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Valentine’s Day Relationship Skill: Both Sides Now

Updated January 25, 2022

Both Sides Now

by Joni Mitchell

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels

The dizzy dancing way you feel

As every fairy tale comes real

I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show

You leave ’em laughing when you go

And if you care, don’t let them know

Don’t give yourself away

Are you getting ready for Valentines Day by planning a night out and buying expensive flowers and gifts? But then, for some reason, you and your beau end up in a fight or it’s just a disappointing night, and you both end up bickering once again?

Do you feel like you hurt other people but don’t understand why things aren’t working out yet again?

Do you feel like love has, once again, disappointed you? Things started out with the dizzy, dancing way you feel and then ended up like a sham? Is this how you feel about your relationships?

There’s this fairy tale time and a dizzy dancing rush time and lots of fun and excitement?

But then you both start to come down to earth and learn about each other as people.

Which isn’t so bad, you know. Reality is ok. It’s just not ferris wheels all the time. Narcissism is the buzz diagnosis of our time. The unwillingness, inability, immaturity…to realize that a relationship is all about the both of you (and your children) and not just about you own needs and wants can be what’s holding you back from a true connection with another.

Relationships can be bewildering and tough; especially if you grew up in a situation where there wasn’t much talking and modeling of respectful boundaries and conversations.

Do you wonder if there are some skills you can learn to help you and your partner connect in such a way that is respectful to both of you?

Or so that you don’t feel like you’ve just trampled on someone else? And that loss of self-esteem and feeling of shame that comes along with that… (Oh, I think we’ve all been on that side, too…um, why did I just act like that? Um, I’m a bit ashamed of myself as I just lost my ember and said things that were hurtful…and I cannot take those words back…)

So that neither one feels like he or she has been trampled on? And that resulting lowering of self-esteem and shame that comes along with that… (Oh, we’ve all been on that side…we look around after a convo and say, uh, what just happened? Why didn’t I stick up for myself?) Well, you’re not alone…relationship skills aren’t usually explicitly taught in the home or in the school. Relationship skills can help you communicate in such a way so that Both Sides feel respected and heard.

Both Sides Now is a relationship skill you can practice for Valentine’s Day. An open stance and a willingness to be inclusion of Both Sides Now is probably better than a material gift to improve your relationship.

Both Sides Now is an acronym you can use to remind yourself of self-help communication skills to use when taking with a significant other (or your children).

The idea of the Both Sides Now communication skills are to help you communicate with another person while remembering to retain your own self-respect and respect the other as well.

The Listening Door is another Relationship Skill you can practice for Valentine’s Day that is probably worth more than chocolate and flowers (although these gestures help, too!)

“Both Sides Now” Relationship Skill

Let’s take a look at some skills that help Both Sides in the relationship.

B Begin your conversation by thinking that disagreement is normal and ok. Disagreement is ok and doesn’t need to be a trigger for fear and running away. Maybe start by reading a poem to express your feelings. Talking in a condescending or defensive manner usually indicates an underlying fear of disagreement or conflict. Maybe begin with a poem to express your feelings.

O Open to the other person’s point of view. Use the Listening Door exercise, to deepen each other’s understanding of the other. See and feel your person as multifaceted, not just as a caricature of one issue.

T Take turns telling each other’s point of view to each other in assertive, kind, ways. Describing wants and needs don’t need to be all charged up with scary and angry stuff. It’s ok. And take turns talking. Use “I”statements, not “you” statements. (I feel use a feeling word when this happens.)

H Hold yourself in positive regard and your partner in positive regard, both at the same time. Listen to the other person’s request, AND also negotiate your needs. The space needs to be high enough for the both of you, for both things to be done at the same time. Its not a win-lose situation.


S Stress shrinks our perception! Stress hormones tend to cause us to narrow our scope of understanding. Emotional reactivity shrinks our perceptions. Remain aware of your own body responses. Seek to understand first, then to be understood.

I Interested Keep up your interest in the other person. Don’t give in to emotional reactivity and shut down your scope of interest and understanding.

D Don’t allow codependency to to develop from confusing compassion with your limits of responsibility and few boundaries.

E Empathize with the other’s point of view and also keep your own boundaries

S Seek kernels of truth and commonality in each other’s ideas. Through finding commonality, you can get closer to an agreement.


N Never allow conversation to become abusive or too heated. Take a break if this happens.

O Ok on other options and opinions. Your person may not agree with you and say no. It’s ok. There’s room for other options. You can still negotiate.

W Win – Win solutions are those where both people feel respected and validated, even if each person doesn’t get exactly or everything that he or she wants

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