Relationship Advice: The Personal Touch
Technology connects us, and at the same time, we are losing the ‘personal touch.’ We have countless friends on Facebook, many whom we do not even know. Dating apps brings hundreds of faces across the screen, countless choices, next.
From my dating and newly partnered clients, I hear, “Why can’t he/she pick up the phone! I’m tired of texting!”
“I don’t want to keep sex texting. I need face time, too. I want him/her to make time for me!”
From clients who are in long term relationships or married, it’s a different situation. Many partners and spouses are losing priority. I hear, “We’re so busy with the kids, our careers, or taking care of parents that we rarely spend time together.”
“We’re either tired, on automatic or avoid each other to “keep the peace.”
We are losing our connection.”
As human beings we are wired for touch and personal connection, so what can we do?
Here are 3 easy ways plus a bonus:
- Full Presence
When you are with a person that you care about; dating partner, spouse, friend, or your child – be fully present during that time. Ten minutes of full presence is worth more than three hours on distracted and non-attentive time.
This means putting the cell phone away, listening with full attention, and looking directly at the person with whom you are talking.
When you hug, hold hands, or place your hand on their arm – be fully present in the hug or touch. Feel their essence, connect on a deeper level. Be in the moment with your mind and heart fully there.
I shared this idea with a couple whom I coach. They have been married for over 15 years and the kids will be out of the house soon. They would like to create more intimacy and connection with each other and realize that this upcoming time period gives them a great opportunity to enhance their relationship.
When I talked about full presence and touch, the wife said, “I love this! Even though I hug my husband or touch him, I’m on automatic. My mind is often somewhere else.”
I lead them through some practices and they could both feel a stronger connection and energy exchange. It was very exciting and they look forward to practicing at home!
Extra tip: It’ may be challenging to be fully present in a hug or touch at first. Therefore, just do it for 5 to 30 seconds. Notice how you both feel. When you do it often the connection builds. Small steps equal large gains.
- Your voice
Very simply, instead of texting, emailing or sending messages through Facebook, pick up the phone and talk! Whether it’s three minutes or twenty, the good feelings that can be generated are bonding.
There is an energy exchange through voice that we cannot achieve through messaging. Plus, nuances and meaning can be lost through technology. The immediate response of a phone or Skype call has a different rhythm and connection.
Extra tip: Choose someone who you enjoy talking with! Keep the conversation short if it’s someone who drains you whom you need to speak with from time to time.
- Calendar Time
You have heard this before, but read on because I have additional spins on it.
Make a date with each other. For busy couples, this is truly a necessity and not a luxury! It’s imperative for keeping the connection alive. You change environments and can remember the fun that you can have together!
You may even need to schedule sex. After several years together, oxytocin levels drop and sexuality may change. Since this in an important bonding aspect of a relationship, many busy couples do need to schedule in sex, otherwise, it loses priority.
In the divorce part of my coaching, I hear many regrets of time for time not spent together and how a spouse was placed on the back burner. Excessive work creates material benefits, yet the relationship can suffer if not attended to as well.
Not getting a babysitter for an evening, keeps you both in parent mode rather than being in couple mode. Sometimes kids are a buffer in a relationship, however, if you keep your “couple-ness” and well as your parenting, then you won’t turn around during empty nest time and say, “Who are we without the kids.”
Suggestions for couples:
- Make a date at least once or twice a month
- Mark it is on the calendar and treat it as “gold” because it is. If you need reschedule due to an unforeseen situation, reschedule immediately. This tells you both that you are making a commitment to the relationship and to each other.
- Plan the date together. Do something you both enjoy. This is part of the bonding process.
- Go on the date with an attitude of sharing and having fun. Leave criticism, to do lists, work, kids, complaints and other responsibilities at home. Make a conscious effort to do this. This is your time to remember who are are together.
- Schedule sex if you need to and treat it as “gold.”
Suggestions for singles who are dating.
Several of my clients have experienced their partners pulling back after a certain time period together. If the person that you are dating, has pulled back or is not setting aside “in person” time with you, then it’s time to find out why.
Instead of waiting weeks or months, being afraid that you are pushy or don’t have the right to speak up, consider doing it now.
I teach clients a fabulous communication method that is compassionate, non-blaming and respectful. Have a conversation with your dating partner to understand why they are not spending the time with you and to express you needs for more “in person time.”
If weeks go by and there isn’t enough of a change, then it may be time to let the person go. If they are not treating you as a priority now, then they won’t later. Patterns show up early and it’s important to pay attention to them.
Some of my long term relationship or married clients are upset about their lack of priority by the partner. I ask, “How long has this been going on? Often, I hear “years.”
Your time is too valuable to wait for someone to pay attention to you. If you want personal touch, then be with someone who values it, too!
BONUS TIP FOR PRACTICING FULL PRESENCE
Here is an easy way to practice full presence. I created it because I wanted to expand my own ability to focus and be present with a partner.
You will need a cat or dog or a friend who has one. Animals are great to practice with being they give unconditional love, are non threatening and we don’t have any baggage with them!
So here is how it goes:
For one minute, stroke/pet your cat or dog. Place your full attention on the feel of its fur under your fingers, rubbing its chin or behind it’s ears. Be fully present and aware of how your pet responds and how you feel during the experience.
I have two cats and do this with each of them. When I am fully present with my cat, the connection between us is palpable. He may purr, nuzzle his head into my hand, or roll unto his back for me to stroke his tummy. He is truly loving it and so am I.
Often, when my mind wanders my cat gets up, turns around and show me his butt. Or he jumps off the couch and walks away. Talk about immediate feedback! What a teacher of presence he is!
Extra Tip: Quickly read through these ideas and choose one that you will apply now! Notice how it shifts your connection.
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