Cultivate Romantic Intelligence

Moving From Fear to Love

2016 – Date to be announced – Esalen Institute – Big Sur, CA

Developing Romantic Intelligence – the ability to engage in a loving, long-term romantic relationship – involves learning to express affection, tenderness, kindness, and sexual love, as well as identifying who is a safe, loving person to connect with. It also entails uncovering and transforming our childhood defenses — fear, withdrawal, anger, and criticism — which kept us safe as children but no longer work in adulthood.

This workshop draws from attachment theory, mindfulness, somatic awareness, family systems, and relational Gestalt. In a supportive, safe environment, we will utilize experiential exercises and small group work, journaling, expressive arts, and movement to help you:

  • Understand where you are on the attachment spectrum
  • Develop somatic awareness of fear, ambivalence, and avoidance
  • Relax deeply into your core self as you develop love, kindness, and acceptance for yourself and others
  • Identify and defuse your inner critic
  • Recognize body language that sends non-verbal, stay-away messages
  • Practice compassionate assertiveness to speak your truth, and listening skills so you may hear others
  • Develop courage and resilience to reach past doubt and anxiety to risk connecting with others, and self-soothing skills to manage disappointment
  • Expand your inner and outer resources to create an emotionally abundant everyday life
  • Prepare a post-Esalen plan to continue the important recovery work you have begun

This workshop is for single adults only and is not suitable for couples. Please bring a journal and the willingness to be surprised and challenged.

In the hands, hearts and minds of these two erudite and well-seasoned practitioners, the robustness of attachment theory as a vehicle for understanding ourselves in relationship is palpably revealed. Real-time changes for the better in interpersonal interactions were attained by myself and were observed across the roster of my workshop co-participants.

To their credit, like the best of mentors and teachers, Michael and Frances repeatedly reprioritized the items on their syllabus to meet the organically arising needs and interests of workshop participants. I traveled from my home in Rhode Island specifically to participate in this workshop. To say that I have no regrets is nowhere near generous enough.  – BT

Feedback - Workshop Participant, Esalen 2014

Recommended reading:

Attached: The new science of adult attachment and how it can help you find –and keep– love. Levine & Heller. Tarcher Penguin.

Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Goleman. Bantam Books.

Meeting Your Half Orange: An utterly upbeat guide to using dating optimism to find your perfect match. Spencer. Running Press Book Publishers

Social Intelligence: The new science of human relationships. Goleman. Bantam Books

The Likeability Factor. Saunders. Crown Publishing House; Random House.

CE credit for MFTs and LCSWs;

What is Romantic Intelligence?

We think of romantic intelligence as a series of complex but decipherable emotional and social skills which relatively securely attached people are able to develop from their earliest interactions with their emotionally safe caretakers and families. It involves being able to trust other people – to feel safe being and staying close to them. It also involves exploration of the world, maintaining one’s sense of self with others, and emotionally connected sex. Romantic love also involves expanding into a new and expanded sense of oneself. Integrating a partner into one’s life leads to new and amplified possibilities for both people.

The focus of this workshop is learning to feel safer being close to others, making it easier to develop intimate long-term romantic relationships, as well as deepening other relationships.

In this five-day workshop, you will gather information and learn skills to assess where you are in your journey towards loving relationship.

It’s both helpful and challenging to identify where you are on the attachment spectrum. It is useful to know whether and how you avoid relationships or how you rush headlong into them to manage your anxiety.

Using Expressive Arts, we will explore the reasons we avoid intimacy and closeness. Many of us have suffered from emotional disruptions in early parent-child relationships that make it difficult to develop adult long-term romantic partnerships. Some people come from cultures with arranged marriages and may have not experienced a well-functioning romantic partnership between their parents.

Using experiential exercises, we will look at the ways we stay safe, avoiding closeness and connection. We will also identify body language that sends non-verbal “stay-away messages” and develop awareness of how we unconsciously prevent ourselves from approaching others.

Working with body-centered approaches, we will begin the process of developing assertiveness and flexible boundaries. Assertiveness and likeability are important to regaining a strong sense of self, vital to the experience of being a loving and lovable person. Resilience and the ability to manage disappointment are fundamental to expanding into new relational experiences.

This is a journey of recovery. And as in all forms of recovery, whether emotional, relational or physical, taking charge and committing to your own life and your emotional, physical and spiritual growth is crucial.

At the end of the workshop, we hope you will have created a post-Esalen plan for the next stage of your recovery.

We look forward to working with you. We hope to see you there.


Copyright by Frances Verrinder and Michael Griffith (2003, 2006, 2012, 2014, 2015). All rights reserved.