healthy relationships

Relationship Tips: Get Their Attention

Communication Patterns in Successful Relationships

Loads of research has been done on the behaviors of successful couples and one of trend holds true: satisfied couples in happy relationships are more likely to bid for attention in a few key ways.

Read on to add these skills in your relationships.

Bids for Attention

We bid for each other's attention all the time.  We do this by gesturing, making eye contact, initiating affection, making a joke, pointing out something.  

For example I might turn to my sweetheart and say, "I really like your shirt."

Successful couples bid more frequently. But there is a second part of bidding that keeps them in a loop of communicating with kindness.  

Receiving Bids From Your Partner

When someone bids for attention we have four real options in our response.  I will give you examples for each.

Warm:  

"Thanks for noticing my shirt babe."  This is a kind or friendly response.  It invites more interaction.

Neutral:

"Oh." This isn't a kind or unkind response.  It doesn't invite more communication or connection, but it doesn't overtly harm the relationship.  However, over time it can divide a couple if it is the only response given.  

Cold:

"Why are you talking about my shirt?!?"  This might be an angry, defensive, or judgmental response.  This response doesn't invite more positive interaction and often leads to disconnection and conflict.  

Often we think this is the most problematic response- but when this response is handled respectfully couples can still grow.  

Non-response:

This is the most detrimental to the relationship.  When someone doesn't respond we feel ignored and we are far less likely to continue bidding for our partner's attention.  This gap in responses starts growing distance between people.

We fill in the gap with our assumptions, resentments and judgments and distance grows.  But sometimes our partner has innocently missed the bid- maybe they simply didn't hear us.  They don't even know how we've been hurt- and aren't able to effectively repair the missed bid. 

Your relationship challenge:

Notice the bids for interaction this week and work to respond with warmth as often as possible.  Notice how it shifts your relationship's energy.   

 


Healthy Relationships | Couples Therapist | Sex Therapist

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

Ten Simple Steps to Be a Better Partner

how to be a better partner.jpg

Staying in love long-term takes intentional action every day.  It doesn't have to take a lot of work, but by keeping these things in mind you'll be a dream partner to your sweetie(s).

Apologize

Strong relationships are based on trust and accountability.  Being a great partner means owning when you've hurt someone, taking accountability, and moving forward.  Try apologizing with more clarity next time (here are a few tips).

Breathe Before Responding

Most conflicts could be resolved if we just slowed down and thought things through before reacting.  Take a breath before you respond from now moving forward and notice what shifts between you.

Take Care of Yourself

If you aren't taking care of yourself you can't properly take care of your love.  Period.  Prioritize your self-care as a means to nourish your relationship.  

Make Their Day

Stop and ask yourself, what one thing could bring joy or ease to my sweethearts day- and then do it.  Maybe it's a love note, a clean house, or a special song no matter what it is we all like to enjoy a special treat once in a while.  Surprise them with something new.

Show Affection

Not all communication is verbal- having strong kinesthetic communication strengthens relationships too.  Ask your partner what their favorite kind of affection is, and then follow up by doing it.  

Think Kind Thoughts

Resentment likes to build up even without our partners' help.  Notice when you start dwelling on negative thoughts, criticisms, or complaints you have about your partner and force yourself to think nice thoughts for each negative thought you're holding.

Consider their Point of View

When you're in conflict make sure you take your partner's feelings and ideas into consideration.  Couples who can perspective-take stay together longer- and experience greater sense of being "heard".    

Compliment Them

Often as a relationship grows we forget to tell our partners the things we love about them- specifically, in person, and with words.  Take the five seconds to nourish your relationship right now- just tell them why you love them.

Share Gratitude Openly

Strong couples share genuine appreciation and gratitude regularly.  Start a daily gratitude practice and share something you're grateful for to help you stay close.  I've asked clients to practice gratitude for years and those who have experienced greater success in our work together.

I hope these suggestions help you create a partnership you love.  Let me know if you'd like help reinforcing your connection.  I'm always here to help!


be a better partner | how to do relationships well

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

A Month of Kindness for Your Relationship

So many incredible couples reach out to me to help them reconnect with each other.  While there are lots of ways to get there, starting on the path of reconnection can be easier than you think.

The biggest challenge is shifting your patterns to take tiny daily actions that move you towards more meaningful connection in the smallest of ways.  Most long-term couples need a reminder and a serious commitment to change in order to re-establish these smallest connections.  

So I created a little calendar to help you two commit to daily action.  Click the image to download a copy to give it a try this month.  

As always, if you'd like help nurturing the connection between you, I'm happy to support you. Give me a call. 

When You're Hooked on the Wrong Kind of Partner

stuck in a bad relationship

I was chatting with a client last week and she said something far too familiar. I'm going to share a quick synopsis because I know it's going to resonate with some of you: 

"I love him so much and I know he's all wrong for me.

 I usually lead a drama-free life... this just isn't me!  

I am totally in control in the rest of my life, but somehow whenever he's in my life I'm a mess.  

I can't seem to stop myself from going back to him.

But also when we're together it's just SO GOOD sometimes too- you, know?  It's like... intoxicating and sweet and overwhelming.  

It's like an addiction in the way I can't keep any real boundaries with him.

Why do I keep getting hooked by this guy!?  I don't know what's wrong with me!!"

Lots of people get hooked into these kinds of relationships.  They're indescribably hot and fascinating.  They feel overwhelmingly life-giving and affirming.  You might feel like you've found a soul mate- or at least someone who you connect with deeper than anyone in a long long time.  You might feel happier than ever with them.  

I've seen hundreds of clients go through this kind of intoxicating infatuation because it feels SO GOOD.

It really does.

And (until) it doesn't.  

When you start noticing yourself behaving in ways you normally wouldn't, or your distracted from all your other relationships (or work) with tension and drama, when you feel overwhelmed by a push-pull tension, or sacked with confusion and overwhelm you might be headed in a messy direction.

The most concerning thing I hear from folks hooked in this kind of dynamic is how not-themselves they feel.  They often find themselves doing things or putting up with things they never would consider in any other friendship or relationship.  

They tell me they would advice friends in similar situations to walk away.

They feel like they've lost sight of themselves.

They acknowledge it's unhealthy and yet these healthy people just can't seem to let go.

"Why am I doing this to myself?"

When you start to notice this kind of imbalance in your relationship it's time to step back for some reflection.  Usually these folks come into our lives to help us learn some important lesson and can foster our growth in some important way- if we pay close attention.

The first thing you want to consider is if there's some kind of theme you can learn from here.  In psychology this is called "transference."  It's what happens when there's some old issue at hand arising in a new person. 

Try the questions below to check if there are energetic boundaries you need to shift:

  • Why/how is this dynamic familiar?

  • Where in my life have I felt this way before?

  • Who in my past is this person reminding me of?

Often when we're stuck in some kind of transference we'll keep repeating the same cycle in relationships until we start changing part of our pattern.  You can get free with greater awareness if it also leads to greater intentionality.  

  • How do you wish you might have handled those past dynamics differently?  

  • What can you learn from them and apply here?

Odds are very good you can learn something here to shift the dynamic you're stuck in.  It's not so simple as they're a bad person and you're a good one- but something between you is clearly off if your actions lack integrity, you feel shame, or you're behaving fully in a space of reactivity (instead of intention).  

Let me know if you'd like to dive deeper in this learning.  I love talking relationships and have plenty more to share on this topic.  


dating the wrong kind of person

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

ASK ME ANYTHING: IS IT TOO SOON TO OPEN OUR RELATIONSHIP?

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

Submit your Ask Me Anything question right here.  Or Read more Ask Me Anything here.

 

This week's question: Do we need to be together longer before we open our relationship?

Here's the full question: I feel excited and terrified at the thought of opening up my relationship. I've been with my partner for 3.5 months and the topic came up a few times. Before meeting him I was curious about open relationships but when he brought it up, I was totally freaked out and felt very insecure.  Two weekends ago he had a panic attack and it ended with him breaking up with me.  Soon after I connected with another man. Two days later my partner came back.  We talked things through and decided to be together.

My questions are: is it a good idea to establish our relationship more, get to know and trust each other better, and again, before exploring an open relationship? Or better to have the early foundation of our relationship be that of an open one? 

I found you through your don't ask don't tell article. I don't know if I'm ready to kiss and connect with others (our agreement is that when we aren't together we can kiss others). I don't know how to talk to him about kissing someone else, I don't want to hurt or lose him, and I don't like the idea of hearing about him kissing someone else... But ultimately I'd love to feel good sharing things and being open, honest and happy for each other. Is it just too soon?

Are we not ready or is this just something we have to force ourselves to go through so we can learn from it and get to a place where we can be open and share experiences?

 

I'm so glad you wrote me!  I know it's a hard place to be in, but I'm hoping it helps to hear you are far from alone.  The tension you describe between being curious and terrified at the same time is all too common among people who are first starting to think about openness.  I meet with lots of couples who say trying to open their relationships felt like a wild emotional roller coaster ride (articulated in your panic attack/break up example).  

There are a couple phrases you used in your message that I want to point out to help respond.  You asked "is it too soon for us" in a number of different ways.  I find a lot of people get stuck on that question  because their individual truth is "this is too soon for me."  Check in with yourself- does that resonate?  Is it too soon for you?  

There is no exact right or wrong time to start negotiating openness in a relationship for the first time.  There are plenty of reasons it can be a struggle when you're just beginning with a new partner and I've seen lots of people struggle to open previously monogamous relationships as well.  

But a couple things you said made me think you might want to put on the brakes a bit for now.  First, hearing that the conversation about openness lead to panic attacks and break ups tells me you might want to ease in more gently and have stronger resiliency support around you both.  You also want to commit to working together instead of threatening break ups.  I would recommend sorting out those things for now, so your conversations about openness can feel less dramatic.  

Finally, your word choice "is this something we just have to force ourselves..." is really telling to me.  I often tell clients "you can't force anything good" and ask people I support to reconsider the "have tos" in their lives.  Relationships function better with want tos instead of have tos.  This more than anything tells me it's time for you to slow down.  

Please understand by slow down I am not saying you should stay monogamous now or forever- you can (and should) revisit this conversation often and with each new partner you build relationship with.  I'm saying it sounds like things have progressed more quickly than either of you may have anticipated and it's time to pause for more reflection before taking more action.  

It's not about how long you've been together, it's about the way you're being together dear one.



Gina Senarighi Oregon Couples Retreat Polyamorous Couples Retreat

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

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 disconnect
  • break 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).

Two Kinds of Boundaries in Relationships

Two Kinds of Boundaries in Relationships | Relationship Boundaries

I've gotten lots of questions in my Ask me Anything column lately related to healthy boundaries in relationships so I thought I'd spend a little time writing more about healthy relationship boundaries for a bit to help clear up a few common misconceptions.  

Before Diving in below, you might want to read the first two installments in this series:

Ten Common Myths About Boundaries

Boundaries Aren't Permanent

Two Essential Kinds of Boundaries

When I work with people to clarify and respect boundaries I find boundaries most often fall into one of two camps.  When we're envisioning them, boundaries either seem to be Hard Lines or Negotiables.  

Hard Line Boundaries

Hard lines are the kind of boundaries that feel especially important and/or tender to us.  They are the ones we'll react most strongly to if crossed.  

Hard line boundaries appear to be absolute or unmoveable.  We can't imagine they will ever shift.

Often these come up in initial conversations with words like never or always attached.  Here are some examples of hard line boundaries I've heard:

"If you cheat on me I will end this relationship."

"I'm vegan."

"I can't imagine I will ever want to be tied up."

"I don't like anal sex."

All of these examples are specific to behaviors and appear absolute or unchanging.  Trying to negotiate with these will risk annoying the person sharing their boundary.

There are several pros and cons to consider when using a hard line boundary:

Pros

Hard line boundaries are usually very clear.  The more clarity the easier to be sure you and a partner are on the same page.

Hard line boundaries can seem simpler to live by.  Often hard lines have an either-or kind of feel (see the first example above).

Cons

Hard line boundaries don't take into account the personal growth and relationship development that happens over time.  Even hard line boundaries will need revisiting in time.

It can be really easy to assume these boundaries are fixed- forever.  I've seen many individuals in the couples I work with feel blindsided when their partner wants to revisit a hard line boundary.  

For example, I've seen many people who thought they would end a relationship after an affair decide to repair and stay together.  Most of those folks would never have predicted they'd stay.

Flexible or Negotiable Boundaries

Flexible or negotiable boundaries are the gray area between an absolute yes or no to a specific behavior or context. There are many pros and cons to using flexible/negotiable boundaries.

Here are some examples from real relationships:

"I like rope play, but I don't like to bottom in group spaces. Let's talk about when and where we want to play."

This boundary is negotiable depending on location-specific behavior. I like this here but not there.  

"Sometimes I get really triggered when sexual content comes on tv.  If that happens I'll let you know by_____ and you could support me by _______."

This boundary might not even look like a boundary to most people- but boundaries are really about asking for what you need and setting expectations.  The part that is negotiable or flexible is the "sometimes" and "if" part of this boundary conversation.  There's room for it to flex and change depending on the situation (in this case tv content or stress I'm feeling).

"I like flirting with you via text but this week I have a huge project at work so I'm not going to be available to respond like I usually am."

This boundary is time-sensitive (the project is happening this week).  It's clear we may renegotiate in a week or shift back to our previous texting behaviors.

Pros

Negotiable boundaries can grow, change, and flex with you and your relationship over time.

Cons

Some people think negotiable boundaries don't deserve the same kind of care and respect.  Thinking because they're flexible negotiable boundary violations don't cause the same kind of harm.  This is just completely untrue.  All boundaries deserve respect and care.

Because they are more conscious of the grey area between absolute yes or no, it can be more difficult to be clear about negotiable boundaries.

You need to be willing to keep a conversation going about boundaries- and some people don't want to invest that much energy in relationship maintenance.

Questions to ask about Hard Line and Flexible/Negotiable Boundaries in Relationships

If you're not sure what kind of boundary you want to set ask yourself a few questions to find more clarity:

Is this boundary time-sensetive?

Is this boundary specific to a location or situation?

How might this boundary change as we get to know each other?

When will I be open to talking about this boundary again?

If you want any help clarifying or communicating boundaries, I'm happy to talk with you in a free consultation.  I love chatting about boundaries!


gina senarighi | boundaries in relationships | relationship boundary

Gina Senarighi offers non-judgmental sex-positive, gender-affirming, LGBTQ relationship support online and in the Pacific Northwest. 

She often says, “I love love, in all its forms!”

She’s helped thousands of couples deepen their sexual connection, repair trust, and build sustainable lasting partnerships.

She uses her multi-disciplinary professional training to teach communication skills and help her clients handle conflict with compassion.

Gina has supported many couples experimenting with open relationships based in trust and integrity. If you’re considering polyamory you should check out her online resources here.

Although most of her couples are experimenting with less traditional relationship structures, even her more mainstream clients appreciate her open-minded non-judgmental approach and diverse expertise.

If you’re interested in taking this work further contact her for a free consultation.

Boundaries Aren't Permament

Healthy Boundaries | Boundaries in Relationships

I've gotten lots of questions in my Ask me Anything column lately related to healthy boundaries in relationships so I thought I'd spend a little time writing more about healthy relationship boundaries for a bit to help clear up a few common misconceptions.  

Before diving in below, you might want to read the first installment in this series:

Ten Common Myths About Boundaries

A Common Misunderstanding: Boundaries Aren't Forever

The first thing most people misunderstand is that boundaries aren't permanent. They are always temporary and always shifting.  

For example, when you go on a first date you might have certain boundaries (no kissing, no sex, no talking about religion/money/politics) but over time these boundaries will shift or change depending on how the date goes.  

If your date goes well and you build trust you might want more affection and will likely talk about deeper more meaningful topics.  The boundaries you set on the first date will soften. 

If that same date goes poorly or trust isn't built your boundaries might grow or harden (don't call me anymore, blocking them on facebook, avoiding them at work = more rigid boundaries).

Or you might have one boundary in a specific context that is different in other settings.  For example, I hug my very close friends hello (and often goodbye) but I don't hug my clients or colleagues hello/goodbye.  Or the way I greet someone at a Pride Parade is different than the way I might at a professional conference.  

You can probably come up with some great examples of your own changing boundaries depending on the comfort you feel with an individual person and the context where you meet them.

So boundaries shift over time and between contexts.  But often when we talk about them we try to think in absolute terms.  

We want to think they're a binding contract we'll never need to revisit.  But since boundaries change we have to be willing to renegotiate them.  

Why am I telling you this?

Knowing that boundaries change can help your relationship in a couple significant ways:

1) You can be more aware of the different contexts, times, and trust levels that soften or harden your boundaries. 

2) You might be able to tell people what kinds of behaviors and contexts increase your sense of trust and safety (softening your boundaries) in order to improve relationships.

3) You can practice more self-compassion knowing it is completely normal to have boundaries change, grow, and shift.  There's nothing wrong with you.  

4) You might be able to communicate when and where your boundaries harden with folks around you so you both know what to expect and what you need.

5) If someone has a hard boundary and it's a challenge for you consider (or even better, ask) what might help them feel safer, more trusting or comfortable in that situation, act, or space with you.  I'm not saying try to convince them or wait it out, but use that boundary as a way to connect and get to know them better.  There's likely some great learning in there for you.  

Having trouble with changing boundaries in relationships?

If you're struggling with this don't worry- lots of people have trouble with boundaries growing and changing over time.  Shifting boundaries don't have to be the end of your relationship, but it can be really hard to see a way out if you're on your own.  

Please do call me or connect with another professional who has lots of experience with relationships like yours for help.  We can usually find a new way forward for the two of you that doesn't entail breaking up.  


Polyamory Counselor Portland | Portland Polyamory

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

She can help you:

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

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).

 

Myths About Boundaries

Myths About Boundaries | Boundary Myths

I've gotten lots of questions in my Ask me Anything column lately related to healthy boundaries in relationships so I thought I'd spend a little time writing more about healthy relationship boundaries for a bit to help clear up a few common misconceptions. 

So to start us off I'm listing the eight myths about boundaries that come up most often in my work.  They're super hard to combat because our culture reinforces them in a lot of funny ways (movies, tv, romantic fairytales...)

Holding on to these gets in the way of most of the relationships I see in my couples work.  Read on to see if any are holding you back in your own partnerships.

Relationship Boundary Myths:

Boundaries are permanent or forever

Boundaries shift and change depending on the situation and the relationship you have with each person you interact with.  So naturally, they change as you learn more about people and about yourself.  This is why we have to keep talking about them to keep our relationships healthy.

Boundaries should be the same across the board

Often in relationships, I see people compare the boundaries a partner has with other close friends to those in the relationship.  You might have a different set for your boss and your best friend.  

This kind of comparison just gets us off track because boundaries aren't the same across the board.  Boundaries just don't work that way.

Certain boundaries are to be expected

While there are some boundaries we culturally expect as a norm even these are based on assumption.  The more we can clear out assumption and get specific about what our partner needs the more we can really connect with them (and determine if we can respect their boundaries).

Start thinking about which boundaries you take for granted and check in with your partner about them.  

Boundaries are mean 

Boundaries aren't all about cutting people off or removing them from your life.  Boundaries are about getting clear with the people you love about how you can best support each other.  It takes real compassion and care to have a loving boundary.

You can't recover from a boundary violation

Many folks come to me after someone has broken trust in a big way in their relationship.  Often they've thought one boundary or another was a dealbreaker for them in relationships- but now they're stuck not wanting to break up with a partner who hurt them.  

I've been really touched by couples who work through really tough boundary crossing to repair hurt and rebuild trust.  You can learn to respect boundaries and change the way you negotiate them- it might just take a little help.

Boundaries are about yes or no

Most of us only think about boundaries when we're pushed to an extreme.  So we often think a boundary is all about saying no to something.  But boundaries can be much more nuanced- like asking for what we need, stating clear expectations, or asking people to slow down.  

Instead of a stoplight with only red and green there is a whole lot of yellow when it comes to boundaries.

You can change someone's boundary

It can be really hard when someone sets a boundary and that means I'm not going to get what I want.  I'll be disappointed at best, heartbroken at worst.  

And yet if I want to stay close or get closer to that person the only option for me is to respect their boundary as is- without pressuring them to change it.  Adding pressure by trying to convince them to change will only push them away, or force them to shift when they're not ready (leading to hurt or resentment later).

Some people are just naturally bad at boundaries

Nope.  This is just an excuse.  Few of us get any mentoring about boundaries as kids, some people have a much harder time respecting others' boundaries, and some people just don't care.  If you have trouble maintaining healthy boundaries or respecting others please call a professional for guidance.


gina senarighi | boundaries in relationships | relationship boundary

Gina Senarighi offers non-judgmental sex-positive, gender-affirming, LGBTQ relationship support online and in the Pacific Northwest. 

She often says, “I love love, in all its forms!”

She’s helped thousands of couples deepen their sexual connection, repair trust, and build sustainable lasting partnerships.

She uses her multi-disciplinary professional training to teach communication skills and help her clients handle conflict with compassion.

Gina has supported many couples experimenting with open relationships based in trust and integrity. If you’re considering polyamory you should check out her online resources here.

Although most of her couples are experimenting with less traditional relationship structures, even her more mainstream clients appreciate her open-minded non-judgmental approach and diverse expertise.

If you’re interested in taking this work further contact her for a free consultation.

Basics of Compassionate Relationships

Compassionate Relationships | Uncommon Love Counseling for Open Relationships in Portland

How compassionate are you with your partner? Gifts and dates are great but if you don't bring compassion into play, you're only halfway there.

Compassion means something a little different for each of us.  

Think about what compassion means to you specifically.  Notice where it's lacking in your life, career, and relationship.  

How could increasing compassion improve connection in your relationship?

Build a compassionate relationship in 11 simple steps:

  1. Instead of asking, "What's wrong?" Ask, "What do you need from me in this moment?" Find ways to offer support and understanding instead of focusing on obstacles.

  2. Try embracing the moment and accepting things as they come.  Crappy days happen. Accept them, and be there for your partner when they have one.

  3. Ask your partner what compassion means to them. Just as you communicate about sexual desires, try communicating about compassion.  And just as your sexual needs may be different, your needs for compassion maybe as well.

  4. Take time to really listen to your partner.  Practicing fully present listening is one of the most important parts of compassion.  Put away distractions and make real listening a priority.

  5. Admit when you're wrong. Taking personal responsibility and apologizing with honesty is critical to long term relationship success and to compassion in practice.

  6. Instead of saying "I understand" or "I know how you are feeling" practice openness by asking "Tell me more about how you are feeling" and staying curious about your partner's experience- even if it is similar to one you have had- it is still different because it is theirs.

  7. Use the golden rule.  How often are you treating your partner the way you would like to be treated?

  8. Being compassionate doesn't mean putting your needs aside.  The most compassionate people are also some of the most boundaried.  Compassion doesn't mean over giving or co-dependency. Compassion simply allows you to care, without throwing yourself into your partner's business.

  9. Have fun. Compassion can be such a serious subject, a little laughter might be just what you need.  Try to experience the lighthearted parts of your relationship fully and increase them by sharing lighthearted fun with your honey.

  10. Respect your partner's space.  If your partner doesn't want to talk, give conversation a break.  One of the most compassionate things we can do is give each other space to not be, coddled, held, and doted over. Use the space to take care of yourself.

  11. Never forget: compassion is ever-changing. Like anything else in relationships, it's dependent on the present moment. What you each need will grow and change over time, so don't be afraid to re-evaluate and adjust.

This post was originally shared on Amplify Good.


polyamory counseling in portland | sex counseling 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).

Is Your Relationship Healthy? Here's A Checklist to Help You Know for Sure:

Healthy Relationship Checklist | Uncommon Love Sex-Positive Couples Counseling in Portland

One of the most common questions I get asked is if I think a relationship is healthy.  This is such an important question to ask, and there aren't any really clear answers, but there are a few guideposts that can help you identify unhealthy patterns worth working on.

Here are some of the guidelines I recommend to know if you are in a healthy place together.  If you are in an unhealthy spot,  or you just need a little tune-up give me a call for a free consult and let's see if I can help you make changes today.

Characteristics of a healthy relationship

  • You can talk openly with others outside the relationship

  • You have shared and individual friends

  • You hold each other to the same high standards

  • You encourage each other’s independent goals

  • You have a shared idea of where you will go in the future

  • You support each other's health and grow one another's confidence

  • You enjoy and celebrate each other’s successes

  • Your boundaries are respected by your partner

  • You enjoy spending time apart and respect each other’s need for space

  • You share a sense of positive regard, warmth, respect, and kindness with your partner

  • You have special jokes, rituals, dates, events you share regularly

  • You feel physically and emotionally safe in each other’s presence

  • You can be honest, an trust you are hearing the truth from your partner

  • You value your differences and respectfully disagree

None of the items on this list mean your relationship is doomed.  Instead they could mean your relationship's health requires attention.  You might need help making changes together.  

Call a professional for a consult or referral near you.  You can be even stronger together and you can learn healthy relationship patterns.

If you think your relationship might be unsafe please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233

 


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).