Being misunderstood creates the frustration, shame, or anger that we have all felt at one time or another. Communicating our passions, whether intellectual or emotional, feels almost impossible when we're misperceived, especially when the relationship stakes are high. Arguments ensue when others make incorrect inferences about our intended message or operate on assumptions before we've even completed our thought. And as a listener, we can perpetuate the same pain by interrupting or by ignoring the other's perspective. Whether we're presenting our view or listening to the position of another, exercising our understanding lets us sympathetically grasp and tolerate other people's feelings.
Misunderstandings can occur in a relationship when we take our partner for granted and don't extend the same graciousness and forgiveness to him or her that we freely give others. We thoughtlessly trample on a partner's opinions when we presume to know what she or he is going to say before it's said. This dismissive attitude diminishes a person's sense of worth, makes him or her lose respect for us and, inevitably, destroys sexual attraction. When we make the effort instead to comprehend our partner's perception, we transmit the clear message that he or she matters deeply to us.
To be really interested in your lover means to pay close attention to what she or he says and does. By staying curious and asking questions about his or her points and positions, you gain a deeper understanding of who your partner is and, therefore, of your relationship. This practice of understanding, rather than reacting, when relations are difficult creates a vital energy between you and kindles an implicit knowledge of each other. Soul-to-soul, body-to-body understanding transcends words and may be the stuff that chemistry is made of--and it's the kind of chemical bonding you can practice.