The Dance of Relationship: A Guide to the Positions

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When we think about love, we may picture something like this: <>

This position is called Turning Towards. You’re facing each other, open to each other, and paying attention to no one but each other. You may be touching.

You might believe this is the most desirable of the positions, but it’s very intense. It’s hard to do anything else when you are Turning Towards. It’s also hard to sustain attention totally to your partner, and it may feel threatening to have someone pay attention to you, not missing a thing. Still, the moments in which we are Turning Towards are meaningful, tender, and warm.

It’s also the position you are in when you are in a fight.

The second position looks something like this: > <

This is Turning Away. Most of life in a relationship is like this. You may be mad at one another, but, more likely, you’re just busy and doing other things. Love can look like this, too. It may be a picture of two people who feel so secure in one another that they can let each other go and pay attention to other things. When you are permitted to turn away, you are free to explore.

Watch what happens when one partner changes position and turns toward. You get the third and forth positions: < < and > >

Turning Towards/Turning Away. In these positions, one partner is paying attention to the other while the other is attentive to something or someone else.

Sometimes, the Turning Toward partner is content watching. He simply admires his spouse, enjoys seeing her interact with others. He has no need for attention.

The Turning Away partner may feel her spouse has her back. He’s there if she needs him. She’s comfortable being the object of his attention.

Often, though, there’s an insecurity in this position. They’re the most unstable. Turning Towards/Turning Away can be very uncomfortable for both parties.

The Turning Towards one may feel ignored, neglected, and abandoned. He might feel jealous of the object of the partner’s attention. He may blame himself for being sticky, dependent, and needing excessive reassurance.

The Turning Away partner may feel clung to, limited by him. She may believe her partner has excessive demands. She may have the urge to flee.

These positions are sometimes the beginning of a ghastly dance. One partner clings, while the other breaks away. The more the one clings, the more the other needs to escape. The more the one avoids, the more the other hangs on.

There is a final position that should be noted. It looks like this: < O >

In this one, both partners are focused on the same thing. It could be a show they’re watching, a problem they’re trying to solve, or a child they’re raising. Having an important common purpose can be the most compelling reason to be in a relationship. You do more together than you could possibly do alone. However, the thing you are both focused on can be the thing that separates you and forces you apart.

Spend a few days noticing these positions in the natural world. See what it feels like for you to be in each position and see what you instinctively do next.

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