• Tamara Catharina

NVC in intimate relationships #2

- honouring the pace of my body -


In my intimate relationships, I have the intention of using Nonviolent Communication by consistently putting my needs and impacts on the table and I listen to the needs and impacts of the other. I dream of a world where intimate relationships are inspiring and fertile places for healing and learning. I am intent to reflect on this regularly and share my reflections here with you. Below you can find my first reflection.



My friend calls me on my phone. While speaking with her, I have a realization. I share my thoughts with her out loud as I want to reflect on them. “The last three times Vincent arrived in Amsterdam, after eight to ten weeks of being physically apart, and he entered the door of our house, the first thing he did was hug me, and I felt very uncomfortable with it. I had so much resistance in my body in those moments, and my body didn’t want to hug him. I would like to take it more slowly next time he arrives.” She listens and reflects back on what I said. Then she shares that she recognizes that experience from a distant relationship she had in the past. I notice my body relaxes.


After hanging up the phone, I take some time to connect to the topic. I ask myself the question of what I would like it to be like. How I would like it to go. I imagine him arriving, and we sit together in the room. We might eat, speak, rest, and only when both of us genuinely desire to physically touch each other will we do so. I imagine we will be sitting next to each other first and then possibly holding hands. But only when it feels comfortable and desirable. I enjoy the idea of staying connected to the pace of our bodies. And to only hug or touch when we really want to. It’s about a need to stay connected to reality, to what happens in my body at the moment. And to then connect from the life that moves in me, rather than making a mental decision.


Later that day, when Pepijn sleeps, I decide to call Vincent. I say: “I had an insight today that I would like to share. Do you have space for that?”. “I’m always very excited when you start our conversations like that”, he said. I smile. “So you want to hear it?”, I ask. “Yes!”, he says. I share with him my observation of the last time he arrived in Amsterdam. “When you hugged me the last time you arrived here, I felt uncomfortable. I think my body wasn’t ready. I wish to stay connected to that and take it slow when we meet the next time. I imagine we first just sit in the space and check in with ourselves and with each other. And that we only physically touch when that is what we both desire and feel comfortable with at that moment. How would that be for you?” Vincents’s face seems to relax. He says: “I love it. It makes so much sense to me. I’m glad you shared this with me, as I recognize the discomfort, and I like your proposal. And I’m so happy you brought it up now and not while I am at your doorstep, as I imagine that would have been painful. Thank you for sharing this with me.” I feel relief. My body deeply relaxes, and a smile shows up on my face.



Now I am looking at this situation through the lens of nonviolent communication:


My friend calls me on my phone. While speaking with her I have a realization. I share my thoughts with her out loud as I want to reflect on them.

Empathy from a third person > When I feel the pain inside me, I connect to a need to be with and understand that pain. I trust my friend to be able to hold empathic space for me. And I imagine it is helpful for me to clarify what is important to me around this before discussing it with Vincent. I guess it can be painful for him to hear, and I want to be as clear as possible about my needs when I make my request so that he can listen to my “yes” behind my “no”.


“The last three times Vincent arrived in Amsterdam, after eight to ten weeks of being physically apart, and he entered the door of our house, the first thing he did was hug me, and I felt very uncomfortable with it. I had so much resistance in my body in those moments, and my body didn’t want to hug him. I would like to take it more slowly next time he arrives.”

Self-connection out loud (sharing) > I express myself to my friend authentically without a filter. It feels liberating to me to share my thoughts and feelings out loud. And while I speak, I land on a need that lives in me. I want to honour the pace of my body, the pace of my organism. I want to stay connected to what matters to me at the moment. I want to listen to my bodily response when he arrives and take it seriously. And I want to connect from an authentic place where I experience a genuine desire to physically connect with Vincent.


She listens and reflects back on what I said. Then she shares that she recognizes that experience from a distant relationship she had in the past. I notice my body relaxes.

Empathy from a third person > My friend reflects back on what she heard me say. In her words, I hear that she listened to me, and I have a sense of being understood and seen for my experience, feelings, and needs. It is helpful to me to hear her past experience with a distant relationship. It supports me to acknowledge my own experience and to own my feelings and needs around it. I feel relief. My inner voice tells me, “you are welcome as you are”. My body relaxes with this thought. I feel softer and open.


After hanging up the phone, I take some time to connect to the topic. I ask myself the question of what I would like it to be like. How I would like it to go. I imagine him arriving, and we sit together in the room. We might eat, speak, rest, and only when both of us genuinely desire to physically touch each other will we do so. I imagine we will be sitting next to each other first and then possibly holding hands. But only when it feels comfortable and desirable. I enjoy the idea of staying connected to the pace of our bodies. And to only hug or touch when we really want to. It’s about a need to stay connected to reality, to what happens in my body at the moment. And to then connect from the life that moves in me, rather than making a mental decision.

Self-connection > I want to have clarity about my request to Vincent when I speak to him. When I only share my feelings and needs with him, I fear that he might think I expect him to “fix” it. I want to make a clear request where he can say “yes” or “no” to. I sit with the needs I landed on in the phone call with my friend. The need to stay connected to my body moment by moment. I notice the first image that comes up in my imagination, and I follow the path of this image. It guides me through an imaginative experience of him arriving at the doorstep that feels comfortable to me. I enjoy this experience and intend to make a request that includes this strategy when I speak to Vincent about it.


Later that day, when Pepijn sleeps, I decide to call Vincent. I say: “I had an insight today that I would like to share. Do you have space for that?”.

Expression > Before I share my experience, feelings, needs, and requests with Vincent, I want to check with him if he’s open to hearing me. I want to honour his capacity at the moment. With capacity, I mean; energy, time, headspace, emotional space and the right place to listen to me at this moment.


“I’m always very excited when you start our conversations like that”, he said. I smile. “So you want to hear it?”, I ask. “Yes!”, he says.

Listening > I’m listening to his answer to my question. I have the idea he is open to it, yet I am not entirely sure from his words. There might be more. I want to check more precisely with him if he wants to hear it. I make my question more precise so he can answer with a “yes” or “no”. After hearing his “yes”, I trust that he is open to hearing me.


I share with him my observation of the last time he arrived in Amsterdam. “When you hugged me the last time you arrived here, I felt uncomfortable. I think my body wasn’t ready. I wish to stay connected to that and take it slow when we meet the next time. I imagine we first just sit in the space and check in with ourselves and with each other. And that we only physically touch when that is what we both desire and feel comfortable with at that moment. How would that be for you?”

Expression > I share my observation (when you hugged me the last time you arrived here), feeling (I felt uncomfortable) and needs (I wish to stay connected to that and take it slow when we meet the next time). Then I share the strategy that came to me through my imagination (I imagine we first just sit in the space and check in with ourselves and with each other. And that we only physically touch when that is what we both desire and feel comfortable with at that moment). I check with him how it lands (how would that be for you?).


Vincents’s face seems to relax. He says: “I love it. It makes so much sense to me. I’m glad you shared this with me, as I recognize the discomfort, and I like your proposal. And I’m so happy you brought it up now and not while I am at your doorstep, as I imagine that would have been painful. Thank you for sharing this with me.”

Listening > From his facial expression, I understand that he relaxes. I understand he recognizes my experience of discomfort. He shares his appreciation for bringing this up and the timing of my request, as he imagines that bringing it up the moment he arrives might be painful.


I feel relief. My body deeply relaxes, and a smile shows up on my face.

Self-connection > I notice how my body responds and recognize relief and relaxation.



I would love this to be a space for engagement, exploration and connection. Please practice nonviolence in your comments. If you have a request (for example, because you would like support or collaboration), you can send me an email: message@tamaracatharina.com