Relationships the SMART Way
SMART Relationships For (Emotionally) Smart People
Do you know about the new science of love and relationships? Research studies from diverse fields such as neuroscience (brain science), psychology, sociology, and cultural anthropology have proven that we truly need safe, secure, and caring relationships. As a relationship expert, I believe that people who are emotionally and socially intelligent can easily learn how to have healthy, happy love relationships – what I refer to as SMART Relationships.
What is “emotional and social intelligence”? Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., a leading psychologist, has studied and written about these concepts. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand and manage feelings (such as anger, sadness, shame and fear). Social intelligence is the ability to deal effectively with human relationships.
The new science of love and relationships shows us how these intelligent – “smart” – people are able to maintain loving, fulfilling relationships for the long term. I’ve organized the basic formula for successful relationships by using the acronym “SMART”.
S – Safety and Security
M – Mindful Emotions and Relationships
A – Attachment and Accessibility
R – Responsive and Responsible
T – Trust (and Touch)
Safety and security (along with trust) are the cornerstones of happy, healthy relationships. Perhaps most obvious here is the need for full commitment and monogamy. Also, when we consistently show our partners that we’re there and we care. It’s the feeling that someone has your back and won’t let you down.
Mindfulness is the term we use to describe awareness and conscious intent. Eastern philosophy and Buddhist psychology have taught us a great deal about meditation and similar practices (such as yoga and Tai Chi). We can use mindfulness methods to develop and refine our ability to manage our emotional states – and then to manage our reactions to our partners. When we are fully aware of our feelings, we can learn to use them effectively to care for others – and ourselves.
Attachment is a strong emotional bond or connection that begins at birth between the child and parents (the strongest bond initially is usually with the mother). The need for this deep, emotional connection is literally hard wired in our brains. It’s even necessary for survival – without loving touch and emotional bonding, children and adults will get sick or die. This need for close attachment continues throughout our life span.
Responsiveness – Do you use a mobile phone, ipad, or computer? How do you feel when you turn it on and nothing happens? Or when you use a program or application and it won’t respond? Are you frustrated? Unhappy? When this happens in relationships – especially in a marriage or important romantic relationships – we feel much worse. We need an attentive, engaged, and responsive partner almost as much as food and water. We need to know that person sees us, hears us, and really cares.
Trust is one of the most important cornerstones of successful relationships. We build trust over time by letting our partners know that we’re there and we care. We let them know that they’re #1 in our lives, and we show up as committed, monogamous, and emotionally supportive. Affairs, emotional or physical, will destroy the trust in most relationships. Separations (break-ups), secretive behavior and lying are also very damaging. Trust can be rebuilt, but it takes time and consistent, responsive, trustworthy behavior.
Are you SMART in your relationship? If you and your partner struggle with trust, communication, conflict, or distancing, there are solutions. We would be happy to hear from you, and talk about the path of healing and love.