Great relationship app you might like

By BoogerDoc | Apps for Living | 13 May 2021

I don't consider myself an expert on relationships. I'm just somebody who's trying to have as happy and full a life as I can. And as I find stuff that seems to help me along that journey, I feel excited and want to share it with other people. This app is one of those things that I have found that gets me excited and want to share with other people!

The In Love While Parenting app starts with the premise that there is lots of research out there directed at trying to figure out what helps people to have happy relationships. And most of us have no idea that research exists or what the conclusions of that research are. A lot of self-help books try to distill those research findings down into digestible tidbits that people can take away and apply in their lives. That's very much what this app tries to do. It's sponsored by a nonprofit organization that wants to get the benefits of relationship research out into the public. There are no ads, and there are never any requests at getting you to pay anything for the app. The only thing they ask of you is that you write a positive review if you think it's worth doing. And I will say that I totally think it's worth doing!

The app breaks down a number of principles into about 12 digestible lessons. I went through each of the lessons one a week, but you could literally go through all twelve of them in about an hour or so. Maybe two hours. I chose to do it at a lesson a week because I hoped that I could take a week or so just to kind of try to digest and apply what I had learned from that lesson. And I think that was a really good exercise for me. A lot of these principles still come back to my mind months after having completed all 12 of the lessons.

The major takeaway from these lessons is that there's no real mystery about what makes positive relationships. At least not based on the research. It might be a mystery for the rest of us! But according to what they are sharing, happiness long-term in relationships, which may include parent-child relationships or romantic relationships, or even just friendships, comes down to whether your interactions consistently lead to the release of oxytocin in the brain of the person with whom you hope to relate. That sounds like a bit of a mouthful, but they explain that oxytocin is the chemical our brain releases during bonding between two people. On the other hand, dopamine is the happiness chemical that comes from doing fun things or eating tasty food. While dopamine helps us feel good in the moment, it doesn't seem to have as meaningful an impact in the long run. There's a third chemical that can sometimes be released during interactions between people, and this is cortisol, which is commonly known as the stress chemical. If the relationships that we have are marked by the release of cortisol, the person that we love and hope to connect with actually begins to feel distant from us. They start to fear us and they start to feel anxious around us. This certainly does not lead to a long-term healthy connection. And so the app sets out to try to help us learn what kind of interactions lead to the release of oxytocin, in the hopes that by practicing these actions, our relationships will deepen and flourish over time. They also help us to try to recognize what kinds of interactions can lead to the release of cortisol, so that we can avoid those situations and help to keep the person we love feeling safe around us.

The most important interaction that they describe in the app and spend the most time on is that of helping the ones we love to process through uncomfortable emotions. This is a theme that I have come across in a lot of different resources out there that aim to help improve relationships. One thing I have learned, is that if you find something like this that shows up in lots of different sources that are not related to each other or talking about each other, then the chances are high that this principle is worth applying in your own life. The app goes on to explain that moments where we experience difficult emotions may understandably feel like situations that are not good for our relationships. Certainly, we don't want to be the source of the difficult emotions in our loved one. However, they teach that if we look at the times when our loved ones are experiencing difficult emotions as an opportunity to deepen and build our relationship, that can help motivate us to learn the skills necessary to help our loved one through that uncomfortable scenario.

The app goes into much greater detail, but the basics are that we want to avoid certain things including trying to fix how they feel or cheer them up, and we want to help them put words to label the emotions they feel. Putting words to those emotions seems to be perhaps the most important thing we can do, because when we are able to put words to what we are feeling, that helps the thinking part of our brain start to get back in control over the feeling part of our brain.

The feeling part of our brain is a more primitive part of our brain that is primarily focused on helping us survive. And it turns out that most of the time we feel difficult emotions, we don't really need help surviving. We need help processing through those emotions and moving on. And that feeling part of our brain tends to lead us to do things that are somewhat irrational and potentially even harmful to our relationships or even ourselves. So getting that thinking part of our brain back in control is really important both to feel better as well as to help us make better long-term decisions in those difficult moments. Helping our loved ones get this thinking part of their brain back in control during those difficult emotions leads to a release of oxytocin for that individual. They feel supported and loved through their difficult situation. All too often, when someone else is experiencing a difficult emotion we may be prone to trying to give them space or get out of their way, which might be the right thing for certain situations, but can also miss out on a vitally important opportunity to help deepen our relationship and show that person that we love them and we are there to help them through their difficult times.

I can't recommend this app strongly enough. I try to apply the principles that I've learned from it in almost all of the relationships I have including those at work and casually with other people - certainly in the relationships I consider must important including with my wife and kids. I haven't mastered these practices yet, but I'm making progress, and I'm seeing the benefits of it in my life. I feel like I'm a better husband, father, and coworker. And I hope that you will take the time to download the app and start to learn and apply these principles in your life.

For the record, I don't gain anything if you click on this link. There are no rewards programs with this app, and I don't get paid anything if you do. I just think it's something that will likely make pretty much everybody's life better if they start to practice what this app teaches. And I hope you'll do the same!

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