building trust

Open Relationship Advice: How do I Work on My Insecurities?

how do i work on insecurities.jpg

Ask me anything is a relationship advice column written by Gina Senarighi, a couples therapist turned retreat leader who offers online support for non-traditional relationships of all flavors.  

Submit your Ask Me Anything question right here or read more Ask Me Anything here.


This week's question: 

"I lived with/dated a poly man for 18 months. He is a gem of a person! His wife, her boyfriend and I had a good relationship and are still in touch.

These last few months I've been dealing with jealousy and insecurity, so much so that we broke things off and he moved out.

I'm pretty devastated, and really want things to work, but need time to get my head on straight. We agreed to check back in a few months and see where things stand. I want to be ready and healthy for this.

How do I figure out how to work on jealousy and insecurity?"

I'm so sorry you broke up. I hope you'll consider working on your insecurity and jealousy for your own well-being, whether you get back together or not. 

The first step in managing jealousy and insecurity is learning to allow them. Most of us struggle with jealousy and insecurity and most of our struggle is beating ourselves up because they exsist.  

But jealousy and insecurity are normal, natural emotional states. If we ignore them we're ignoring part of ourselves. And we would never ignore other emotions (joy, excitement, calm etc) so why sever this part of ourselves?

I know joy and happiness are so much easier to sit with. But if you can bring yourself to accept that jealousy and insecurity are natural, you may be able to sit with them a while and learn from them. Often they're trying to tell us something useful. 

Next time they show up, find somewhere comfy and get something to write with. Then do a free-write (unedited, no-judgment allowed) interviewing them.  Ask your jealousy and insecurity:

  • What do they want most?
  • What are they trying to tell you?
  • What other emotions are they traveling with?
  • What are they trying to protect?

And answer for yourself:

  • How does spending time with jealousy/insecurity help me?
  • How do I feel when I believe my jealous thoughts?
  • How do I feel when I choose to believe my insecure thoughts?
  • How do I want to feel in this moment? What do I want to focus on/be present for?
  • Who would I be if you weren't focusing on them?

Notice what you can learn from these emotions if you allow them.  There is likely some important learning here for you.  If you want a coach to walk you through creating a different relationship with your jealousy and insecurity, call me, I'm here for you. 


polyamory advice | open relationship advice | open marriage advice

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC keeps non-traditional relationships healthy and vibrant as a coach and retreat leader in Portland, OR.  

She can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move past jealousy, insecurity or codependecy
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnection
  • break stale or unhealthy communication patterns 

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

 

Relationship Advice: How do I Regain Her Trust?

polyamory advice | open relationship advice | open marriage advice

Ask me anything is a relationship advice column written by Gina Senarighi, a couples therapist turned retreat leader who offers online support for non-traditional relationships of all flavors.  

Submit your Ask Me Anything question right here or read more Ask Me Anything here.


This week's question: 

"I've been in a relationship for nearly two years. Recently we had some misunderstanding issues, regarding privacy, boldness, and respecting each other's feelings. How can I solve the problem, and regain trust?"

I'm so glad you're asking.  Rebuilding trust is so critical to staying together- and most of us are clueless when it comes to relationship repair work.  Thanks for bringing this up!

Trust is touchy because it's so difficult to build up and so easy to lose.  It gets built up in the tiniest of everyday actions - so small it can seem invisible.  And so tiny building it back can seem like it takes forever. 

And building trust back after it's been broken is a struggle because we rarely can see the full impact our actions have on a partner.  Just as it's built in tiny increments, it can be broken in tiny increments- so tiny we can miss them if we're not invested in paying attention.

I offer that information only to help give you a little perspective. Lots f folks get impatient when trying to earn trust from a loved one after we've broken it. But it takes time- sometimes, lots of time to get back to a similar trusting place. And getting impatient isn't going to help.

You can do it though. If you stick with it.  

The keys to building trust after a break are twofold: you have to both repair the specific break, and you have to keep momentum building on the tiny incremental trust-installments you've already made. 

Repairing the Trust Break

When trust has been broken you have to apologize.  But that doesn't mean just saying you're sorry.  Apologies have four essential parts if they're going to work. 

  1. Acknowledge the specific behaviors you did that broke trust
  2. Acknowledge the emotional impact on your partner
  3. Suggest an alternative behavior you'll do if a similar situation comes up in the future
  4. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: Follow through on what you said in #3

The more specific you can be when taking ownership of your actions and the more clearly you can connect to the impact it had on your sweetie the better.  But above all, be sure when you suggest alternatives for the future, you offer something you KNOW you can commit to following through.  Follow through is where trust is built.

Keeping Trust-Momentum Building

The other part of regaining trust is to keep the day-to-day trust nourishing behaviors you already have in place moving in the right direction.  We build trust when what we do and what we say are in alignment. 

So start paying extra close attention to the agreements, promises, and commitments you make with your partner and be especially careful not to over-promise. And start looking for ways to make more promises you KNOW you can follow through on.  As you create verbal agreements and follow through on them- even tiny ones- trust between you will slowly return.

I'm sorry you and your sweetie are in the difficult place of repairing trust.  But with care and intention, you can get back to a sweetly connected place again. Let me know if you'd like help along the way.


    polyamory advice | open relationship advice | open marriage advice

    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a retired couples therapist, sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and keeping non-traditional relationships healthy and vibrant.  

    She can help you:

    • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
    • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • move past jealousy, insecurity or codependecy
    • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care
    • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnection
    • break stale or unhealthy communication patterns 

    Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

    Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

     

    Invest in Your Relationship's Emotional Bank Account

    Emotional Bank Account | Uncommon Love Polyamory Couples Counseling

    One of the most important things to assess in within couples relationship is the state of the emotional bank account. 

     John Gottman's research shows every time you turn towards your partner with warmth, follow through on your agreements, share affection, appreciation, and gratitude, and create positive future plans you are making a small investment in this account.  You can also make withdrawals and overdraft the account by doing the opposite.

    Having a positive balance in the account can provide sustenance during crisis and help couples through times of repair.  It creates the possibility of long-term sustainability.

    Couples who are successful make tiny investments in their relationships frequently.  Satisfied long-term partners will turn toward one another with affection, gratitude, and appreciation in both verbal and nonverbal ways up to hundreds of times per hour.

    This is even true of non-romantic partnerships.  Family members, and friends who who attend to relationships regularly in thoughtful ways are better equipped to build long lasting relationships.  Even business partners who tune in to the importance of relationships will have greater success in negotiating contracts and meetings.  These folks stick together with greater loyalty and trust.

    So how can you invest in your relationships?  

    Five simple tips to invest in your emotional bank account

    1.  Have daily positive/warm contact.

    It's amazing how little time we actually spend with our partner each week.  Think about it, you're at work over forty hours, plus commute time, you work out, or watch TV and then it's time for bed.  Carve out 30 quality minutes to spend with your sweetheart each day (away from electronic devices) and I promise you will notice a difference.

    2.  Share appreciation and gratitude often.

    Over time we forget to say those sweet things to our loved ones.  This is a problem because we stop noticing all those wonderful things, and our partner stops hearing about them. 

    Make sure that once a day you are making an investment in your relationship bank account by sharing something you appreciate about your partner.  Think about it as a vitamin for your relationship's health.

    3.  Notice the attempts your partner makes for your attention and clearly state your attempts for theirs.

    John Gottman (the most respected relationship researcher out there) talks A LOT about the importance of bids in relationships.  Bids are the times we ask for attention from our partner.  Successful couples notice bids, and more often than not, they respond warmly to their partner.  Missing bids can quickly get you into shaky territory.  

    You don't have to go along with everything your partner says, but it helps to notice all the ways they reach out to you (eye contact, affection, requests for help, invitations etc) and respond with care.

    4.  Give the benefit of the doubt.

    Sometimes when we are together for a while we start building resentments in relationships.  These can snowball if you don't stop them quickly.  Trust your partner's best intentions. 

    When in question, ask for clarification, "Honey, you're just asking if I am wearing this so we don't accidentally dress as twins- not because you think it looks bad, right?"

    5.  State your shared mission/meaning/values regularly. 

    It's important to have a shared goal on the horizon and values guiding your decisions.  This doesn't mean you always agree, but that you have a shared sense of meaning to help guide your collaborative process.  Set some dates for the future and talk openly about how much you look forward to them (not just a wedding, think about travel or shared celebrations).  

    Talk with your sweetheart about the things that add meaning to your life and shared time.

    If you want help strengthening your relationship I am taking new clients starting next week.  Give me a call for a free consultation to see if we're a good fit to work together.

     


    couples counseling in portland | sex counselor portland

    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

    She can help you:

    Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

    Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

    How to Build Trust in Relationships

    Building Trust in Relationships | Uncommon Love Couples Counseling in Portland

    In my time working with couples I have learned a lot about building and rebuilding trust.  So many partners come in times of trouble, after affairs and lies, hoping to make things better.  

    I'm proud of the work I have done with them reconnecting in hard times.

    But nothing has taught me more about trust that my own challenges this month.  After sharing my partner's cancer diagnosis with friends and family (and all of you) I have been touched by who and how my community has shown support for us.  And nothing grows trust like showing up authentically and reliably for another in difficult times.  

    I am ever grateful for the support of my community during this difficult time.  And for the constant opportunity in my work to share my learning about trust and relationships.  

    Based in both my formal learning and my personal experience, here's are the basics of building trust:

    1.  Be Impeccable With Your Word

    The first key to building trust is to be honest in the first place.  The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz asks us to "be impeccable with your word."  Be careful to speak only in truth to build trust with people you love.

    2.  Show Up and Follow Through

    Building trust takes tiny investments over time- like deposits in a bank.  When we faced challenges the most impactful support came from folks who just remembered something tough was going on and showed up.  They texted, send cute animal video links, and offered cooking.  They sent cards and hugs.  Tiny, quick actions meant huge investments in relationship trust accounts.

    Walking your talk or following through on commitments is one of the simplest ways to build back trust.  When you make a commitment or promise be sure to see it through.  Every time you see things through you build credibility.

    3.  Have Boundaries

    Clear and consistent boundaries help us know what to expect in relationships.  The more honest we can be about our boundaries and expectations the greater trust will grow in relationships.

    4.  Show Empathy

    One of the most difficult steps in rebuilding trust is demonstrating empathy.  All too often we jump to defensiveness when we've hurt someone else- instead of connecting with their hurt feelings.  Showing true care for the emotions of the person we've wronged can be a critical salve to the trust wound.  Don't rush past this part of the process.

    5.  Apologize

    Similarly, we often forget to apologize directly and openly to the person we've hurt.  Most often we've been feeling so bad about hurting someone we've said it 100 times in our heads- but never out loud to our friend.  Don't overlook the importance of a genuine apology.  

    Ask yourself where you can focus on building trust in your relationships this week.  Notice how bringing these five paths to trust into focus you strengthen the relationships around you.  

     


    online couples counseling | relationship coach | portland relationship coach

    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

    She can help you:

    Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

    Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).