Why are Relationships Hard? A TEDx Talk by Stan Tatkin

Why is it that at the start of a new relationship (the “honeymoon” phase) we hardly have any conflicts, but later on we really struggle with each other?

According to Stan Tatkin, who integrates attachment theory and recent neuroscience research, it is because at the beginning of our relationship we are fully attuned, curious to explore the other – whereas later on, we start to relate to each other on more of an automatic pilot state of mind:

“You think you know each other already so you stop paying attention, you stop being fully present.”

In his book Wired for Love, he coined the term the Couple Bubble, which means you really need to make an effort to support each other and accept the partner with all their faults, as they are, instead of judging each other.

In this TEDx talk, Stan Tatkin explains the biological reason behind our quarrels. When you listen to this talk you realize that arguing, fighting, reacting and even overreacting is completely natural and normal. Inevitable even. But he also explains that we can make a decision to become a team, and help each other by resolving to be a sound, solid unit. He says:

“A relationship can survive fights. What it can not survive is a loss of safety and security.”

And he gives some amazing tips on how to fight “better”. Really worth listening to his 10 minutes TEDx talk:

2 thoughts on “Why are Relationships Hard? A TEDx Talk by Stan Tatkin

  1. Chris says:

    I found this topic and these quotes really eye-opening. Actually they really explained the behavior of my family. When my family assumed they knew me, I became like a caricature to them, and they treated me according to how they saw me in that static pose. Years later when I questioned them about this and other things, they basically admitted that they thought they just “knew who I was” and so didn’t bother trying to find anything else out about me. Of course I explained how wrong they were to do this, but I wasn’t self-aware enough at the time to also describe how painful that was. So I can just imagine the pain that is created in a coupled relationship where this is happening.

    I also like when he says that a relationship can survive fights, but not the loss of safety and security. That is eye-opening too because often people tend to be afraid of conflict and want to avoid fights, thinking they mean the end of the relationship. But some conflict is natural and/or necessary. However, losing trust and a feeling of safety is something to be feared more than conflict., because trust and safety are the foundations of a good relationship..

    • changingmaya says:

      Thanks for your comment Chris, this was eye opening for me too – learning that fights are pretty much unavoidable and that we need to learn how to fight instead of avoiding them.
      And yes, trust and safety are necessary ingredients for a long-term relationship.

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