In a world dominated by messages about entitled happiness and freedom of choice, we can mistakenly consider that relationships, like our clothes or furniture, are interchangeable and disposable, if and when they do not meet our needs. Instead of noting the potential for our significant others to teach us how to love more, we may walk away from the hard work that may be required to communicate, negotiate and overcome difficulties and challenges.

Additionally this misconstruction may impact our ability to commit. We are generally happiest when we have sustained emotional investment in other people. When committed we look at the longer term and not the daily irritations.  Although at times we may be frustrated and disappointed in the relationship, a true commitment can ensure that we remember that we really love someone, even if and when we don’t feel it.

Where is your attention?

In these days of social media and gadgets it can be easy to be distracted, and to even prevent  ourselves from fully living in the present, To counteract this it can be useful to select a specific time either daily or even once a week, when a specific task is selected that requires all of your attention. It could be cleaning out a cupboard, organizing a meal with friends, or spending some solitary time on a walk. Just do it wholly, without interruption or distractions.Note what happens with your thoughts when your attention is undivided. If with others, notice how they respond when you give them the gift of your full attention.

 Are you taking  emotional risks?

Most of us are risk averse when it comes to matters relating to the heart. Many things that need to be shared are frequently never stated.  So many relationships are terminated long before their potential is realised.  Other people, even those we are most intimate with, don’t know what is in our head and heart unless we share it. Taking emotional risks is required in order to stay connected; through risking potential ridicule, rejection and misunderstanding, by being open and vulnerable, by wearing our heart on a sleeve takes courage. To extend yourself regardless of the fear is how we know who we are when at our most basic human self.

Try this bold and daring act once a week. Take a risk with your heart and see what happens. I guarantee it will surprise you.

Do you converse intimately?

Replacing face to face talk with text, chat, or email messages eliminates the contact that cultivates our capacity to empathize. The exchange of meaning that happens in an intimate conversation –  the observation of  the  other person’s facial expression, their tone of voice, and even their body language teaches us how to feel and how to respond.

Try to have at least one real conversation, face to face a day, or at least in a week. Enhance your ability to listen and see what you can hear behind the words. Watch the face speaking to you, notice the eye movements, the expressions that flicker across the face opposite as someone reveals themselves.