Relationship Pillar #3: Concepts & Skills To Navigate Situations

Skills & ConceptsConcepts and skills are vital to successfully navigating any relationship. People don’t know what they don’t know, so they often interpret situations blindly. Concepts help us to understand what is going on. You have to know what you are looking at and experiencing first, before you can navigate the situation. Skills are the things we can do to deal with the situation in a way that makes us feel better or more clear regarding what we are seeing. Then our choices come out of these two processes. When we understand something more clearly we feel more in control. We know what we are looking at. And with the skills available we then know what we can do about a situation. We begin to have more options in handling relationship matters.

Why is this knowledge so important?

Concepts and skills give us hope in resolving something and feeling better. It gives us choices. It helps us understand when it is about something we are doing that continues to attract the same scenario. It also helps us to see when it is really about the other person and the choice we made in that person. The more we learn how to navigate the easier and more fulfilling relationships become. We can feel emotionally safer in relationships with these concepts and skills because we will better know how to pick a healthy person. Or if we continue to pick unhealthy people we are more able to understand that it is about our own degree of Self-Esteem and may need to seek professional help to work through that.

Increasing Success in Relationships

The better we feel about ourselves, the healthier person we attract. The more skills we have available to us the easier it is to build a secure relationship and to navigate through tough times. The divorce rate is so high because often people don’t know how to pick the right person. And people are unfamiliar with the skills of navigating through various scenarios of a relationship, so we often can feel helpless and give up. The problem is that we take our lack of knowledge with us to a new relationship and often repeat the same ineffective patterns.

Examples of Concepts

  1. Why we choose the people we do has to do with our background and the things we had in childhood (Imago) whether they were healthy or unhealthy. Sometimes we repeat a negative pattern unconsciously with the hope of a better outcome. If it is an unhealthy pattern then it most often does not have a happy ending. On the other hand, sometimes we are attracted to positive qualities we had in a parent that we look for in a mate.
  2. The degree of our self-esteem attracts the same degree of self-esteem in the other person, So if you continue to attract unhealthy people in dating it is important to make sure your self-esteem is healthy, If not, then it is important to work on it.
  3. The faces of FEAR OF INTIMACY:
    1. The fear of losing someone and the pain that follows.
    2. If the person gets too close they will see the things that you believe are not good enough in you and they will eventually leave you.
    3. Giving up your core and who you really are: the Fear of losing your Self in someone else.
    4. Fear of becoming emotionally dependent upon another person. The fear that if they leave you will be lost without them.
    5. The Fear of giving up control in general, or that you will give away your power and because you need them they will have power over you.
  4. Recognizing a healthy relationship: In a healthy relationship, someone values you. Their actions match their words and they demonstrate that your needs are important. Also, that they will be faithful, and that they will be there for you in time of need. They treat you with kindness and respect. You feel emotionally secure in the relationship attachment. You trust them. Their behavior is consistent.
  5. You observe the behavior in your mate, with eyes open and willing to see, for a minimum of 6 months. It is very difficult for someone to be other than they really are for more than 6 months without being a sociopath. Look for inconsistencies in their behavior.

We have already discussed many of the concepts above in prior articles (Click for direct links):

Examples of Skills:

  1. Making a “Must Have” list of those qualities in someone you don’t want to live without.
  2. Knowing how to have difficult conversations without disconnecting from your partner.
  3. How to build connection in your relationship: Watering the Garden.
  4. Determining healthy and unhealthy qualities in your relationship.
  5. Asking for what you want. No guessing on either person’s part.
  6. Balancing “me time”, family time, and couples time.
  7. Creating emotional intimacy in your relationship.
  8. Conflict management.
  9. Managing finances in a relationship.
  10. Decision-making about having children.
  11. Co-parenting your children as a team effort.
  12. Date Night” and why it is so vital to a relationship.

We have already discussed the “Must Have” List (Click for link) and we will discuss the other skills in future articles.

Last Thoughts

The skills and concepts given here are not a complete list. They are examples of the tools that make it easier to navigate through dating and intimate relationships. Relationships are more nourishing and emotionally secure when you have tools to rectify the inevitable stumbles. And when you find you are with the wrong person you will more easily “know” this and be more equipped to move on.

Note: There is nothing more emotionally vulnerable than a romantic relationship. I believe the heart feels how it feels. It is what we do with our feelings that can make or break a potential relationship. Relationship Skills and Concepts are our compass.

Action Items:

  1. What concepts that we’ve discussed have you used in a relationship?
  2. What skills have you used in a relationship?
  3. In looking back in past relationships do you believe some of the skills and concepts would have been helpful to you? Would it possibly have made a difference in some of your decision-making?
  4. Has reading about the importance of skills and concepts in relationships changed your thinking in any way in terms of feeling more equipped to navigate a relationship? If so, how? If not, why not? What is in the way?


About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Dating, Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on and on

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