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Moving Beyond Either/Or Thinking

LindaMost of us have been brought up to think in either/or terms. We may not even realize how much it is costing us to continue these old patterns that dominate our thinking. Either/or thinking separates us from our partner. And seeing ourselves as disconnected from our partner can allow for all manner of justifications and rationalizations that allow us to make decisions of self-interest rather than in the interest of the well being of the relationship. This is not enlightened self-interest. For only those choices that serve us both are the most skillful ones.

Here are some examples:

EITHER she gets her way OR I do. This displays a lack of creative thinking, and a lack of trust that you can brainstorm together to find a mutually satisfying solution.

EITHER his job gets his time and attention OR I do. This is scarcity consciousness based on fear that there’s not enough time and attention to go around.

EITHER you’re at fault OR I am. This does not leave any room for joint responsibility in breakdown.

EITHER your right OR you’re wrong. This kind of black and white thinking doesn’t leave room for shades of gray, which is what most situations are composed of.

EITHER I am a success OR I’m a failure. We are all such a mixed bag and this kind of thinking doesn’t leave room for learning from our mistakes.

EITHER you’re with me OR you’re against me. Such a stance doesn’t leave room for differing points of view that can peacefully co-exist.

EITHER its true OR it’s not. This doesn’t take into account that our subjective truth can look like a universal truth, but only because we are looking at it from a stance of arrogance where we are convinced that we are right.

EITHER I take mine OR someone else will get it. This attitude comes out of anxiety that competition dominates cooperation.

EITHER he loves me OR he doesn’t. Such thinking doesn’t take into account that our partner may have a great deal of love inside that isn’t being expressed the way we need it to be shown to clear up doubts in our mind. It also may not be taking into account that a great deal of love is being shown and that we have trouble taking that love in and being nourished by it.

All of the above examples, and I’m sure that you can think of many from your own life that plague you, are ways that the thoughts in the mind keep us separate from those we love. Rather than being at the mercy of these unexamined thoughts, if we stop to assess them, we have a chance to find out what is really true. We have a chance to move beyond either/or thinking to both/and thinking, from a stance of more separation to more connection.

Once we begin to move beyond either/or thinking, we realize that how we were holding many things before was a manifestation of a less mature thought process and that now we are growing more mature, wiser and acquiring the capacity to hold the tension of the opposites. If we can see situations from a loftier vantage point, there is more spaciousness in our thinking and that immediately translates into the enhancement of our relationships. Instead of the former cramped existence, there is openness, curiosity, and cooperation providing room to learn and grow, the very stuff that great relationships are made of.


Our newest book, That Which Doesn’t Kill Us: How One Couple Got Stronger at the Broken Places, has just been published by Sacred Life Publishers and been receiving rave reviews. Their story is illuminating, instructive, and deeply inspiring. It has been described as being as compelling and engaging as a page-turning novel. The book contains powerful messages that are embedded in its pages that can serve any couple that desires valuable wisdom which can serve them in facing the inevitable challenges that frequently confront many committed partnerships. The book is available online on and Barnes & Noble. You can also receive a signed copy of That Which Doesn’t Kill Us by ordering directly from Bloomwork by calling (831) 421-9822 or emailing us at The cost is $16.95 plus tax, shipping & handling.

Moving Beyond Either/Or Thinking


Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at:

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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2018). Moving Beyond Either/Or Thinking. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Oct 2018
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