Valentines Special: How a Date with a Stranger Could Help Your Relationship
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Ania Tylunas BSc (Hons), UKCP registered, IPTUK accr., accredited by EMDRUK
22nd January, 20140 Comments
Imagine yourself being one of the people in the following scene.* He rings the doorbell with a rose. She is waiting in all her finery, looking mysterious and alluring. They spend the evening chatting, hanging onto every word the other is saying, trying to find out as much as possible about one another. There is outrageous flirting and a lot of laughter. He is suave; she lets herself be charmed. There is a lot of gentle touching on the arm, whispering of secrets and trying one another's food. The build-up of charge is palpable... As the evening comes to a close they both look forward to another soirée together.
Now imagine that this is something you could experience, not as an illicit affair, but as part of a loving relationship. How? By treating one another, ever so often, as if you had only just met and are on a date with an exciting stranger. It is a psychological fact that when we first fall in love we are on our "best behaviour", something that often falls by the wayside later on. Yet we could all learn from how we used to be at the beginnings of love. And so the meaning of the exercise is to reconnect with the better part of ourselves and our partner. The result? Once you had got over the giggles and really given it a try, you can truly help restore the smouldering fire of love.
* Although the example above uses a straight couple, the underlying principles will work well for any loving relationship between two people, in which case please feel free to substitute the "he" and "she" with what fits your personal circumstances best.
So here is how we could all benefit from the underlying principles of the exercise:
1. Spend time together. Time to a relationship is like water to a plant. This is how we build attachments and keep them going. If you are under pressure be it work-wise, with children or elderly relatives, pencil time together less often but make sure it is quality time together.
2. Really listen and be curious about your partner. Do you remember how you listened when you first met? Revisit that sentiment and listen as if the world depended on your understanding! Your partner will feel heard and closer to you as a result. Make sure this is a two way process.
3. Try not to criticise, offer solutions or be sarcastic. If you do, you will get your partner onto the defensive, which will stop the dialogue and start an argument.
4. Use "I" rather than "You" in your conversations. Compare the following statements: "You never do anything around the house" and "I like it when you help out, makes me feel you care". Which one would you respond better to? It's a no-brainer but so easy to overlook!
5. Re-introduce touch. This aspect can be easily forgotten in long term relationships but is so important. Remember how you used to sit together on the sofa? Kiss hello? Give a spontaneous hug? Hold hands? We all need touch to feel close so why not introduce what worked so well for you at the beginning? Try small steps towards intimacy.
6. Have fun. Something physical works wonders and, the more childish, the better. Fairground rides, trampoline jumps, dancing, comedy nights, pin bowling and tickling all work wonders to reconnect us to the child in us. Laughing together is a bonding experience and creates shared memories.
7. Flirt and be (a little bit) mysterious. There was a time when we would not dream of sharing the bathroom or sharing other, less appealing, aspects of life. There is a fine line between being comfortable with one another and being so familiar that we stop making the effort. A little mystery and flirting can bring the sparkle back!
Wishing you all a fabulous time with the person you love on Valentines Day and beyond!
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