Relationship Skillsn

Relationships are all about building trust.

In his research, Dr. Gottman observed that happy couples turn towards their partners approximately twenty times more than couples in distress during everyday, non-conflict discussions. In a newlywed study, newlyweds who were still married six years after their wedding had turned towards each other 86% of the time while in the lab. Those who were divorced six years later, however, had only turned towards each other 33% of the time.

Every time you turn towards your partner’s bids for emotional connection, you are making a deposit in what Dr. Gottman calls your Emotional Bank Account. You add value to your account when you create and build on positive moments between yourself and your partner. These little moments add up, reminding the two of you of the feelings you have for one another, and of your commitment to supporting each other through all of the experiences you share. If you find yourself lost amid the everyday stresses of life, your investment in an Emotional Bank Account drastically diminishes the probability that these stresses will climax in some kind of catastrophic fight.

By keeping Dr. Gottman’s tips about bidding in mind, you and your partner can feel that you are in control and dramatically increase the stability of your relationship. Dr. Gottman describes positive responses to bids as “turning towards” your partner: being mindful, aware, and responsive to the small interactions that the two of you have. When we bid for our partner’s attention, affection, or support, their response generates a critical outcome. As we become used to receiving a pattern of acceptance or rejection of our bids, our feelings towards our partner are an enormous determinant of the success or failure of the relationship! To begin with, we ought to ask a question: What does accepting bids tell the bidder? Here is Dr. Gottman’s answer:

When you “turn towards” bids, the bidder hears:

  • I’m interested in you.
  • I hear you.
  • I understand you (or would like to).
  • I’m on your side.
  • I’d like to help you (whether I can or not).
  • I’d like to be with you (whether I can or not).
  • I accept you (even if I don’t accept all your behavior).

In our next few blog entries, we will offer you some of his research-based methods for improving your ability to receive bids in ways that strengthen the trust in your relationship! For now, practice the skills we taught you in our most recent blog posts on Dr. Gottman’s Four Steps of Emotional Attunement & Intimate Conversation with your partner, and start feeling the trust you share grow. If you’ve found our discussions of trust helpful, look forward to the release of Dr. Gottman’s new book What Makes Love Last?.

Relationship Success

Relationship Success Depends on our Unconscious Agreements

Unspoken agreements are the agreements that we do not speak, but they play out in our lives. They are agreements that we make with ourselves, another person, or group as a way to get love, attention, or to feel safe.

From the time that Kathy married Bob, she took the back seat in their interactions by trying to please him and not focusing on her needs or her growth. His needs were the priority for both of them. He was a successful accountant who worked very hard to move up in his accounting firm. She stayed at home because that was what he wanted her to do.

He never asked her what she wanted to do. When she would praise him or do things to enhance his career and his social standing in the community, he would show satisfaction with her. For the first eight years of their marriage, her purpose in life was to get his approval. The unspoken agreement was “I’ll be lesser than you and in exchange, you will love me”.

As time want on, Kathy became stronger and more aware of her own value as a person. She realized that she wanted a career for herself and enrolled in a PHD program in psychology.

This brought about a change in their relationship causing cracks in the bridge. A relationship is a bridge. Dr. Bruce Fisher, in his book “Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends,” compares a relationship to a bridge. The relationship is the horizontal part of the bridge that connects two people who are the foundations of the bridge at either end.

The foundations must be strong to support the bridge. If one of the foundations shifts or changes then the bridge develops cracks. If not dealt with, these cracks will result in the breakup of the relationship.

Change is always happening as long as we are alive. If you deny, or resist these changes the relationship will either become strained and lose the good feelings which were there in the beginning, or it will break apart.

Each person must work on his/her own personal growth to have a healthier relationship with self. He/she also needs to understand the needs of the partner. Then the couple must work out which needs they want to meet separately and which ones they want to work out with their partner. This is a main reason why people end relationships and is something that CAN be worked out.

If you don’t take responsibility of meeting some of your needs, you will end up blaming your partner for your unhappiness and failing to support your partner in their pursuits. It doesn’t have to end this way

The paradoxical fact of relationships is that we pair with people who express our opposite or complementary tendencies. For example, Kathy and Bob had a pattern of Giver/Taker as the way they related to each other. That worked well at first, but when Kathy shifted what she wanted, she broke the original agreement.

These agreements are not spoken and certainly are not conscious, but they are fastidiously acted out in the daily life of the couple. This shift in her foundation of the bridge caused irreparable cracks in their relationship and they divorced.

It doesn’t have to end this way, although this is what we see much of the time. If both people are willing to look at what they expect and the roles they have been cast in from childhood, they can grow and incorporate new ways of being, which give them more choices in life.

This willingness to look at oneself and embrace new information can and does lead the couple to a level of intimacy that never would have been imagined at the beginning of the relationship.

relationship, Couples Therapy, Life Coach, marriage counseling, Relation Therapy, Relationship Therapy

Is your relationship feeling flat and unexciting? You must deal with resentments!

Most couples have resentments that they are not even aware of which destroy the intimacy in their  relationship.

In working with couples for 22 years in Los Angeles, I find that they become deadened to each other and the relationship over the years if they don’t put some effort into learning new skills.

Many couples come to me for marriage counseling wanting to put some passion and energy back into the relationship. They often say somethng like, “we have become like roommates, or ships passing in the night”.

This flatness in the relationship does not have to happen if the couple is willing to learn some new communication skills.

So what do couples need to learn to reignite the intimacy?


They need to learn how to give their partner attention, acknowledgement and affirmation. These are the things that couples often stop doing after they have been together for a while.

A new level of intimacy


I find that to get a couple back to a deeper level of connection I have to establish a strong base of support where each person agrees to be open to their own feelings and to those of their partner.  This leads the way to expressing vulnerability.  This takes some preparation but when a person can express vulnerability and have that accepted and acknowledged by the partner a new level of intimacy is introduced into the relationship.

emotionally abusive relationship,borderline personality disorder,emotionally abusive relationship,emotional abuse

Emotionally Abusive Relationship…Are you in a Relationship with an emotionally abusive person with Borderline Personality Disorder…Does your partner seem like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

Recovering From Emotionally  abusive relationship often involves a person with Borderline Personality Disorder.


Emotionally Abusive Relationships often are with a person who has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  The main characteristic of this kind of personality disorder is  that the person  becomes very controlling in an attempt to avoid being rejected.  Rejection is the greatest fear of someone with BPD.

Emotional Abuse Relationships have these characteristics:

  • In the beginning the person thinks you are perfect and professes love for you that they have “never felt before for anyone” They alternate between this state and rage at you.  When they are in the rage state you rationalize their behavior by telling yourself how loving and adoring they can be and your longing for that keeps you in the relationship.  They will give you just enough of that to keep you around.  That adoring behavior is very powerful and addictive because they have an uncanny ability to read you and therefore can make you feel “seen” maybe for the first time in your life.  As good as this feels, it is a sign that you are with a person with BPD.
  • The other person demands that you to put aside your needs to tend to their needs and no matter how much you give, it’s never enough. Then they criticize you for not doing enough to fulfill their needs using verbal assaults belittling, screaming, threatening, humiliating you.  They use fear to control you threatening to end the relationship .  You start to feel helpless and trapped.
  • Being constantly put down and accused of doing things you never did, yet when you try to leave the relationship they will try to keep you there by declaring love or threatening you.
  • You can never plan or count on social engagements because the person will change the plan or refuse to go at the last minute.
  • The other person reacts differently at different times to the same behavior that you exhibit.

The one thing that a BPD (border personality disorder) person needs the most is for their partner to set clear and definite limits. When a partner enforces these boundaries, it helps the partner to become more confident and the BPD person to feel safer, by knowing how far they can go. The limits actually help people feel safe because it teaches them how to behave so that they aren’t rejected.  An abusive relationship cannot continue when the partner maintains clear and strong limits as to what is acceptable behavior.

In order to know if you are in an abusive relationship, one must first be aware of these warning signs.

 Stages of an Abusive Relationship


1)  The honeymoon stage- you experience limerence which lasts 3 months to a few years.  In this stage you are obsessed and infatuated by your partner.

2)  The obsessively controlling stage- the BPD will cut you off from family, friends and hobbies (anything you enjoy on your own).  This is because the BPD’s biggest fear is being left.  She/he will see all your friends and interests as competition for your attention and love.

3) The BPD will become more desperate to control you and will make threats, both to commit suicide or to harm you or your family members, if you threaten to leave.

Abusive Relationship Recovery for the partner


Treatment for partner recovery is best initiated by trauma work.  I use EMDR  which is very effective to get the victim connected to their resources again.

The partner of a person with Borderline Personality Disorder is  traumatized from living with the behavior and manipulation techniques used to attempt to control them and keep them form leaving.

Emotional abuse is like brainwashing- it systematically wears away the victim’s sense of self worth, and trust in their perceptions.  If  this feels like your relationship, please get the help of a therapist or life coach who is experienced in dealing with an abusive relationship.

There is Hope for moving forward


Many people rind themselves involved with a BPD because they are very charming and make you feel very desired and loved …at first.  It is natural and healthy to want to be loved.   They have an acute ability to tune in on the very things a person is most vulnerable about.  They use this in the beginning to get close to you and then later to threaten and control you.

In the Meantime the best thing to do:


In order to protect yourself from abuse you  must set and maintain clear boundaries.  Tell your BPD partner that you will not tolerate a particular behavior and that the next time they try it you will leave the house . The leaves the BPD with 2 choices,  either loose you or get help.  If you are afraid of inciting violence when you do this, then you need to have a heart to heart talk with yourself asking yourself why you are there.

Another effective approach is DBT…


There is  now a therapy modality that is very effective in helping a person heal from BPD.  It is called DBT and I work with several therapists who get excellent results in healing a person with BPD if the person is willing to make a commitment and do the work in therapy that is involved.

If a person is willing to make a sincere commitment to therapy and stick with it for at least a year, there is a very good chance that healing can happen.  I have a colleague who specializes in DBT and has had much success working with BPD.  Let me know if I can help in this way.

Common questions people ask me are:


Am I crazy or sick to be with a BPD?  The answer is NO.  You are probably just a nice and trusting person (maybe co dependent).  BPD’s are drawn to trusting people because they know that they can be more easily manipulated.
Although you are not the sick one you do need to learn to nurture your inner child self so that you are not so vulnerable to flattery.  When you have a strong inner self you can more easily see and resist manipulation and flattery.  You are also able to be objective about other people because  you don’t need them to be a certain way.  You will start to notice when people lie or have no empathy for other human beings.  These are the major signs of a BPD.

As part of your recovery you will discover why you attracted this type of person. You will then be able to start to heal yourself fo that you can have the  healthy relationships that you deserve.