‘Moving Towards’ in Relationships

Karen Horney, a major psychological theorist of the twentieth century, wrote about three general “movements” that people engage in when relating to others.  These are movement towards, movement away, and movement against. How we engage in each of these movements is important, because they can either be healthy or unhealthy. For example, moving against can help a person develop a sense of personal control and identity, but it can also lead to aggression; moving away can help a person develop competency and individuality, but it can also lead to isolation; and moving towards can lead to connection and interdependence, but also neediness and anxiety.

Moving towards is the foundational movement of romantic and family relationships.  It is impossible to have depth of connection without moving towards another person.  One way to increase the chance that moving towards someone will result in healthy connection is an attitude of what I call “vulnerable engagement”.  At it’s most extreme, this attitude mirrors how you might approach an injured wild animal: you become as nonthreatening as possible while still moving towards and you expect that you might elicit a negative response.  In approaching an animal, you become nonthreatening by crouching down, moving slowly, and speaking softly. In a relationship, you speak softly and start by talking about your own experience and emotions. An animal might have a negative response of biting or scratching, but a negative response from a person when you are trying to move toward them is that they move away or move against.  

The movement away or against can be subtle or forceful, but it is negative because it precludes the connection that you are trying to achieve.  This is the vulnerable part of the engagement. It hurts when you try to connect with someone and they turn against you or pull away. If you then react to defend yourself because you are hurt then it justifies the defensive posture the other person took in pushing you away. It is very hard to not respond defensively when someone hurts you and a defensive response can be the right response in many situations but remember that in this instance you have initiated the interaction because you want to connect with the other person.  One thing that helps me in this sort of situation is knowing that moving against and moving away are important. I want the people I love to have their own identity and individuality. When I can accept that sometimes those movements need to be directed towards me, I can let it go and try to connect in another way or at a different time. As that goes on, the other person’s needs for those negative responses diminishes and I find that my movement towards them is more often met by a movement towards me and we are able to meet in the middle. I find that depth of relationship to be worth the vulnerability and pain of the times we fail to connect.


End-of-school roundup


The countdown has begun! As you gear up for finals, graduation, and summer fun, here's a look back at our posts for the past two years on making the most out of your summer!

On Getting Through the End of School

On Making the Most of Summer

Don't forget to check out some of our favorite camps this summer! Girls Rock Austin and Creative Action have some of the best opportunities for teen girls that we've seen. Good luck as you approach finals! Remember, summer fun is just around the corner...

smart girls in austin!

Smart Girls MantraWe've mentionedAmy Poehler's Smart Girlsbefore (and are lucky to have one of the creators, Meredith Walker, right here in Austin), and this year they've teamed up with Creative Action to offer a summer program unlike any other!

The Smart Girls Youtube channel offers Ask Amy video chats addressing teen issues like body image, identity, friendship and more. The Smart Girls website has tons of resources and blogs by and for tween and teen girls. Their mission? To encourage girls to be themselves. Now that's a message we can get behind!

The summer program takes place June 16-27 at St. Andrew's Episcopal School. The cost is $495, but scholarships are available for up to 15 girls! The collaboration with Creative Action is a match made in heaven, as this local nonprofit has been encouraging girls and boys for years to celebrate creativity and why being different is a good thing.

This camp will immerse girls in multimedia art projects, introduce them to women leaders in many different fields, and help them tap into what makes them unique! If we could go back to high school for the summer, you would definitely find us there. Sign up today!

SXSW and Spring Break

Spring Break!?!?! Okay, though the weather might not be indicating any signs of Spring in our future, we still get a break from school next week (thank goodness!). SXSW also offers popular events during this time, and there are many tween and teens appropriate activities that we want to bring to your attention...along with other Austin fun! 

The annual kite festival was rained out last Sunday so it is on for THIS Sunday (March 9th) at Zilker Park. Bring a picnic blanket, kite and friends to hopefully enjoy some sunshine and warmth! (Did you know that this festival has been going on since 1929?!?!)

Next on the list is a free SXSW workshop for young girls! This AWESOME workshop is co-presented by Amy Poehler's Smart Girls and Austin Bat Cave. It is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring journalists!

Moms and Dads may be interested in the documentary film 'Beginning With the End'. The film follows a group of diverse teenage girls who receive training to work as volunteers in hospice, caring and aiding the dying elderly. also offers a list of Spring Break camps and activities offered to a wide variety of ages! We give two thumbs up to GenAustin's We Are Girls Spring Break Camp!

Whatever you do this Spring Break, be sure to enjoy your time and find moments of RELAXATION! Don't feel the need to fill every minute with something to do...sometimes the greatest thing to do is NOTHING!

Girls Rock!


This weekend Blake had the privilege of participating in a 3-day fundraiser event for Girls Rock Camp Austin, a local nonprofit that offers empowerment to girls ages 10-17 through music education and performance. We've mentioned GRCA before, and we are big fans of the amazing work they do to support teen girls in gaining skills, confidence, passion and community

The dedicated volunteers coordinate a yearly Ladies Rock Camp weekend to raise money to fund scholarships for girls to attend their summer camps. This was Blake's first year to participate, and both Blake & Tracy are already talking about signing up next year! It was a truly inspiring weekend that reinforced GirlTalk Therapy's support of GRCA's mission and values. 

Thank you to all the women who made this weekend possible, who promote music education and empowerment to girls throughout the year, and who help women and girls challenge themselves to take risks, make mistakes, live with confidence and rock out! Here's where you can contribute to keep Girls Rock Camp Austin thriving!