Creating Attunement in Intimate Relationships

To feel close in our most important relationships, it's vital that we feel that our partner is responsive, attuned to what is going on for us and to what we are trying to communicate. When this doesn't happen, we may experience a range of feelings - we may feel lonely, disconnected, misunderstood. We may also have a range of thoughts based on our beliefs about our partner's intentions - we may think that they don't care, are self-focussed, or are incapable of thinking about our experiences and needs. While our experience of an unresponsive partner is always difficult, and while it is possible that our partner may be willfully disregarding our attempts to connect, it is more likely that they lack skills in what is commonly referred to as 'emotional competence' or 'emotional intelligence'. These skills include the ability to know how I feel, to sense how others feel, to know how to manage those feelings, knowing how to communicate my feelings in a way that others can hear without feeling criticized or judged, and to respond empathically to the emotional communications of others. Much of this communication takes place nonverbally. It is subtle and automatic, and we often remain unaware both of the impact of what we are communicating nonverbally, and of the extent to which others may be communicating with us nonverbally. Skills in nonverbal communication can be learned, as can skills in emotional intelligence. It's never too late! These skills are not just important for a good quality relationship with our partner, but also with significant others - our children, other family members, close friends. For more information about how couples and families can learn these skills, check out Dr John Gottman's work, the following links provide a place to start - and To sharpen your awareness and skills in how better to decode and effectively respond to your partner's or child's nonverbal communication, contact me for further information.

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