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May 17 2010

Personal Stuff

Published by

Philip Belove, M.A., Ed.D.

(802)254-6221, e-mail:

Who I am and How and Why I developed

Reading and Righting Relationships.

In this short essay I’m going to tell you something about where I come from and why I’ve invested my heart in this work.  Then I’ll tell you what I am certain is the secret of success in making a relationship work. It’s a few paragraphs down and in bold face.  Finally, at the end, I summarize the nuts and bolts, my  education and credentials.

People go into their professions for personal reasons. Whatever work we learn to do, it’s often work we’re drawn to. There’s something about it that fascinates us. I went into psychology because I was fascinated by relationships. One of my earliest memories is lying in bed and listening through the walls in the night to one of my parent’s arguments and trying to figure out what was going on.  To be fair to them, I also remember lying in bed late at night and hearing my fathers low rumble of a voice and then my mother’s laughter. But the fascination was the same: How did that relationship work?

It gets deeper.  Alice Miller, German Psychoanalyst, wrote a book called, The Drama of the Gifted Child. It was required reading in graduate school because it was about why people like us would want to become psychologists, therapists, or analysts.  In a sense, she said that there was a recipe.  First you had to be a sensitive kid. What happened had to hit your feelings hard.  Second you had to come from a somewhat dysfunctional family.  The people around you had to be a bit dishonest with themselves about what they were feeling and doing to each other.  Finally, instead of running or attacking, you had to be the kind of person who said to himself (or herself) “What is really going on with these people? What is the truth here?”  And if all those things were true, and if you were obsessed enough with what was really going on and how to make things better, then you’d grow up and become an analyst.  That’s me.  Just look at the picture of the kid on the chair.

Sixty years later I’m still fascinated by relationships, still trying to find a deeper, clearer, more accurate understanding about why they work as they do, and also to find more and more effective ways to shape them into something of beauty.  I became a psychologist in 1978 with a focus on marriage and family. Since the mid-1990’s I’ve been online as Dr. Belove (my real family name.) with a specialty in mid-life relationships.  With my late second wife, Sue Price, I created a website called “” By 2010, I’d worked with about 3500 people answering questions and collecting their stories, seeing how all those different relationships worked, and helping them break upward to the next level of whatever their relationship wanted to be.

Now I’ll share with you what I think is the key secret.  I wasn’t promising to help someone create the love for all eternity.  I don’t think that’s a promise anyone can deliver on.  A relationship is like a child. It has a life and soul of its own. All you can do is help it stay true to itself and be what it wants to be.  And just as it would be in guiding a child, the way to make things better is one step at a time.

Knowing how to go one step at a time is the most important thing I’ve ever learned. That’s because it’s not until you take that one step that you can see what the next step needs to be. This is true for a number of reasons. For one thing, when you do take the step, new options open. Second, if you don’t take that next step, options close down.

I came of age in the sixties and I remembered that song: “You Can’t Hurry Love.”  The song went on: “You just have to wait. Love don’t come easy. It’s a game of give and take.” This seemed to me that the secret to successful relationship coaching.  Help the partners figure out what the relationship wanted from then in terms of that next step.  Figure out the next step in the right direction. Go from a to b, not from a to c or d. Do the next right thing. See what reaction you get. Then decide the next right thing.   To know the next right thing you have be able to see where the relationship is standing already.  One step at a time.

Relationships are an improvised dance and these are created one step at a time.  You have to read and respect what’s going on in both of you, in the partnership now before you try to take it somewhere new.

Relationships do have a mind of their own and they have a way of making deep demands on us which we can not easily ignore.  You don’t always know what will happen down the line.  You and the partners often don’t know whether the friendships will continue, or deepen, or dribble out or end bitterly.  The relationship tests them both and makes them reveal deeper aspects of their character to each other.  Sometimes, even often, if they handle things right, they end up more deeply committed to each other.

So that’s what I do. I help people read their relationships. That comes first. If they’ve misanalyzed the problem, then their solution will only make the problem worse. They will be even more out of balance.  And that can happen sometimes.  Then it’s more complicated and tangled. They have to correct the wrong solution and then figure out how to right the relationship. So much depends on an accurate reading of the challenge. Eventually, if things get bad enough, and if the relationship is important enough, people will call in an outside expert, someone like me.

It’s a strange thing. These people who have interacted with each other for months or years, who know the ten thousand small things about each other, ask me, a total stranger, completely new to their situation, for help in figuring things out and I am often effective. How can that be?

That’s because I’ve learned so much from others I’ve worked with.  Most of us prefer to learn from other people’s mistakes and successes.  Surgeons get trained by watching more experienced surgeons at work. One time I was in a class in how to draw. We were all beginners and the man at the table with me worked very slowly and never used his erasure. On the third day I asked him what he did for work and he said he was a retired cosmetic surgeon. You never want to hear your surgeon say “oops!”

You can learn from your own mistakes.  For each of us, there are lessons which really can’t be learned any other way.  In fact, no one is successful without a few mistakes.  At the same time learning only from your mistakes is an expensive way to learn because you and your partner do have to pay for your mistakes.

When relationship partners come to me for help they have access to the trial and error experience I’ve collected from so many other people. Often I don’t make suggestions; I just give a structure to the problem.  I connect the dots. I find a pattern in all the small pieces. I help them read the relationship.  There really are only a handful of basic themes.   We all know this is in a vague way. After seeing a few thousand stories, I know it in a more precise way and by the time you’ve read this book, you’ll also know it in a more precise way.

My goal here is to share with you some of the tools I’ve developed.  These tools should help you read the relationships you are in. Then you can use them to help yourself.  You can also use them to help your friends. You know the old saying, “Give a person a fish and that person can eat for that day; teach that person to fish and they can eat for their lifetime.”  I’m writing this material with a similar idea in mind.

Professional Disclosure and Credentials
Professional Qualifications and Experience:

B.S. Marketing. Northwestern University, Evanston Illionis, 1964
M.A. Marketing (partial) Northwestern University, Evanston Illinois, 1965
M.A. Counseling Psychology. Alfred Adler Institute of Chicago. 1978
Ed.D. Consulting Psychology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1986

1987 to Present. Psychologist in Private Practice:
Vermont Licensed in 1987

Dating and Relationship formation for single adults between the ages of 40 and 60. Since 1997 I have been conducting academic and field research in this area. Specific academic areas I have investigates include the following: Adult Cognitive, Emotional and Ego Development. Relationship Development. Adult Motivation. Human Sexuality. Gender Theory. Human verbal and non-verbal communication. Men’s Studies. Conflict Resolution. Marriage and Family Theory. In addition, I have conducted focused interviews with several hundred single adults. All this has been in addition to information I’ve gained in some 20 years of private practice.  Beyond that I have been an expert on in two categories, dating at midlife, which I initiated, and divorce.

Love Tangles. In 2009, with Marilyn Bronstein, in Montreal, I began to develop a radio show/podcast called Love Tangles, which “investigates the intricate and intimate challenges of a Love Relationship. The show features in-depth interviews with various couples and commentary.

Must Love Dogs, Warner Bros. I was invited by Warner Bros. and Director Gary David Goldberg, to consult on his script for “Must Love Dogs.” where I received a screen credit.

Human Communication. From 1994 to 2004  I been designed and taught courses in Human Communication for Keene State College. The principle course I teach is called Principles of Communication. I also taught a course called Interpersonal Communication and one called, Communication between Men and Women.

Academic Teaching Experience
For Keene State College, 1994 to 2004.
Courses include Principles of Communication, Interpersonal Communication,
Communication between Men and Women.

For Antioch New England Graduate School, 1996,
as substitute Adjunct Faculty:
Personality Theory and Introduction to System Theory.

For University of Massachusetts at Amherst, as Instructor.
Fundamentals of Counseling and Theories of Personality. 1981, 1982

For College of St. Michael at Albany
through Richard Bolton as Adjunct Professor.
Behavior Management in the Classroom. 1979-1980.

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Personal Stuff”

  1. Elsaon 03 Jul 2011 at 8:50 am

    Hi Philip, I especially appreciate the point about focussing on figuring out – and doing – the next step. I’ve experienced just how much one next step can change. It can bring us to a whole new landscape.

  2. drbeloveon 03 Jul 2011 at 9:16 am

    Yes. And the sometimes the next step can be very very small, as long as it is significantly new.

  3. Elsaon 03 Jul 2011 at 8:56 am

    Hi, I had another comment, but it got forgotten with the other later comment that came to mind. This is on all the ingredients that draw one to becoming an analyst or therapist. “If all those things were true, and if you were obsessed enough with what was really going on and how to make things better, then you’d grow up and become an analyst.”

    My experience: there can be other outcomes. One can be attracted to learning lots of psychological knowledge and incorporate it into the many part of our lives – so I’ve developed a course on Knowing the Inner Self – but more draw on all I’ve learned in so many areas of my life, including trying to make sense of the dynamics of social movements, etc.

  4. drbeloveon 03 Jul 2011 at 9:15 am

    I didn’t mean to imply that therefore the person will become an analyst. I was quoting, also. But the process does incline one to being an analyst and if, like me, you become one (or it’s equivalent) then you do probably have this goad in your background. You have the temperament, the inclination toward kindness, caretaking and wisdom, and you have the challenge and voila! Souffle.

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