You can teach the people around you how to have a successful and enjoyable relationship with ….YOU! First, you will need to take the time to consider WHO you are in a relationship and HOW you want to structure your relationship.
This step is important as defining these can help you to communicate what you want and then get it! Once you can identify what works for you and what does not, you can teach others how to be in a relationship with you and learn what their relationship expectations are as well.
This can add up to more satisfying and more productive relationships with those you choose to connect with (and even with those you can’t choose but have to be in relationship with—think bosses, co-workers, in-laws, etc).
You can begin your journey to more enjoyable relating by answering this simple question: If you could teach the people around you anything you want about HOW to be in a relationship with you, WHAT 5 things would you want them to know? Here are some areas to consider while you grapple with this question:
What 5 Things Should Others Know About Being In A Relationship With You?
Would you want people in your life to listen to you more? React to what you say less? Contact you more or less frequently? Include you in their lives differently? Would you want them to be more generous or caring or curious about you? Would you ask others to give you more space, to worry less about you, or to follow what you do more closely? There is a lot to think about, isn’t there!
When looking for a better apartment or house to live in, it is helpful to start by spending some time and energy thinking about the what, where, when, and how of the kind of place that would work best for you, right? This way, when you see the right place, you will know it.
The same holds true for your relationships. If you have finished high school or college, you should have a pretty good idea by now as to what works for you in relationships and what doesn’t. Yes, your understanding will change and grow over time, but at this point, you should have a foundation of knowledge about what has been good for you and what really hasn’t worked.
It is important to identify what works for you and what does not and to help others know about this, too. When it comes to relationships, we all have our ‘comfort zones’ , our ‘discomfort zones’ and other ideas about what works for us and what doesn’t. These generally relate to a number of components (relationships do have lots of moving parts!) but here are 5 areas for you to start thinking about:
Are you the kind of person who likes to keep others ‘posted’ on what you are doing and when? Do you like to ‘check-in’ with friends frequently or do you prefer to have more privacy and more personal/emotional space? Different people need different levels of contact. It is best to have a sense of how much visibility or contact you need and seek out others who need similar levels.
Do you want to be able to tell a friend absolutely ‘everything’ or do you believe that others don’t need to know everything about you? What is most important for others to know when it comes to being close with you? Are there parts of yourself you’d rather keep private? As you think about this, keep in mind that friends who want to use each other as therapists and always say absolutely everything to each other might reconsider as too much ‘dumping’ on each other can be a burden, can strain your relationship and lead to dissatisfaction.
Is it important for you to have the idea that a friend will do anything for you when you need them, no matter what? Do you make yourself available to others in this way? Do you want to be able to call upon the same friend repeatedly for help and are you also willing to be there in a similar fashion? Do you believe friends ‘owe’ each other time and energy in this way or do you view it as a ‘gift’? It helps to consider what you expect from others, from yourself, and communicate these expectations. Different people may have very different ideas about the kinds of commitment relationships entail.
4. Tolerance and Understanding:
Can you tolerate the idea of having a friend feel angry or let down or upset with you (even temporarily) or do you feel they should just understand you are doing your best and always give you the ‘benefit of the doubt? Do you ‘get it’ when someone is struggling and not able to follow through with a promise or a plan and lets you down? Do you allow yourself to feel disappointed with them or upset?
Some people find the idea of having others think badly of them or of something they did absolutely intolerable and they work overtime trying to never displease anyone. This can be exhausting and it’s not particularly good for relationships as it is inevitable that at some points we will feel upset or disillusioned or angry with our friends (nobody is perfect, right?). We each need to be able to feel or think whatever we need to feel or think and not have to worry that this will hurt others or damage our relationships. After all, it’s what we SAY or DO that can hurt others, but our thoughts and feelings belong to us alone, right?
5. Growth Potential:
Do you have the idea that relationships, once established, should stay the same forever? Do you view these as more organic and changing over time? Some people count on people and relationships staying the same over the years, but the truth is that we are all growing and developing, and having different experiences in our lives. Our relationships should be flexible enough to incorporate changing needs and new situations over time. We are growing so why shouldn’t our relationships grow, too?
Communicating What You Want Is Essential:
Once you’ve taken the time to figure these out (there are some other factors to consider, too) how will you let others around you know what you need and want in your relationships? How can you teach others how to be in a positive relationship with you without turning them off or freaking them out and in a way that will bring you closer? Stay tuned for future posts on how to communicate what you want and need in relationships.