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Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Relationships & Communication

We may often hear that communication is the #1 requirement for relationships to work - or at least have a chance to. Well, there is truth in it. It does not mean that you must be talking to each other all of the time, but that it is of great importance to be in communication about the things that matter to each and to the relationship. Otherwise, it is quite likely to fall apart, if not remain fragilely suspended as something subpar or even dreadful.

Unfortunately, many have taken this to mean that, as long as they spout out as many words as they can, it will be fine. No, it won’t. Words alone won’t sustain a relationship unless the relationship is only one for conversation, discussion, and debate. In which case, pretending that it is more than that to receive a higher level of investment and benefits from others, is something despicable to do. So, please, don’t. Communication should be the means for appropriate and suitable action to be taken in a relationship.

In the case that you are indeed looking to form and maintain a close and meaningful relationship with another, here are a few of the ways communication can serve that purpose:

• Find a place where you can openly talk. Normally, this would mean somewhere comfortable, without too much noise, where you’re by yourselves. What can and should be said in public isn’t always the same that can and should be said in private. E.g. Personal and sensitive topics are best addressed in private, as well as corrections that could cause embarrassment. Not making the space for this results in missing a huge part of the story.

• Be clear about your intentions with them. Are you looking for some quick fun? Something to pass the time without pressure? Something more serious and committed? Your one true love? What exactly is it? Whatever it is, it is recommended to be honest about it so that nobody wastes their time and energy on what isn’t for them. Maybe you’re looking for the same and it’s great. And maybe you’re not but you can still reach a worthwhile compromise. Or maybe there’s nothing you can come to terms with and you part sooner than later. Still better than fostering resentment through ambiguity or downright lies.

• State your limits and your dealbreakers. Even if you really like a person and would be thrilled to be with them, you cannot be and drop everything just to keep them. Even if you try, it’ll backfire and ruin the relationship eventually. There are things that are just too draining and debilitating for you, so you can’t promise them - let alone guarantee them. And within this are things that are simply not you - you’d be betraying yourself if you yield to them. Perhaps you don’t know yourself enough to know what they all are yet, but note what you do know so far and more as you become aware of it. If they don’t present an issue or can be worked around, the relationship can keep going.

• Be mindful of past hurts. No, you didn’t cause them. And in a fair and ideal world, you wouldn’t be the one mending or compensating for them. But it is both selfish and unrealistic to expect the other person to come as a blank slate for you. Even if they did or are currently doing their own healing, there will be remains that make them less trusting, less affectionate, and overall less loving. Similar could be happening to you (whether you see it or not). If it is too severe, seeking professional help is advisable. But for the rest of it, show patience and solidarity. Not everyone can be a gifted empath who can heal every wound, but anyone can show consideration if they care enough to. You can share what stings and triggers you to avoid it or keep it minimal through the recovery. And you can also share what else is bothering or troubling you to find solutions to it. Furthermore, share what seems to be helping so that there is more of that.

• Announce absence and delays. You may assume that this can be bypassed, and sometimes it can, but it is one of the primary ways to demonstrate respect and concern for the other. If they are waiting for you or even counting on you, the least that you can do is let them know if you will be around and available or not. So that they don’t worry or worse: are left hanging. And it can mean so much! If you are generally busy and/or distant, and this has been accepted, you may not have to do it so often (for it will be expected). But for special or out-of-the-ordinary events, better give a heads-up if you won’t make it on time or at all.

• Transitioning from friends to lovers, or from anything to more. The fear of moving the relationship forward is a valid one. Especially if what you already have is something you already cherish and would rather not lose, you can be reluctant about going ahead. It’s not necessarily a dismissive move to ask for things to stay the same, as though it denotes that you’re not valuable enough to them, it could be an aversion to risk instead. When a relationship changes, the standards and boundaries do too. There are more ways to mess it up. Maybe you’re not up to the task of meeting these demands or maybe you’re not apt for it (or you are but are not very confident about it). Regardless, it is something to bring up. There is a chance that you will fail as something more while you were doing fine as something less. And you don’t want to lose it all because you went beyond. But forcing one state or the other isn’t the way to go. What you can do instead is express your worries and proceed with caution to not damage all the types of relationships that you can have with each other. So that, even if things don’t work out on the next stage, you can still go back (though may need some time off) to how you were before.

• It’s complicated, but how? When relationships are not the standard kind. When they’re “complicated” for one or more reasons. That’s when you need communication the most. What are the roles of each and what is expected? What is the situation and what are the circumstances? What conditions are you in? How can you exist and coexist within that? Is there anything, in particular, to keep present? And so on. Get to the details and pay attention to them.

• Exchange views and opinions. Last but not least, conversation, discussion, and debate are enriching and allow for better awareness and understanding of who everyone is and how they perceive and interpret the world and everything in it. Plus, part of the magic of relationships is that they change you. At times for the worse, but at times for the better. When you combine what you carry and let it transform you, you may grow through new angles and perspectives. You patch each others’ picture. And if you do this properly, you’ll get to a point where you’ll be on the same page and capable of some degree of accurate mind-reading. This will bring plenty of ease to the relationship.

Again, these are only a few of the ways communication serves relationships. And of course, you are not supposed to apply them all at once. In due time, when it fits and as you are able to.