Falling in love
Resource: 💕 36 Questions to Fall in Love
Try these with anyone you’d like to be closer to, even if you’ve known them for a long time, you’ll likely learn some things.
Talking about the relationship itself is super valuable, especially in queer relationships where we aren’t necessarily following the straight world’s formulaic approach to romantic love. This is where tools like nonviolent communication can really help.
Book: Nonviolent Communication: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships
Video: Marshall Rosenburg NVC Workshop — a 3-hour workshop on NVC, by its creator
Learning about attachment theory, and your attachment style, will help you answer some questions about how you show up to relationships and give you some tools to work on yourself so you can connect more deeply with others and be stable for them.
Blog post: The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture
Book: Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
Book: Turn This World Inside Out: The Emergence of Nurturance Culture by Nora Samaran
When things are getting more serious
As things are getting more serious, it’s good to move into topical areas that a lot of people avoid, so you can get all the good (and uncomfortable) stuff out into the open.
Don’t wait until you’re moving in together or committing really deeply to each other, talk about these things early: money, sex, partnerships, kinks, traumas, etc.
Use the Gottman Model
In the Gottman Model, the sound relationship is like a house built from trust and commitment.
This section is an excerpt from the Gottman Institute‘s resource about healthy relationships. If you like it, you may enjoy their book “Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love”.
Five ways to build trust and commitment:
- Make trustworthiness a main priority in your relationship.
- Act to maximize your partner’s well-being
- Know that trust is built in small positive moments
- Avoid negative comparisons
- Generate frequent thoughts and acts that cherish your partner’s positive qualities and minimize your focus on their negative faults
If trust and commitment is the foundation of the house, here are the practices that build stability from the ground up:
- Maintain awareness of your partner’s world
- Make deposits into the Emotional Bank Account
- Watch for, and accept bids for emotional connection
- A positive perspective occurs when the friendship of your marriage is strong
Accept influence from your partner: be open to compromise
Discuss your problems: take turns listening to one another about perpetual issues
Practice self-soothing: keep yourself calm
- Find ways to support each other’s life goals and dreams
- Build a shared sense of purpose. What is your mission and legacy?
🚩 Domestic Violence Red Flags
If you want the best chance at a healthy relationship with someone, you first need to learn how to avoid obviously unhealthy relationships.
Unfortunately we live in a world where domestic abuse is widespread.
Thankfully, it’s possible to see that you are entering an abusive, toxic relationship before you get trapped in it. There are early warning signs. Abusers use the same patterns—in the same order—in each new relationship. If you know how to spot them, it will be easier to say no.
Early warning signs
Too much: You are overwhelmed because they are giving you too many gifts, too many complements, too soon in the relationship. Too many texts, DMs late at night. Too much contact. Too many promises and talk about the future. They go from not in your life, to all over your life practically overnight.
Too soon: They are calling you their future spouse or partner right away. They are making big plans for the two of you, even though you barely know each other. They’re using controlling language, saying things like “You’re mine now.”
Transforming: They immediately start trying to change you. You are an object for their pleasure. They have lots of opinions about you and has unsolicited advice or comments on your tastes, beliefs, career, relationships, and personal style. Rules for how you should behave, how you should use your time, etc.
Constant contact: They contact you constantly. They expect you to respond right away. They want to go everywhere with you all the time. They want you focused on them, prioritizing their needs over your own and everyone else’s.
Isolating: Abuse thrives in isolation. So, they want to isolate you. They will criticize your loved ones or your friends, eventually getting you to cut off contact and shut down your external support structures so they can have you all to themselves.
It’s important to know what the red flags are. The lines that should never be crossed. Does your partner ever…
- Insult, demean or embarrass you with put-downs?
- Control what you do, who you talk to or where you go?
- Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
- Push you, slap you, choke you or hit you?
- Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
- Control the money in the relationship? Take your money or Social Security check, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money?
Read more at Is This Abuse?
Even if you can see all the clear warning signs of an abuser, it can be hard to say no!Maybe you don’t want to hurt their feelings, or you’re afraid they’ll get angry. If you’re in the US, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call them at 800.799.7233 or TTY 800.787.3224.
How to leave a toxic relationship
Sometimes you have to leave a relationship because it is toxic.
It’s not worth giving up your sense of safety so that your partner can be abusive.
Abusers are often seen as villains rather than victims.
But everyone suffers in a toxic relationship. Abusers suffer when they reinforce giving in to the darkness and violence rather than building patterns of healthy intimacy. People who have grown up with a lot of violence and adversity often have to learn how to love as adults.
Abusers who are motivated to change can very often recover, and learn healthy intimacy, when they have the right support.
Staying with them in an abusive relationship supports the wrong impulses and intentions, so it is the best thing for you and for them to let go and create a lot of distance.