Are you guilty of tunnel vision, strictly focusing on your career or self interests, diminishing your engagement with relationships of value that warrant your care? The key to having the best of all worlds in many a’ relationship, is possessing a conscious awareness of each. Awareness doesn’t mean having it all – it simply means understanding and navigating your position.
Think about it. It’s like learning to de-fog your vehicle’s windshield when it fogs up on the highway, which means it’s clear as fxck handier to know how to manage it in advance of it becoming a serious issue. You get the picture.
I’m not strictly speaking significant others, husband/wife, girl/boyfriend, partners – I am also referring to friendships, family, and working relationships. Relationships of all kinds. Should the base parameters in relationships not all be the same?
This photo was chosen to depict a) let go or be dragged, or b) stay wildly connected by choice. For myself, it’s one or the other – all in or all out (or so I state and wish). Arguably so, there’s a category of others who don’t mind entertaining that torturous grey area, relationship limbo – and truth be told, I think we’ve all had to run with that torch for a while.
In accepting that most things in life aren’t cut and dry, and near everything that ends up in the long term sustainable column needs a little confronting and method in understanding from time to time, we must learn skills to effectively cope. Cope, as in positively managing the human condition. You’re human? You’ve got one (a condition and coping mechanism).
Let me start by saying I’m not an expert in behavioral psychology, though I am an observation’s and communications professional who has experienced a wide gamete of relationship dynamics in my personal and expanded circles. It doesn’t take a specialist to evaluate the basics of how relationships operate, grow, and sustain themselves. Every one of us live these dynamics through trial and error via our values system, emotional battlefield, and expression in how we live, love, teach, experience, and share.
The Human Dimension
Once we understand this component, the rest of the pieces should fall together quite sensibly in theory; and by theory I mean rarely. We are emotional beings! Nothing is ever that simple. However, understanding that not everyone is destined to connect in relationship longevity – or at all, is step one. Why that person just won’t give you the time of day? I’m sure there’s a reason, though it’s truly not up to you to find out. Move on.
The simple fact that we each have widely varying comfort zones, interests and preferences, speaks loud enough in foretelling whether certain relationships are a longer-term match or a match at all. Do you share a mutual respect in your relationships, or is one party impossibly relentless and ill conscious in mindfulness? Do your values align, are your future prospects of similarity, is what you do in your spare time of any shared cross over? Perhaps these factors once aligned and still do, others – do no longer.
Paths converge, others divest, and change is inevitable over linear time. To fear or scorn change is to disapprove growth. Embrace the shift in the world of those around you out of difference in wants, needs, and experience. You might just find yourself in a positive ripple effect not otherwise beknownst previous option to you. What are your choices in understanding or accepting those in your sphere’s human dimension? Stay connected or LET GO.
Know Your Role
Come as you are. Preferable without unreasonable expectations, with a heart full of joy and a positive and realistic attitude.
Are you the family member, stepparent, co-worker, the best friend, the good friend, acquaintance, and a friend of a friend? Or are you someone who only has public knowledge of another. Alike wearing many hats in life, we own many roles within our relationships.
Within relationships there are boundaries, and healthy ones at that. Not everything is going to be your business to accept, understand, or support and conversely, neither should certain others of yours. There are those in our lives that are constants, others who check in and check out, and more who we relate to in specific areas, but not every area of our lives. Your work friends might not be your gym friends. Your binge partying friends might not be your meditating friends, and your couple friends might not be your children’s play date with parents friends. Examine the parameters of each, align with your role, decide where you fit in, and go with it.
As humans (and stated above), we have dimension – and thank frick! Let knowing your role be step two in this healthy dose of relationship go-to.
Reciprocity & Mutual Exchange
Alike the best conversations, the best relationships are not one-sided. With genuine, mutual exchange the strongest relationships not only survive but also thrive (although I didn’t need to tell you that one). That said, one of the main roadblocks to relationship sustainability is clearly exchanged communication. Either out of lack thereof or misunderstanding, generally. The good news? Communication, unlike many other factors, is fabulously within your control.
We will go over the specifics of not only good – but great communication how-to and styles in another post, but for now let’s just say, be GRATEFUL you have someone on the other side to communicate with. Literally barking up a freestanding, deeply planted, oxygen-throwing tree? Even if you’re a nature loving extremist, that tree won’t hug you back – unlike the big, squeezy warm hug on the other end of that nurtured, deodorant-wearing, human-spirited, smoochy, kind and warm relationship. Pick a human, communicate with them, and absorb the benefits 😉
So about that reciprocity. None of us want to see those we love get hurt, and we allllll want our opinions to get heard. Shocker. What is a beautiful thing? Not offering up unasked for advice or opinion. I know it’s tough – but that’s what’s up. If you think about how many times assertion doesn’t get you far, it’s a wonder why that avenue gets ventured at all. If someone wants your take on a position, I would say most are inclined and will ask. For others, if you really feel your input necessary – ask in advance.
“Hey bro, sir, madame. May I please jump in, and share one itsy bitsy, actually probably life-shaking piece of advice?”
Nothing gets us in trouble like the things we say and shouldn’t or things we don’t say but should. If you have something to say in the moment, say it – and don’t overcomplicate things. If you are in the field of complicated, be committed to decluttering if you want that relationship to last. Step three to take as we move forward is simple: commit to communicate.
Bridge The Gap
As Garth said it best in Wayne’s World, “live in the now!” Last time I checked, most of us don’t go seeking out relationships that are spitting, reflective images of ourselves. Similarities, yes. Alignment in DNA, no. The beauty of relationships often lies within our differences, “aka: the gap”. Isn’t it magical to learn from each other, and to view life through each other’s lenses? What about speaking on a topic – and never having a debate, only agreeance. Life would become bland quite rapidly. Humour? We all can’t have the same. Idiosyncrasies? They are actually huge blessings.
What makes relationships special is their asymmetry to ourselves, and the diversity of dimension within each. So don’t punish someone for being different, celebrate that they’re unique!
The gap results out of a difference in perception. Perspective is the way each of us perceive any given situation, anything we can actually think, feel, or visualize – be in real or not. It is projection of the mind, and relatable through the sensation of what we are able to comprehend, given the information we have in order to best process it at any given time (more on perspective in another post).
Embracing differences and commonalities alike, remember why you are in that particular relationship in the first place. We aren’t always going to see eye to eye and share the same perspective, hence seeking to understand the other person’s position or at best, approaching at a thoughtfully communicated common ground, both – healthily arrived solutions.
The last in our series of 4 (basic) steps to relationship sustainability, is finding your sweet spot, bridging the gap, and seeking to understand. No one is asking you to accept, merely put yourself in the other person’s shoes when on the other end of a command.
Did I mention the best summary in all is choosing love over fear, no matter the application? It wins every time, and will never lead you astray. With the above I try my best to abide without diving deeper into the psychologically rooted, physiological response attached lived feelings in relatability of all. My intention in sharing is the hope you find this surface insight somewhat marginally useful when the need for its use arise.
May your relationships be lasting and your life full, hot, steamy, successful and long! Peace n’ love, ONLY.