Are your expectations of the relationship in sync? Are you on the same page? Do you have the same visions of the future? Or are you singing from different song sheets? Do you know what song sheet you are even singing from?
Being able to express your needs and ideas is vital in order to remain true to yourself in any relationship. But, you also need to understand and manage the other person’s needs and expectations too.
Most relationships start with no idea of what it will be and where it is going.
We don’t sit down and state terms and conditions when we first meet someone new. We have no instruction manual or list of likes and dislikes that the other needs to refer to before speaking to us – wouldn’t it be a bizarre world if we did?
However, without any direction or boundaries, we often head into turbulent waters where many people rapidly sink while others develop a slow leak that eventually ends the same way.
So somehow, and at some point do we need to make our expectations clear.
It seems to me, it is best to start as you mean to go on rather than reset or define our terms later in the relationship, but even then it may just save the sinking ship if you know and communicate your boundaries and expectations respectfully.
First and most importantly ” Know yourself” and “Love who you are.”
As a coach, I find this is the key to my clients becoming confident and happy with who they are which in turn helps them find and build healthy relationships that are more likely to withstand the test of time. I know many who think that is obvious and that everyone does that automatically. But, I beg to differ – having spent many years in private practice I find many people start therapy in a complete and utter state of confusion about what they want, who they are, and how to manage the seemingly impossible process of being happy, let alone being happy in relationships.
We are shaped and affected by everyone we come into contact with, right from our first day on earth. We become a reflection of those that nurtured us and those that taught us everything we know. At first, we take everything as fact, believing everything we are told. We accept it is as the truth and nothing but the truth, but it is far from it.
As we encounter new people and new experiences we can start questioning who we are and what we really want out of life and our relationships.
Some are blessed with being in loving, encouraging relationships and naturally thrive within them. However, that in itself can make the big wide world a dangerous place to be when we have not had to deal with the problems that can crop up in new relationships and when life throws challenges our way.
Others have learned, somewhere along the line, to hide their true selves. Not necessarily from cruelty or any deliberate intent to cause harm but it happens, and unknowingly we react in ways to protect ourselves which can affect our lives and every relationship we have in all manner of ways.
So the first job is to find our own way and learn what makes us tick, what makes us happy, and feel able to love and be loved for everything we are and nothing we are not.
Second “Know what you want and how you want to be treated.”
Directly connected to “No 1”, but different nonetheless.
If we don’t respect this, we will soon lose a sense of ourselves in relationships and slowly become someone that we are not. Rules and regulations that are so rigid would make it impossible for anyone to approach or be themselves around us and will not work out well in the long run.
We need to be a bit bendy and flexible, but not to the point that we bend over backward to fit around the needs of others at the cost of our own needs.
We need the confidence and skills to communicate our boundaries and expectations to others because no one here can read minds.
Third, “Listen and I mean truly listen”.
What you learn when you actively listen to another person will give you everything you need to know to make the right decision and respond appropriately, respectfully.
Truly listening is an art form and is beyond the obvious but with practice will serve you well. It is all in the detail if you pay attention to it. You not only need to attentively listen to them but to your own internal voice and responses to them. Do you feel comfortable around them, is something unsettling you but you can not quite put a finger on what.
True listening involves all your senses and tuning into body language, mixed messages, and the unsaid just as much as it is about the words you hear and what you think that means.
Fourth, “Respect other’s view.”
I love the quote ” You don’t have to accept the invitation to an argument” you can politely decline it. You don’t have to agree or even like them, but it is their view, their life, and not for us to judge.
Another quote for you ” You cannot take the wind out your sails but you can take your sails out of the wind. In other words, however they behave towards you, you have a choice in how you respond. You may respond based on past experiences and your patterns of behaviour but once you become aware of your response patterns you can change how you react in the future.
Before walking away from a relationship it is worth investing some time exploring what is and isn’t working within the relationship and ideas to bring it back to life.
If after you have done all you can without losing sight of what is important to you then at least you can walk away in confidence knowing you have done your best and it is just not right for you anymore.