We’re drawn to familiar love, to people who carry positive and negative traits of our primary caretakers, but we don’t realize that initially. We choose a person to finish the unresolved issues from our childhood; a partner to help us heal the wounds from that power struggle we had the most trouble with in our past.
Often, when I see clients, they ask me, “are you going to bring up my childhood?” They often say they don’t want therapy to get them stuck in the past. If they are recycling their past in the present, they are already stuck in the past. Our job as therapists is to understand how they’re dragging these past issues into the present.
In a new relationship, you will see the issues that can be deal breakers by date #3 or #4, but we tend to overlook them. Don’t lower the volume on these red flags or paint them white; be cognizant of them as you continue your relationship. They won’t go away, and you will have to deal with them.
The digital world has affected relationships. Internet discussions are more open, sex is discussed more freely, and your partner may become flirtatious online. It is important to talk with your partner and come up with some expectations of what is okay and not okay to do online if anything.
“Most couples break contracts they never made,” is a quote by sex therapist Marty Klein. Couples quarrel over expectations that have not been discussed. You have to make implicit contracts explicit by having dialogue with your partner.
Communication should be ongoing. Check in with each other on a regular basis, revisit topics you’ve discussed in the past to make sure nothing has changed; and listen to each other. It is like any membership; you have to renew every year and make sure it still is something you want or want to change.
The keys to a successful, long-term relationship are empathy, validation and good will. If your partner says. “the moon is made of cream cheese,” and you know that obviously it isn’t, but your partner truly believes it is, instead of criticizing your partner, validate the world from “their” point of view and what your partner has said, and try to see his/her thoughts through their eyes. Hear it from their point of view, not yours. Don’t criticize, interrupt, interpret or judge. Listen.
When you have an expectation, discuss it with your partner. Don’t think your partner is a mind reader. This happens often during the holidays. You think, “he knows me so well, I shouldn’t have to tell him what my expectations are for the upcoming holiday.” Your partner doesn’t know because you haven’t shared what you want. Remember to have this conversation.
When you have an expectation, discuss it with your partner. Don’t think your partner is a mind reader. This happens often during the holidays. You think, “he knows me so well, I shouldn’t have to tell him what my expectations are for the upcoming holiday.” Your partner doesn’t know because you haven’t shared what you want. Remember to have this conversation. Holidays are a great reminder to affirm with each other, to reconnect with each other.
Most important: talk with each other and listen to each other. Have relationship talks AND sex talks regularly.
To hear many more insights on relationships in the modern world, listen to Dr. Kort’s podcast in its entirety: