Attunement: Your Relationship’s Superpower!
What is Attunement?
Attunement is the ability to emotionally connect on another level. It is more than just being close. It is allowing yourself to feel what the other person is feeling by entering their inner world. Emotional attunement is critical in all relationships, but an essential component for romantic partnerships.
We often hear about communication as the game-changer in a relationship. Attunement is an extremely important ingredient for effective communication. Attunement is a superpower because it’s a meta-skill, meaning it’s the foundation behind good communication. When you’re attuned to your partner, you will communicate more effectively and effortlessly. On the other hand, when you’re not attuned even the best communication advice will fall flat. Simply changing the structure won’t be enough to make your partner feel heard and understood.
Most people are lacking emotional attunement and don’t realize they need to develop it. Like most skills, practice is required. You must work at becoming emotionally attuned to your partner. Once developed, attunement is capable of completely transforming your relationship.
Attunement allows you to see the world through your partner’s eyes and walk in their shoes. When you do this, you are able to understand where they are coming from. Instead of arguing, attunement allows you to empathize with your partner.
You can compare attunement to feeling the same water. Your partner may be swimming in the water of some feeling, maybe it’s stress or sadness. You may not be swimming alongside them, but you dip your toe in the water, so you can feel some of what they are feeling – the temperature, texture, etc. Now you’ve entered their world a bit and your partner doesn’t feel so alone.
Attunement Starts in the Early Years
Attunement first comes into play in the relationship between a child and their caregiver. When the child is very young they are unable to communicate their needs. Their mother or other caregiver works to understand what they need from their cry, their physical, non-verbal cues. As a parent, we show attunement in the way we respond. Our facial expressions, tone of voice, the way we hold and touch, all of this is how we show attunement. The more you feel attuned as a child the more you feel loved and that you can be yourself. These early connections are foundational and can have a large influence on attachment, which goes on to affect our adult relationships. In adult romantic relationships, attunement plays a similar role, allowing people to connect more deeply and to feel close to each other.
Additional Benefits of Attunement
In addition to the gift of deep connection, feeling as though you and your partner are on the same wavelength, there are even more reasons to practice attunement:
Being attuned to your partner means you’re able to understand them with little to no words. You can pick up on their emotions, and sense what kind of mood they are in from their body language or what they are doing. If you can read your partner well, you’ll know how to approach them best at that moment. You’ll be able to anticipate their needs.
Better sex and intimacy
When emotional attunement is present, sex and intimacy is can be better because you are fully present with each other. As previously mentioned, attunement improves intuition, which carries over into the bedroom. You can learn how to be a better lover by listening to the cues of your partner.
Ability to know oneself
Attunement means you are more aware of your own emotions as well. In fact, you must be attuned to yourself before applying that to relationships with others. Tuning in to yourself is the foundation of well-being.
What Attunement is Not
Attunement in a relationship doesn’t mean you agree with everything your partner thinks. You can still disagree with your partner, but attunement allows you to see where they are coming from even if it’s radically different. You are not meant to satisfy all of their needs, but you should be on their team, supporting them throughout whatever they are feeling.
While empathy, the ability to understand and share a person’s feelings is important, attunement is more than that. With emotional attunement, you are taking action in order to engage with a person’s emotional state. In addition to empathizing with your partner, attunement in a relationship means you are helping your partner work through their emotions.
5 Ways to Practice Attunement
1. Read their cues
What does their body language look like? If they are talking, what is their tone, are they speaking quickly? What does that mean? Assess how they feel. In time, you will recognize certain gestures, behaviors, etc., and be able to connect them to their emotions.
2. Give them grace
Pause to consider why your partner is acting a certain way. What is going on in their world? Take time to see things from their side and allow yourself to feel impacted by that.
3. Practice active listening
This can be as basic as acknowledging what they have to say. Instead of preparing your response, just be present. Really look at them when they speak, and make sure you are not distracted. This will give your partner validation. You can also try asking more open-ended questions. Instead of, “Are you upset?”, try “You seem upset. What is going on?”
4. Understand them through touch
Communication is powerful, but sometimes physical touch is necessary to get through to your partner. Separate from physical signs of affection, you can practice attunement by using your hands as a way to read what is going on inside. Touching is one of the best ways to increase feelings of connectedness. And touch can calibrate your partner. Try giving your partner a massage. Take their hand as they speak to you.
5. Tune in to yourself
Attunement is what we need to feel truly connected to another. However, we can’t get there with another person until we tune in to what’s going on personally. If you’re feeling low, stop to ask yourself what it is that’s making you feel this way. Ask yourself what you need. Don’t be afraid to feel your emotions, good and bad. Remember, you cannot choose what you feel, only how you react.
If you are willing to be attuned to your partner, you are giving them the ultimate gift of a true, quality connection. You have the power to make it happen. Our workshops can help! Emotional attunement in your relationship will help you better understand each other on so many levels allowing the relationship to grow as a safe, trusting, and respectful bond.