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Rapport

Rapport

Living from love is above all about relationship. It requires both accurate tracking of other people’s actions and being, accurate declarations of our own feelings, ambitions, thoughts and intentions, and negotiation of what each of these may mean in practice.

Calling this rapport, as I do, emphasizes the extent to which this quality of relating is made and remade as time and distraction erode it. A closeness with friends or relatives who we value and perhaps love is likely to fade unless we, and they, stay in touch in some way.

As with several other elements of living from love, rapport is not a state of grace that we acquire, or a god-given blessing, so much as the outcome of recurring dialogue, or gifting and receiving.

Perhaps reflecting continuing patriarchal social relations, rapport can seem to be primarily a feminine quality; a vehicle for womanly solidarity, in contrast to what Deborah Tannen has called ‘report talk’ the male competitive exchange of stories of challenges met or pending.

Many men, and I used to be among them, tend to see womanly rapport talk as rooted in triviality, and sometimes a sisterly clinging together in the face of male bullying. They miss the point that the over-arching purpose of rapport talk is to build or sustain connection. Report talk, with it’s subtext of competition and dominance, the implication that what I did is bigger, better, or more profitable, tends to disconnect.

Living from love requires that the quality of connection, the rapport between us takes priority, even if only marginally, over the content of what we exchange with the beloved. A core task of living from love is constantly paying attention to this balance, is it being maintained? What would it take to rebuild it?

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This document was last modified on 2005-11-02 08:09:25.