With apologies to the Supremes

The Official Sister to the User Manual clued me in on a fabulous term about relationships: HALT.

As in:





In an ad hoc moment of brilliance, my sister added a silent “U” to the acronym, for Uncomfortable.

When we’re in HAULT mode, we’re a few country miles from our best. This is when we hear jokes as insults, when we read into every extra second a text message isn’t returned as a denial of love, when we squirm out of hugs and go hide in front of a TV or at a bar.

Self-destruction is a whole lot easier in HAULT mode. Most references I found on HA(U)LT online focused on substance abuse, but it’s clearly hugely relevant for relationships too.

Like so much in life, it all comes back to Maslow’s hierarchy.


When we can’t cover the basic physiological needs, it’s mega-tough to provide esteem, love, confidence–and reach the Nirvana of self-actualization.

So when you feel electricity snapping across your back or your blood pumping through your lungs, when you’re jammed in traffic or for some reason are really hot, when you just got off a long flight or had a craptastic day at work, when you only got 4 hours of sleep or skipped breakfast, when your fiance is working 6,000 miles away–recognize it. HAULT your soon-to-be-explosive responses before they start.

Tips for me include eating something, exercise, adding or taking off a layer of clothes. At minimum, you always have space for deep breathing

It’s like putting on oxygen masks on flights: you always go first so you can be your best for the people who matter most.