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Tackling the ‘Silent Agreements’ that Ruin Relationships

Romantic relationships can be tough. 

From TV and movies to books, there’s no shortage of tumultuous love stories everywhere one looks. But a new book is tackling the “silent agreements” and “ unspoken expectations” that stifle these relationships.

In Silent Agreements: How to Free Your Relationships of Unspoken Expectations, Hostos Community College Professor Linda Anderson and colleagues not only identify where these “silent agreements” come from, they provide a step-by-step guide to work through them. 

“Silent agreements are the unspoken ‘rules’ of your relationships,” the authors write. “They grow from the assumptions, expectations, and beliefs that you don’t talk about, but still hold others accountable for. They show up in every kind of relationship.”

With chapters like “Silent Agreements About Sex” and “Silent Agreements About Health,” the self-help book addresses these “unspoken rules” in several areas of romantic life. The authors note that the silent agreements one brings into relationships are often the result of a person’s earliest relationships — during childhood — influencing one’s conscious and unconscious motives.

“When two people bring internalized remnants of different early experiences to their adult relationships, you can imagine the opportunities for misaligned notions about how to interact with each other and interpret each other’s behavior,” the authors continue.

The book offers a toolkit to help individuals unpack the silent agreements they’ve made with themselves and how to manage those agreements in relationships.

“The first phase is an identification and discernment phase around, do I have silent agreements? We all have silent agreements,” Anderson said recently on the “Motherhood Unstressed” podcast. 

“The silent agreements start with ourselves. We all make them, usually with ourselves, in our own heads. Because it’s so much easier to agree with what we already believe to be true.”

But there is hope for those looking to maintain healthy romantic relationships. Silent Agreements explores how unexpressed assumptions can damage relationships, and what to do about it. 

Anderson wrote the book with Sonia Banks and Michele Owens.

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Work By

Linda Anderson (Professor, Psychology) | Profile 1

Colleges and Schools

Hostos Community College

Bonus Content

"Home > News Linda Anderson’s New Self-Help Book on Relationships Published" (Hostos Community College)
"Motherhood Unstressed" (Relationship Rescue: Understanding Silent Agreements + How to Break the Cycle of Unspoken and Sometimes Harmful Expectations in Your Relationships with Dr. Linda Anderson)