Connecting with a beloved is one of the most wonderful experiences in life. When we connect with someone we love, loneliness goes away and we feel full of joy within. We yearn for this connection, yet we often find it elusive.
There are very specific things you can do to support connection with your partner.
1. Connect With Yourself
You cannot connect with your partner if you are disconnected from yourself. Connection with another happens when you are open and flowing within, not when you are feeling insecure and needy. Before trying to connect with your partner, do your own inner work to get yourself into a loving space. You will connect with your partner when you want to share your love, not when you are trying to get love.
2. Open to Learning
At any given moment, we are in one of two intents:
• The intent to learn about love and truth
• The intent to protect against pain with some form of controlling behavior
Controlling behavior closes our heart and disconnects us from ourselves and our partner. When we choose to be open to learning about loving ourselves and our partner, our heart opens -- which is what enables us to connect. We cannot connect with a closed heart. Choosing the intent to learn when with your partner is vital for connection.
3. Be Present
Nothing disconnects partners more than when one is talking and the other is thinking of other things and not actually hearing the partner. This makes your partner feel invisible to you.
When you are with your partner, be present. Look at your partner -- in your partner's eyes, if you can. Listen. Care about what your partner is saying and feeling. Be responsive.
If you often find yourself preoccupied when with your partner, do some inner work to discover what you are avoiding. A lack of presence indicates that you are disconnected from both yourself and your partner, so if you want to connect, you need to learn to be present in the moment with your partner.
4. Focus on What You Value in Your Partner, Not on What You Don't Like
When you do your own inner work and learn to love and value who you are in your essence, then you can also value the essence of your partner.
We all want to be seen for who we really are -- which is who we are when we are open. When fears get triggered, as they do in all relationships, we might turn to various learned protective, controlling behaviors. But these learned protective behaviors are not who we really are. We are our essence, our soul self, our true self -- which is always wonderful and beautiful. This is likely what you fell in love with when you first fell in love with your partner. If you focus on your partner's wounded behaviors that come from fear, you will create distance and disconnection. If you focus on your partner's wonderful core qualities and frequently speak to those, you will create the arena for connection.
5. Plan Fun Dates and Time Together
Connection happens when partners have time to be together in a fun and relaxed way -- like over dinner, taking a walk together, sharing interesting things about their day, cooking together, creating something together, holding each other and talking, playing a sport together, watching a funny show together, and so on.
Most people, when they first connect with each other, say things like, "We sat in the restaurant and talked for hours." This is what created the connection, and this is what you need to plan into your life together to support connection.
6. Support Your Partner in What Brings Him or Her Joy
It's far easier to keep our heart open with our partner when we feel supported by him or her in what we love to do. In healthy relationships, partners receive joy from the other's joy.
Supporting your partner's joy is not the same thing as supporting your partner in addictive behavior. If your partner's behavior is hurtful to you -- such as having an affair or getting drunk -- you need to focus on what would be loving to you. But if you find yourself threatened by your partner spending time with friends or enjoying alone time or playing a sport with someone of his or her equal ability, then you need to do your own inner work to value yourself enough to not be threatened. Supporting each other in what we each love to do is part of a healthy relationship, and definitely part of creating connection.
7. Be There for Each Other When One Is Triggered
Each of us has our vulnerabilities -- those triggers from childhood that put us into hurt, fear or sadness. Sometimes a partner protects against the pain with anger or withdrawal. Instead of being reactive to your partner's triggers and going into your own anger or withdrawal, each of you needs to learn how to be there with caring and compassion for the other. We all need help and support when old wounds get triggered, and compassionate partners can learn how to do this for each other. It doesn't mean you are taking responsibility for your partner's feelings -- this is actually not at all helpful -- but it does mean that you know how to support your partner in helping him or herself deal with the painful feelings. Compassion for each other's wounds and vulnerabilities goes a long way toward creating connection.
Connection with your partner is vital for your well-being and the well-being of the relationship. If you find that any of these suggestions are hard for you, then do some inner work to discover what is in the way. If you still can't follow these suggestions, then you might want to receive some therapy, coaching or facilitation to heal whatever is stopping you from being able to connect with yourself and with your partner.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a relationship expert, best-selling author, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah. To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, receive Free Help, and take our 12-Week eCourse, "The Intimate Relationship Toolbox" - the first two weeks are free! Discover SelfQuest®, a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution computer program. Phone or Skype sessions with Dr. Margaret Paul.
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