In any healthy relationship between two adults, in any love relationship, friendship or a family relation there are some unspoken rules that make the relation happy and fulfilling – or bad and unsupportable. People who were raised by emotionally healthy parents, in homes where clear communication was encouraged and expressing one’s emotions was normal, are usually following these unspoken rules naturally. However, not everyone was as lucky, and some have been raised in an atmosphere of unclear communication. For these adults it may be confusing to understand why their relationships and friendships don’t work out or why they always fight with family members.
Sometimes, people are simply more tired and stressed, and may simply forget how to communicate clearly.
But the key to any healthy relationship is clear communication, respect and balance.
So here is a manual, a simple Relationship Rules 101 , for anyone who feels like communicating with other people is complicated and unclear :
- Here’s what helps engaging in relationships, maintaining them and nurturing them:
- When you want to be in contact with another person – simply contact them. Call them, for example. Send an email. If they don’t answer you can try again. Even twice you know.
- If it’s your partner, go ahead and plan a date, be the one who starts the conversation and initiates romance.
- You can be the first one to send the message or to say : ” I miss you” ” I love you” “When you’ll have time to talk, just let me know’, ” I’d love to talk to you’ or ” Call me when you can” “Let’s talk” Let’s go out”
What does not help:
- Always waiting for the other person to come with initiative.
- Imagining that the other person doesn’t want to get in touch and doesn’t care about us. Anticipating reject and rupture of relationship.
- Getting upset and punishing the other person for not getting in touch, not initiating the contact or not getting romantic with us.
Why? Because if you are getting upset that someone haven’t called you, or haven’t talked to you, or asked you about your day, or kissed you- when you wanted to do so- you’re basically punishing them for your own inaction. If you want to be in a relation with someone, let them know and take action.
2. The reasons why people don’t get in touch with us (or don’t initiate contact) can be varied and not as you may imagine:
- They may be more busy than you are
- They may be more tired you are
- They may be depressed or simply sick
- They may not want to contact us unless invited to do so – if in the past they have been greeted with reproachfulness and unpredictable reactions.
- The mix of all of the above
3. What helps when talking to people that we want to be in a healthy relationship with:
- Warm greeting – it may be obvious, but if someone starts a conversation with a reproachful “why haven’t you called me before” ” it won’t make things better. Just worst.
- Asking questions about that person’s life and their projects.
- Sense of humour
- Talking about yourself balanced with letting the other person talk about themselves – preferably 50-50 ratio
- If hurt or confused, telling this right away ( and not waiting a month) – this gives another person a chance to explain, change or excuse and gives us a chance to vocalize our needs and expectations.
- Accepting another’s person point of view and their choices
- Accepting others person priorities and lifestyle ( however in a romantic relationship , it’s good to have these similar if not the same)
- Supporting them, even if the choices they make are different from what we would do
What does not help when talking to other people that we want to be in a healthy relationship with:
- Reproaching what happened in the past ( again and again)
- Reproaching the lack of engagement – without listening to other person’s point of view and explanation
- Asking questions but then criticizing the answers, or even laughing at them
- Not asking any questions about other person’s life, their projects, their day etc
- Telling other person how they should do things, what choices should they make, how should they work, raise kids or cook dinner etc. – without clearly being asked for an advice
4. What if we don’t agree with the life decisions and choices that the other person is making?
( Note that if we are living in a relationship with this person, like in marriage, then being on the same page is crucial to raising kids, money decisions and lifestyle choices – in this situation, all differences of opinion should be talked through with respect ).
- We can say nothing and keep it to ourselves
- We can admit that we would act differently but we can understand that what we think and judge is best, isn’t the same for everyone around
- We cans still support other people, even if what they choose isn’t what we wish they would do
5. What if we keep feeling disappointed by the other person?
- We could ask ourselves if our expectations are reasonable and just ( if we feel very often let down by that person then maybe it’s not them the problem but our perception of what should be done, or maybe we don’t communicate our needs clearly enough )
- We can accept the limits of the other person
- We can talk about it, in an open conversation, making sure we listen and hear the other person’s perspective.
- We can make sure we clearly say what are our expectations and needs