My guest this week is psychologist Dr. Polly Young-Eisendrath. We talked about the big ideas from her recent book, Love Between Equals: Relationship as a Spiritual Path. Polly presents an inspiring view of committed relationships—not at all an idealized view, as she acknowledges the challenges in sharing life with another person. But she’s clear about the possibilities that await us in truly relating to someone over time. Her ideas might change how you think about and how you experience your own relationships.
Topics we explored included:
- Dialogue therapy for couples (which Polly developed)
- The mixed blessing of evolving romantic relationships in the 21st century
- Our desire to be seen, heard, and felt by a partner
- The expectation that partners will fill many roles
- How loving relationships can help us to grow as human beings
- How our own thoughts and feelings bias our perceptions of our partner
- The value of allowing a “mindful gap” between partners
- The inevitable idealization and merger of partners when first falling in love
- Projective identification, in which we evoke predictable responses from our partners
- How unconscious communication affects relationships
- Freud’s concept of a “repetition compulsion”
- The value of mindful presence in couple communication
- The importance of checking to see if you’ve heard your partner accurately
- The effect of true curiosity in couple communication
- How sex changes a relationship
- What many people fear about true love
- The terror of being seen and known by another
Here are links to Polly’s books (a percentage of each sale made through these links will be used to support the podcast, at no additional cost to you):
- Love Between Equals: Relationship as a Spiritual Path
- The Self-Esteem Trap: Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-Importance
- The Present Heart: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Discovery
- The Resilient Spirit: Transforming Suffering Into Insight And Renewal
Click here for the Enemies: War to Wisdom podcast.
Polly Young-Eisendrath, PhD, is a Jungian analyst, psychologist, teacher and author. She is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Vermont and in private practice in central Vermont. Polly is the originator of Dialogue Therapy, which is designed to help couples and others (for example, parents and grown children) transform chronic conflict into greater closeness and development.
Dialogue Therapy has been expanded, in recent years, to include methods of Mindfulness, alongside its unique combination of Object Relations and Psychodrama. In January 2019, Shambhala/Random House published Polly’s new book, Love Between Equals: Relationship as a Spiritual Path, which offers her vision of personal love as a spiritual path and draws on her experience of 30 years as a Dialogue Therapist and Jungian psychoanalyst.
Polly’s clinical practice and teaching have focused on individual psychotherapy and analysis, as well as Dialogue Therapy. She is past president of the Vermont Association for Psychoanalytic Studies and a founding member of the Vermont Institute for the Psychotherapies. She is also a Mindfulness teacher and has been a practitioner of Buddhism since 1971.
Polly is the author or editor of eighteen books, ranging from parenting, adult development, intimate and parental love, Buddhist theory, Jungian psychology to women’s development, couple therapy, couple development, and various paths to awakening/enlightenment from meditation to personal love. These books have been translated into more than twenty languages. In the fall of 2018, Polly began the podcast ENEMIES: From War to Wisdom with co-host Eleanor Johnson.
You can find Polly online at her website.