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Can NLP Hurt Your Relationships?

Posted on the 31 October 2011 by Combi31 @combi31

Can NLP Hurt Your Relationships?

NLP encourages questions, challenging your responses to the world around you. It’s an ability that is as delicate as it is empowering.

Delicate because NLP requires constant, conscious awareness. At least initially.

Attending an NLP course, or seeing an NLP practioner, opens up a desire and an ability to understand yourself in ways you couldn’t before.

An NLP CourseA course transfers skills for you to practice and apply later. It can leave you full of energy and inspiration to forge ahead and change your life. But it can also open up unexpected raw emotion and old wounds that have to be left unresolved because of time.

NLP Sessions – Individual sessions provide the time you need to liberate yourself from old wounds. But regular sessions and homework is time consuming and because the costs can add up, perhaps you only focus on “the important things”. This might leave you with things that niggle away later.Both situations are emotionally demanding, containing potential conflicts. Occassionally, a person will go on to end a long-term relationship; perhaps because of the challenge of integrating their learning at the same time as going about their daily life.

To guard against this, here are some common ways newcomers to NLP can inadvertently sabotage their relationship when really, they just want it to be better.

Keep in mind that NLP does not hurt your relationships – it’s the way you apply it that influences your choices.

“It’s My Life”

NLP teaches us that it’s okay to consider our own needs. It’s quite a nice lesson to learn in a world where we are encouraged to be all things to everyone else.But in the heady delight of “being honest”, “envisioning our future” and “strategising our dreams”, we can become so orientated towards the new, that we overlook the gems in what we already have. Other things, perhaps even other people, start looking more attractive.

The other side of the coin is that we are considerably shaken by what we have discovered about ourselves and our opportunities. We become emotionally unable to provide reassurance or maintain any semblance of a relationship while we are busy trying to make sense of this new way of thinking.

In both situations, the temptation to put the relationship aside while we focus on ourselves is hard to resist and for some people, it’s the only option they feel they have.

Resist making any big decisions during this time but your partner does need to know what you are going through. If you only ever seek relationship help once in your life, this would be the time to do it. Preferably both of you – together as well as individually.

It’s your personal development, not theirs

If you spend time in a remote part of the world, you’ll return home able to have a good bath using just one jug of water. Just because you can do this, don’t expect your loved one can suddenly do it too – or that she even wants to.

Personal Development programmes, including NLP and EFT amongst others, will open up new ways of thinking and behaving and you’ll be so tempted to “improve” your partner too. Don’t do it! Your course/session has been paced to bring you to where you are now. Your partner hasn’t had that experience and besides, she might be ultra-sensitive to what your change means for her. Top bug-bears for non-NLP people are:

  • “Techniquing” your partner – If she’s upset, don’t immediately SWISH her or ask her to “Tap and accept herself”.  Listen to her and appreciate the opportunity to practice the new listening, pacing and reframing skills you have learnt.
  • Evangelising about how great NLP is – She really doesn’t care. Talk normally about it with a similar level of enthusiasm as you would for any other obsession… err.. I mean interest…  and she may want to know more.

Pressing Buttons

NLP makes you aware of your own buttons, good and bad. You won’t have time on a course to address them properly and even with one-to-one coaching, you’ll only address the ones that reveal themselves in the context of your issue.

Back in the real world, you’ll be tuned into yourself to a higher degree than you were before. When things niggle you, perhaps you’ll interpret them as a sign that the relationship is wrong. But the chances are that a button has been pushed. Personal Development is not limited to training courses or coaching sessions, it goes on every single day and identifying what you have just reacted to is all part of the process.

  • “If I go out, he’ll sulk for days” – You’ve both had buttons pushed. As an NLPer, you probe your deeper mind to find the root of your button. But he doesn’t because it’s like “navel-gazing”. Plus it’s emotionally and mentally draining. Communication is the bedrock of any relationship and once you’ve taken the emotional charge out of your own “It’s not fair that I can’t go out” emotions, you’re better placed to talk to him. Avoiding obvious NLP terminology (it’s grating to hear it), think about what have you learnt through your course or individual coaching sessions that you could apply to have him understand and accept your right to go out.

NLP is cold and emotionless

People commonly complain that NLP is cold and emotionless because it puts a structure to something as ethereal as emotions. The structure provides footholds during personal coaching and self-analysis. However, using clinical words and phrases to non-NLP friends and family is just asking for trouble. Friends and family want to talk about their issues – not have someone whip out a pencil and jot down their submodalities etc.

This is frustrating for an NLPer who knows that the “problem” could be over quickly if the person would just listen to their NLP pearl of wisdom. But they get “Are you NLPing me?”, “Stop NLPing me”, “I’m not doing a technique, it’s artificial”

People want to be understood. People like others taking an interest in them. If you can be genuine about this, then the NLP principles “Every behavior has a positive intention” and “People respond to their experience, not reality itself” take precedence naturally – giving rise to a rapport, pacing and leading that mitigates against any coldness.


Sometimes it is time for people to go their separate ways. Divorce and separation are amongst the most damaging and stressful experiences we can have and NLP can certainly play its part in managing the stress during the various stages of grief.

In a separation, one person often “wants” it more than the other. When you’re the NLPer initiating a break-up, you know how to call on the resources within you that will allow you to do it with integrity and respect.While your partner may not ever approve of or agree with the decision, be respectful, take ownership of your decision and remember the NLP principles that will allow you to act responsibly and kindly. After all, this person played an important part in your life, and to some degree influences the person you have become.

And of course, if there are children involved, your partner will forever be a part of your life and a part of the life of your next partner. A bitter separation will affect your child’s well-being and will also impact the quality of your next relationship.

NLP is more than just a set of techniques. In some ways, it’s like playing tennis for the first time. You’ll miss a lot of balls before you develop a style – but regular practice can turn it into a way of life that becomes richer with every experience.

Can NLP Hurt Your Relationships?

Author: Reeta LuthraArticle Source:

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