Here are a few things I’ve observed about relationships.
- Communication is number one. You must have open communication for any relationship to work. You have to be willing to discuss expectations, goals, wants, needs, desires, limits, etc. Not only must you be willing to talk, but you must also be willing to listen. You have to be willing to understand what is being said, take time to think about it, and then formulate a response. Communication is the key. If you find it difficult to talk, then collect your thoughts and try writing letters or sending e-mails. You’ve now used the key and opened the door. If you are receiving these notes, then take time to read them, think about them beforehand, and then walk through the open door of communication together.
- Mutual acceptance is a part of any relationship. That doesn’t mean the person you are today will be the same person you are tomorrow – that we won’t learn, change, and grow. What it does mean is that you need to talk to each other about each other. No one is perfect. If we were all perfect, this world would be awfully boring. Take the time to learn about each other. Talk about your experiences and share your dreams. Discuss your fears and share your fantasies. When things change, talk some more. Communicating with each other leads to understanding and acceptance.
- In any relationship, it is inevitable to have both big and small expectations. Unfortunately, when your expectations are not met, no matter how small, you can be dreadfully disappointed. Does that mean you should lower the bar? That depends…did you ever actually communicate your expectations? How on earth do you expect to meet them together if only one of you understands the expectations? And, what’s worse is you feel like the other person isn’t trying or doesn’t care at all when that’s probably not the case. The number one reason people fail to meet expectations is because they were never aware of what was expected in the first place! Both parties should communicate his/her expectations and openly discuss how they are going to meet them together. This won’t cure all disappointment, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
- You, Me, Us – Until now, you’ve done your thing and I’ve done my thing. Now we’re together, what should change and what should not? Maybe both of you start doing everything together, maybe both of you want to keep things independent. However, the only way you’re going to find out how to move forward in a relationship is through communication. I want to have a girls’ night and you want to have a guys’ night, but on this night we always have our night. Also keep in mind major decisions need to be made together – it isn’t just about you or me anymore; it’s about us.
- The relationship isn’t new anymore. In the beginning, he would send flowers to your office and you would buy him his favorite video game. He would call you during the day just to tell you he loves you, and you would drop by his work to bring him lunch. Now, it’s been months since he’s bought you a card and the last thing you picked up for him was a pair of odor-eaters for his work boots. Do you even remember when you last went out to dinner together? But don’t be disappointed, just remember to step back and take a moment to smell the roses and make time for each other. It’s not that you don’t love each other anymore; it’s that life has a tendency to get in the way from time to time. Try something new together and enjoy each other’s company.
- My Fantasy vs. Our Reality – Trying to live out a fantasy is a lot like trying to meet an expectation. You must communicate what you want and how you want it. Discuss limits and what might happen if something goes awry. Be prepared that in reality things might not go exactly as what you planned from your fantasy. When (not if) the need arises, pause and talk. It’s also important to not be judgmental as this may be new to both of you and you are therefore both vulnerable to criticism. Accept that although things may vary between fantasy and reality, you can still have a great time as long as you keep that open line of communication.
- Respect and trust are requirements (at least for me) especially in intimate relationships. You must be willing and able to respect and trust each other, only then can you be truly open with each other. Even when you don’t agree, both should be respectful of the other’s opinions. If you don’t respect each other enough to listen, then all you are doing is breaking trust. If limits are set, they must be observed so that both people feel safe. When a person submits/turns over control in any way, he/she is vulnerable – he/she trusts you to respect the boundaries that you both have established.
- A relationship is a journey you travel together, so have fun making the most of it.