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Allowing and Repair

Repairing a rupture in connection with someone can be a delicate and difficult process.  Often both people are struggling with some form of reactivity.  One of the most useful things you can do is offer allowing* for differences in the process of repair.  This doesn't mean avoiding accountability or abandoning your needs.

Allowing means staying true to your needs, while meeting differences between the two of you with curiosity.  Often this is accompanied by a relaxed body and soft open facial expression.  This isn't always easy.  You likely have strong preferences about how you want your needs met.  You would like the other person to do or say something specific, especially when you are hurting.

For example, you might have attached repair to the words, "I'm sorry."  You might want those words to be immediate.  This kind of attachment to your idea of how it should go, can only lead to suffering for you both.  You might insist that the other person say "I'm sorry" and then find that when they say it, it doesn't really help because it was forced.  These kind of dilemmas can often be avoided with more allowing.

Here are some concrete examples of what allowing might look like:

  • Allow time in between sharing and response.  This might be a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days.

  • Allow the other person to find words that are authentic for them.

  • Allow a difference in perspective or memory of the same event.

  • Allow the other person to engage in self-empathy or empathy from another to help with guilt, shame, or defensiveness.

  • Allow a variety of strategies for repair such as; affection, facial expression, tone of voice, supportive action, or a change in behavior.

The more you trust yourself to remain true to your own self-care and integrity, the easier it will become to allow differences.  


Take a moment to reflect on some habits of someone close to and ask yourself where you would like to practice more allowing.

*I highly recommend a book by David Richo called "How to be an Adult in Relationship" in which he talks about allowing as one of the five "A's" of a healthy relationship.


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2 Responses

  1. Jul 07, 2017
    Debby Dobson

    Love this

  2. Jul 07, 2017
    Annie iishi

    I really appreciate the insight you share in these Gems. David Richo's book, "How to be an Adult in A Relationship" is--bar none--the best book I've ever read on relationships. I've re-read it many times.

    Thank you,

    Annie in Spokane WA

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