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Relationships Aren’t Only About Romance, It Requires Efforts

Relationships Aren’t Only About Romance, It Requires Efforts

No matter your age, love is always an enigma.

In a culture that idolizes long-term relationships, our individualized concept of love is a mucked up regurgitation of “always a happy ending” false promises we see in Hollywood combined with what we see from the relationships of our parents, aunts, and close family friends. We then build up this dramatized ideal as to how our relationships will be “better”, or “stronger”, or “a purer form of love” based on what we’ve seen and experienced.

We don’t really know what love is, or how to measure it, or what signs to look for to know we’ve attained it aside from what we’ve been told. All of these characteristics of love are all self-determined by what was explained above. Our concept of love is like a snowflake; no two conceptions are ever the same. So, for starters, it’s best to understand that love and relationships are amazing but can ultimately be doomed from the start if you try to cram your feelings and opinions of someone else into a box that was basically made for you.

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A lot of incredible things happen when you share your life with someone else. There’s the initial joy of finding common interests and establishing intimacy, also known as the honeymoon stage. You gain confidence and trust in that person over time, sharing moments along the timeline of both your lives that will be cherished forever. You now have someone to explore with, laugh with, and someone to snuggle with on Sunday when you’re really hungover and “can’t even”.

Aside from the many positives relationships bring, we’re not really warned about the hardships of relationships, and that’s not surprising. In the current era of social media people rarely share their dirty laundry, especially when it has to do with that special someone. We’re not encouraged to openly discuss and share the horrific things that happen between two lovers.

Relationships are great, but they’re also like a full time job. Even if you love it there are going to be days where you want to walk out and quit, wonder if there’s “something better out there”, or maybe even start looking at other jobs online in your spare time.

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There will be times when you question everything. EVERYTHING. But there really isn’t an aspect of life that doesn’t invite crippling indecision at times. Friendships, hobbies, pets; everything and anything can bring up the paralyzing fear of “is there something better?” or “am I doing this right?” Even if everything appears to be going great in your relationship, you can always dig and pry and find something to complain about or question. Know that these feelings of uncertainty are going to happen to both parties, and it’s a completely common experience.

Sometimes fighting will be easier than getting along, and being mad is easier than being the bigger person. Conflict is inevitable and those who avoid it only make the problem worse by running from it. You can’t outrun personal problems or relationship problems. There will be aspects of your partner that may annoy or bother you, but who’s perfect?

If you don’t learn to find perfection in your partner’s imperfections, the relationship won’t last. Besides, would you rather cram someone into your mental box of a “perfect partner” or let them be their true selves, flaws and all? How you answer that determines two things: how selfish you are as a partner and how badly you want a relationship to work at any cost.

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You’ll hurt alone and you’ll hurt together in a relationship. Unfortunately, you’ll also hurt each other from time to time. Don’t let your mind jump to extremes of infidelity or bold faced lies, but things happen.

Sometimes life throws you a knuckle ball you weren’t expecting when you step into the batters box of love. Hurt feelings will happen both unintentionally and, yes, sometimes intentionally. Most of us never fathom saying something hurtful to the person we love, but sometimes we say things we don’t mean in the heat of the moment. Pain is an unfortunate byproduct of love. At times, you’ll hurt separately and look to the other for support. Other times the pain will be shared. No matter how it’s experienced, the bond will grow stronger if you have the ability to endure it together. It is in enduring pain that a deeper, more appreciative love is formed.

Loving another person is never easy, but it’s always worth it. There are still many challenging points of relationships that I haven’t touched on here such as raising children, loved ones dying, and traveling together. But be choosey with whom you decide to love, and whom you give your love to. In the end, the aspects of relationships that bring the most pain are often the ones that lead to the most growth, allowing us to harbor a meaningful, worthwhile, everlasting relationship.

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Featured photo credit: Barrett_Asia_Engagement_06 / Ryan Polei via albumarium.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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