    When your partner comes home, does he or she try to find you right away? ____
2)    Do you believe your partner looks forward to seeing you after you’ve been away from each other? ____
3)    When you come into the room, does your partner immediately acknowledge your presence? ____
4)    Does your partner tell you that you are important, valuable, and desirable to him or her? ­­____
5)    Do you feel appreciated for the things you do for your partner? ____
6)    Does your partner anticipate your needs and provide support for them? ____
7)    When you need something, does your partner make those needs a priority? ____
8)    Does your partner seem to enjoy his or her time with you? ____
9)    Does your partner tell you that he or she misses you when you’re not together? ___
10) Does your partner look forward to doing things with you? ____
Now add up your scores:
41 - 50 You are still deeply appreciated for who you are and what you have to offer. Your partner looks forward to coming home and staying there.
31 - 40 You are recognized as an important contributor to your partner’s desires and happiness. You are a high priority.
21 - 30 Your presence in the relationship is starting to be taken for granted. You too often feel unimportant and last on the list.
11 - 20 You are in danger of being used as a launching pad as your partner takes off.
1 - 10   You have clearly become a pit-stop, a place where your partner just refuels in order to live his or her greater aliveness elsewhere.
Once you understand how important or unimportant you feel in your relationship, it is crucial to let your partner know that you need to rebalance your relationship. Tell him or her that, though you may have contributed to the current situation, you now need to distribute your relationship resources in a more fair and equitable way.
A partner who hasn’t realized that he or she has begun taking advantage will want to re-commit to more exciting adventures together. Sadly, those who like the advantages of a home sanctuary combined with the freedom to seek greater interests outside, are less likely to be receptive to changing the status. In either case, you will at least know where you stand and where your relationship is heading.



















Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Has Love Disappointed You?

If you are one of the many relationship seekers who have been repeatedly disillusioned in the past, you may be understandably wary of future relationships. It is difficult for most people to keep believing in lasting love when they have experienced too many failures.

With so much media advice available today, it would seem that most in the dating market would have found the relationship they want. Yet, most of the people I’ve seen have enthusiastically studied many resources on how to find a quality, long-lasting relationship, and still have not been successful. They valiantly struggle to keep their negative pasts from influencing their hopes for the future.
Though it may be totally understandable for discouraged daters to become bitter or cynical, they realize that those attitudes can put off a potential new partner. They want to stay positive and open, but often can’t help facing the next relationship more cautiously. A negative expectation can feel more self-protective, like emotional armor to insulate against the next feared heartbreak. Sadly, that same protection can become a prison.
When I work with people who have unsuccessfully participated in the dating search for some period of time, I can discern where they lie on the continuum between hardening and hope. Through those observations, I’ve seen how those attitudes and the behaviors that accompany them influence their relationship success.
To keep hope up and cynicism down, the goal for each “wounded dating warrior” is to find the right balance between self-preservation and continued openness as they enter a new relationship. Learning from the past and practicing more successful techniques for the future can help even the most legitimately wary relationship seeker hope again.
How to Leave Relationship Failure Behind
To let go of past failures and succeed in future partnerships, you’ll need to courageously explore and examine why you haven’t yet found lasting love. This deep searching can be uncomfortable, but it is the most promising way to make your next relationship really work.
Following are seven lists for you to fill out. The more you write on each list, the more the exercise will benefit you. When you are done, you will have a much more realistic view of what you need to do to find the relationship you desire.
1)    Similarities List
No matter how each of your past relationships may have seemed different from one another, there are always similarities. There are four categories under your “how-my-partners-have-been-similar” list. Write as many thoughts or memories as you can under each one.
What physical characteristics you have traditionally looked for in a partner.
What personality characteristics or behaviors you’ve consistently sought.
What you are looking for in terms of who that person is in the world (friends, ocation, family, etc.).
What kinds of interests that person has (spiritual, intellectual, physical, sexual, and emotional).
2)    Hope List
On this list, write down what you have always hoped would happen in your ideal relationship. How would your partner treat you? In what time frame would the stages of the relationship materialize? How would your partner feel about your family, beliefs, friends, past relationships, the work you do, and the things that are important to you?
Remember. The more you put on each list, the more you will understand how your thoughts and feelings have defined your search for a partner.
3)    Disappointment List
What has disappointed or disillusioned you in your past relationships? Has it been about the person’s disappointing behavior, misleading information, or negative surprises? Has he or she not responded the way you expected when you shared your own thoughts and feelings? What were you led to expect that didn’t happen the way it was promised? What did you find out about these past partners that you could not have predicted?
4)    Ideal Relationship List
How would you describe a perfect relationship?. What would you look like as a couple to others? How would you handle conflicts, crises, or disappointments together? What would love-making be like? How would you and your partner parent together someday? What about spiritual beliefs and financial commitments? How would the household chores be prioritized? If one of you were in need, how would the other respond?
5)    Personal Failure List
This list is very hard for many people, but critical for your future relationship success.
Write down how you believed you may have contributed to past relationship failures, (even if you thought your partners were more at fault). Be as honest as you can about any of your personal liabilities as a relationship partner. If you were somehow able to have every person you’ve ever loved or been loved by in the same room, and they were to be absolutely authentic, what would they say in common about you that ultimately caused them to leave the relationship? 
6)    What I Need to Leave Behind List
From the five lists you’ve comprised so far, look carefully at the way you’ve repeated behaviors that haven’t worked in the past, and where your expectations have not been realistic. Let go of any attitudes or beliefs that may have sabotaged your past relationships. Write down how you can more successfully change the things you can and to accept the things you can’t.
The most important attitude to leave behind is stereotyping future partners that might stop you from seeing beyond your past biases. Even though it is normal to use past experiences to help predict future ones, rigid expectations can keep you closed to possible adventures you have not experienced before. Use your past for lessons, but don’t allow it to determine your future.
7)    What I Need to Take with me Into the Future List
Go back to that hypothetical room full of your old flames. With the same truth serum, each will now tell you what they truly loved and treasured about you, even if it didn’t turn into a long-term relationship. Also gather feedback from other social sources like honest friends or family members, mentors who have guided you, and your own sense of who, and what, you believe a wonderful person truly is like.
On this list, write down any attributes, attitudes, behaviors, values, or accomplishments that you are proud of. Though it may be hard to believe, many people are more comfortable listing what is wrong with them than what they feel good about. Don’t hold back here. This list should contain those qualities that make you feel valuable, desirable, and worthy to anyone.
* * * * * * * *
The last part of this exercise will help you in what you look for in a partner and how you present yourself to that person.
1)    Sum up each list. Try to get to the essence of what it tells you about yourself.
2)    Decide what attitudes, ideas, and behaviors you are going to leave behind and what you want to take through your window to your new relationship process.

3)    Make a plan as to how you are going to practice your new behaviors.

4)    Now, put yourself aside for a moment, and pretend instead that you are going to look for a perfect partner for your dearest friend. This will help you maintain a useful perspective.

5)    Present who your “friend” is to that new partner with authenticity and pride.

6)    Tell that person everything that is important about your “friend” and what kind of partner he or she is looking for.

7)    Now imagine the most perfect responses that potential partner would have to what you’ve shared with him or her.

8)    Make the decision as to whether you should pursue the relationship.

Hopefully, you are now much better prepared to begin your next relationship with a greater chance of success than you’ve had in the past. You’re clear about who you have been, who you are now, what you have to offer, and what you need in return. Your clear and honest awareness of self will help you determine whether a new partner is right for you from the beginning of the relationship.








Monday, February 27, 2017

The Ten Qualities of a Great Communicator

There are many books and articles that teach intimate partners the art of effective communication. Some couples do improve their ability to trust each other more deeply by practicing the exercises within them. But, in most cases, their efforts have only been minimally effective. Despite sincere efforts to master these techniques, intimate partners still too often continue misunderstanding and misconstruing what they say and hear.  

In the four decades I’ve been treating couples, I’ve continually searched for the answers as to why so many people continue to have such difficulty when so much excellent guidance is available. What could possibly have been overlooked? What techniques or advice might be missing that could help intimate partners be more successful in communicating more effectively?
I decided to focus on the few fortunate couples I’ve worked with who, no matter what the problems they were working on in therapy, seemed to have no trouble deeply connecting with each other. These intimate partners had clearly mastered a way of communicating that made both feel supported and understood regardless of the difficulty of the subject matter.
I compared their attitudes and behaviors with those who were less successful and, from those experiences, have come to understand the ten crucial qualities that these successful communicators continually demonstrate.
The Ten Qualities of Great Communicators
1)    No Conversation Stoppers
There are eight conversational responses that are highly likely to stop your partner from continuing to share his or her more vulnerable thoughts and feelings. All of us have used these phrases and behaviors at times, often without realizing how badly they can make our partners feel.
Once you recognize them, you will hopefully not use them again. You can express these responses in effective ways at other times if your partner is interested, but never when your partner needs to be heard.
­Minimizing – Making the problem seem trivial.
Taking the Other Person’s Side – Not supporting your partner’s experience.
Blaming – Criticizing your partner for feeling or acting the way he or she does.
Fixing – Offering to solve the situation without being asked.
Giving unsolicited advice – Telling your partner how to act or feel.
Shock – Expressing upset or outrage at what your partner is saying.
Holier than Thou - Don’t say how you could have handled the situation better.
Negativity - Keep impatience, irritation, sarcasm, or sounding burdened out of your response.
2)    Full Support Independent of Agreement
Many people believe that if they support the way their partners think or feel that they will automatically have to agree with them. Support and agreement do not have to be the same response. Even if you don’t see things the same way, you can still be empathic and understanding of how your speaker thinks and feels.
Too often listeners are so concerned that if they don’t immediately argue for a different point of view, that there will be no way for them to disagree later, so they preempt their partner’s conclusions to share how they may see the situation differently.
If you and your partner have agreed that emotional and psychological support do not automatically mean agreement, you are free to totally validate the thoughts and feelings of the other. Once your partner feels heard and understood, you can ask him or her if feedback is wanted.
3)    Tracking
Your speaker will be far more likely to continue sharing if he or she feels that you are paying attention to all that’s been said. That not only includes the present, but anything that might also reference the past. Take notes, if it helps you to do that as you are listening.
Many times when speakers are emotionally distressed, they repeat themselves or skip logical sequencing. It is very helpful to them if you can help them stay on track. Caringly ask the kind of questions or make comments that help them put their ideas together. It’s like holding each important statement as an emotional puzzle piece, ever-ready to help your partner eventually see better how they can go together.
4)    Presence
Anyone trying to share something painful or scary knows instantly if you are preoccupied or not really present. You’ll know if you are “drifting” because your answers will sound patronizing, impatient, or matter-of-fact. Your speaker will soon feel he or she is boring you and will automatically shorten the conversation or push harder to be heard.
It’s sometimes hard to stay focused listening to your partner, especially when he or she is angry, upset, or too repetitive. That’s even truer if the object of the distress is you. If you feel defensive at any point and you can’t be present anymore because of your own reactivity, ask for some time out to re-stabilize before you go on.
5)    Rhythm
Good listeners get the cadence and urgency of their speaker’s communication style and present need. They don’t try to suppress emotions or change their rhythm or the way the words are being expressed. Some people get worked up as they get deeper into their emotions or change from one rhythm to another according to the subject they are unearthing.
If you can be flexible enough to flow with them at the same time as holding on to your own internal rhythm, you may be able to help them find a more comfortable pace that better enables both of you as close to the core truths as possible.
6)    Emotional Anthropology
It is very tempting to impose one’s own thoughts and feelings on another person, especially when he or she is vulnerable or needy. When your partner is trying to explore a deeper thought or feeling, he or she may seem unsteady or in need of direction, and that can feel like an invitation to redirect.
At those times, it is particularly important to just stay authentically interested, curious about those reflections and conclusions, and wanting to truly understand how that person came to feel the way he or she does in that moment.
Anthropologists know how important it is to respect and support another culture, even if they don’t see the world in the same way. Every human being is a culture unto themselves and intimate partners need to remember that their partner’s view of reality must be viewed with the same sacredness.
7)    Timing
Even good listeners can make the mistake of answering too quickly, saying too much, interrupting, or pulling away and shutting down too quickly. It can be very hard to stay on track and not push your own timing agenda when you are on the other end of an emotionally upset person or have your own priorities.
In any conversation, you are absolutely allowed to tell your partner that you are overwhelmed or beginning to feel defensive, especially if your own emotions do not allow you to stay in the moment. You cannot continue to be a good listener when you’re impatient, and it’s always better to reconnect when you can be authentically present. If you do have to disconnect, make a time soon when you can continue so your partner doesn’t feel abandoned.
8)    Non-judgmental Feedback
When your partner feels safe, heard, and ready, you can offer non-judgmental feedback after asking if he or she is ready to listen to it. Using any notes you have taken, share your summarization of what you thought was said, what your partner seemed to have needed, and where you agree or see things differently. Even if your experience is not positive, you can still deliver your feelings in a caring way.
Tell your partner how you feel about what you heard and what your responses are. Ask for feedback as to how you were as a listener and any differences he or she might have wished for. Where were you accurate and where might you have misunderstood? Did your partner feel cared for, understood, and supported, and in what ways? Does he or she have any good feedback for you?
9)    Patience
Patience is not just “waiting.” Patience is being so involved that you don’t notice the passage of time. When you are listening deeply to another, with no other thought than to be there doing what you are doing, you feel emotionally weightless and unconnected to the past or future. Your only desire is to be there fully for the one you love.
Emotional patience feels to the other like chivalry. There is no resentment, impatience, martyrdom, or boredom in the gift of listening as long and to whatever your partner needs from you at the time. You feel absolutely willing to put your own needs aside, and feeling honored to do so at the time.
This may seem idealistic, but most people sharing something vulnerable or painful know exactly what it feels like to be on the other end of someone who truly wants to listen. You may not be able to do it for long periods of time, but the rewards for the listener are as great as for the speaker.
This capability is the true art of a great communicator. People in pain or trying to express negative or hurt feelings often cannot keep track of what they’ve said or make sense of their presentation while they are in that emotional state.
A great listener weaves statements of the past, relates them to the present, and takes them forward into the future. To do that, he or she must take cues from the past and combine them with what listener already knows about that person. Using a combination of emotional support, accurate listening, tracking, rhythm, presence, and care, an effective listener helps his or her partner to continue getting closer to the true message offered.
Weaving helps a person remember his or her past and how it is affecting the present. It also helps point out repetitive patterns that have not yielded good results, and makes them less likely to continue into the future. It is crucial that weaving is not done in a way that makes the sharing partner feel trapped or labeled, just known more deeply as to whom he or she behaves in the relationship.
How Good Are You As A Communicator?
Following is a simple test you can take to help you evaluate how you are at communicating love and support to your partner. Don’t be disturbed if your current test results aren’t where you want them to be. You can practice and take the test again whenever you want to compare scores. And, of course, because you deserve the same treatment, you can share this article with your partner and have him or her take the test as well.
Score the test according to the following legend:
1 = Never
2 = Occasionally
3 = More often than not
4 = Frequently
5 = Most of the time
1)    I respond to my partner’s request to be heard with conversation stoppers. ____
2)    I can be supportive even when I don’t fully agree with the presentation. ____
3)    I keep track of the thoughts and feelings my partner shares. ____
4)    I am present when my partner is talking about something important. ____
5)    I can flow with my partner’s rhythm and still hold on to my own. ____
6)    I listen without trying to insert my opinion or direction. ____
7)    I respect and support my partner’s timing.
8)    I give accurate and helpful feedback. ____
9)    I give emotional patience without resentment. ____
10)I weave my partner’s past, present, and future for him or her.____
Now add up your scores and use the following legend to find out where you currently stand.
1 – 19 You need to work on being a better communicator so that your partner will want to talk to you about important things.
20 – 39 You’re struggling to hold on to yourself while trying to be there for your partner, and you haven’t given up learning how to do that.
40 – 59 You’re getting better on letting go of your own needs while being there for your partner.
60 – 79 You’re giving your partner the room he or she needs to be more open and vulnerable with you.
80 – 100 We need to clone you for the world. J
Communication between intimate lovers is always a fragile process, but if you can learn and master these ten attitudes and behaviors when your partner needs to share something painful, vulnerable, or may be just frightened, you will find your relationship immediately become increasingly closer and more rewarding.