PARTNER EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED ELSEWHERE?

You'd better hope your inamorate's attached to more than just you.

Dry your eyes: Your partner’s attachment to more than you is one of the strongest ways to make love last.

You already know part of being human is the capacity for experiencing many emotions.  Turns out that ability isn’t limited to homo sapiens.   Anyone who’s ever had a companion animal knows the depth of the bond that develops, not just because we need their regard, but because they regard us right back.  It’s obvious these creatures are as selective as humans when it comes to feeling affection.

Powerful experiences create emotions like sadness, happiness, love, fear, and anger in many mammals.  It’s heartbreaking to watch an animal grieve at the loss of a companion, one who isn’t necessarily human.  On the other hand, the internet antics of a variety of interspecies’ friendships has its own very popular niche; there’s no doubting the “awww” effect of such interactions.

So it is when office mates celebrate the completion of a long, stressful project with high fives all around.  Intense battlefield experiences account for fellow-soldiers’ often unspoken bonds to each other.  Members of winning teams embrace each other, jump on each other, or cry with each other while their fans do the same thing, even though they’re strangers.

Turns out that trust, touch, desire for social connection, bonding, affection, calmness, fear reduction, protectiveness, a desire for social connection – and, yes, perhaps love – seem to be experienced in varying degrees among sloths and humans as well as between them, a result of the release of oxytocin which is common to all mammals.

Dry your eyes if you assume your partner doesn’t care for you because he cares about others (non-sexually) as well.  Be glad your partner’s in touch with others — pets, co-workers, buddies, family.  Self-expressing, sharing emotional experiences with others, and being empathetic all enable your partner to be part of your healthy relationship.

Isn’t that what you wanted in the first place?

A Marriage & Family Therapist for over 20 years, Kathe Skinner specializes in couples work in her Colorado Springs’ practice.  She has been married for over 30 years to David and has had many inter-species relationships, currently with kitties Petey and Lucy.  Read more about Kathe and her approach to therapy at www.coupleswhotalk.com where you can sign up to receive her FREE curated newsletter.

copyright, 2016 Being Heard, LLC

Which AGE is a Romance Killer? You May Be Surprised.

beached rowboatNo matter what your age, assumptions, generalizations, and expectations (AGE) will kill romance, and even the relationship, just about every time.

Human beings, male or female, are complex outcomes of how they’re hardwired, the meaning they make of themselves and their place in the world, and the world in which they grow up. I’m not a fan of statistics but I do know enough to say the combinations are endless — finite, but endless.

In other words, no two people are exactly alike.

Maybe because of our need to manage those unmanageable numbers we make generalizations about “what is a man” and “what is a woman”.  As a therapist I sometimes fall victim to simplification myself rather than taking the elements of a couple as two different people and not the generalized version of their gender descriptions, e.g. men are stoic and women are emotional.

I’m not the only perpetrator.  Societies generalize all the time, with changes usually coming over time, and in sometimes cataclysmic ways.  In American society think women getting the vote, same-sex marriage, or race relations.

Some generalizations take their time dying.  For example, every newly married couple — and some long-term ones — have expectations based on generalizations.  Same with expectations each gender has about the other.  Our society generalizes about roles, sex, happiness, conjointness, privacy, emotionality, rationality, areas of competence, and so on.

Otherwise life is way too complex.

Take sensitive men, for example, with their thoughts, feelings and behaviors contrary to the alpha model.  Or women whose thoughts, feelings, and behaviors run to competitiveness and control.  It’s not just men who have to wear a mask, women do, too.  A guy might get away with wearing a pink shirt if he’s otherwise kick-ass.  A woman CEO has to wear more than perfume in order to be relabelled from pushy, bossy, or bitchy.

Expectation-based thinking is insidious in most of us, hetero- or homosexuals alike.  That’s trouble.

Human interaction is expectation-based, often uneducatedly expectation-based.  We generally modify expectations about the physical world based on trial and error — that’s called learning. But when it comes to couples, for instance, generalization-based assumptions are wedged tightly into our psyches and seldom disappear for good.

In other words, a failing grade is earned in Relationship 101.

Relationships don’t have to die, or even fail.  Examining automatic thinking is work. There’s another way; it’s harder, but it works. Paying attention to gray matter chatter is the first step in breaking an AGEing brain away from automatic thinking.  Automatic thinking is a passive process; no thought goes into it at all.

The more active (read “aware”) the process of thinking, the fewer assumptions, generalizations, and expectations we hold about our partner and our partner’s role in the relationship.  It’s active thinking that can give partners insight into each other — the real other, not the generalized versions.

If a relationship stands a chance, AGE has to be put aside.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in couples.  She and her husband, David, teach couples how to avoid the destructiveness of AGEs.  They offer a Secular Couple Communication Workshop throughout the year; the next one begins September 25th.  Check it out!

Copyright, 2015 Being Heard, LLC