When authentic relating doesn’t work with your dad

relating languages Nov 08, 2021

“My dad has a sort of wall around going deep. i will open up to him about how i am feeling, and he will kind of judge me for my struggles. He sees emotions and pain as weakness. I don’t really know how to talk to him, we just small talk and it is draining for me... maybe I simply don’t have his consent to go deep with him! He doesn’t really open to anyone or know how to, or that it is safe and important to... he is sort of old/traditional in a way of seeing what strength means.” - Abby

What does strength mean?

While women are taught to pay attention to and respond to others’ emotions - what I would call the “External” focus of any Relating Language - men, especially those of older generations, were taught to ignore these emotions. Seeing them in other men was taboo; seeing them in oneself, just as much so. Better to repress than to express was the battle cry of masculinity, causing anger - a less repressible emotion, and a less...

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The Relating Languages Part 2: Stress and Safety in Connection

by Sara Ness

Why is it that sometimes we can be our “best selves” — grounded, connected, and aware — and sometimes, we’re a total relational mess?

Personality typing systems give us a general concept of who we are. I’m an “Enneagram 7” — enthusiastic, scattered, and adventuresome. I’m an “ENFP” — extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and prospecting. These systems have helped me understand myself, but they sometimes break down in relationship to other humans. Then, I seem to be not one type but many.

Why do I sometimes feel extroverted, and other times want to hide? Why am I intuitive when I feel clear on my role, and totally blocked when the situation feels chaotic or unclear?

I think we need a new system to complement those we have. A system that deals specifically with communication types, and how they change, and how they interact. A system that I call the Relating Languages.

In this article, I’ll talk...

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The Relating Languages Part 1, or Why We Don’t All Just Get Along


by Sara Ness

Hi, I’m Sara, and I am an awkwardvert.

An awkwardvert (self-titled) is a mix of extrovert tendencies with a lot of social anxiety. I want to meet you, but I also want to run away. I have always struggled with, and searched for, answers to the following questions:

What are the rules for relating? The unspoken social norms that everyone seems to understand? The right words to use? The right activities to offer? The amount I should speak, or listen?

These constant curiosities led me to become a connection teacher. Who better to teach communication than someone who has parsed it out of need? I teach mostly through facilitation, leading others to discover their own norms and way of being. Over the last decade, I’ve found something interesting.

I tried to come up with universal “rules” of behavior. Yet, people are different (profound realization, I know). Some like small talk, some judge it. Some ask questions, some never do. Some don’t seem...

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