ATL 23 | Exceptional Relating

 

In this inspiring interview with Gal Szekely, you’ll get the building blocks for healthy lasting love. We talk about the 7 dimensions of exceptional relating and how to deal with expectations you might have towards your partner. Learn how to communicate your needs responsibly, without being demanding. We show you ways to stop compromising and instead find a win-win situation for both partners. Gal also elaborates on the importance of juggling autonomy vs. connection in a relationship. Want to know what kills and builds passion?

Listen to the podcast here:

The Seven Dimensions Of Exceptional Relating with Gal Szekely

I can’t wait to share with you this episode. I have had a powerful conversation with Gal Szekely, Founder of The Couples Center in the Bay Area, San Francisco. He is today’s featured expert. We will give you the most powerful components of a healthy, lasting love. Having this conversation with Gal made me realize how possible it is to have a great relationship! We just need to learn what to do and practice it rigidly with our loved one. Gal in combination with his wife has dedicated himself to helping individuals and couples create thriving relationships. Gal has developed a style of work that is simple, straightforward and effective, integrating many methods of relationship counseling.

Gal is a licensed psychotherapist and Adjunct Faculty in the California Institute of Integral Studies as well as a teacher in the Hakomi experiential psychotherapy method. He teaches other therapists how to apply methods that get to the heart of the matter and create change in a faster and more effective way. Gal holds an MA in Counseling Psychology and an MA in Social Psychology. He has a background in the business world as a management consultant. He is a passionate and influential speaker and a workshop leader. Welcome, Gal. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your expertise and experience with our audience.

You are welcome. Thank you!

Let’s start with your take on our show’s topic, love addiction.

One of the ways I see relationships, and which is important for people who are facing love addiction, is that we’re basically looking for something on the outside, but we’re really looking for an inside experience. I call it the process of going from outside to in. It’s true about love and it’s true in specifics about love. It’s true about like, “I want a better sexual experience with my partner. I want my partner to pick up their stuff better.” Almost in any desires or complaints we have with our partner, it starts with an outside experience, but actually, we’re directing towards an inside experience. The question for love addiction is more about, “Am I lovable? I’m doing it through relationship but what I’m looking for is not love, it’s being lovable.”

Being lovable is an experience inside of yourself, not in someone else. Click To Tweet

What does that mean for you being lovable?

It’s the experience inside of yourself. You’re looking for the experience of the self, the experience of myself. You’re not looking for an experience with someone. That’s the biggest mistake people make. They think, “I want to be in love because it’s going to be fun being with the other person.” That’s true but what we’re looking for is the experience inside of myself that I have, for example, “No doubt that I’m lovable. If you love me right now, that’s great. If you don’t love me right now, that’s also fine because I know I’m lovable.”

This is about self-worth?

Self-worth is one aspect of the experience of yourself, it’s about worth. Love is about being lovable. Different aspects of like, “How do you feel about yourself?” The worth is connected to it, but it also is a little different because people could be like, “I have a lot of worth because I know in my career I’m doing great but in the love domain, I don’t feel like I’m lovable.”

I like the term, “The inside experience,” because obviously if we’re not full on the inside, we can’t ever fill that hole from outside somewhere. We’re so dependent on someone else filling that hole. That’s how I experienced that emptiness, that void that would constantly sit in my driver’s seat.

We’re looking for the answer outside but it’s like we are looking for an experience of ourselves. Even when I have good sex with you, what I’m looking for is the experience of ecstasy in me. It’s about my own experience of myself. We keep referring to it with someone else and so we make it very attached to the other person or we get attached to changing the other person instead of recognizing, “I’m looking for suddenly experiencing myself and it could be enhanced by doing it with someone else. It’s not just about the other person, it’s about my own experience of potential in some way.”

Long-lasting passion, connection and intimacy is not a myth! Click To Tweet

What comes to my mind is all these expectations that we’re having towards our partners. When they don’t deliver, then we think we don’t love them anymore and we start looking for someone else.

Or we’re trying to change them. What you said is the dating experience, what I’m saying is the couple’s experience. The dating experience is like, “I’m going to go somewhere else.” The couple’s experience, “We’ve been together for a while,” you first start to change them. Then you get into fights and conflict and all that stuff.

We all have expectations. How do you suggest people deal with them?

You have to look at the expectations and trace it back to like, “What is the need that I have? Why am I expecting this of my partner? Why is this so important?” It’s always like, “I’m trying to fulfill some need that I have. I have to first figure out what the need is, and then I have to figure out, why is this need so important to me?” Usually, it’s because there is some sensitivity around it or a wound around that need. We’re trying to make our partner make us feel something different by changing or by wanting them to be a certain way instead of looking first and like, “What is it that experience inside of myself? Where’s the pain coming from? What do I need to do in order to heal that pain inside of myself which my partner could support? It’s not just about them, it’s about my own personal growth. It’s my own path.”

ATL 23 | Exceptional Relating

Exceptional Relating: We’re trying to make our partners make us feel something different by changing them instead of looking first at ourselves.

 

When people come to the place where they realize, “I need to take responsibility and there is pain inside of myself that makes me do things.” How do you suggest people deal with that pain?

This is about learning to recognize that we have certain underlying templates or beliefs that we have about ourselves and about the world and those that were created usually early on in our life. Those templates are what hold us back because if I believe that when someone gets to know me, eventually they’re going to leave me because they don’t think I’m worth it. If I have that belief in most of the time, it’s unconscious for people, it’s there and it’s in a background, it operates. I have to recognize, “This is what’s happening.” Awareness and making it very clear, very specific that this is the specific belief that I’m holding.

Something starts to happen once you recognize the truth of the belief. Part of your brain will also start to look for disconfirmation. When you are clear like, “This is how I look at the world,” then also your brain is starting to look, “Is this true? Is that always true?” You start questioning that belief like, “Is this true? Is this absolutely true? Is this always true?” You start looking for disconfirming information. Then, what you need to change the underlying belief is an emotional experience of something different than the belief. It’s not just an intellectual experience, but an emotional experience in which you’re experiencing something different because all of this stuff is lodged in our emotional brain. It’s an emotional processing.

Something starts to happen once you recognize the truth of a belief. Click To Tweet

That’s like creating a new imprint.

Right. You’re creating a different imprint of that and then you start to strengthen that imprint. It starts to shift from the previous imprint into the new imprint.

The reason why I ask you is that in my experience not everyone wants to go see a therapist. People want ideas and tips. How can I make this work right now in my relationship? If I’m having a conflict right now, let’s say I want to make love more, my husband doesn’t want to, how am I addressing this in my relationship without having to go see a therapist?

It’s coming back to like, “What is the need that’s here? If I’m complaining about something that I am missing from you, what do I really need? What’s the need and why is it so important to me? What’s the experience that I’m looking for?” Eventually, we’re after experiences, we’re after emotions. That’s what drives people. For example, I’m after the experience of having fun or I’m up to the experience of letting go of boundaries when it comes to sex, an experience of pleasure. Once you recognize what is the need, you’re able to have a communication. If you are partnered, you have a communication in a much deeper way. It’s also a communication that takes responsibility. You take responsibility for yourself, instead of blaming the other person like, “You never initiate sex.” Instead you’re like, “I’m looking for this in my life and I’d like you to help me with that. I’d like you to be part of this.”

It comes with a very different communication with the other person. Then some of the things that you’re looking for, you have to also ask yourself a deeper question, “Why is that so important to me?” That’s coming back to like, “Is there some negative belief that I’m holding that makes me go after something like that? What do I need to do in order to change in myself to look at that belief more deeply to understand, is this true? Is there another way to see it? Is there another way to operate in life? Is there an emotional experience that I already have that disproves it?” A lot of time we do have, if you look at any belief, if you look at your past history in life, you’ll find some experience that already disproves it but you have been filtering them out, you’re not paying attention to them.

Once you recognize what is needed, then you’re able to have a communication. Click To Tweet

I feel that there is a big difference between neediness and legitimate needs. People have to learn to communicate the needs to their partner, but it often comes through from, let’s say a rather weak point where we are trying to get it and then we start all acting out and don’t find the right way to address our partner. How do you suggest to communicate needs in a way that another partner can receive it?

It’s important to talk about the word needs. I’m usually very hesitant to say the words needs even though we need it. When people hear needs a lot of times, what they become is demanding. They’ll say, “I have this need so you have to fulfill it.” It’s a priori truth instead of recognizing I have a need and usually needs that I have also have to do with my wounding. It’s personal growth that it needs. There are certain things that are important to me and a lot of times they attest to something that is also sensitive in me that has to do way before my partner. It’s not about my partner and about this relationship. It didn’t start here.

ATL 23 | Exceptional Relating

Exceptional Relating: Never compromise. Compromise is when both people lose something. It should be a win-win solution.

 

I have to be responsible for my own need. It’s not that, “I have these needs so you have to fulfill them otherwise, we’re not a good match.” It’s more like, “I have a need, support me in that and I have to do a deeper exploration about why is that need there.” I have a list of eight basic needs that are usually something that all of us need. Each one of us has a sensitivity around one of them or two of them and those are the things that become important to us in a relationship. They are important because we have a certain issue with them.

What I also saw is this feeling of entitlement. We’re feeling entitled to get stuff or to be treated a certain way. Where do you think is that entitlement coming from?

It’s coming from our pain. We have an underlying pain and we’re going outside to make the other person try to soothe that pain. Here are some of the basic needs. Security is the first one, I need to feel secure which translates into “I need to feel like I am a priority. I need to feel you’re there for me. I need to feel that I’m on top of your mind. I need to feel safe with you.” If security is an issue in my life in general, it will show up in my relationship. Then if I don’t recognize it’s an issue for me, I’m going to make a lot of demands on my partner to show up in a certain way. Through the magic process of relationship, a lot of times I am going to find also a partner who is not good in that area. It’s going to be a combination of reality, “My partner is not good with it and at the same time there’s something that is sensitive for me about that.”

The feeling of entitlement comes from an underlying pain. Click To Tweet

Let’s talk about compromises. There is always this gray area like, what is a healthy compromise and what is a false compromise? What’s your opinion?

We should not do compromise. Instead, I want to change it to a win-win solution. Compromise is when both people lose something. When you do business negotiations, most of the time you get to a compromise in which both sides are saying, “That’s not exactly what I want, but I’m willing to live with it.” Both people feel like, “I’m somewhat not happy or content, but I’m willing to live with it.” That’s not a good recipe for a relationship, that’s a good recipe for resentment. Win-win is when we both get what we want, but we have to understand what is it that we want because people fight over small things like, “How do we organize the house? What kind of car do we buy? What vacation do we do?” Then try to do compromise about this, but they haven’t got through what’s happening.

What’s happening has to come back to like, “What’s the underlying issue? What’s the need that we have?” Once people understand the actual deeper needs or sometimes I call it the emotional desires, then they are able to create a win-win solution which all emotional desires are met, because it’s not about the actual physical things we’re talking about. For example, it’s important to me that you’ll be on time and for you it’s hard. We can get into a continuous argument about like, “Why are you late all the time?” and you say to me like, “Why are you so rigid about it?”

If we try to compromise about being on time, both of us will get stuck in some way because it’s not natural to you and it’s important to me. If instead, we look at it like, “Why is it important to me that you’re on time?” For me, it could be a symbol that means you care about me. It means that you value my time, that you appreciate me. For you not necessarily being rigid on time means like it’s a sense of freedom. It’s a sense of like, “I can enjoy myself. I can be in the flow. I don’t have to control myself.” Now, we’re having a different conversation. We’re not talking about being on time, we’re talking about like, “How can I feel that you care about me, that I’m important to you? How can you feel that I value your freedom?” Now, we can do a win-win solution because we can find so many different ways to resolve that equation. Being on time is one of them and so we don’t have to compromise. We can do a win-win solution which we both get what we want and we feel good that we both met in a deep way.

What you said about resentment all sounds great, but what I often see in couples is that they are not willing anymore to give. They’re not willing to play the team anymore. For me, that has a lot to do with resentment that has been built up. There’s like this point of no return. What we have to do is to make sure from the beginning that we’re not building up that resentment and that is where we can talk about, what are the building blocks for a lasting love?

I have that question asked a lot. A lot of couples come to me and ask, “What is a good relationship?” Sometimes couples came and said, “I think our relationship is okay, we’re not fighting. We like each other. We’re having fun, but something is missing and we don’t know what it is. Help us.” That made me do a lot of investigation and asking myself, “What is a good relationship? What are we looking for?” This is where I came up with seven different dimensions and each one of those dimensions is important for a good successful relationship and for an exceptional relationship. For some of those dimensions will be more important to some people than others. When you look at the overall package, this is like all of those dimensions are important for a good relationship. Sometimes you’re good in some of them and not on the other ones and that’s why you’re saying something is missing. By the way, I created the questionnaire about it so it helps people to ask themselves, “How am I doing with each one of those dimensions?”

Security is about feeling you’re there for me. Click To Tweet

It’s not so much about a score, it’s not about getting a grade. It’s more about beginning a conversation with yourself and with your partner about, “What is it that’s important to me? How do we do it better?” The spirit of it is about creating conversations that are deeper and discovering for yourself, “What is it that’s important for me?” The first dimension is about security. This is the most fundamental thing and it has to do also with commitment, what people feel in a committed relationship. What commitment and relationship create is it helps people feel more secure. Secure means, “I know I can trust you to be there for me.” I don’t have to think about, “Are you in or are you out? Are you going to be here or are you leaving me? When I leave you, are you going to be there? If I call you, are you going to respond?”

All of this stuff basically makes me feel insecure and when I’m insecure usually everything else in the relationship doesn’t work. Security is about feeling you’re there for me, feeling I’m a priority for you, feeling I can count on you and feeling safe with you. Sometimes it’s also about a physical thing. If someone has some danger, anger or violence in the relationship, of course, safety is part of that also. The second dimension is about connection, it’s about attunement, “I feel safe with you, but I want to feel connected. I want to feel loved. I want to feel close to you.” The connection dimension is like, “Do we feel close emotionally to each other? Do you get me? Do I get to you? Do I feel that you care about me? Do you show me that in ways that work for me? Do you care about my feelings? Do you care about what’s going on for me? Are we open to one another in that way?” All those things create connection, so then we feel closer, connected and more loved.

The third dimension is in contrast to that, it’s about individuality or autonomy. In a relationship, we not just need connection, we also need to be ourselves. We need to be able to be all of ourselves. We need to bring the stuff that we like, that stuff we don’t like about ourselves. We need to be our own unique self. We need to be able to have activities, hobbies and things outside of our relationship, not including our partner. We need to be able to see that they are separate. All of it is about autonomy and individuality. Is the relationship supporting that? “Can I do things separately? Can I do things that are different than you? Do you value that? Do you appreciate? Can we negotiate about it? Can we talk about it?” It’s also about taking responsibility like, “I am the creator of my own happiness. I’m not relying on you, I’m an active person inside of that.”

ATL 23 | Exceptional Relating

Exceptional Relating: In a relationship, we don’t just need connection. We also need to be ourselves.

 

Connection and autonomy balance each other, you need both. If only one rather than the other, you get into trouble. Together the security, connection and autonomy are the foundation of the seven dimensions. They’re the building block of everything else on top of it. You need all three of them in some way. The next layer on top of it is communication. We have the basic feeling of security, “I feel connected to you. I feel like I can be my own autonomous person in this relationship.” We have to continue the process of being with one another which has to do with a lot of communication. I have to know how to be close to you by talking to you about things, by inquiring about what’s happening in your life, by knowing how to respond to you.

We have to learn how to work through conflict through communication. We have to be able to do that in a productive way. Communication is the next layer. Usually, that’s the first thing couples focus on. They’re saying, “We have communication problems.” It sits on top of those other three things of security, connection and autonomy. A lot of times what they’re saying is, “We have a problem in connection. We have a problem with autonomy.” Once we do that, then there are certain skills that we have to learn. Once we have those other layers, which are skills you have to learn in communication but they’re sitting on those other layers before that.

The fifth dimension is about passion. This is about sensuality, sexuality, playfulness, passion basically. I don’t just say sexuality, it’s about passion because it’s more than that. It’s not about the sex itself, it’s about living a life that has passion in them, has playfulness and sensuality. Those are also important dimension for couples. Sometimes they’re good in other dimensions, but they’re not good in this dimension. You can have a relatively good emotional connection with your partner but not feel very sexually attracted to them. This is a dimension in itself. A lot of times if you don’t have some of the other foundations, then it affects also your passion. If you don’t feel autonomy in your relationship it kills passion. If you don’t feel very connected, it also affects passion.

Couples do not just have fun together, they run through life together. Click To Tweet

The sixth dimension is about teamwork. Couples not just have fun together, they also run their life together usually. Couples are in their regular normative model. They are their models also but they’re some of the normative models like, “We live together. We have a household together,” sometimes, “We have kids together.” We’re running basically an organization together. We have some roles that we do, we know what they are, we need to work together well, we need to manage our life well. That’s that dimension of teamwork.

That’s also an aspect of practicality, which often interferes with passion that couples don’t know how to juggle.

You could be too stuck in the practical life and not have enough passion. The last one is growth dimension. It’s not the most important to everybody, but it’s an important dimension, which is you cannot stay stagnant. You cannot stay static, life changes all the time. As a couple, you also have to grow. You have to grow individually like, “We want to continue to grow and be a better person or have a better career or have better relationships. We have to grow together as a couple.” The couple you are right now is not the same couple that you were five years ago. You have different challenges, you’re a different person, you have a different environment, so you have to continue to grow together as a couple and as individuals. That’s the seventh dimension.

That’s very scary for a lot of people when people change over time. One of the challenges I think with long-lasting relationships is to allow your partner to change because we know them now and then three years later they have different beliefs, different experiences. We still want them the way we got to know them. This is challenging for many people.

In love yes, in other domains, people understand that. No one thinks like, “I’m going to start my career now and in ten years I’m going to have the same knowledge or the same skills that I have now and I’ll do better.” People understand I have to learn on the job, I have to take degrees or practical training or anything like that. They understand that they have to grow. If they want to get better, they have to grow. When it comes to relationships, sometimes people think that once I got married and I’m done with that area, now I can focus on everything else. It doesn’t work like that, you have to continue to grow.

When we talk about passion, what kills passion and what can we do to keep it alive?

A lot of things that kill passion. Tiredness kills passion. Kids kill passion. A lot of things can affect passion. A few things that I can answer around that. One is that continual growth. Passion thrives a lot on change, on diversity, on exploring new territory. When we’re stagnant in our sexuality when we do sex in the same position that we’ve already done, we do the same techniques that we’ve done and we’re doing the same energy between us and our partner, that kills passion. Passion needs variety. It needs change. It needs growth. It needs discovering new stuff. Doing those things is in some ways sometimes challenging for us because if I try something new with, like it’s growth, it’s extending myself. It’s taking me to places that I’m not familiar with but it’s also what creates excitement, it’s what creates mystery, it creates thrill.

That’s why sex a lot of times, in the beginning, is so great because the person is new to you. Everything is new. Everything you’re trying is new. That newness, this freshness, you have to continue having in your passion, in your relationship in order to keep the passion. The second thing is about exploring fantasies. One of the things that most people don’t understand about sexuality is that it holds the key to a side of our personality that we don’t usually express. In our fantasy world, what we’re trying to explore is a different experience of ourselves coming back to the same point. If someone is a very much in control person, maybe a boss and a manager and all that stuff, sometimes in their fantasies they want to surrender. They’re experiencing, they’re exploring a different side of the self that they don’t usually do. A lot of their fantasies directing us to look at like, “What is it that I want to explore? What is that I want to do?”

You cannot stay static. Life changes all the time. Click To Tweet

Listening to your fantasy world and asking yourself, “What is that in that fantasy? Why is it important?” A lot of times people watch porn for example, “What kind of porn do you watch? What’s exciting to you about it?” I’m not just saying like, “It’s the body type that I’m looking for.” It’s more than that. It’s like, “What is the experience that you have when you look in this particular scenario? What is the experience? What are you after in this way?” If you clarify that and you can bring that fantasy into your relationship and you can start exploring that with your partner and that creates newness. That taps into something very deep and very satisfying in ourselves. That’s what we’re after in some way in sexuality.

A lot of people have a lot of shame about voicing, communicating fantasies because they judge it.

The biggest key to unlocking sexuality which is understanding that it’s always tied with shame. It is the biggest factor. You have to work through shame. You have to understand that any conversation about sexuality with your partner for most people is hard because it brings shame because you’re like, “Am I going to be accepted by my partner? Are they going to judge me? Is something that I’m asking not okay? Is something weird about it?” You have to work through and break through shame. You can do it in small steps. You can do it like a small conversation, ask something simple or try something new. It’s good to chunk it into small bites to build with it, but you’re always going to encounter shame. If you want to be more sexually free, you have to work through shame.

ATL 23 | Exceptional Relating

Exceptional Relating: The biggest key to unlock sexuality is understanding how it is tied with shame and you need to break through it.

 

What if one partner wants something sexually that the other one cannot give?

This is where good communication and negotiation happens. Any communication, the person who wants something has to explore more of, “Why is that so important to me? What about it that’s so important to me? The other variation or ways that I can get that my partner will be okay with?” Before he says, “I’m not okay with it.” Why is that? What is that challenge inside of them? What idea about themselves? What obstacles do they find of themselves? Can they be more flexible about it? People have to do a deeper exploration of it and then they can come into a place of trying to create a win-win in that way.

When we have such difficult conversation, it’s good to have someone guide you through it. Could people come to you for that?

In a difficult conversation, it’s good to get to the third person just because you’re inside of a system with your partner. You only think of things that when you see it and sometimes you need an outside perspective and tell you like, “There’s another way to see it. There’s another way to communicate it. There’s another way to understand it.” Especially when it comes to couples, this is our relationship. It’s important because in the relationship we get the most emotionally affected. We’re not in our most strong capacity. We’re not in our most advanced mind because it’s so important. It’s so evocative for us. That’s where when using someone as a third person who is not effective because they’re not invested in your relationship in the same way, they give you an important perspective.

Passion thrives a lot on change. Click To Tweet

Tell people what they can work on with you and what you have to offer?

In my work, I’ve always been interested in the whole spectrum of potential. What’s interesting to me is like, “What is the potential? What’s possible?” For example, I created the Seven Dimensions of Successful Relationships because I’m asking the question always of, what’s the potential of the relationship? What’s the potential for personal growth in general? What’s the potential of the combination of the two of things? That’s the general direction I’m asking. A lot of times people ask, especially psychotherapists. They look at stuff from the question of, “What’s the problem and how can I help you fix the problem?” I usually start with a different question. I’m asking from the question of potential. Sometimes I can help you fix a problem, but maybe you’re not even aware of what is even more there for you. It could be more than you are dreaming and thinking about even, so you didn’t even know it exists.

In my work, it translates to a few things. I do a one-on-one counseling with people or with individuals or couples and helping them create a better life and focus a lot on relationships also. I’m a manager of a center called The Couples Center. We have also additional therapists who work with us. We have about 30 different therapists. We are focused in that way in San Francisco Bay area, that’s where we’re located. We do some work online, so we have an additional therapist to help with that. Another thing that I offer and I continue to extend is live events. We do workshops in couples’ retreats. Some of them are geared towards individuals. Some of them are geared towards couples in which people can come in and learn about themselves in a very powerful way and a very effective way. Once you’re immersed in something, you do exercises, you get some information and you’re doing real live exercise which you learn about yourself, you get to do a powerful transformation.

That’s another thing that we offer is different types of workshops and retreats for people and for couples. The third thing, I’m about to offer also online education for people. I’m working on a course specifically for couples. It’s called The Relationship Breakthrough. It helps people go from having challenges in the relationship and having a satisfying relationship, guiding them through videos and exercises and also through online coaching. Basically, to be able to expand the reach of some of the things that we do to people anywhere.

ATL 23 | Exceptional Relating

Exceptional Relating: People don’t realize that we need to learn love.

 

One of the things I want to add that’s also unique is that I do all of this in collaboration with my wife. My wife is also a psychotherapist and we started The Couples Center together. We bring a lot of the information and the knowledge also from the struggles that we’ve been through, with the learning that we’ve done along the way and the growth that we’ve done along the way. When it comes to our live events, we lead a lot of those live events together and it creates these beautiful dynamics in which people get both more of a masculine and more of a feminine approach. Learn specifically how did we do it and what are the problems that we had, issues that are pretty common to couples. That’s another nice advantage and that’s a fun thing that we do together.

Where do they find you?

The website is called TheCouplesCenter.org. That’s where you can find most of the information.

Is there anything else you’d like to talk about with our audience?

I’ll talk about a topic that is right now dear to my heart. I’ve been really working on it and I created a new workshop about it which is like, “How do you create a connection and intimacy when you’ve been together for a while?” We talked about passion, which is one aspect but there’s more than that. After they’ve been together for a while they face this, “We’re fine but we’re not connected. We don’t have the passion. The spark is gone. Our sexuality is not as good as it used to be.” A lot of couples also in my stage we have also a three-year-old son. A lot of times when people have kids, it affects the relationship. You have a lot less time for each other. You’re much more focused on becoming parents and suddenly, the love, the connection, the passion are not as good as they used to be. I want to talk about it like what creates connection? This is a topic that I’ve been working a lot on and created also like a new workshop that we’re doing for couples. One way to see it is that there are four different types of connection. Connection is not one thing.

When people say love connection and sexuality, it’s not one thing. It’s four different things. Each one of them has its own characteristics, its own skills. One thing is what I call security connection and that comes back to the seventh dimension. It’s like, “When I feel that, my partner is there for me, I can count on them. They’re solid. They’re there. They’re like this backbone.” You have to ask yourself, “Do you give that to your partner?” Do you give that sense of like, “You can count on me. I’m there no matter what. I love you. I care about you. I’m here for you. No matter what happens, I’m here.” That’s one type of connection. There are different skills and ways of enhancing that. The second type of connection is what I call heart-based connection. It’s like if you want to use the word soul like, “Do you get my soul? Do you get who I am?” “Do you feel me?”

Work through conflict with communication. Click To Tweet

This is more about like, “Do you feel who I am?” “Do you attune to my feelings? Do you get what’s going on in me? If you understand me, can you respond to me in a way that shows me that you’re feeling me?” Sometimes, “Feeling felt.” Like, “How do you do that? How do you make someone feel like I get you? I’m here. Not just I love you as a person, I understand the essence of you.” That’s the heart-based connection. The third is like the more autonomy-based connection. It relates to some of the dimension, the seventh dimension, which is more sometimes as, “Can I support you in being your best self? Do I know who you are? Do I support you to be your best self?”

Sometimes it also means it brings up this productive tension between people. If you clean off conflict, you get the differences like, “Do I know how to face you? Are we both strong people equal in our power, can face each other, can work with each other, but also support each other and appreciate each other and respect each other’s talents, gifts, powers, and all of that?” That’s more of an autonomy-based connection. The last one is more of the passion connection. This is about sensuality, the playfulness, the sexuality type of connection, “Do I know how to create that? Do I know how to bring playfulness into our relationship? Do I know how to bring the fantasies? Do I know how to bring the newness and excitement that could keep passion more alive in the long-term relationship?” When people are missing a certain connection and certain depth to their spark, it’s one or more of those types of connections that they need to learn how to create consciously. What are the skills? What are the ways to do that?

What I often feel is that people don’t realize that we need to learn to love, that’s something we’ve been taught. It’s one of the biggest disciplines that we need to understand so we can have a good chance for a good relationship. Thank you so much for all of these amazing input and gems that our audience can work with.

You are welcome. Thank you.

I wish you good luck, Gal.

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About Gal Szekely

ATL 23 | Exceptional RelatingGal Szekely is the founder of The Couples Center, San Francisco. Gal has dedicated himself to helping individuals and couples create thriving relationships. Gal has developed a style of work that is simple, straightforward and effective, integrating many methods of relationships counseling.

Gal is a licensed psychotherapist, an adjunct faculty in CIIS university and a teacher in the Hakomi experiential psychotherapy method. He teaches other therapists how to apply methods that get to the heart of the matter and create change in a faster and more effective way. Gal holds an MA in Counseling Psychology and an MA in Social psychology and has a background in the business world as a management consultant. He is a passionate and influential speaker and workshop leader.

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