The Dance of Love


A love relationship is never static; it ebbs and flows. It's like a dance. If we want love to last, we have to grasp this fact and get used to paying attention to and readjusting our level of emotional engagement. Loving is a process that constantly moves from harmony to disharmony, from mutual attunement and responsiveness to misattunement and disconnection--and back again.
Misattunement is not necessarily a sign of lack of love or commitment. It is inevitable and normal. In fact, it is startlingly common. Research informs us that happily bonded mother and infants miss each other's signals 70 percent of the time. Adults miss their partner's cues most of the time, too! We all send unclear signals and misread cues. We become distracted, we suddenly shift our level of emotional intensity and leave our partner behind. Only in the movies does a poignant gaze predictably follow another and one small touch always elicit an exquisitely timed gesture in return. We are sorely mistaken if we believe that love is about always being in tune. What matters is if we can repair tiny moment of misattunent and come back into harmony. Bonding is an eternal process of renewal.
Happy lasting bonds are all about emotional responsiveness. The core attachment question "Are you there for me?"--requires a "yes" in response. According to Sue Johnson (founder of Emotional Focused Therapy for Couples) a secure bond has three basic elements:

  • Accessibility--you give me your attention and are emotionally open to what I am saying
  • Responsiveness--you accept my needs and fears and offer comfort and caring;
  • Engagement--you are emotionally present, absorbed and involved with me.
When these elements are missing and repair has failed, alienation and disconnection take over and couples enter into dances of negativity like attack/withdraw or blame/defend. When love begins to erode, what is missing is attunement and emotional responsiveness. Angry protests at the loss of connection escalate. The repair of specific hurts becomes more and more challenging. A slow unwinding of the tie begins. As a sense of safe haven is lost, the old cliche that we build walls when we need to build bridges comes true. Sue Johnson describes how the dance of love can play out in one of her blogs. I suggest you check it out. Go to:
And interestingly, I recently viewed a YouTube video featuring Thich Nhat Hanh being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey where he describes the 4 mantras of connection in marital relationship. Some of you will love it, I'm sure. Others may feel he is being too romantic or idealistic. Nevertheless, the core goals of the mantras are quite accurate, in my opinion. If interested go to:

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