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16 Ways to Hold that Tension

Linda: Conscious love requires us to come out from behind the security of our manufactured image, and bring a high level of authenticity into our life. This requires us to be fearless yet tender, committed yet open, engaged yet not attached, powerful yet yielding, and strong yet vulnerable. To fully love, we must cultivate the ability to hold the tension of the opposites because love is inclusive, not exclusive, and it can be fierce in its demands. It invites us into the space beyond the duality of separation or enmeshment and challenges us to surrender the defenses that prevent us from deeply connecting with others.

To become a more loving person, it is necessary to find out what is really true about love from our own experience, not from what has been handed to us or from the beliefs that we may have picked up along the way. Here are a few examples of ways that we separate rather than include. See if you can relate to any of them.

I Can Be                                                While Being

Fully committed to you                        Free to be me

Generous to you                                   Self-caring

Powerful                                                Vulnerable

A risk-taker                                           Cautious and calculating

Cooperative with your plan                True to my beliefs

Frightened                                            Committed to change

Admiring of your gifts                          Aware of weakness           

Transparent                                          Respectful of my privacy

Responsible and cautious                    Spontaneous

Angry at you                                         Deeply loving of you

Flexible                                                  Not stretching too far

Reject some of your behaviors            Loving who you are

Aware of trouble coming                     Hope for the best outcome

Aware of my weaknesses                    Owning strengths

In disagreement with your ideas        Respecting your truths

In the mystery of not knowing            Holding a vision

Please do not be limited to this list. There may be others that occur to you. By stretching to become a bigger person, we can become inclusive of the seemingly opposite beliefs and attitudes. This process of becoming inclusive is evolving into a more loving human being. And if loving another person is, as Rilke says, the final test and “that for which all other work is but preparation,” we see what our work is.

We cannot be a capable lover until we have established an accepting relationship with ALL parts of ourselves, including those aspects of our personalities and those of others that we deem unlovable. Practicing holding the tension of the opposites is a direct path to becoming a more fully loving person. Investing time and energy in a commitment to developing the capacity to become more fully loving will bring forth a greater return in terms of our quality of life than anything else we could do.


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16 Ways to Hold that Tension


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. (2020). 16 Ways to Hold that Tension. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 7, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Jun 2020
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.