It is NO secret that we love television shows about relationships and dating, but one Damona holds particularly dear to her heart is Showtime’s “Couples Therapy.”
If you don’t already know about the show, the documentary TV series is a deep dive into the authentic and visceral experience of weekly therapy where couples confront each other AND themselves. Spicy, but also, incredibly deep. It’s the best.
Leading the sessions for all three seasons is our guest today, Dr. Orna Guralnik! She’ll be sharing how she leads couples to some extraordinary breakthroughs, the best and worst ways to show up in a partnership, and what she has learned along the way.
DATING DISH (2:45)
How to figure out your partner’s “argument style”:
Refinery29 came in clutch with a recent article about how identifying your argument style can help your relationship dynamics in a similar way to knowing your love language, attachment style etc.
The article lays out four common argument styles: Attacking, Defensive, Withdrawing, and Open (AKA the “holy grail” of argument styles).
The author also points out that identifying the feelings or sensations that arise in your body during an argument can be key in directing you towards your argument style. Damona refers to this act of noticing as interoception, and explains how this can help you tune into your intuition and use it to improve your relationship communication.
ORNA GURALNIK (10:10)
Dr Orna Guralnik is a Clinical Psychologist and Psychoanalyst practicing in New York City. She lectures and publishes on the topics of couples treatment and culture, as well as culture & psychoanalysis.
Her article – “I’m a Couples Therapist. Something New Is Happening in Relationships.” – was featured in the New York Times in May. And, of course, she is the host of the hit Showtime television series, Couples Therapy.
(11:24) How do you get people to reveal themselves?
As a renowned couples therapist, Orna seems to have the magic touch when it comes to helping couples open up. Orna states, “The whole therapeutic profession is based on the idea that if you create space, people will want to walk into it. People want to share space, people want to connect.”
She also mentions that she is listening to the less conscious registers of what is troubling someone. This includes details relating to early family dynamics, personality structure, trauma, attachment styles, and the overall societal issues that affect how a couple is interacting with each other.
(17:30) What are the biggest elements that are shifting for relationships today?
Referencing her infamous article “I’m a Couples Therapist. Something New Is Happening in Relationships,” Damona asks Orna about the biggest elements that are shifting for relationships today. “With the recent social justice movements, we’re all learning what it means to understand ourselves in relation to systemic issues and how these issues are running through us… This helps us understand what’s governing the dynamic of a couple.”
Orna also points out how the consciousness of privilege is shifting the way we look at relationships (and let alone communicate). “When you really understand privilege, how privilege shapes the way we experience the world and how people differ in terms of how much they walk around the world with or without, something really fundamental changes inside you.”
(25:40) We gotta go to the hard, scary places.
As most of us can presume, any type of therapy will only work as much as you are willing to open up and go deep. Damona wonders how one might handle a situation where one partner in a couple is willing to go deeper, but the other isn’t ready? Orna responds, “The person who’s not in pain is out of touch in some way that they’re not well in the relationship, so it’s just a matter of time in how to gain access to that part of the person.”
Orna adds, as the therapist, that there’s a level of “the client is always right” – if she can’t get through to someone, Orna believes she needs to figure out what is being blocked and adjust her approach. But this is always made easier if the client is willing to be as open as she is.
(32:25) Becoming a better partner starts with being yourself.
Damona asks what advice Orna can give to single folks on being a better partner, and her primary advice is to “show up as yourself and not someone else.” She also believes that a good reason to get into a relationship is to expand beyond who you are, not just pull someone into what you already are and know. And if that’s your motivation, then it’s going to get wonderful, complicated, and really interesting.
Orna also shares how you can get motivated to do the hard self-work, and reframe it so it’s not scary (hint: stay curious about yourself).
Be sure to follow Dr. Orna on Instagram @OrnaGuralnik and check out Couples Therapy on Showtime!
DEAR DAMONA (41:00)
- Voicemail from S – Hi Damona! I’m a finishing PhD student and I’m getting ready for a big cross country move in the next 6 months. As you can imagine, I have a lot on my plate. I am curious about short term dating, but I could use some advice. On the one hand, I think it would be good practice. That way when I get into this new environment I’m ready to dive in feet first. But on the other hand, with everything that’s going on, I don’t know if it’s going to be a good distraction or if it’s just going to add more stress. I would love to get your advice on how to go about short-term casual dating or anything about dating right before a big move. Thank you so much for your time and your advice, looking forward to hearing what you have to say!
Unsure if your question is right for Dates & Mates? Check out our recent all-Dear Damona episode to get a taste of what our listeners are thinking. 📝