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Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson
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“In insecure relationships, we disguise our vulnerabilities so our partner never really sees us.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“If I appeal to you for emotional connection and you respond intellectually to a problem, rather than directly to me, on an attachment level I will experience that as “no response.” This is one of the reasons that the research on social support uniformly states that people want “indirect” support, that is, emotional confirmation and caring from their partners, rather than advice.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships
“When love doesn’t work, we hurt. Indeed, “hurt feelings” is a precisely accurate phrase, according to psychologist Naomi Eisenberger of the University of California. Her brain imaging studies show that rejection and exclusion trigger the same circuits in the same part of the brain, the anterior cingulate, as physical pain.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“Love has an immense ability to help heal the devastating wounds that life sometimes deals us. Love also enhances our sense of connection to the larger world. Loving responsiveness is the foundation of a truly compassionate, civilized society.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships
“For all of us, the person we love most in the world, the one who can send us soaring joyfully into space, is also the person who can send us crashing back to earth. All it takes is a slight turning away of the head or a flip, careless remark. There is no closeness without this sensitivity. If our connection with our mate is safe and strong, we can deal with these moments of sensitivity. Indeed, we can use them to bring our partner even closer. But when we don’t feel safe and connected, these moments are like a spark in a tinder forest. They set fire to the whole relationship.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships
“Curiosity comes out of a sense of safety; rigidity out of being vigilant to threats.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“When marriages fail, it is not increasing conflict that is the cause. It is decreasing affection and emotional responsiveness...”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“Sociologist James House of the University of Michigan declares that emotional isolation is a more dangerous health risk than smoking or high blood pressure, and we now warn everyone about these two!”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“We are never so vulnerable as when we love.” — Sigmund Freud”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“We now know that love is, in actuality, the pinnacle of evolution, the most compelling survival mechanism of the human species. Not because it induces us to mate and reproduce. We do manage to mate without love! But because love drives us to bond emotionally with a precious few others who offer us safe haven from the storms of life. Love is our bulwark, designed to provide emotional protection so we can cope with the ups and downs of existence. This drive to emotionally attach — to find someone to whom we can turn and say “Hold me tight” — is wired into our genes and our bodies. It is as basic to life, health, and happiness as the drives for food, shelter, or sex. We need emotional attachments with a few irreplaceable others to be physically and mentally healthy — to survive.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“Louise Hawkley, of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, calculates that loneliness raises blood pressure to the point where the risk of heart attack and stroke is doubled.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“When we love our partner well, we offer a blueprint for a loving relationship to our children and their partners. Better relationships between love partners are not just a personal preference, they are a social good. Better love relationships mean better families. And better, more loving families mean better, more responsive communities.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“We have to dive below to discover the basic problem: these couples have disconnected emotionally; they don’t feel emotionally safe with each other. What couples and therapists too often do not see is that most fights are really protests over emotional disconnection. Underneath all the distress, partners are asking each other: Can I count on you, depend on you? Are you there for me? Will you respond to me when I need, when I call? Do I matter to you? Am I valued and accepted by you? Do you need me, rely on me? The anger, the criticism, the demands, are really cries to their lovers, calls to stir their hearts, to draw their mates back in emotionally and reestablish a sense of safe connection.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships
“have always been fascinated by relationships. I grew up in Britain, where my dad ran a pub, and I spent a lot of time watching people meeting, talking, drinking, brawling, dancing, flirting. But the focal point of my young life was my parents’ marriage. I watched helplessly as they destroyed their marriage and themselves. Still, I knew they loved each other deeply. In my father’s last days, he wept raw tears for my mother although they had been separated for more than twenty years. My response to my parents’ pain was to vow never to get married. Romantic love was, I decided, an illusion and a trap. I was better off on my own, free and unfettered. But then, of course, I fell in love and married. Love pulled me in even as I pushed it away. What was this mysterious and powerful emotion that defeated my parents, complicated my own life, and seemed to be the central source of joy and suffering for so many of us? Was there a way through the maze to enduring love? I followed my fascination with love and connection into counseling and psychology. As part of my training, I studied this drama as described by poets and scientists. I taught disturbed children who had been denied love. I counseled adults who struggled with the loss of love. I worked with families where family members loved each other, but could not come together and could not live apart. Love remained a mystery. Then, in the final phase of getting my doctorate in counseling psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, I started to work with couples. I was instantly mesmerized by the intensity of their struggles and the way they often spoke of their relationships in terms of life and death.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“certain incidents do more than just touch our raw spots or “hurt our feelings.” They injure us so deeply that they overturn our world. They are relationship traumas. In the dictionary a trauma is defined as a wound that plunges us into fear and helplessness, that challenges all our assumptions of predictability and control. Traumatic wounds are especially severe, observes Judith Herman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, when they involve a “violation of human connection.” Indeed, there is no greater trauma than to be wounded by the very people we count on to support and protect us.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“From your viewpoint, is your partner accessible to you? I can get my partner’s attention easily. T F My partner is easy to connect with emotionally. T F My partner shows me that I come first with him/her. T F I am not feeling lonely or shut out in this relationship. T F I can share my deepest feelings with my partner. He/she will listen. T F From your viewpoint, is your partner responsive to you? If I need connection and comfort, he/she will be there for me. T F My partner responds to signals that I need him/her to come close. T F I find I can lean on my partner when I am anxious or unsure. T F Even when we fight or disagree, I know that I am important to my partner and we will find a way to come together. T F If I need reassurance about how important I am to my partner, I can get it. T F Are you positively emotionally engaged with each other? I feel very comfortable being close to, trusting my partner. T F I can confide in my partner about almost anything. T F I feel confident, even when we are apart, that we are connected to each other. T F I know that my partner cares about my joys, hurts, and fears. T F I feel safe enough to take emotional risks with my partner. T F”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships
“no one can dance with a partner and not touch each other’s raw spots. We must know what these raw spots are and be able to speak about them in a way that pulls our partner closer to us.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“we send out calls for connection tinged with anger and frustration because we do not feel confident and safe in our relationships. We wind up demanding rather than requesting, which often leads to power struggles rather than embraces. Some of us try to minimize our natural longing to be emotionally close and focus instead on actions that give only limited expression to our need. The most common: focusing on sex. Disguised and distorted messages keep us from being exposed in all our naked longing, but they also make it harder for our lovers to respond.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships
“Trauma is any terrifying event that instantly changes the world as we know it, leaving us helpless and emotionally overwhelmed.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“We live in the shelter of each other.” — Celtic saying”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“what happens when trauma survivors stay emotionally shut down? Trauma’s echoes cannot dissipate. The continuing reverberations gradually erode connection and trust with loved ones. Partners need to recognize that avoiding emotion sets their relationship up for descent”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“This healthy dependence is the essence of romantic love. The bodies of lovers are linked in a “neural duet.” One person sends out signals that alter the hormone levels, cardiovascular function, body rhythms, and even immune system of the other. In loving connection, the cuddle hormone oxytocin floods lovers’ bodies, bringing a calm joy and the sense that everything is right with the world. Our bodies are set up for this kind of connection.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
tags: love
“The more I _________, the more you _________ and then the more I _________, and round and round we go.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“Love is the best survival mechanism there is,”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“The quality of our love relationships is also a big factor in how mentally and emotionally healthy we are. We have an epidemic of anxiety and depression in our most affluent societies. Conflict with and hostile criticism from loved ones increase our self-doubts and create a sense of helplessness, classic triggers for depression. We need validation from our loved ones. Researchers say that marital distress raises the risk for depression tenfold!”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships
“If we love our partners, why do we not just hear each other’s calls for attention and connection and respond with caring? Because much of the time we are not tuned in to our partners. We are distracted or caught up in our own agendas. We do not know how to speak the language of attachment, we do not give clear messages about what we need or how much we care. Often we speak tentatively because we feel ambivalent about our own needs. Or”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships
“When we feel safely linked to our partners, we more easily roll with the hurts they inevitably inflict, and we are less likely to be aggressively hostile when we get mad at them.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“Sociologist James House of the University of Michigan declares that emotional isolation is a more dangerous health risk than smoking or high blood pressure, and we now warn everyone about these two! Perhaps these findings reflect the time-honored saying “Suffering is a given; suffering alone is intolerable.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
“Emotion comes from a Latin word emovere, to move. We talk of being “moved” by our emotions, and we are “moved” when those we love show their deeper feelings to us. If partners were to reconnect, they indeed had to let their emotions move them into new ways of responding to each other. My clients had to learn to take risks, to show the softer sides of themselves, the sides they learned to hide in the Demon Dialogues.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
tags: love
“They calm themselves quickly and effectively, reconnect easily with their mothers on their return, and rapidly resume playing while checking to make sure that their moms are still around. They seem confident that their mothers will be there if needed. Less resilient youngsters, however, are anxious and aggressive or detached and distant on their mothers’ return. The kids who can calm themselves usually have warmer, more responsive mothers, while the moms of the angry kids are unpredictable in their behavior and the moms of detached kids are colder and dismissive. In these simple studies of disconnection and reconnection, Bowlby saw love in action and began to code its patterns.”
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships

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