chapter 1. Relationships

What About the Children When Divorce is on the Cards?

For most of human history, people didn’t stay in relationships for love. They stayed in them in order to protect their assets, ensure their status, pool their resources, synchronise farming implements…

chapter 1. Relationships

What If I Just Repeat the Same Mistakes Next Time?

On our way out of a relationship, we might be stopped by a highly unfamiliar and deeply perturbing thought: what if we were – somehow – a bit to blame as…

chapter 1. Relationships

The Terror of Being on our Own

In the privacy of our minds, one thought – highly shameful by nature – may haunt us as we evaluate whether to stay in or leave an unsatisfactory relationship: what if…

chapter 1. Relationships

Are My Expectations Too High?

When we contemplate leaving a relationship, it is usually because – in the privacy of our hearts – we harbour expectations of being able to meet another, and in key ways,…

chapter 1. Relationships

Overcoming Nostalgia for a Past Relationship

After considerable agony, we’ve left a relationship. We’re on our own now – and, when we can bear to be honest, it’s a little harder than we expected. We aren’t going…

chapter 1. Relationships

The Feeling of Being Back in Love with the Person You're About to Leave

Over the years, it’s been so difficult with our partner. There’s been a long history of harsh words, accusations, insults, shouting, slammed doors, resentments and aggressive silences. It all culminated, sensibly…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

Becoming Free

Some of the reason why adult life can be greyer and more miserable than it should be is that our earliest years are generally made up of a prolonged and highly…

chapter 4. Sociability

The Need for Kindness

When we are little, one of the first, and most boring, lessons we ever receive is in the primordial importance of being – as adults put it – ‘kind’. It’s because…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

The One Subject You Really Need to Study: Your Own Childhood

There is perhaps no greater priority in childhood than to acquire an education: it’s in the early years that we have to push ourselves with special vigour to learn the lessons,…

chapter 5. Calm

No One Knows

We start our lives surrounded by people who know a great deal more than we ever could. To a four year old, a very average adult is a miracle of supreme…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

No One Cares

We tend to begin our lives with a deeply unrepresentative experience: that of being surrounded by people who care to an extraordinary extent about us. We look up from the dreams…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

You Don't Need Permission

When we first arrive on the earth, nothing is more alien to our minds than the idea of needing permission. We simply try to do whatever we want: when the carpet…

chapter 2. Work

What They Forget to Teach You at School

The modern world treats education with unique seriousness. Never in the history of humanity have so much thought and so many resources been devoted to the development of the minds of…

chapter 1. Relationships

On 'Rupture' and 'Repair'

Many tensions within relationships can usefully be looked at through the prism of a concept much used within psychotherapy: the idea of ‘rupture’ and ‘repair.’ For psychotherapists, every relationship is at…

chapter 4. Sociability

What Women and Men May Learn from One Another When They are Just Friends

We tend to imagine that it must be within the context of a close and long-term sexual relationship that people are best placed to understand one another and reveal who they…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

Learning to Listen to the Adult Inside Us

It’s natural to think of ourselves as a single person. We have – after all – only one body and answer to only one name. But inside our minds, we are…

chapter 1. Relationships

Why it's OK to Want a Partner to Change

We live in a culture that firmly suggests that the essence of true love is for one person fully to accept the other, as we like to put it, just as…

chapter 1. Relationships

Why Haven't They Called - and the Rorschach Test

In the 1930s, the Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach was seeking to understand more about the contents in the unconscious minds of his patients – when he hit upon the notion of…