Lori Gottlieb continues to work on her book, and I continue to bring you some “Dear Therapist” wisdom in her stead. This month, I’m exploring the theme of relationships: having them, not having them, and having them fall apart.
Choosing just four columns was quite a challenge. No surprise, many readers write to Lori with questions about their relationships; sex, heartbreak, children (and whether to have them in the first place), and how to take care of a suffering partner are all struggles of the most common sort. This isn’t to say that they are banal, but the opposite: The desire to find and sustain love is an essential part of being human—something nearly everyone has, in the deepest sense, in common.
As I read through Lori’s columns on relationships, one central theme emerged: the necessity of honest, vulnerable communication. That doesn’t mean making one’s case, but doing the work required to understand one’s own feelings, to express them in ways that are respectful and truthful, and then to stop talking and listen, without being defensive and without judgment. “Bring honesty into all of your relationships,” Lori advises, “knowing that it’s the soil from which everything healthy grows.”