How Many People Are There In A Relationship?
Hi there! My name is Dr. Jonathan Lebolt, but some of my clients call me “Doctor Jon.” I am a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in relationship issues, and I’ll be writing a monthly column for GayRVA.com.
This month’s topic is, “How Many People are There in a Relationship?”
For many of us, the answer that comes to mind is “two” (not to say that polyamory is an illegitimate “lifestyle!”). But even if you’re not in a ménage-a-trois, the correct answer is … “three!” Each of our relationships–whether with a romantic partner, family member, friend, or colleague– has three “people:” our self; our partner; and an invisible, third “person”– the couple! When there’s a conflict between two people, we need to try to be aware of the feelings and needs of all three of these “folks.”
Does this sound hard? You bet! Of course, Doctor Jon has mastered these skills years ago—Not!
Seriously, though, I do have a wonderful relationship with my partner of thirteen years, the Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline. But I’ll let you in on a dark secret—Robin and I went to couples therapy for over two years! And though we still find it challenging to be aware of all three “people,” we’re a lot better at it.
As Joni Mitchell said in Woodstock, “life’s for learning,” so we have plenty of time to make mistakes along the way and learn from them.
In the months to come, I’ll be giving you some tips to help you better communicate feelings and negotiate needs in your relationships.
You may be thinking, “Why should I bother with conflict? It might just mean we just don’t get along.” But dealing directly with, rather than avoiding conflict can help us get closer to our partner. And it doesn’t have to be ugly.
In romantic love, it can reignite passion, which often dies–not because “Love fades!” as a bit player said in Annie Hall—but because people freeze their anger.
Now a lot of my clients don’t like “the A word”—they see it as “hate.” But there is a whole spectrum of anger, from mild irritation to intense hatred, and those little irritations pile up!
So in the months to come, let’s learn how to deal with “negative” feelings—anger, hurt, and fear—in a more direct and caring fashion. That’s what makes relationships go round!
Jonathan Lebolt, PhD (“Doctor Jon”) is a licensed clinical social worker, psychoanalyst, and group psychotherapist specializing in relationship issues. He lives with his partner of 14 plus years, Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline, and their princely pooch, Cocoa. Robin and Jonathan are proud grandfathers of a beautiful one-year-old girl, Juna. Feel free to contact Doctor Jon at his website.
MIKE IAMELE over at MindBodyGreen.com has told the story of how he, a straight man, fell in love with his straight roommate after learning to rely on him through months of sickness. The heartwarming tale weaves a sweet narrative of how love can transcend gender and established sexuality – Iamele throws norms out the window as [...]August 22, 2014
- Queer Advice: I’m Married, but I Keep Thinking of Other Men, March 12, 2013
- Cosmic Q: February 19, 2013 – February 25, 2013, February 19, 2013
- Queer Advice: Friends Treat Me Different Since I’ve Come Out, February 13, 2013
- Republicans may not want Trump as the face of the GOP – but they want his positions
- POCollective hosts ‘Creepin it Real’ at Witch Mountain as part of reboot efforts
- HRC drops new video about Trump’s hopes for Supreme Court Justices
- Bianca Del Rio talks post-Drag Race success and the secret to comedy ahead of 10/21 National show
- Openly gay legislators rally to remove defunct same-sex marriage bans from Virginia law and constitution