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Finding the raw spots

Published 24.02.2022 - Produced by Väestöliitto the Family Federation of Finland in collaboration with the Finnish Association of Couple Therapy , psychologist Lotta Heiskanen , Family Federation of Finland
We all have our raw spots, deeply painful and tender spots in our emotional skin. They stem from our character, previous life experiences, and disappointments with a partner or partners.

Raw spots

In a safe relationship, you can talk to you partner honestly, even about painful issues. Both partners can support and comfort each other in matters like this. This will reinforce their mutual trust. If a couple doesn’t recognize each other’s raw spots, or they don’t know how to comfort each other when they’ve touched the partner’s raw spot, they can easily drift into hostility and a negative cycle. Often when you’re in the middle of an argument or withdrawal, you may unintentionally touch on your partner’s raw spot. When this happens, your or your partner’s reaction may seem out of proportion, hot-headed or confusing. That’s when you can easily drift into defensiveness and start demanding, attacking, belittling, or withdrawing.

Most often raw spots relate to a feeling of being emotionally deprived or deserted. You may notice on the videos that, for example, Minttu’s raw spot is the feeling of being left alone, abandoned, and excluded. Sampo’s raw spot is the feeling that he’s not enough for Minttu.

If we reveal our raw spots, we may fear that it makes us vulnerable to being hurt by our partner. We may fear that others will despise us for this vulnerability. The problem is that our partner can’t help us with our raw spots if we never talk about them. Revealing our vulnerability takes courage.

Exercises

Recognizing raw spots as they surface in a relationship

There are certain situations in a relationship when a partner touches a raw spot you have. These may include your partner’s criticism, inattentiveness, or absence. These may include you feeling neglected, ignored, or dismissed.

During an argument or moment of withdrawal and disconnection, do you recognize a specific trigger or moment that makes you feel particularly vulnerable or guarded? For example, “He/she is late”.

What are the worst thoughts that may pop into your mind at a moment like that? What is the worst, most catastrophic thought you have about your partner, yourself, and your relationship? For example, “He/she doesn’t care”, “I’m going to fail”, or “At this rate, we’re going to split up.”

Choose a word from the list below that best describes the softer feelings you have in a situation like this.

During an argument or moment of withdrawal and disconnection, I feel

  • Lonely
  • Worthless
  • Scared
  • Hopeless
  • Panicked
  • Inadequate
  • Ashamed
  • Like a failure
  • Isolated
  • Unimportant
  • Unwanted
  • Dismissed
  • Helpless
  • Hurt
  • Intimidated
  • Rejected
  • Sad
  • Frustrated
  • Confused
  • Disappointed
  • Vulnerable
  • Worried

Do you show that you’re feeling like this to your partner? If not, what feeling do you usually show him or her? Share your answer with your partner.

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