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5 Signs You’re In A Healthy Relationship

5 Signs You’re In A Healthy Relationship

Relationships are risky. No matter how well you think you know the other person, there is no guarantee you won’t get hurt. In fact, in the best of relationships, couples disappoint or hurt each other from time to time. No secret there. Most of us can deal with that. In the end, we are imperfect people forming imperfect relationships.

However, repeated or severe hurt can really threaten security in a relationship. Lies, betrayal, selfishness, or controlling behavior will shake the foundation. What foundation am I talking about?

I’m talking about trust.

If you want a healthy relationship, you have to work hard on building trust between you. This takes time and effort by both sides. One cannot do the work of two. It never works that way. A mutual effort is needed.

In a healthy relationship, couples value trust and protect it together. They build on this foundation by making certain agreements.

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So how do you know if your relationship has what it takes?  Check this out.

1. You allow each other space to be yourself

Relationships need space for each person to breathe. If you give up too much of yourself you will suffocate! Healthy couples don’t allow this to happen. Instead, they accept each other. They also encourage and support the expression of these individual differences. This includes accommodating each other’s need for personal time.

I enjoy sports, rock n’ roll, and contemporary movies. My wife prefers nature walks, 80s music, and classic movies. I don’t try to get her to be like me, nor does she try to get me to change. We accept our differences and enter each other’s world occasionally.

In a healthy relationship, support is mutual. Honoring personal boundaries shows respect. When you feel accepted, respected, and supported by your partner, the relationship is solid.

2. You keep your relationship exclusive

Another sign of a healthy relationship is an agreement couples make to keep their relationship exclusive. They establish boundaries to keep private the love and romance they share. These couples avoid getting into compromising relationships that threaten the security of their bond.

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Affairs are a big threat today in our culture. Ashley Madison is one of many examples. The existence of an affair, even though hidden, shifts a relationship from exclusive to inclusive. A mysterious third party now enters sacred territory. When an affair is exposed, it severely damages the relationship. I help couples recover from an affair. Trust me, you do not want to be in that arena!

If you want your relationship to be healthy, make a mutual agreement to keep sacred the love you have for each other. When it comes to romance and matters of the heart, keep it exclusive. Don’t allow anyone but your mate in that space.

3. You make a regular investment in the relationship

There is an easy way to tell if a couple has a healthy relationship: their calendar. These couples have regular date nights and occasional weekends away. They know this is money well invested (notice I didn’t say spent).

In my work with couples, I encourage them to have planned time and pockets of time. Planned time as I already described is on your calendar. Pockets of time pop up during the day or week and allow you a small break to connect. You can use it to share a latte at Starbucks or jump in the sack for a quickie!

The investment healthy couples make is not only time and money. They also invest in a daily effort to stay tuned in to each other. These couples find ways to check in with each other during the day.

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My wife and I do the occasional text and phone call. Recently, I was blindsided by a major problem that happened at work. During a chat with my wife, she stepped away from her desk, listened to me unload, and talked me off the ledge with her calm and supportive voice.

The effort to stay tuned in accomplishes several things. It allows you to know what’s going on with your partner. It gives you an opportunity to offer support. Also, knowing that you have each other’s back feels good!

4. You are friends and lovers

Balancing friendship and romance is a definite sign you have a healthy relationship. Maintaining laughter, having a sense of humor, with your partner pumps oxygen into the relationship. Nothing better than a good laugh together to work out stress and keep things in perspective. Isn’t that what friends enjoy doing?

A sense of adventure is also good too! Do you do fun things together? When was the last time you tried something new together? One of the couples I work with started taking dance lessons. Totally new territory for them. They really enjoy learning something new together. It has been great for the relationship!

When we travel, we love to hit the backroads and see what surprises come up along the way. Some of the best memories my wife and I have happen when we go off-roading.

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Healthy couples also keep the hunt alive in their relationship. They still flirt with each other, sending sexual cues back and forth. Romance remains a front-burner activity, getting plenty of action to satisfy each other’s need for romance.

5. You talk well, and listen better

People in a healthy relationship know how to communicate really well. They know that listening is the differentiator in good communication. If you know the art of listening and validating your partner, you are light years ahead of most couples.

People who communicate poorly talk over each other, do not listen well, react in a defensive manner, and let their emotions get out of control. If you want a healthy relationship, communicate with this approach in mind:

  • Slow down when you talk.
  • Keep your emotions in check.
  • Listen to what your partner says.
  • Summarize what you hear and validate feelings.
  • Avoid using the word “but” too quickly or often.
  • Give each other the courtesy of being heard and understood.

Featured photo credit: Dollar Photo Club via dollarphotoclub.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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