Making Your Partner Feel Understood

Hello, fellow beings!

This week was a whirlwind. Aside from all the relationship writing I do, my friend Eva (a content writer) and I hosted writer's meet-ups here in Los Angeles.

It went incredibly well, given it was our first time doing a presentation for it. I did not faint, which is all that I can ask for.

Preparing for the event and handling personal matters meant I barely had time to write, though. But I was able to squeeze in this bit of writing, just for you guys.

I recently met with a friend for coffee, and they told me about a fight they'd gotten into with their girlfriend. "She came home from work upset about her boss. I listened to her blow off steam about how he screwed her over. But one thing led to another, and somehow, we got into a fight."

So we got to talking about how the tables turned so quickly. And this made me think about an aspect of communication that a lot of people struggle with.

While his partner may not have been in the clear, we came to an understanding that he lacked something important: empathy.

em·pa·thy 
noun
the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

You might think listening is enough when your partner is upset. But showing you understand how your partner is feeling and that you're there to listen is even more important. 

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a study conducted by researchers at the University of California Berkley. Participants in a relationship were asked to log their arguments daily, rating how understood and happy they felt in their relationship after.

They found that couples that understood each other better during an argument thought more highly of their relationships. In fact, just the simple act of one partner trying to understand the other made the person feel happier.

So while listening is the first step for communication in a relationship, empathy is what truly matters when your partner is talking about their struggles.

But that doesn't come naturally for everyone. You may be thinking, "I always say and do the wrong things!"

And I totally feel that because I used to be the same. I struggled to find the right words; I felt like everything I said made things with my partner worse.

But empathy isn't something you need to be born with; it's something you can learn and practice.

If you want to work towards making your partner feel more understood and heard, give these a try:

Put down your phone

No one is going to think you're listening to them if your eyes are glued to your phone. Think about the last time you had an important conversation with someone. How would you have felt if they had picked up their phone while you recalled your struggles?

Put down your phone and look up at your partner. Give them your undivided attention. If you don't follow this step, the rest won't really matter.

You need to actively listen to what your partner is saying; that won't happen with your Instagram feed in your hand.

Ask questions

If something your partner doesn't make sense to you, don't nod and let them continue. Part of actively listening is asking questions for clarification.

So if your partner feels like they were "undermined," ask them in what ways they felt that. Tell them to describe to you what being undermined feels like.

Asking questions not only helps you understand your partner's situation better but lets them see you care enough to engage.

Be close to them

Listening to your partner from another room can come off as uncaring. Physical closeness establishes a connection that says you're there and listening.

Sit down next to your partner while they relay to you what's going on. Create a calm space for your partner to be there next to you.

If they are open to physical touch, hold their hand during your conversation. Give your partner a hug if they seem overwhelmed. A simple act of touch can show how much you understand their distress.

Don't automatically jump to advice

I'm sure every single one of you can think of a time where you were talking to someone about a problem, and they jumped in with unwarranted advice.

I know this is a personal pet peeve of mine.

Here's a piece of news that will get you far in life: most of the time, people just want to vent. Especially if that person is a friend, partner, or family, they just need to talk about things. They don't expect you to have the answers.

So take the pressure off yourself to have the solution; your partner doesn't expect that hefty role of you.

Validate their feelings

Instead of giving advice, opt to validate their feelings.

If they're coming to you feeling emotionally drained because of how horrible their boss treats them, be with them at that moment. Acknowledge that it makes sense they feel that way because it sounds exhausting to you as well.

A simple "I can see you're really upset" or "I understand how that would be frustrating," lets your partner know you honor the way they're feeling.

Let me be clear, validating their feelings doesn't mean you agree. But what your partner feels is a fact. Just because you don't agree with them doesn't mean they don't feel that emotion wholly.

Ask what you can do for them

If the conversation ends and you're not sure what to do, ask.

See if there's something you can do for your partner to make the situation better. If not, ask what you can do to cheer them up.

By acknowledging you're not sure how to move forward, you're creating space to have your partner help you understand what they need. Offering to make their situation a little bit easier is a caring gesture.


Communication can make or break relationships. And while it's not the easiest skill in the world, it's one that all of us can get better at.

So next time your partner comes home upset about something, create a space for understanding them. Put down your phone, actively listen, let them know their feelings are valid, and ask what you can do for them.

Feeling loved and cared for is what we all want. Do so for your partner by making them feel heard and understood.

Until next week my lovely readers.

All the love,

Kirstie


Articles I Wrote This Week:

How To Tell If Someone Has An Avoidant Attachment Style

Articles I Loved This Week:

Both Sides Of A Breakup

A Beginner's Guide to Couples Therapy

How To Heal From Past Relationships

6 Ways To Combat Jealousy In A Relationship


Want dating, relationship, or Medium advice?

For just $8/month, you can ask me all your burning questions! That and you get to see my answers to everyone's questions that came before yours.

Plus, you'll be ensuring my on-going ability to buy food for myself.

Interested?

Subscribe now


If you like this newsletter, please share it!

It would mean the world to me if you sent my newsletter to just two of your friends. Just that simple act helps spread the word about my writing.

There's a button below to share my newsletter easily!

What Love Isn't

And trying to understand what it is.

Good afternoon fellow beings!

Today is Valentine’s Day; the day of (manufactured) love.

Kidding, kidding. Though the day was created to boost sales for over-priced candy, I’m not a total cynic. Sure, I may not be celebrating Valentine’s Day, but if this holiday is your jam, more power to you!

But this day brings up a curious topic, the topic of love.

I’ve always been fascinated by love. Clearly; I write about it for a living.

When you think about it, what actually is love?

How does one describe the feeling?

What are the symptoms? And are they the same for everyone?

I’ve always thought of love as describing a color. You can’t, really. You can point at a nearby tree and say, “That’s green.” But to describe the actual color, there are no words for.

The same goes for love. We can read Nicholas Sparks’ novels and listen to Adele. We observe a gleaming couple pass by on the sidewalk. We can watch romantic movies that make us feel the feels.

But everyone just guesses as to what love is.

I’ve been in relationships where I thought I was in love. Then I began new relationships and decided the former wasn’t actually love.

And I don’t think I’m alone in this. All anyone can do is guess at what love might be; through experience, error, and vulnerability. That can seem scary, putting your heart out there, unsure of where it might land.

But when you do find the elusive feeling, love makes the journey worth it.

And luckily, along that journey, you can at least know what love isn’t and through that, realize how love, at least, behaves.

Love isn’t a game

Love isn’t about keeping score. It’s not a back and forth of who can one-up who. There’s no time to wait to text back; no reason to act like you don’t care.

Love is when you’re on the same team. Sure, you may disagree, but your goal is the same. You want the best of one another and the relationship.

Love isn’t forced

Love isn’t coerced. It’s not something you can make someone feel. It’s also not something you should dread having in your life.

Love comes naturally. It’s not always easy, but there’s no question of whether either person wants to be in it. You look forward to your time spent together.

Love isn’t crying on the floor

Love isn’t a rollercoaster. It’s not passion in the form of fights that end in tears.

Love is supportive, caring, and selfless. It’s wanting the other person’s happiness. Passion looks like supporting each other and loving unconditionally.

Love isn’t rushing through milestones

Love isn’t a race. It’s not measured by how quickly you move-in together. Your devotion is not determined by how quickly you walk down the aisle.

Love unfolds at its own pace. It’s feeling secure with one another to make decisions when you’re both ready. You don’t compare your love to other’s timelines because you know what you have will last forever, not something to rush through.

Love isn’t becoming one

Love isn’t about finding the person that completes you. It’s not about enmeshing with your partner.

Love is about being whole with another whole person. It’s about loving yourself as much as you love your partner. Your love is made stronger by being the best version of yourselves, and you both support that individuality.

Love isn’t ownership

Love isn’t marking your territory. It’s not trying to everything to yourself.

Love is respecting your partner’s life outside of the relationship. It’s knowing you’re both individuals with differences that are respected. You don’t belong to each other; instead, you choose each other.

Love isn’t conditional

Love isn’t expecting things to fit into a neat box. It’s not loving one day and withholding it the next.

Love is messy. It’s accepting that sometimes you’ll have bad days. It’s supporting each other through those hard times, instead of hurting one another. It’s unconditional.

Love doesn’t hurt

Love isn’t throwing word daggers at your partner. It’s never causing pain to each other.

Love is about helping one another avoid pain. It’s realizing that sometimes your words accidentally hurt your partner, and apologizing because you care for them.

Love isn’t the end of the story

Love isn’t about reaching a happily ever after. There’s no end goal to reach.

Love is a lifetime. It’s working through obstacles that come your way. It’s choosing to care for your partner every day. You both know the journey doesn’t end at the aisle or the first “I love you;” that’s where it all begins.

Love isn’t perfect

Love isn’t pristine and shiny. It’s not fight-free.

Love is arguing and disagreeing. It’s learning to admire each other in new ways when your partner surprises you. It’s an adventure of unknowns that you wouldn’t want to do with anyone else.


People may not be able to define what love is clearly, but at least we know what love isn’t.

And through knowing what love isn’t, we can be a little more clear on what love is, even if it takes a bit of explaining.

Until next week!

All the love,

Kirstie


Articles I Wrote This Week:

The Most Underrated Qualities That Make For A Great Partner

How To Have Fantastic First Dates

7 Ways To Express Love Physically

6 Ways You’re Not Respecting Your Values While Dating

Articles I Loved This Week:

How to Tell Your Partner You Want to Go to Couples Therapy

Ask Polly: ‘I Want to Dump My Beautiful, Loving Girlfriend’

How to help your partner relax, according to their love language


Want dating, relationship, or Medium advice?

For just $8/month, you can ask me all your burning questions! That and you get to see my answers to everyone's questions that came before yours.

Plus, you'll be ensuring my on-going ability to buy food for myself.

Interested?

Subscribe now


If you like this newsletter, please share it!

It would mean the world to me if you sent my newsletter to just two of your friends. Just that simple act helps spread the word about my writing.

There's a button below to share my newsletter easily!

The Most Underrated Qualities In A Partner

Intelligence and a six-pack are cool, but let's dig a little deeper.

Hi fellow beings!

Happy Friday, and all that jazz. There's really no updates on my front, so I'm going to dive right into why I'm in your inbox this afternoon.

I want to talk about the most underrated qualities in a partner.

When researchers asked what women and men wanted most in a partner, they listed qualities like kindness, intelligence, and attractiveness. Those are all great, but I think there are qualities in a partner that are even better. And we often overlook them.

So I want to bring these qualities to the forefront. I want to put them in the beaming, warm spotlight they deserve.

Because finding a life partner is complicated. You can't possibly know what you want until you try it out.

But you can be more aware of what to look for that could possibly make for the best relationship you've ever had.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, is the quality I didn't realize I needed from someone until I had it.

EQ is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions. It's also the ability to realize your impact on others. Instead of bottling up or being completely unaware of what you're feeling, you have the words and awareness to express your emotions.

Some people have a challenging time putting into words what they're feeling. Maybe it's due to a lack of showing emotion in their family. Perhaps they were even ordered to turn off their feelings.

But lucky for all those people, it's possible to increase your EQ.

And finding a partner with a high EQ or willingness to increase theirs is like winning the lottery. Life is a long journey, with ups and downs. Having a partner that can communicate their feelings and express appreciation for you is going to make for a relationship that can withstand plenty.

Comfortability

I hesitated using this word for what I'm trying to describe. "Comfortable" when used in relationships seems to connote settling down, which is ridden with all sorts of negative stigmas.

But hear me out.. when I used the word comfortability, I mean your partner making you feel like you can be your authentic self.

I didn't even know this was a thing until I started dating my new boyfriend. I walk down the street dancing and singing, doing whatever I want because I know he loves me for all of it. I can talk about my dreams of one day own a coffee shop in a quaint little down. I can also talk about the fact that our Mediterranian dinner made me gassy AF.

Through this feeling of being loved and accepted, I realize more and more of my authentic self I've hidden away.

And whatever you would call that quality— comfortability or something else— it's something I cherish in my partner; it's something I hope everyone finds.

Openness

This is an umbrella term for a lot of things.

Openness to understanding you. Openness to new ways of thinking. Openness to people unlike them. Openness to a deep kind of love.

Some people are firmly rooted in their beliefs. They see things one way and won't budge for a new perspective.

Other people are jaded from their past. They can't move through the pain they experienced when they were younger. Because of that, they'll always be a toe out the door.

It's a quality in a person that they didn't bring upon themselves but can change. The question is if they even want to change. Because a lot of people don't.

A relationship without understanding and room for growth doesn't seem like a fulfilling one. To continually be shut out by your partner and watch opportunities for a greater understanding of one's self and the world is something you'll only be able to put up with for so long.


These qualities might be harder to spot in a person, but when you come across them, I implore you to appreciate them for what they're worth.

Who we date in life and choose to spend our time with is a big but fulfilling decision; that is if we can pay attention to certain overlooked qualities.

Until next week my friends.

All the love,

Kirstie

 

Articles I Wrote This Week:

6 Subtle Mindset Shifts to Change Your Life

How To Talk About Your Depression In A New Relationship

Why I'm Not Celebrating Valentine's Day

How To Triple The Number Of Books You Read

Articles I Loved This Week:

That Feeling When You Share Your Deepest Secrets With a Stranger

Relationship Agreements: What They Are And Why You Need One

How To Be A Good Kisser: The Complete Guide


Want dating, relationship, or Medium advice?

For just $8/month, you can ask me all your burning questions! That and you get to see my answers to everyone's questions that came before yours.

Plus, you'll be ensuring my on-going ability to buy food for myself.

Interested?


If you like this newsletter, please share it!

It would mean the world to me if you sent my newsletter to just two of your friends. Just that simple act helps spread the word about my writing.

There's a button below to share my newsletter easily!

Want To Level Up?

Support me supporting you.

Hi fellow humans!

I’m in your inbox on a day that’s not a Friday, weird.

But it’s because I have an update that I want to be separated from my usual weekly email.

I’ve been getting a lot of emails asking for advice about relationships and dating. I’m so stoked and love replying with any wisdom I can give.

But these replies take a lot of time, mental energy, and focus. I don’t half-ass my answers. I want to give a solid response based on my own experiences, what I’ve read, and what I’ve learned from professionals. But there’s only so much free time that I can give.

With that being said, I don’t want to cut off this line of communication. Instead, I’ve decided to create a paid tier to my newsletter that anyone can subscribe to.

For $8/month, you can continue to write in with your questions. On top of that, I’ll post the questions and my answers from other subscribers for you to read.

I feel like that’s pretty straight-forward. I want to help, but I still have to afford to eat. So for me to still give the best advice possible, I’ve come up with my paid newsletter as a solution.

If you’re interested in writing in for advice or simply want to support my writing, go ahead and click the button below.

In the meantime, have a brilliant week, and I’ll see you on Friday!

All the love,

Kirstie

Common Dating Advice That Actually Sucks

And why you should completely ignore it.

Hello fellow humans!

This week marked the completion of my 27th rotation around the sun. In other words, I am 28-year-old and coming up on the unknown ventures known as my 30’s.

Luckily, I live in LA, where 30 is the new 20, and if your a man that age is upped to 40.

So I haven’t been inundated with the notion that I am withering away. Sure, getting older is a bit scary. But if I reflect on my life— which I’ve done a great deal of this week— I actually like myself a lot more than I did in my early 20’s.

So if this trend continues, what’s there to fear in my 30’s?

But that’s neither here nor there because for now, I am still the bright-eyed age of 28.

While I was doing all that reflecting, though, I realized a few things about the dating advice I’ve gotten over the years. Being a relationship writer myself, I felt a visceral urge to share what it is I realized.

Dating advice is like folklore passed down through generations.

Whether there’s truth in those words is not of concern. From parent to child, friend to friend, and slightly drunk Aunt to weary niece on Thanksgiving, horrible dating advice continues to be shelled out.

And I get it. Because I fell victim to believing this same kind of advice when I was younger. I’d read magazines and talk with my friends and have my assumptions about how dating worked confirmed time and time again.

But that advice actually sucked, a lot. Though well-intended, I hope, the dating advice we were taught growing up is actually perpetuating unhealthy habits that aren’t doing anyone any good.

And it’s time to sort this all out. Because dating is hard enough; it’s a vulnerable process that’s complicated and lonely at times. You don’t need shitty dating advice being thrown into that cocktail of perpetuated anguish.

So let’s talk about some common pieces of dating advice that you should forever stop listening to if you want a healthy romantic life:

“If there’s no spark on the first date, it’s not meant to be.”

I’d be hesitant about listening to any advice that suggests “sparks” or “fireworks” on the first date are necessary for a lasting relationship.

Getting to know a complete stranger takes time. And dating is about learning what works and doesn’t work for you. Sometimes it’ll take until the third date to realize you really like someone.

I say if the person is nice and interesting, pursue things until the third or fourth date. Give the person a chance; you may just find that the sparks were there, just a little hidden at first.

“You need to act uninterested in the beginning.”

This advice falls into the category of playing games, and games do not make for a healthy relationship.

If someone is going to run because you texted them after the date to let them know you had fun, let them sprint away.

You should be interested in finding someone as interested in you as you are with them. Showing that you enjoy your date’s company and want to keep seeing them is healthy and will be reciprocated by a person worth your while.

“Don’t date someone with an incompatible zodiac sign.”

*Eyes roll into the back of my head*

I’m not into astrology. It’s just not my jam. And this kind of advice completely ignores the idea of nature vs. nurture.

What makes someone a great partner is their personality. Those kinds of characteristics are created through past experiences, the relationship with their parents, and the ability to express their emotions.

They’re not created based on how close the moon was at the time of their birth. End of story.

“Wait until you find ‘the one.’”

It would be a sad reality to believe that there is only one person in this vast world that is compatible as a life partner.

And I say that being in a very committed relationship. I love my boyfriend. I think we’re great together. But, god forbid something were to happen to him, I wouldn’t believe I lost my one chance at love.

This kind of advice sets extremely high expectations for a romantic partner. There are plenty of people out there that could be a great life partner. You just have to find one that makes you feel comfortable being yourself, that you love spending time with, and who you’re attracted to.

“Make them work for you.”

I hate this advice for two reasons:

  1. A relationship is not about who is better.

  2. You’re not a prize to be one like a goldfish at a carnival.

Let’s please stop with this notion of making someone work for your love. A relationship is an equal partnership. You should be loved, and respect, but both of those should be reciprocated.

Don’t act like they’re below you and need to earn your love. That’s a bit narcissistic.

“Age matters.”

Nope. Age does not matter.

What matters is the individual’s experiences. How they view life. The way they view love.

I’ve had the displeasure of dating someone twelve years my senior. I assumed our relationship would be this mature presence in my life that would rock my world. Boy, was I wrong.

There was a reason he was still single. And all the time in the world wouldn’t change his unhealthy behaviours until he took a hard look in the mirror and decided to put in the work.

On the other hand, my current boyfriend is two years younger than me. He’s one of the most responsible and caring men I’ve ever been with.

Age doesn’t matter. Their past and how that shaped them matters.

“Be your best self.”

I understand where this advice comes from and good intentions behind it.

But the best kind of relationship you’ll ever find yourself in is one where you’re fully accepted by the other person. That includes your make-up free face, the audible burps you belch, your sweatpants with holes in them, and your unfiltered word vomit.

Wanting to dress up for nice dinners and talk about happy memories on the first few dates makes sense. Just don’t feel the need to act like someone you’re not.

“You’re being too picky; you’re not getting any younger.”

This piece of dating advice almost brings tears to my eyes.

I know that being single can be lonely. It’s a rough process to go on dates and continually watch things not work out. But the last thing you want to do is make a huge decision like finding a life partner out of desperation.

If someone is giving you this advice, tell them it’s unwanted.

Dating is your own process that happens on your own terms; it’s not something you can rush.


If there’s any advice you should take, it’s this:

Be yourself, date different kinds of people, go at your own speed, and be a good person.

There’s no right way to date, but there’s definitely a lot of wrong ways.

Until next week!

All the love,

Kirstie


Articles I Wrote This Week:

How To Prepare For The Worst And Hope For The Best

Why Your Dating Profile Isn’t Working

How A Netflix Show About Sex Strengthened My Relationship

Articles I Loved This Week:

My Rebound Relationship Helped Heal Me

Love in the Time of Low Expectations

Fables— from Heather Havrilesky’s newsletter


Want personalized advice?

Part of this newsletter that isn’t utilized enough is the advice column portion.

Write in with something you want personalized advice on.

I’m here, just shoot me a reply to this email!


If you like this newsletter, please share it!

It would mean the world to me if you sent my newsletter to just two of your friends. Just that simple act helps spread the word about my writing.

There’s a button below to share my newsletter easily!

Loading more posts…