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Seven Steps to ‘Brave Love’

heartToday’s blog comes from Alexandra H. Solomon, PhD, a Staff Therapist at The Family Institute. When selected to deliver the “Last Lecture” to Northwestern University’s graduating class of 2015, she doled out some relationship advice. Dr. Solomon wanted to ensure that these graduates were not only prepared for career success but also for success in love. To be sure they were leaving with a toolkit for their intimate relationships, she offered seven tips to achieve what she calls “Brave Love” — tips that can apply to all of us.

  1. Date with integrity. For many, the end of college means “goodbye hookups, hello first dates!” And it may also mean taking advantage of an online dating app or two. Use technology only as a tool to help meet real, live, 3D people. Please don’t treat it as a game or a shopping app.
  2. Take charge of your happiness. Are you a person who tends to live in the future, saying things like: “Once I’m in a relationship, I’ll be happy” or “Once I lose 10 pounds, I’ll be happy”? If so, stop it. Your happiness starts the moment you claim it. Look for goodness now. Look for the silver lining now. It’s amazing how much beauty can be found even in the midst of mess and stress.
  3. Own your s*%&. If you want a healthy relationship, take responsibility for yourself. It is usually easier to see how your partner is being a jerk than it is to see how you’re being a jerk. Ask yourself what I call the “million dollar question for happiness in love”: “What is it like to be in relation to me right now?” 
  4. Value sex as sacred. One of the most fun parts of being in a committed relationship is exploring sex together. Sexual monogamy can be liberating, fun, deeply intimate, and important to a happy relationship. So do whatever you need to do to be comfortable in your skin and know who you are sexually.
  5. Fight fair. The following things are uncool and cowardly:  yelling, hitting, name calling, the silent treatment, revenge. Don’t do those things. Be honest, be direct, take time to cool off, and say you’re sorry.
  6. Honor your passion. Make sure you have things in your life that make you feel alive. If you love to fish, fish. If you love volleyball, play volleyball. If you love adult hip hop dance class (even if your husband makes fun of you for it), dance away!
  7. Less doing, more being. Be present, be humble, be engaged, and be connected. Put your phone down, and stop comparing this person to whoever else might be out there.

And remember this quote from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Dr. Alexandra H. Solomon is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Assistant Clinical Professor in Northwestern University’s Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MSMFT) program. She has expertise in the areas of couple therapy, individual therapy, families with children who have special needs, and group relations/group dynamics. Dr. Solomon teaches Intimate Relations I in the MSMFT program as well as an innovative and popular course at Northwestern University called “Building Loving and Lasting Relationships: Marriage 101.” This undergraduate course combines traditional and experiential learning to teach students about key relational issues like mate selection, compatibility, conflict, acceptance, and forgiveness, with the ultimate goal of enhancing relationships and preventing problems. She is currently writing a book, Brave, Deep, Intimate: 20 lessons to Get You Ready for the Love of a Lifetime (New Harbinger, February, 2017), about how the key to finding love is “relational self-awareness,” the ability to bring self-awareness, self-respect, and an understanding of how we connect with others to the process of looking for a mate.

To read Dr. Solomon’s full bio or make an appointment, visit our webpage.

The Family Institute offers a wide variety of affordable counseling care that treats whole individuals and their loved ones throughout the Chicagoland area. Find out more on our website.



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