Book Review: I Want This to Work

I finished I Want This to Work by Elizabeth Earnshaw a few weeks ago. It's a pretty remarkable book about communication in relationships, and I wanted to take some time to jot down my thoughts and reflections from it.

As far as aspects of my life go, working on relationships is not something I have actively thought about much, or tried to work on and improve. If you consider that relationships make up a big part of most people's lives, this is a bit shocking. If you also consider that the vast majority (I would estimate ~80%) of the experiences and disagreements that you're going to have are applicable to other couples, then it follows that you should have a lot to gain from reading about them.

If you are interested in exploring attachment styles, better communication, and learning the tools to repair after rupture, I can recommend this book. It helped me to heal after a particularly painful break-up, when I came to realize that I didn't really know how to navigate relationships at all.

I've also recommended a few videos (found below) from The School of Life that I found really helpful.

Main takeaways:

  • There are 3 types of attachment styles; anxious, avoidant and secure. 50% of the population is secure, and 50% are anxious or avoidant.

  • Studying your childhood can be extremely valuable. Many of our relational insecurities, fears and unhealthy behaviors are the result of childhood wounds, especially when you notice yourself behaving in a way that doesn't feel in line with your adult self.

  • Sharing power is even more important in a relationship than active listening, reducing anger, or empathizing.

  • Both assuming or dismissing how someone feels can be a violation of an emotional boundary. E.g. Saying "Stop worrying, it'll all work out!" can make the person being vulnerable feel like their feelings are being completely dismissed.

  • In a healthy interdependent (and not co-dependent) relationship, you have to be willing to say the hard things and allow them to feel their feelings in response. Don't try to manage their feelings for them.

Further reading/watching:

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