Learn to better understand and nurture yourself and your relationship.
- Relational self-awareness practices help people develop an open and honest relationship with themselves.
- A better understanding of self enables one to have a more loving relationship with someone else.
- Being one’s most authentic self allows one to be truly seen, heard, and loved.
Aim for an open and honest relationship with yourself and others.
In her latest book, Love Every Day, clinical psychologist and relationship expert Alexandra H. Solomon, Ph.D., offers a full year’s worth of daily insights and reminders about the realities of love and life that can either help or hurt intimate relationships. More than a simple self-help guide, Love Every Day traces the common and not-so-common problems partners face back to their causal roots and asks you to explore what might happen if you took different approaches to resolving conflicts. To get started, you can find the page for the current date, or you can flip through the pages to find guidance and potential solutions for whatever relationship issue you are struggling with at the time.
Solomon’s refreshing approach to intimacy and partnership includes advice specific to people of all sexual and gender identities while acknowledging that the individuals and relationships within any category of identity are unique. As such, you may relate more to some experiences and dynamics than others.
While providing powerful tools for communication and exploration, Solomon implores you to cultivate what she calls “relational self-awareness” by truthfully answering the questions she puts forth and considering the alternative responses and solutions she offers to get your relationship back on track. She defines relational self-awareness as taking responsibility for how you participate in and contribute to the dynamics of your most important relationships by developing a relationship with yourself that is both curious and compassionate. According to Solomon, it is only by developing this open and honest relationship with ourselves that we can contribute to the foundation of a loving and thriving partnership with someone else.
Through a series of insightful daily questions, prompts, and advice, Solomon encourages personal reflection as a means to forge deeper, more intimate, and more meaningful connections, both with yourself and others. By asking profound questions and providing expert guidance, she considers the roles of compassion and authenticity and the link between self-observation and intimacy in the success of any relationship.
Related: 3 Essentials for Staying in Love
Regardless of your relationship status, being your most authentic self is key to being genuinely seen, heard, and loved, according to Solomon. At the same time as you are figuring out who you are at your most authentic, Solomon points out the need to pivot, adapt, and grow within any relationship, including the one you have with yourself. Authenticity does not mean perfection, she emphasizes.
In a successful relationship, each person needs to be heard and validated. According to Solomon, “Yes, but…” is one of the most problematic phrases that can be used when responding to a partner’s concern or complaint. To your partner, those words mean you are still concerned with your own feelings and not pausing to recognize theirs. Responding directly to a partner’s concern without being self-referential not only shows them you’re listening, she explains, but that you’re honestly looking for a clear resolution and not just a sounding board.
When the relationship hits a stumbling block (and, according to Solomon, it inevitably will), it is important to move with the current of change, she advises, not against it. That means accepting that relationships are not always easy and, to some degree, anticipating a certain amount of tension. When the partners in a relationship understand that love exists in cycles, that it is dynamic and ever-changing, those tense moments can be met with less panic, resistance, or resentment and more calm and willingness to do the work required to repair and reconnect.
Think about it. When you’re trying to maintain a healthy, thriving relationship, and a problem or difference of opinion comes up, the last thing you want is fighting, criticism, or judgment; what you really want is to protect and retain the close connection, respect, and sense of trust you’ve built up with your partner over time.
Solomon also dives deep into the influence of family and lineage on the dynamics of intimate relationships. For instance, she points out that if you grew up with a harsh or critical parent or didn’t feel valued by your family of origin, you may think your partner is being patronizing when they are actually praising you. You may not hear their words as warm and caring as they were intended because you don’t see that particular value in yourself. In this case, Solomon advises, you need to pay attention not only to words of praise but also to how you receive them. Learning to listen and truly hear what your partner is saying is critical.
In the end, Solomon acknowledges that love alone is simply not enough to maintain a healthy, satisfying relationship unless everyone involved can do the work it takes. Love is a partnership, she reminds us, and that extends to healing, fixing, and maintaining a relationship that is comfortable and satisfying to everyone involved. The lessons learned in Love Every Day will help you understand what’s needed for a relationship to survive and thrive and how to ensure that the relationship is doing the same for you.