Romantic Relationships

How To Be More Emotionally Attuned in Life And Therapy

How To Be More Emotionally Attuned in Life And Therapy

I've been thinking and reading a lot about the idea of emotional attunement. Emotional attunement means not only being in tune with yourself but with the people around you.  It's a hard skill to master.

I often think the when problems arise in a relationship, whether it's therapeutic, a friendship or romantic, it is because we are lacking emotional attunement with our own feelings as well with the other.  This leads to disconnection. And disconnection means a feeling of loneliness and unbelonging, which is are the seeds of real depression. 

How Do We Become More Emotionally Attuned? 

The first step, I think, in any of this is being in tune with one's emotions. How do we learn to be in tune with our emotions? Mindfulness is often the first step. To check in with our feelings when we're sad, or lonely and anxious, to notice them and meet them with compassion sounds simple but much harder to do in practice. Mindfulness can be aided by a real meditation practice. Meditation helps us remain open to our feelings as they arise. 

Therapy is also important. A good therapeutic relationship will help us know ourselves and what we haven't been able to express in our everyday lives. Therapy will help us dig into all those unwanted feelings we have that have pushed deep down, and that need real love and compassion to unearth. This sort of attunement can change every relationship we have. 

Want to Stay Married? Embrace Change

Want to Stay Married? Embrace Change

This morning I was rereading a wonderful New York Times piece from April called, "To Stay Married, Embrace Change." As a Buddhist, It's a particularly resonate read for me. It reminds me of something Roshi Shunryu Suzuki said when asked to reduce Buddhism down to one phrase, 

"Everything Changes."

As the article points out, to have a successful marriage, we need to realize that we will change but so will our partner. 

Do We Overcomplicate Romantic Relationships? Kindness as a Key to a Happy Partnership

Do We Overcomplicate Romantic Relationships? Kindness as a Key to a Happy Partnership

What makes for a happy relationship? Everyone has a different answer for that questions. Some of you will say “things in common.” Others will say “sexual chemistry” or “attraction.” Others, if they were being honest, will say things like the “class,” “race” or “religion.” But there is a problem with that list: those are all cultural markers of identity. They say little about what a person is actually like.

So if I asked you, what character traits make for a happy relationship? Again, everyone would have a different answer to that question. Some of you will say “sense of humor.” Others will say “honesty.” Most of you will say, “kind.” But what does that actually mean? What does kindness actually look like in a relationship?

5:1, The Magic Ratio for a Happy Relationship

It seems obvious that having more positive experiences than negative ones in a romantic relationship is necessary for it to survive. But is there a way to actually quantify this? Relationship psychologist, John Gottman, believes he has found the answer. Using a mathematical model, he discovered: 

"The magic ratio is 5:1. In other words, as long as there are five times as many positive interactions between partners as there are negative, the relationship is likely to be stable. It is based on this ratio that Dr. Gottman is able to predict divorce! Very unhappy couples tend to have more negative than positive interactions. The bottom line: even though some level of negativity is necessary for a stable relationship, positivity is what nourishes your love. On Wednesday, we will investigate further into Dr. John Gottman’s “Magic Ratio” that has received national attention

This is not to say that a relationship with conflict is a bad one. Every relationship has disagreement. But learning how to turn your disagreements into positives where neither party is feeling overly criticized and understood is key.

And when you're not disagreement, it's important to keep the relationship healthy by finding ways to interact with each other in new and interesting ways. That can be hard with levels of anxiety so high in today's society. But to keep any relationship strong takes more work and self-reflection than social media world would have us believe. 

Anthony Tshering is a psychotherapist in the New York City area. Please contact him at (347) 927-4856 or if you'd like to set up a consultation appointment for therapy.