The U.S. Surgeon General's warning in 2023 cast a spotlight on a silent epidemic sweeping across America—an epidemic of loneliness—likening its health impact to smoking daily. This critical issue underscores a significant public health priority, resonating with the core of human bonds and relationships. This is a realm that I have studied and nurtured for over two decades.
And this issue is not limited to the United States, it is being felt around the globe. Both Japan and the U.K. have formally appointed national Ministers of Loneliness to help their government more fully address the problem.
Loneliness and isolation gnaw at nearly half of the individuals in the United States, bringing grave health consequences akin to those of chronic diseases. Loneliness has been linked to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, but also to a myriad of physical health issues. Not only can it increase one’s risk of severe illness, it can also decrease...
The signs and symptoms of physical abuse are obvious and concrete, but the signs of emotional abuse are insidious and hidden to the eye. For this reason, many people underestimate the devastating and lasting effects of emotional abuse. In this article, we will explore the signs of emotional abuse and manipulation, the impact they can have on individuals, and how to protect yourself from these toxic behaviors.
To effectively combat emotional abuse and manipulation, it is crucial to understand the dynamics at play. Emotional abuse is about power and control. Remember, in a healthy relationship, both people have the capacity to respect multiple subjectivities. That means that both people understand that each individual has their own set of feelings, perceptions, needs and desires that are worthy of respect and consideration, and that they are bound to differ. Both people work to respect the subjectivity of one another.
Attachment Theory is the scientific map of how we bond with others to increase our chances of survival! As mammals, we quite literally depend on emotional bonds with others to survive. Scientific studies have continued to underscore that the warmth and quality of our connections is the number one factor predictive of quality of life, longevity, and is even a huge factor in financial stability.
Scientists divide the styles that people adopt to bond into roughly 4 categories. About 50% of the population had a development such that they bond in a “secure style.” The other 50% of the population develop attachment styles such as avoidant, anxious or disorganized.
An anxious attachment style describes a person who finds it very difficult to rest in feelings of safety and security. Wondering if this is you?
In my courses, and in psychotherapy, I guide people towards forming what we call a Securely Functioning Relationship. If you are working with me I am starting with the assumption that this is one of if not your primary goal!
The benefits of a secure bond include your essential life satisfaction, resiliency, insulation from life threatening diseases, better sleep, better moods, better cognitive functioning and athletic or professional performance.
You will hear me referring to this goal as “the land of the extraordinary.” That is because a securely functioning relationship is truly extraordinary-- in experience, and in the benefits it provides.
The term “securely functioning” comes from the language of Attachment Theory. Attachment Theory is the scientific theory that describes how we behave when we bond to another person.
Our Attachment System is the biological system that is activated when we bond to...
One of the most powerful relationship skills you can have is knowing what a healthy relationship looks and feels like. Most people know what hasn’t worked for them, but have a hard time defining and feeling confident picking a healthy relationship. This is especially tricky because we know that healthy relationships are not “perfect” relationships!
Dr. Judith Wallerstein did some fantastic research about the commonalities of healthy relationships. She was the first researcher to ask what healthy relationships actually felt like to the people in them. Her primary finding was that a healthy relationship feels like a unique, co-created world that the two partners share. Every “world” is different, but this qualitative presence exists in all of the healthy relationships she studied.
How do you know if you’re in a relationship that has this quality, even when it’s hard? Or if you’re beginning a relationship that...
A committed relationship’s most important quality is its uniqueness! The bond between two different people is the beating heart of the relationship: what makes it a living, breathing, exciting entity unlike any other.
However, there are standard, tried and true components that go into the formation of a committed relationship and allow the differences of two people to remain connected through time.
Like every square has four sides, the “frame” of a committed relationship is the boundary within which the creativity and dynamism of the relationship can occur. Without the frame, the relationship could not exist over time, because it would not have any shape or form. The heart of the relationship would simply bleed out into a dysfunctional non-shape!
I’ll share with you a parallel frame to give you a...
When I talk to my patients about self-care they often go to ideas of spa days and bubble baths. Sure, those things can be a form of self-care, however the self-care I find transformative centers around the practice of self-compassion. Now, if your next thought is associations of pity, letting yourself off the hook, anything goes, you are "Way Off Base!"....
Do not let this man go!
Do you have a list of the qualities and characteristics you’d to find like in a man? Many women (and men) do.
However, most lists of this kind are based on personal dating preferences, so they don't necessarily take into account the specific personality traits that really matter when it in comes to determining whether or not a guy has what it takes to form happy, healthy bonds as a boyfriend or husband....
Proceed with serious caution.
We've all had the experience of meeting someone who seems to be "off" somehow, but in a way it's extremely difficult to put a finger on.
Dating and falling in love with a person whose personality traits turn out to be so truly twisted as to raise suspicions that they might have antisocial personality disorder will leave your self-esteem and ability to trust deeply damaged, possibly even causing you to doubt your own perceptions of reality....
Most people with anxiety are keenly aware that certain relationships can either reduce or drastically increase anxiety, but do you know why? Most people react from their gut, either withdrawing or frantically seeking a relationship; both often spiral into dysfunctional patterns. With some discernment, you can learn to use anxiety as a diagnostic clue to help you navigate relationships, increase healthy connections, and leave dysfunctional ones....
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