What is a Negative Anchor? (And how did kissing become yuck?)

Photo by Rudi Fargo on Unsplash

It was early in our relationship when I had my first experience with collapsing anchors (I’ll explain that more as we go). I threw out Jimmy T’s deodorant. I waited till he went to work and then quietly, stealthily, snuck out to the bin and hid it under some stinky rubbish.

See, I have been telling him for a while that I didn’t like it. That it smelt yuck. But he would respond by telling me that it was his favourite because he could wear it at work, all day, underground, sweating and getting his man on and still smell clean(ish) by the end of the day.

What he didn’t understand was that I, like Pavlovs dogs, was being conditioned to a (less than desirable) response. Stick with me…

Pavlovs dogs:

Hears bell – meat powder in mouth – drools
Hears bell – meat powder in mouth – drools
Hears bell – Meat powder in mouth – drools
Hears bell – drools.


Goodbye kiss – smells deodorant – “yuck”
Goodbye kiss – smells deodorant – “yuck”
Goodbye kiss – smells deodorant – “yuck”

And then this is what would eventually have happened: Kiss = Yuck.

What are Negative Anchors?

There are only two reasons a relationship ever breaks down – negative anchors and unfulfilled strategies. In a relationship, we are continually creating and collapsing these ‘anchors’.

Anchors are external stimuli that trigger a memory or an emotion. It is a process that we all continuously reinforce in our lives, like thinking of Nana when you smell lavender, feeling nauseous from the sight of food you don’t like, or feeling energetic when you hear a song you love. Sometimes the stimulus leads to a positive memory, and then you FEEL good – we call that a ‘positive anchor’. Other stimuli remind you of a negative time, and then you FEEL bad – we call that a ‘negative anchor’.

The key to an extraordinary love is creating positive anchors and collapsing anchors that are negative. Consciously. Strategically.

I often speak to couples who are on the brink of disaster over a couch that one loves and the other hates, or they are losing their desire for each other and it is as simple as an unconscious response to a deodorant or perfume. 

The Five Senses Audit for Collapsing Anchors

Luckily, collapsing negative anchors and creating even more positive anchors in your relationship is simple. Start with your physical environment and do a 5 senses audit:


Are there things that irritate or trigger you every time you see them? How about those that create positive feelings when you see them? How can you create a visual stimulus that you both love in your home, and on your person?


Are there sounds you both hate? Or love? Particular music that, when you are together, creates the mood you want? Or is it silence?


Do an audit of your creams, lotions, deodorants, smells in your house. Decide what you both do, and don’t like. Let’s face it – smell is crucial to desire. What do you want to do when something smells good? Taste it! And if it tastes good? Eat it! Enough said.


This is another really key sense. Biologically we are designed to assess health and compatibility through kissing, and if your partner doesn’t taste good… keep your mouth clean and fresh!

This is also important when you are sharing meals, if you are eating something gross and looking at your partner then over time it will create a negative association. If you are eating sensual delicious food – positive association – Eat and enjoy beautiful food together.


Some people are very kinaesthetic, what that means is that touch is the most important of their senses. For example, there are people who don’t like clothes that are scratchy, and will luxuriate in the feel of clean sheets. So check out whether you feel good to touch, and furnish your home together so it feels good!

Re-educating Pavlov’s Dogs

Jimmy T and I spent some quality time in the aisle in Woolworths sniffing all the products until we found some that I loved, and also met the stink-o-meter criteria!

With a little effort you’ll be drooling like Pavlov’s dogs over your partner… It’s so easy to let the little things dictate how we feel. And it’s even easier to take charge and CREATE it!