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relationships

Community and Mental Health: Healthier and More Fulfilled Together

Community and Mental Health: Healthier and More Fulfilled Together

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

I never really thought much about community until recent years. I think I just took it for granted, or didn’t see it as that important. As I finished graduate school and decided to stay in Montreal despite my family being in another province, and many of my friends moved away, I started to think more about what it means to be part of a community. More recently, in my professional life as a psychologist, I’ve noticed that often clients express to me that they feel lonely, they wish they knew more like-minded people, and their lives lack purpose and meaning. All these factors, plus knowing that the need to belong is a powerful human motivator (1), lead me to be more interested in how community affects mental health and well-being.

It didn’t take much looking into the research to find out, not surprisingly, that a lack of social connection is bad for you. In fact, loneliness kills. If you’re lonely, you’re more likely to be depressed and anxious (2, 7), and you have an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and early death (6, 5, 3). For more on this topic, check out: The Friend Effect: Why The Secret of Health and Happiness is Surprisingly Simple. Do we really need community though if we have some solid friendships? Being part of a community has the added benefit of allowing us to feel like we belong to and are accepted by a group, similar to how we ideally feel in our families, a sort of emotional or spiritual “home”. Additionally, often communities are centred on a goal (e.g. training for a marathon) or a cause (e.g., protecting the environment), which can give us a sense of purpose and meaning. Creating meaning in our lives is a key ingredient for a fulfilling life. We know that an important way to create meaning is to transcend ourselves by giving to and helping others or being part of something bigger than ourselves. Check out this article, There’s More to Life Than Being Happy, for why meaning is awesome.

Knowing that community and social connection are good, if not great, for our physical and mental health, what gets in the way of us prioritizing these things? I know what stops me - I feel like I don’t have time; I should be working, exercising, doing errands, etc; I really like being home with my partner and my cats; I’d rather just spend time with the people I already know; meeting new people takes effort and can be awkward; group activities and community organizations could mean having to deal with annoying group politics and dynamics, and who wants to deal with that?!

Thinking of the possible obstacles that get in the way of community building and nurturing social connection, I’ve made some (hopefully) simple and realistic suggestions below.

PRACTICAL TIPS!

1) Prioritize it. You probably ARE too busy to focus much on community building and nurturing social networks. In order to make time for community, it might mean doing less of something else, like working. I used to cringe at the idea of working less to attend a community BBQ, or a municipal council meeting, because being productive at work is important and feels so good! However, just like taking time to exercise ends up enriching your life, taking time for community will do the same, but you need to give it a chance to experience the positive consequences. You might even find that having more balance in your life, and surrounding yourself with new, different people, could breath new life into your work and get those creative juices flowing!

2) Build community at work. Work can be an ideal, convenient place to nurture community because, depending on the type of work you do, you may be spending a lot of time at work and you and your coworkers are often together in the same location. At the psychology clinic where I work, called Connecte, it is one of our goals to make Connecte not just a clinic but a community. Some things we’ve done to make it more of a community are to hire like-minded people who value supporting one another, as well as hold regular meetings and communicate frequently with each other. We even had a morning yoga group going for a while. Not only do we feel supported, but we inspire and motivate each other too.

3) Get to know your neighbours. I grew up in a small, rural community where most people knew each other and no one ever locked their doors. Unfortunately, this is not the reality in most towns or cities! Getting to know your neighbours is the first step to building community close to home. To get to know your neighbours, you might try organizing a neighbourhood potluck, gathering for warm drinks in the winter, offering your neighbours leftover food/baked goods, or simply smiling and saying hi when you pass them on the street or in the entranceway. For some great suggestions on building community in your neighbourhood, check out: 10 Ways to Create Community Where You Live.

4) Get to know not just your neighbours! Check out this ingenious idea for group storytelling dinners, Bring Your Own Story, which aims to bring anyone willing together to have meaningful conversations and share personal stories, in a safe, non-judgmental space.

5) Do group activities that will allow you to “kill two birds with one stone.” For example, if you have young kids, you might join a group that is both fun and enriching for your kids, and where you can meet other parents. Check out Flow Music Therapy’s Music for Mothers and Babies group or the Montreal Families website for a comprehensive list of groups and activities. You will likely not only meet like-minded people, and decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness, but you will feel good knowing you’re creating positive experiences for your kids and loved ones. You might try other types of groups that are in line with your values and interests, like a book club, or a walking or running group. For more ideas on how to create social connections as adults, check out my colleague Miriam’s blog post, How To Make Friends When You Don't Have Play Dates: The Importance Of Friendships In Adulthood.

An especially good activity to do with others is to eat dinner together. We know that eating together as a family is associated with a slew of positive benefits, like eating more nutritious meals and even fewer symptoms of depression (4)! (Learn more about this research here: Project EAT Publications.) To increase your chances of having dinner with friends and fitting it into your busy schedule, don’t be a perfectionist about it! Cook something simple, make it a potluck, or even order in.

6) Do a group activity that is centred on something that you find meaningful. As I mentioned above, we get meaning from helping others or being part of something larger than ourselves. I get a lot of meaning from protecting the environment and connecting with nature, and recently I was fortunate enough to get involved with a local gardening community, so now I’m learning all about gardening while being part of a wonderful community of like-minded people. Maybe there’s something similar in your neighbourhood that you could be a part of?

INTERPERSONAL TIPS!

As I mentioned above, sometimes we might hesitate to join or stick with a group activity or organization because we don’t want to deal with the interpersonal issues that will inevitably arise (e.g., differing perspectives/values, clashing personalities, etc.). I think I could probably write a whole other blog post on this topic, but here are some things that come to mind that I hope will be helpful in navigating group dynamics.

7) Know your boundaries. In any social situation, recognizing and asserting your limits, essentially making sure you’re taking care of yourself and your needs, will help you have more energy and compassion for others. If you notice yourself feeling resentful towards the group or others in the group, this may be an indication that you’re not respecting your own boundaries. Check out my colleague Danit’s blog post on setting boundaries.

8) Take others’ perspectives and embrace a compassionate mindset. Most of us have some challenges, hurt, or pain that we will sometimes act on, and act on in a way that is not the most constructive or pleasant for those around us. If we can take time to consider where others are coming from, what their situation is, or at least give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are trying their best with the tools they have, we will likely have more compassion for them. To help myself get into a compassionate mindset when considering others, I love this story introduced to me by Tara Brach, about how essentially when others are acting in ways that we perceive as unpleasant, annoying, etc., they likely have their leg caught in a trap!

9) Accept that we will all annoy each other. When spending a lot of time with any individual, we will likely get annoyed with them at some point. This is normal! And guess what? We will annoy others too. Yup, we will all annoy each other, and accepting this, while asserting our boundaries and having compassion, will likely make our group experiences more tolerable, positive, and conducive to personal growth.

10) Practice good listening! Good listening is the key to authentic, intimate connections. Nowadays, when it’s easy to pick up our phones and check the weather while our friend tells us a story, we might not be the best at listening. For more on this, check out my favourite video on good listening: Are You A Good Listener?

 

I hope these tips help you squeeze a bit more community into your lives so that your mind and body might reap the rewards. Happy community building!


Lisa Linardatos is a clinical psychologist in Westmount, Montreal, Quebec, at Connecte Montreal Psychology Group. The team at Connecte loves writing about ways to boost our mental health and bring psychology into our everyday lives. For more helpful tips, check out Connecte’s blogspodcast, follow @connectepsychology on Instagram or like us on Facebook.


REFERENCES

  1. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological bulletin117(3), 497
  2. Cacioppo, J. T., Hawkley, L. C., & Thisted, R. A. (2010). Perceived social isolation makes me sad: Five-year cross-lagged analyses of loneliness and depressive symptomatology in the Chicago Health, Aging, and Social Relations Study. Psychology and Aging, 25, 453– 463.
  3. Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., Baker, M., Harris, T., & Stephenson, D. (2015). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality a meta-analytic review. Perspectives on Psychological Science,10(2), 227-237.
  4. Neumark-Sztainer, D., Hannan, P. J., Story, M., Croll, J., & Perry, C. (2003). Family meal patterns: associations with sociodemographic characteristics and improved dietary intake among adolescents. Journal of the american dietetic association103(3), 317-322.
  5. Pinquart, M., & Duberstein, P. R. (2010). Associations of social networks with cancer mortality: a meta-analysis. Critical reviews in oncology/hematology75(2), 122-137.
  6. Valtorta, N. K., Kanaan, M., Gilbody, S., Ronzi, S., & Hanratty, B. (2016). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal observational studies. Heart, heartjnl-2015.
  7. Zawadzki, M.J., Graham, J.E., & Gerin, W. (2013). Rumination and anxiety mediate the effect of loneliness on depressed mood and sleep quality in college students. Health Psychology, 32(2), 212–222.

How co-rumination turns healthy relationships toxic

How co-rumination turns healthy relationships toxic

Who do you turn to when you’re going through a challenge or difficult time? What do your conversations sound like? Do you know what you actually find helpful? And can you spot the difference between helping and hindering?

Research has shown time and time again just how important it is for us to feel socially connected to and supported by the people around us. In fact, what matters more than the number of friends we have, or even how realistic their advice may be, is that we feel as though we are supported. That is, that we are satisfied with our perception of the input or encouragement we receive. Yet not all forms of support are created equal. And sometimes, the line between helping and hindering can be blurred, especially when conversations veer towards venting.

As comforting as it may be to have someone to turn to when we need to vent or debrief, it can be a slippery slope towards co-rumination. It’s possible you’ve never come across the idea of co-rumination, but chances are you’re familiar with rumination. When going through a difficult time, it’s not uncommon to repeatedly mull over events that took place (as well as those that have yet to happen) and the things that were said (or not said). Sometimes this process can be helpful—it’s a way of thinking things through, weighing our options, and figuring out new, creative solutions. But it can also make us feel stuck and be less inclined to actually do anything constructive about the situation and our associated distress. The deeper we are in a cycle of rumination, the harder it can be to recognize it’s happening and dig our way out.

This process can be even more difficult to spot when it happens in the context of our closest relationships. Co-rumination involves repeatedly discussing and rehashing our problems and difficult feelings with someone else without coming up with a solution or resolution. The issue is, talking with a friend, partner, or family member about our problems can feel really good. It can make us feel supported, bring us closer together, and even trick us into believing we are doing something productive about our situation. In the long run, however, it can hold us back from moving forward and actually lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression.

How can you spot co-rumination?

1. Know the signs

A good place to start is to recognize the difference between sharing and ruminating. Disclosing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences is an important way to build closeness and trust in any relationship. But if you find yourself talking about the same experiences over and over again, particularly those that involve difficult emotions like anger, sadness, or envy, it can help to ask yourself the following questions to see if you’re caught in a cycle of co-rumination:

  • Is this a new problem?
  • Have I/we spoken about this before?
  • Am I speculating about things that have yet to happen?
  • Do I have any new information that I haven’t shared or discussed?

2. Learn your patterns

With time, it helps to become mindful about your own patterns as well as those that tend to develop within friendships. We each have our own sensitivities, vulnerabilities, and strengths. Certain topics are likely to get us going and specific people may just be easier to open up to. Take a closer look at your behavior and learn your own triggers—this can help you spot co-rumination if or when it starts to unfold.

  • Are there certain topics you tend to ruminate about (e.g., work, romantic relationships, family problems, financial worries, health concerns)?
  • Are you more likely to co-ruminate in certain settings (e.g., when chatting at home or on the phone, after a long day at work, after you’ve had a drink or two)?
  • Are there certain people or friends you tend to co-ruminate with?

3. Recruit close others

Even when we know the signs to look out for, it can still be difficult to catch ourselves in the act. That’s why it helps to recruit the people closest to us, especially those with whom we have a tendency to co-ruminate. Remind your friend or partner that you will always be there to listen to and support them, and that you appreciate all they have done for you. Let them know that you’ve noticed your tendency to co-ruminate together and ask them to gently point it out when they feel you’re veering towards rumination. These kinds of discussions also give you the chance to have a bigger conversation about the kinds of support you might find helpful and how you can be a better or more supportive friend or partner in return.

How can you move from co-rumination to collaboration?

1. Catch yourself co-ruminating and be compassionate

Often, simply becoming more aware of our behaviors and patterns can be enough to help us move from co-rumination to actual solution. The more you focus on recognizing co-rumination as it happens, the easier it’ll be to shift towards a problem-solving approach. Just make sure to be compassionate, both towards yourself and your friend or partner, when you do catch yourself in the act. Instead of judging yourself or being overly self-critical, treat it like a game and give yourself a pat on the back for getting so good at recognizing the difference between venting or ruminating and problem solving.

2. Weigh the short and long-term consequences

There’s usually a good reason why we do the things we do, even if our behaviors might seem illogical or even destructive from the outside looking in. That’s why it helps to validate why you may be tempted to co-ruminate, whether it’s to process difficult emotions or to feel that sense of closeness in your relationship. These benefits, however, do not take away from the reality that in the long run, co-rumination isn’t actually all that helpful for our sense of well-being or even the problem itself. Longer term, co-rumination can lead to anxiety and depression or exacerbate symptoms if we're already struggling. It also has the potential to drive certain people away, especially when a relationship is unbalanced and conversations tend to be overly focused on one person’s difficulties or life. Having a clear understanding of the reasons why you are working towards change is an important step in actually being able to do so.

3. Switch to active problem-solving

Ask yourself if there is something you can do to change or improve the situation right now. Can you actually do something to resolve the problem in some small way? Perhaps it involves having a frank discussion with a colleague to clear up a misunderstanding. Or maybe it’s apologizing for something you wished you hadn’t said to a partner in the heat of an argument. Often, taking a step towards actually doing something about the problem you’re facing can be much more helpful than venting, not to mention empowering. Of course, there are times when there will be little you can do to change your current situation or circumstances. In these cases, it can be helpful to reflect on what you would like to do differently in the future to prevent similar situations from happening or to cope with them when they do arise. 

4. Strengthen your other coping strategies

Trying to minimize your tendency to co-ruminate without coming up with other more constructive ways of coping will likely leave you feeling overwhelmed and even lonely. That’s why it’s equally important to find new ways to cope with whatever problem you are facing. Develop a sustainable self-care routine, work through the pros and cons of possible solutions, and turn to healthy distractions when all else fails. And don’t lose sight of how important it is to find new ways to feel connected in your relationships. Focus on having meaningful discussions, try a new activity together, share your dreams or team up to tackle a shared goal. Above all, work together to establish new ways to better support each other through the ups and downs that life inevitably throws your way.

5. Strike a balance

With all that said, there will still be times when all you really need is just the space to open up to a friend and let off some steam. Venting isn’t always counterproductive. It becomes an issue when it happens repeatedly, especially at the expense of other more constructive approaches. If you need to vent or support a friend who is doing so, go ahead! Just make sure you’re aware of how much space this is taking up in your conversations and relationship. If need be, work together to set limits so that your interactions aren’t entirely dominated by co-rumination. Finding a healthy balance will make your conversations that much more helpful and supportive, both in the immediate and longer term.

The original version of this post appeared on Miriam Kirmayer’s blog with Psychology Today, Casual to Close. Learn more about Miriam’s work on friendship here.


Miriam Kirmayer is a PhD Candidate in the Clinical Psychology program at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and a therapist at Connecte Montreal Psychology Group. The team at Connecte loves writing about ways to boost our mental health and bring psychology into our everyday lives. For more helpful tips, check out Connecte’s blogspodcast, follow @connectepsychology on Instagram or like us on Facebook.


References

Rose, A. J. (2002). Co–rumination in the friendships of girls and boys. Child development, 73(6), 1830-1843.

Calmes, C. A., & Roberts, J. E. (2008). Rumination in interpersonal relationships: Does co-rumination explain gender differences in emotional distress and relationship satisfaction among college students?. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 32(4), 577-590.

Rose, A. J., Carlson, W., & Waller, E. M. (2007). Prospective associations of co-rumination with friendship and emotional adjustment: considering the socioemotional trade-offs of co-rumination. Developmental psychology, 43(4), 1019.

Waller, E. M., & Rose, A. J. (2010). Adjustment trade-offs of co-rumination in mother–adolescent relationships. Journal of Adolescence, 33(3), 487-497.

Why mindfulness in our romantic relationships matters

Why mindfulness in our romantic relationships matters

Picture this. You’ve just spent the last week or so away from the stress of work, early mornings, and pressured schedules. You and your spouse finally have a chance to breathe, and you are feeling more connected than usual. Now, fast forward to today, when you’re back at work, not quite fully refreshed, and realize that you’re somewhat more irritable. Do you notice your tolerance for your partner’s odd habits beginning to wane? Do you catch yourself becoming somewhat pickier, more impatient, or less compassionate? If so, you might also be falling into the trap of assuming that your partner is to blame, and if only they would do “such and such” differently, all would be well.

Interestingly, in all likelihood, your partner hasn’t changed one bit! In fact, the only thing that has changed are your stress levels, and thus, the lens through which you are viewing your partner. It can be difficult in the moment to notice the role that we each play in our perception of our partner. For instance, a recent study found that people more automatically notice aspects that are negative in a potential mate than those that are positive. Moreover, individuals tend to be more negatively influenced by negative aspects than they are positively influenced by positive aspects in a partner. This makes sense evolutionarily speaking, as our minds are set up to look for potential danger and to focus on it as a protective mechanism. The issue is, however, that our current environmental threats are quite different than they were once upon a time! As a result, when we’re experiencing a heightened level of stress ourselves, we tend to focus more intensely on potential “threats”, or negative qualities in our partner, even when this does not typically serve us in the long run.

So, what to do in these situations you ask? Well, the first (empowering!) thing to realize is that you can look inwards in order to modify your own perception by practicing mindfulness in your relationship. This means slowing down, and noticing when your partner is being kind, appreciative, helpful, funny, or a host of other qualities that can seemingly go unnoticed when we’re feeling stressed. Move towards your partner when they’re trying to connect with you, even if you’re feeling disconnected in the moment. This also means being mindful of your own behaviours and attitudes toward your partner, and making an effort to be kind, compassionate, and accepting of their strengths as well as their weaknesses. This can be accomplished by not only noticing your partner’s efforts, but also expressing gratitude for the role that they play in your life. Research has demonstrated that both mindfulness and the expression of gratitude predicts higher relationship satisfaction and connection. Most importantly, by focusing on what you can bring to your relationship, you’re alleviating a significant amount of stress that would be otherwise focused on working to change your partner.

So, the next time you notice yourself becoming irritable with your partner, looks inwards! Practice being mindful and present in the moment, and sharing your appreciation and gratitude for all that your partner does. Over time, these behaviors will occur more effortlessly, and will likely contribute to greater individual and relationship satisfaction.


Tobey Mandel is a clinical psychologist in Westmount, Montreal, Quebec, at Connecte Montreal Psychology Group. The team at Connecte loves writing about ways to boost our mental health and bring psychology into our everyday lives. For more helpful tips, check out Connecte’s blogspodcast, follow @connectepsychology on Instagram or @ConnecteMTL on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.


References

Algoe, S. B., Gable, S. L., & Maisel, N. C. (2010). It’s the little things: Everyday gratitude as a booster shot for romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 17, 217-233.

Jonason, P. K., Garcia, J. R., Webster, G. D., Li, N. P., Fisher, H. E. (2015). Relationship dealbreakers: Traits people avoid in potential mates. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 1697-1711.

Barnes, S., Brown, K. W., Krusemark, E., Campbell, W. K., & Rogge, R. D. (2007). Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33, 482-500.

Brown, J. (2015). Growing yourself up: How to bring your best to all of life’s relationships. Australia: Exisle Publishing. 

Navigating the world of romantic relationships: How to minimize conflict and move towards feeling more connected

Navigating the world of romantic relationships: How to minimize conflict and move towards feeling more connected

Close relationships, especially those that involve a romantic partner, have been shown time and again to be key in a person’s long-term happiness. A recent Harvard study that spanned a period of 75 years actually demonstrated that relationships, more than anything else (such as career success or financial security) predicted the greatest degree of happiness over time!

So, why does it seem so difficult at times to feel connected and satisfied in our romantic relationships? One important factor that plays a role in our ability to connect and understand our partner stems from our attachment style. Attachment style stems from childhood and refers to the way in which we perceive our ability to be connected, trust, and depend on others. Securely attached individuals are thought to acknowledge and accept distress, and reach out to others for social support. Insecurely attached individuals, however, demonstrate more difficulty when encountering distress. Two types of insecure attachment exist, namely anxiously attachment and avoidant attachment. Individuals who exhibit anxious attachment styles are thought to respond to distress by overly focusing on it and seeking an unnecessarily high degree of support from their partner, whereas individuals with avoidant attachment styles respond to distress by attempting to downplay its importance, leading them to avoid seeking social support when needed. As you can imagine, these types of relating in insecurely attached individuals can create conflict in a couple. Dr. Sue Johnson, a clinical psychologist who specializes in understanding couple conflict and promoting healthy relationships, has shown that insecurely attached individuals relate to each other in predictable ways, meaning that we can both predict and adjust the way we relate to our partner.  

Dr. Johnson refers to the idea that love is a dance, and couples who are struggling to feel connected often end up in a predictable dance where neither feels heard or appreciated by their partner. To help clarify things, here’s an example of a conflict with a couple where each person exhibits some form of insecure attachment:

  • Wife (anxiously attached): I’m upset that we didn’t spend time together this weekend, and I don’t feel like it bothered you in the least.
  • Husband (avoidantly attached): You’re being too sensitive, it’s not a big deal that we didn’t spend time together, we see each other every day.
  • Wife: How can you say that? We barely have a chance to talk before going to bed!
  • Husband: I can’t listen to this again. It’s always the same conversation.
  • Wife (escalating conflict, yelling): You never want to listen, you’re always running off, you never care about how I feel, you never help out around the house, I’m so upset with you!
  • Husband: (Silence, turns away). 
shutterstock_288970127.jpg

The above example depicts a wife, who is experiencing a sense of disconnection from her partner, and in order to elicit that connection and reduce her feelings of anxiety, is becoming critical of her husband’s role in the relationship. At the same time, the example shows a husband who is avoidantly attached, and who is feeling overwhelmed by his wife’s criticism, and therefore is resorting to shutting down and avoiding the situation in order for it not to escalate further. This type of “dance” is referred to as the demand-withdraw dance, where one person is trying to calm their anxiety by approaching the other and their partner is feeling flooded and overwhelmed with criticism, which leads them to flee the situation emotionally or physically (or both).  

For a long period of time, couples would come to therapy describing this type of argument, and therapists would get caught up in the details of the argument (in this case, spending time together). However, research has now shown that the details surrounding the argument are not especially important, but rather the way in which each partner is relating to one another is what matters most. The demand-withdraw dance is really a demonstration that each person in the couple is screaming out for connection, but is simultaneously terrified of being either abandoned or criticized. Neither partner wants to take the first step to let their guard down, for fear that they will be left alone or attacked.

So where does that leave us? Now that we have a better understanding of why and how couples feel disconnected and afraid, we can work towards developing healthier and more pleasurable patterns of relating to one another.

Step 1: Recognize the dance

By noticing that both partners play a crucial role in the escalation of conflict, couples can begin to minimize the amount of blame they place on each other and come to view the “dance” as the shared enemy. By noticing when the dance begins, they can slow down their way of relating and take time to be more mindful of the way in which they communicate their needs.

Step 2: Step back and realize that you are each yearning for connection, but are afraid to risk being hurt

By acknowledging that you and your partner’s fear is what is preventing you from feeling connected, you can begin to view your shared vulnerability as an opportunity for connection. Both partners care about one another and want to connect, and beginning to view the arguments as a call for connection and not an attack helps to lower defenses and leads couples to communicate about the underlying vulnerability that they share.

Step 3: Replace criticism with kindness

This is a difficult transition, as couples often become use to being critical or defensive. However, shifting your perspective from blaming your partner to giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, makes it easier to respond to one another with kindness and compassion. Ultimately, this is the person with whom you share your life, so it makes sense to treat them more than anyone with kindness, compassion and respect. Once you begin relating in a kinder way, you begin to step outside of the negative dance and into a more meaningful, positive way of relating.

Knowing that much of the way we relate to our partners is due to our attachments that were formed in childhood can help us to better understand the dynamic and also recognize that we do in fact have control over the way we relate to one another. By sharing your fear and vulnerability and not attacking each other, couples can begin to feel more connected over time, which relates to a more engaging and rewarding relationship over the long term! 


Tobey Mandel is a clinical psychologist in Westmount, Montreal, Quebec, at Connecte Montreal Psychology Group. The team at Connecte loves writing about ways to boost our mental health and bring psychology into our everyday lives. For more helpful tips, check out Connecte’s blogspodcast, follow @connectepsychology on Instagram or @ConnecteMTL on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.


REFERENCES

Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. Gotham Books: New York.

Cooper, M. L., Shaver, P. R., & Collins, N. L. Attachment styles, emotion regulation, and adjustment in adolescence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1380-97.

Johnson, S. M. (2008). Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love. Little, Brown, and Company: New York.

Johnson, S. M., Makinen, J. A., & Millikin, J. W. (2001). Attachment injuries in couple relationships: A new perspective on impasses in couples therapy. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 27, 145-155

Kobak, R. R., & Sceery, M. (1988). Attachment in late adolescence: Working models, affect regulation, and representations of self and others. Child Development, 59, 135-146.