• Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

How To Be In A Healthy Relationship

Since we all want to be in healthy relationships, we would be interested in how to do this right? Instead of thinking that you chose the wrong partner, ask yourself, "Am I being the best partner I can be?" Also, it is better to ask, "Are you healthy in your relationship?" rather than "Are you in a healthy relationship?" It is really not about the relationship. It is about you in the relationship.

We all struggle with this in my opinion. I struggle with it even with a Ph.D. in this stuff. But I know that having the right tools and strategies to keep myself in line are important. Don't miss that I am not saying, to "keep him or her in line". This is not about how do I change him? This is about how do I stay differentiated?

Differentiation means distinguishing and balancing self-regulation and emotional attachment by going through relationship struggles that teach you the difference between the two. "Self-development" is controlling how we function with others and by ourselves. David Schnarch, Ph.D. is the one who has taught me the most about this. If you want to know more, look him up. He is a clinical psychologist and author who practices in Colorado.

There are 4 ways to achieve differentiation and you have to know what they are to be in a healthy relationship. Take note of the following list and ask yourself if you do these things. If so you are on your way to being healthy in a relationship. The comments for each are my own:

  • Have a clear sense of self in close proximity to important partner (you stay loyal to yourself in the presence of others)

  • Self-regulate anxiety and self-soothe hurts (don't expect your partner to take care of it)

  • Have nonreactivity to your partner's anxieties (don't freak out when your partner gets angry or afraid - let it roll)

  • Tolerate discomfort for growth (it is going to hurt but the reward on the other side is worth it)

While it is not easy, it is rewarding. We have helped many people learn to be better differentiated. In my opinion, we just help them tweak the ways to stay differentiated. Knowing how, you can hold yourself accountable and that will keep you Working in the Smart Zone.