My name is Hanneke (pronounced 'Hahn-nuk-kah').
I have a mind full of knowledge, a shelf full of books, a toolbox full of methods, half a lifetime of experience, and a heart full of empathy.
Should you value it: I also have a pile of diplomas and certificates - including a PhD.
During a process with a really cool career coach, I found that a title that really suits me is 'connection guide'.
I light up when people connect with themselves, others, and the world around us.
And: I know how to get them there.
More about my background
I am trained as an interdisciplinary perception and relationship researcher, a listening coach, an allround relationship counselor, a trauma-informed memory reconsolidation facilitator and non-personal awareness master practitioner. And I regularly soak up new courses to improve my skills as a practitioner (click here for a list of my education and accreditations).
As an experienced qualitative interviewer, I am trained in listening and recognizing and interpreting patterns. I've studied individual decision-making processes and interaction dynamics at a high level, and guided many people through setting up and conducting research.
Next to that - important for this line of work - I am trained and experienced in guiding personal development quests and change processes. For example, as a shadow work facilitator during co-creative retreats that I've co-organized for around a decade. Or helping heartbroken people process their grief and letting go of their ex in healthy ways. Or doing therapeutic interventions to identify and update (or with a fancy word: 'reconsolidate') limiting beliefs.
But first and foremost, I'm a human being! Someone like you. Someone who understands how incredibly lost you can feel on your journey to, through and out of relationships. Because she's been through a lot herself.
My story: from 'relationship failure expert' to securely attached and happily married
My personal journey through relationships oftentimes took me through rather challenging terrain – for both myself and my partners. I went through 35 (yes, really...) shorter and longer relationships and even more unrequited crushes before I got to know myself and my patterns well enough to recognize and let in a person who is right for me.
It wasn't all bad, though! I've had wonderful experiences – with these individuals ánd during the periods when I walked alone. All 35 relationships held significance for me and propelled me forward on my path (even if some frustratingly felt like repeating the same 'loop' time and time again, and others were excruciatingly hard to let go off).
Through the people I encountered, and their (and my own!) emotional and sexual quirks, behavioral and thought patterns, needs and pitfalls, I've got to know large parts of the relationship landscape quite well. Including the mazes of communication; the dark forests of subconscious 'not (yet) knowing'; and - of course - the quicksands of well-intentioned advice...
Those who know me a bit, won't be surprised that I quickly started doing research. After all, I didn't have a difficult childhood, I was smart, resourceful, and solution-oriented. So why did I succeed in academic pursuits, work, and friendships, but not in relationships?
I was determined to figure out what was going wrong – and what I could dó about it!
I delved into attachment styles, parental influence, the contrast between men and women, feminine and masculine energies, emotional intelligence, trauma work, systemic approaches, embodiment practices, shadow work, self-love, fetishes, consent, love languages, saviour syndrome, codependency, inner bonding, boundaries, and so much more. Along with various therapeutic interventions and coping methods.
Every time, I thought 'this is it, things will surely change now!', I'd diligently apply the knowledge, give it my best with all optimism, and... fall flat on my face all over again.
Certainly, some things did genuinely help. Other methods to a certain extent. However, there were also things – even from highly esteemed theories and methods – that did absolutely nothing for me or my situation.
And my friends? They had to pick up the pieces again and again. Just to then try to show enthousiasm when I embarked on another new romance...
I thus gradually realized that no single book, theory, or approach holds all the answers. That not everything works for everyone.
In university, I learned that this is because reality – both in the outside world and within us – is complex and dynamic.
For starters, everyone is unique, and therefore everyone's path is distinct. Nobody has the same background (not even twins) and learns the same lessons. Additionally, everyone encounters different individuals, experiences things differently, gets triggered by various factors, and finds happiness in different ways. On top of that, these things develop over time – and often not in a linear fashion.
Yet, I also learned 'Everything is context-dependent. But that doesn't mean it's arbitrary.' – it turns out there are always patterns to be found.
It is possible, just like navigating through unfamiliar terrain, to use multiple points ('triangulate') to map out your own unique path and discover what works for you. Sometimes there are so many factors influencing something that altering just one of them doesn't help. However, just as trauma can arise in an instant, there are specific (shapable!) circumstances where even the most persistent patterns can transform within a short period of time.
After going through a deep valley of heartbreak in 2015, which I consciously experienced and processed for the first time, something clicked inside me. Things fell into place. I could say that I learned to love myself, and that's true. But it wasn't just that. Love is not enough - not for oneself, and not in a relationship.
I finally saw where I came from and where I wanted to go. And understood that to get there, I had to first consciously know and accept where I was, in every moment...
Not long after, I met Robert-Jan. And not only could I recognize him, but also accept him, allow him, and ultimately, trust him. Of course, we still had a lot to learn about each other (and ourselves), and we continue to do so (most of the time ;-)) in a mature way. It felt surreal to me: I didn't know that a relationship could be so easy and enjoyable at the same time!
Just look at us:
Throughout our relationship, I (we!) continued – and continue – to gain new experiences and insights. For instance, at the beginning, I still had some anxious attachment tendencies (understandably, given all the earlier experiences!), but with every insight and each moment of negotiation, repair and learning, these gradually transformed.
So now I finally have what I wanted: to feel connected, seen, understood, and desired, while also having the space to be ourselves - with all our quirks. We got married in 2017 and are walking our own path, together. In a way that works for both of us.
Wondering what would work for you, and how you could learn to better navigate your relationship path? I'd love to help you find out! Book an Exploration Session.
My Relationship path Mission
Originating from my passion and expertise in working with relationships, the idea for a counseling practice Relatiepad ('Relationship path') came to me in 2021.
My mission also is my passion: helping people find their own path through the complex and adaptive relationship landscape. I think looking at and untangling your relationship path should be as normal as paying attention to your career path - after all, it's at least as beneficial for your quality of life!
So: if you're struggling on the way to a satisfying relationship, for any reason, don't hesitate to reach out. I am here to help you explore what's going on, untangle patterns and rediscover your direction in a way that aligns with you.
For my wish for you is to learn to navigate your path without having to fall and get up 35 times.