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Brutal Truths You Need To Know For Having A Healthy Relationship

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Brutal Truths You Need To Know For Having A Healthy Relationship

OK, I know what you’re thinking… who are you to tell me about healthy relationships? Are you some kind of expert or something? No, I’m not an expert on healthy relationships. But, I have been married for 20 years (to the same person) and we’ve learned a thing or two along the way about the realities of making it work. These points may come across as harsh but sometimes the truth hurts, especially when it’s worth hearing. So here goes…

You’re not perfect, Superstar

We all have to get to know ourselves in order to function healthfully in our relationships, and part of that is owning our crap. None of us are perfect. I’m not and you’re not. So let’s get over ourselves, admit our flaws, and make a commitment to try to be better.

And neither is your partner

See above. If you’re not willing to be held to a standard of perfection, then you can’t expect your partner to be either.

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Relationships take work

Because you’re not perfect, you’re going to screw up and so is your partner. You are going to get cranky and take it out on each other. You’re going to forget to pay the bills on time and they will leave dirty socks on the floor because it’s just not a priority to pick them up. What should be a priority is loving and appreciating each other for who you are and what you each bring to the relationship. When you do this, you can expect the same from each other in return. Then you work together to find mutually agreeable solutions to the other stuff.

It’s a give and take, but it’s not always going to be 50/50. Get used to it

Relationships have a rhythm. There will be times when you need extra support from your partner and times when your partner needs extra from you. If you both truly love and care about each other, you’ll each want to give more than you receive. On the other hand, when the ratio of give to take is perpetually unbalanced, it’s time to re-evaluate the health of the relationship.

Communication is key; because mind reading is unreliable

As much as you want may them to be, your partner is not a mind reader and shouldn’t be expected to “just know” anything about you, what you want, or how you feel. So start talking… and listening because you’re not a mind reader, either. As author don Miguel Ruiz stated in The Four Agreements, “Don’t Make Assumptions.” When you communicate clearly with each other you avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. When you assume, you make as ass out of… well, you know.

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You will fight. If you don’t ever fight, then neither of you is invested enough in the relationship to make it last

Because we only spend time and energy on things we care about. If you passed anger and hurt feelings miles ago and have entered Apathy-town… then do yourself and your partner a favor and end it so that you can each move on.

If you are thinking about leaving the relationship, chances are your partner is too

If you (or your partner) feel “blindsided” by an admission of unhappiness in the relationship, then you probably aren’t paying enough attention to the relationship and need to re-evaluate your commitment to each other.

What your partner doesn’t know CAN and most likely WILL hurt them (Because they are going to find out. Oh, yes they will.)

We are living in the social media age in a town called Selfie-ville… Take my advice and live your life as if Every. Single. Thing. you do is going to be posted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Whether it’s your page or your friend’s or your friend’s friends’, it’s going to get out and your partner is going to find out and be hurt, humiliated, and quite probably plotting revenge by the time you get home.

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Comparing your partner to others is a sure way to kill your relationship fast

Oh yeah? If that person over there is so great, then why aren’t you with them or trying to get with them? Listen, if someone else is so far superior to your partner that you need to make comparisons, then please by all means take a hike over to the greener grass… and let your partner be free to find someone who appreciates them for who they are and what they bring to the relationship.

The relationships we have with our caregivers in childhood may drive how we behave in our adult relationships

Psychoanalyst John Bowlby (1907-1990) theorized that children form attachments with their caregivers from infant-hood, and the quality of those attachments drive instinctive behaviors that can follow us into adulthood (1969, 1980). For example, if your partner’s mother (or other primary caregiver) was cold and distant, or inconsistent in caring for their needs, then they may have developed an innate sense of insecurity and mistrust that could be driving their adult behaviors like clinging, insecurity in the relationship, or defensiveness, to name a few. So…much of what your partner does may have very little to do with you and more to do with the relationship they had to their primary caregiver as a child. (And vice versa, just in case you were wondering…)

You won’t change them and continuously trying to do so is unfair and can become abusive

Constantly picking at someone to make them change erodes self-confidence and self-image. You may think you’re doing it “to help them” or “because you care sooooo much” about them. You’re not. You’re trying to change someone you don’t really like into someone that you can love and neither of you are going to be better for it. So either accept the person for who they are and work on understanding them “as is”, or let them go and move on to someone who doesn’t need so much of your “fixing.”

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Speaking of… if you only take one thing away from this article at all please let it be this:

Abusive partners DO NOT change

Whether they are verbally, emotionally, mentally, or physically abusive, they will not see the error of their ways and learn to treat you better. They will not grow out of it. And they will do it again… and again… and again. They will continue to abuse you. Your only option is to get out of the relationship any way you can; get help to pick up the pieces and find yourself again; and learn to recognize the signs so you can avoid those people in the future.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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