Becoming Relational

"Never in a million years would I have thought of saying one of these things, and Nancy had a whole book of them ... Her thinking inspired my own thinking on the nature of relationship repair .... Brilliant!"

John Gottman, Ph.D., couples therapist and researcher quoted in Principia Amoris (2014).

"All being is in a state of becoming. But that does not mean becoming perfect—but rather … becoming more You." adapted from The Nature of Personal Reality

by Jane Roberts.


Have you been working earnestly on becoming “more You,” but noticing that being truer to yourself hasn’t necessarily led you to the intimacy you hoped for or even a relationship in which to practice?

I’m Nancy Dreyfus and in the spirit of what I’m here to teach, I want to acknowledge that for a good part of my life, I hadn’t a clue myself as to how to come up with any of those things you see here as the streaming messages* John Gottman was referring to. Most people don’t.

Those messages are more than "sharing feelings.” Without fanfare, they signal something about our underlying connectedness. They suggest the awareness that there are two realities at play. Even “You’re being a bully” has a warmth to it, because the speaker is relating to the alleged offender, not complaining about them. When you are in a relational space, it doesn’t matter so much whether I’m holding you accountable or I’m calling myself out, who screwed up or who proved nicer. It’s the truth-telling that’s nourishing.

I'm here to help both The Unpartnered and The Partnered recover a profound awareness whose absence has kept this level of connecting hard to create. It has little to do with finding the right words. It has a lot to do with discovering that when your own insides and outer expression aren’t in alignment, that disconnection will be mirrored in your relationship life. For most of us, “relating” has meant either attempting to get through to someone or keeping someone from wanting too much of us. Though these agendas have their place, I’m inviting you to lose interest in them for a while, and play around with this one: I’m liking you because I’m liking the me that shows up when I’m around you. I call this Becoming Relational because we’re finally at the place you’ve been seeking but hadn’t quite named: I’m relating to myself in your presence.

I grew up in a family where there was non-stop emoting but very little real contact. I entered adulthood with blackbelts in making nice and becoming relentless. I’d look at couples and actually wonder: How do they even know what to say to each other? So, like many of you, I spent years in therapy, learning to be more vulnerable and more spacious. excavating my authentic voice and bringing that voice to situations previously considered fraught. I became a world-class listener, a world-class sharer and a recognized communication expert. Yet, something was still not feeling right between me and the world.

I discovered that one can be expressive, stand up for oneself, be incredibly kind and a genuinely insightful communicator…and still be holding onto enormous shame about one’s deep yearning to be tenderly related to. This is the place where I believe I can help facilitate a breakthrough for you.

* these messages form the basis of Nancy's book, Talk To Me Like I'm Someone You Love

book cover - talk to me like im someone you love
"Nancy Dreyfus has changed my life for the better more than any professional I've worked with. In my time with her I was lovingly held, deeply seen, fiercely challenged and called into my own Bigness.
     When you work with Nancy, you get access to the clarity and mastery that comes from her decades as a professional clinician. But, more than that, you get access to a human being who is brave and vulnerable enough to practice in relationship with you what she preaches about relationality, which is uncommon and priceless when it comes to healing one's own long-held unhealthy relational patterns."

Jay Fields, M.A., E-RYT, somatic educator and coach, Ohai, California

"A number of years ago my couples therapist said to me, “Why don’t you call Nancy Dreyfus? She’s not for everyone, but I think she might be for you.” My life took a different path from that day—more heart and less head, more listening and less struggling, and more felt presence to partners, kids, friends, colleagues… and to myself. Nancy pushed me to a more vulnerable self with insight, readings, practices and her own earnest example. I keep a quote of hers above my desk as a reminder: Standing up for yourself is a pale substitute for being yourself.'"

Ben J., Silicon Valley Engineering Leader

Working with Nancy

My approach may be what you’ve been looking for you if….

  1. You often know what you want to express, but end up diluting or de-railing your message anyway.
  2. You’ve gotten good at vulnerably sharing difficult things but lose your ground when you get a less than receptive response. 
  3. You and a loved one theoretically support the idea of emotional honesty, but in practice, it’s not bringing you closer.
  4. Deep down something feels flat or false for you in a platonic or romantic relationship, and you’re aware of a bandwidth of pretend you don’t know what to do with.
  5. You are an adult who would like a session or two with a parent with whom it’s been hard to be yourself.
  6. You feel like you’ve been working on yourself forever and wonder why you haven’t been able to manifest a partner to share the journey.