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Relationship Behaviors: What NOT to Do

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By Cynthia May, MA, LLP, EAC Clinical Specialist – Have you ever wondered how to create caring, compassion, and a sense of heart-connection with your partner? Here’s a novel way – look at what NOT to do! The following list of relationship behaviors to avoid intimacy can destroy healthy relationships between married or non-married couples, parents and children, and within friendships. The authors* of this list write, “Follow these guidelines and you’ll never have a close intimate relationship.”

  1. Don’t talk. Just don’t say anything. Sometimes, however, you may have to talk or be forced to talk. If that happens, don’t talk about anything meaningful. Talk about the weather, baseball, class, the stock market – anything except your feelings.
  2. Never show your feelings. Showing or demonstrating your feelings is almost as bad as talking about them because emotions are ways of communicating; they’re your information system for yourself and others. If you cry, express gratefulness, disappointment, or joy, you are giving yourself away. You might as well talk – and if you talk – you become intimate. So, the best thing to do is to remain expressionless (which really is a form of communication, but at least it’s giving the message that you don’t want to be intimate).
  3. Always be pleasant/never argue. Always smile, always be friendly, especially if something is bothering you. You’ll be surprised at how this will prevent you from being intimate because you can hide negative feelings from your partner. It may even fool them into believing that everything’s okay in your relationship. Then, you don’t have to change anything or be intimate.
  4. Always win/be right. Never compromise, never admit that your partner’s point of view may be as good as your own. If you start compromising, that’s an admission that you care about your partner’s feelings – which is a dangerous step towards intimacy.
  5. Always keep busy. If you keep busy with school, work, or your recreational activity, etc., it will take you away from your partner. Then, you won’t have to be intimate. Because our culture values hard work, your partner may never figure out that you’re using your work (or other activity) to avoid intimacy with them. Instead, he or she will think that you’re a hard worker and consequently, feel unjustified in complaining. In addition, your partner will receive the message that they’re not as important as your work, sports, hobby, etc. BONUS…this method is especially effective because you can make your partner feel unimportant in your life – without even talking!

Of course, these are a satirical look at harmful behaviors in any relationship that keep us from being an authentic, spontaneous, and loving being.

According to goodtherapy.com, “Intimacy denotes mutual vulnerability, openness and sharing. It’s often present in close, loving relationships, such as marriages and friendships.” It occurs when people “feel safe sharing their feeling with each other, even uncomfortable ones.” It requires trust and safety from one partner to allow the other to share without being judged or criticized. It’s not necessary to have the same emotion, but it is having the honor of them being authentic with you. How else can anyone know who we really are?

Many couples search for methods to feel reconnected again, like they did in their early years together.  Couples become busy with their life tasks, especially if they have children to raise. Having more distractions in life tend to refocus our thoughts on task completions without concern of how our partner is doing. When that happens, or to prevent it, returning to intimacy is the answer.

For more information about this topic, or if you have other life issue you would like to discuss, please reach out to EAC.  We’re here to help!

*Adapted by Strong, DeVault, Sayad & Yarber (2002).  Human Sexuality (pp 262-263).

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