The Couple Bubble according to Stan Tatkin

01 April, 2020
Stan Tatkin coined the term “couple bubble” based on a series of principles and keys that allows people to build healthy and safe relationships.

Stan Tatkin is a clinical psychologist who developed the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT). For many years, it focused on the study of people who desire to be a couple and the way in which they build their relationship. This has given way to the concept of the couple bubble.

What’s the couple bubble according to Stan TatkinThis is what you’ll discover throughout this article. Broadly speaking, it refers to those “pacts” that the partners in a relationship form in some way, whether implicitly or explicitly. One example of these pacts is fidelity.

The couple bubble principles

To address the concept of the couple bubble in the way Stan Tatkin conveyed it, you can abide by the book he wrote himself, Wired for Love. This term is explored quite deeply in the book, as it lays out the principles considered to be present in the couple bubble.

One thing Stan Tatkin makes clear from the start is that the couple bubble is something that both partners in a relationship should work towards. Furthermore, serious problems come up in the relationship when the partners are on different levels. In other words, you can’t always keep on giving and never receive. In this type of circumstance, which usually occurs more often than you think, the bubble is sure to rupture.

A couple disagreeing.

1. “You first” doesn’t work

One of the first principles of Stan Tatkin’s couple bubble is that letting your partner make the first move so you can react to it isn’t feasible. To build this bubble, you have to give the best of yourself to guarantee the security, well-being, and happiness of those who share the bubble with you.

Furthermore, with this unconditional giving always aligned with your values, you’ll have the opportunity to see how the other person is acting. Are they breaking the bubble? Are they doing their part to build it up?

2. Feeling secure as a couple

This is another principle that Stan Tatkin talks about in his book. There should be smooth communication in order to know how to provide a sense of security both partners in a relationship need. Also, this is where some fears and past experiences can affect future relationships.

For example, if one member of a relationship has suffered from infidelity, they may need certain proof that this won’t occur in the relationship they’re in now. Whatever must be done to achieve this security is something their partner must agree to do.

3. Don’t burst the bubble

The third principle is to avoid breaking the bubble you’re trying to build with your partner. How can you achieve this? By keeping the other person in mind, making them feel important, and giving them quality time and a necessary sense of security to build a foundation of trust.

When certain reprimands such as “You never think about me”, “You’re always with your friends”, or “You aren’t the same person I met” show up in relationships, this should alert you. The couple bubble is about to burst, and you must make a decision about it. If you don’t figure out what’s wrong, the bubble could break.

A couple at risk of bursting the couple bubble.

4. Protecting the bubble

This is the final principle in maintaining the couple bubble. However, as Stan Tatkin shows in his book, this doesn’t mean that couples should become codependent. Quite the opposite, in fact. A healthy relationship that builds a healthy bubble advocates for closeness and independence at the same time. 

The couple bubble is a space in which the partners in a relationship feel protected and secure. They know they can count on the other person because they give and receive equally. They’re each other’s priority even in the most difficult times and they work things out through active listening and good communication.

When a relationship has this bubble, it doesn’t mean that partners are closed off to just each other, forgetting about other relationships. Just the opposite. In fact, they build a space to protect themselves and grow, a space where independence and closeness are present. When this bubble ceases to exist, the relationship is no longer healthy. Are you building your couple bubble?

“We learn to love ourselves precisely because we have experienced being loved by someone. We learn to take care of ourselves because somebody has taken care of us.”

-Stan Tatkin-