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07/26/2011 - 19:06

"What is love?" Everyone wonders that at some point, and the answers we find can have profound effects on our lives.

What does 'love' mean to you? When you think about that question, is it accompanied by smiles and warm feelings, a sense of peace or exhilaration, or perhaps by feelings of loss, regret and anxiety?

In a sense, it is as Bob Dylan wrote, 'love is just a four letter word'. But it is a word we use to describe a complex and powerful set of experiences and emotions. It is also a word which people tie many judgements and beliefs to. So in order to avoid getting tangled up in a way of thinking about love that doesn't serve us or anyone else well, the subject is worth delving into in more detail.

05/28/2011 - 11:43

What does 'balance' mean in a relationship? How do you maintain it, and what are some of the obstacles?

What makes a balanced relationship?

Perhaps when you think of 'balance' you think of 'equality'? But since people are actually not equal in all things, a more specific idea of equality (and balance) is called for.

The kind of equality that leads to a balanced, healthy, loving relationship is the valuing of someone else's needs as equal alongside our own. This kind of equality naturally embraces people's differences, and helps there to be mutual respect - a key aspect of a healthy balance.

05/17/2011 - 00:05

Much has been written on the differences between men and women and helping us understand each other through those differences.

However, this approach to developing understanding and meaningful connections is heavily dependant on cultural conditioning. If everyone has the same kind of background then it works OK, as far as it goes, but there is a level deeper.

Although there are some real and fairly obvious differences between men and women (and if you need those pointing out, you might need more help than this blog can provide), actually when it comes to what matters most in relationships we have more things in common than we have differences.

Woman or man, we have a common pool of emotional and physical needs.

Underneath our various masculine and feminine roles, we all (in different ways) deeply value things like affection, support, understanding, respect, honesty, acceptance, humour, passion, companionship, freedom, security, and more besides.

05/15/2011 - 23:03

The web is awash with guides with titles like "How to get your man back!" or "Make her love you again!" They cater to the desperate and despairing. According to Google, literally millions of people search every month for guidance on getting partners, boyfriends and girlfriends back and repairing a broken relationship.

If you are one of those people, firstly I'm sorry for your suffering, secondly there is a way forward, thirdly the majority of 'save my relationship' guides out there probably aren't going to help you.

If you're suddenly without the company or connection of someone you love deeply or have depended on in some way to meet your emotional needs, it's understandable that you might be feeling desperate for things to return to how they were. But if that's the case, there's something you would do well to do before worrying about getting back with anyone.

05/14/2011 - 20:12

This note is about communication, specifically that situation where there's stress in a relationship and you find yourself not communicating about a difficult issue.

There could be all kinds of reasons why you've stopped talking, maybe it's to avoid arguments, or avoid facing something you feel awful, afraid or hopeless about? In any case there's a sense of avoidance. There's also a sense that either talking wont help, or that the price in terms of feared consequences or wounded pride is too high.
So the reasons for not talking boil down to fear, anger or hopelessness.

But while you've focusing on avoiding communicating, it's easy to forget one simple fact.

05/13/2011 - 23:42

This note is about getting past bad luck in relationships. It's not about blaming yourself.

The world is full of things we can't control, including the fate of relationships. However, what we do have is influence.

To improve your chances of relationships turning out more as you'd like, you need to learn more about your powers of influence - while recognising that the aim is not to control a story that someone else has an equal part in. Equally important is not blaming yourself, if things end in a way you're not happy with - which will only reinforce other unhelpful beliefs.

But how can you avoid blame, if you accept the influence you have on how a relationship turns out?