The Montfort Group

How Curiosity Can Transform Your Relationship Overnight

“I don’t get this concept of your truth and my truth! Isn’t there just one objective truth?!” Does this statement sound familiar?  I frequently hear some version of it in my office, especially during couples therapy.

Yes, it is true that any interaction presents an objective set of circumstances, someone says or does something which elicits a response. However, we each filter those words and actions through the lens of our individual experiences. Every person has a unique perspective shaped by cultural conditioning, internalized beliefs, and past relationships. So, while we may be facing the same circumstances, we make sense of them differently and our emotional responses could be quite varied. 

Accepting that there is another way of seeing things poses a serious challenge in romantic relationships. We so desperately want to feel connected that we tend to seek complete agreement to achieve closeness. When our partners disagree or respond in unexpected ways, we perceive an existential threat to self and the relationship; insecurities and fears take over and we retreat into self-preserving mode. Instead of trying to understand the other person’s experience, we feel compelled to defend, justify, and in some cases, blame, shame, or stonewall. We get fixated on intentions and lose sight of the emotional impact. What likely started as an attempt to protect the relationship could lead to more disconnection, greater distance, and deeper loneliness. 

So, the next time you and your partner perceive a situation differently, resist the urge to “litigate” the issue. Rather than expend energy to prove your point and convince them they are wrong, get curious.  Being genuinely interested in how your partner feels and thinks and why will help both of you show up for difficult moments with open hearts and minds. The better you get to know each other’s inner worlds, the easier it will be to move past assumptions and judgments and to understand what takes place between you in the context of needs and desires. Adopting a curious mindset helps us accept and respect each other’s perspectives as valid albeit different.

Relationships are not a zero-sum game. We are not trying to pick winners and losers. The goal is to cultivate connection, compassion, and collaboration rather than to convince, coerce, or extract concessions. Curiosity is essential to achieving that. It fosters understanding and creates an environment of safety where everyone’s emotional experiences are honored. When both partners feel loved, seen, and valued in the relationship they experience a deeper sense of connection and more fulfilling lasting intimacy: a win-win.

Here are some ways you can harness the power of curiosity in your own romantic relationship:

  1. Ask open ended questions, e.g. “What do you wish for?”, “What was the highlight/ hardest part of your day?”, “What do you need?”, “How come this is so important to you?”, “What do you mean?”, “How are you feeling?”, “What are you most worried about?”, “What is your goal?”, “Is there a story here?”, etc
  2. Remain engaged, ask follow-up questions, offer reflections “sounds like…”, validate “makes sense that…”
  3. Listen to understand rather than respond – Your job is to witness and learn something new about your partner; if you are thinking about your response and/ or formulating a rebuttal while they are talking, you are not fully present and you won’t be able to provide the empathy and validation needed for connection. 
  4. Body language and tone of voice matter – be gentle and open, make sure you project warmth, patience, and love.
  5. Be curious and open with yourself – with thoughtful self-reflection you can make sense of your own emotional responses and gain deeper understanding of who you are as a partner and who you’d want to be in the future.

Curiosity is a relational superpower which transforms relationships by nurturing empathy and trust, breaking up monotony, and infusing fresh energy into the dynamic for more enriched, meaningful, and intimate partnerships.

Picture of Gergana Markov, MBA, MS, LPC

Gergana Markov, MBA, MS, LPC

I am a National Certified Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Texas. I received my Masters of Science in Counseling from Southern Methodist University and also hold a Masters in Business Administration from Georgia State University. I had a successful career in real estate acquisitions, corporate marketing, and advertising prior to becoming a counselor. My clinical training and experiences include counseling individuals, couples, and groups in various treatment settings, including private practice, community clinics, and hospitals. I am an EMDR trained therapist and utilize trauma-informed interventions in my practice. Additionally, I have specialized training in parent-child dynamics, gender and sexuality issues, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, and Safe Conversations for couples and communities. I am also a passionate LGBTQ+ ally.

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