What has happened to us? Our relationships have turned into this brutal cesspool of hostile rejection. The funny thing about all of this is, we treat each other like objects but are desperate for civil companionship all at the same time. Guess what, if your relationship (whether friendship, romantic or otherwise) with someone feels more like a hostage situation then something is wrong. We have to learn to eliminate possessive language and behavior from the dialogue and interactions that we have with our loved ones.
Now, for the record I think that most of us have good intentions. We care about the people we love and we want them to be safe and well. Where things get twisted is when we start demanding answers or behaviors because we feel that we are owed these things. We often get wrapped up in our own rights in a relationship.
If you’re not sure what possessive language sounds like here are a few examples.
“When I call my friend, they better pick up the phone.”
“When I text he/she better text back right away or else I’ll be suspicious, hurt, broken and offended.”
“If i’m unhappy, I’m going to try and regain control by not responding for a while.”
Here are 7 questions that we should stop asking the people we care about.
- Where are/were you? This question comes across as possessive. As in “well I deserve to know where my partner is at all times.” Now if your partner or companion is on their way to meet you and is running late that’s another story but in general, it should be avoided. When you trust someone you don’t need a constant play-by-play. If there is an absence of trust, then that is the real issue.
- What do you want from me? This question lacks any kind of ownership, cooperation and responsibility. It’s completely given up on the situation and all communication has shut down.
- Are you mad at me? I’ve never understood the point of this question. If you have to ask this question you already know the answer to it, which is yes. You may not know exactly what’s going on but you sense that something is off. If you already have the answer then why ask the question? A better way to address this is to address what you are sensing and feeling versus putting the issue on your partner or companion.
- Is there anything that I should know? Again, if you feel compelled to ask this question something is already wrong. You already have the answer so move on to addressing the issue.
- Do you love me at all? Ridiculous question on so many levels. The question should not be about love at all. I love ice cream but I had to give it up (for the most part) to live a healthier lifestyle. I love it but it’s not good for me. It’s the same when it comes to friends and partners. Sometimes we hurt the ones we love unintentionally.
- Why are you acting this way? Be specific and address specific issues. For instance, if you feel like your partner or companion is not communicating then ask them about that issue specifically. A better question would be “I noticed that you didn’t communicate (fill in the blank) to me in (fill in the blank) situation. Can we discuss this more? I felt out of the loop here.”
- Why can’t we just be happy? Fulfillment takes work and does not magically happen overnight. Both parties have to do the work to co-exist in a peaceful, harmonious and fulfilling atmosphere.
Try asking these types of questions instead.
- How are you doing? This shows that you care about your partner or companion’s well-being.
- How was your day? Demonstrates interest in their daily activities without being demanding.
- How is everything with your family and/or work? Sometimes our companions and partners may not have an issue at all with us. They could be going through a work or family crisis. Asking about how things are in both of these areas may help them to open up.
- Do you think that we can both do what it takes to make this relationship work? This question demonstrates authentic ownership and commitment to working as a team to overcome any obstacles that your relationship might face.
- Is there anything that I can do for you OR Do you need anything? A great check-in to do with your partner or companion especially if they are going through a crisis.
- Has my behavior or attitude come across in a negative way? This is a far more specific question that takes ownership of your role in the perceived conflict.
- Do you feel safe with me? An honest yet specific question that can open up dialogue on many different subjects.
If you still feel like something is off continue to build trust by spending time together and keep your eyes open.
- Cultivate belonging in your relationship.
- Tackle the deeper issues.
- Figure out the role that you play when you feel that something is wrong.
- Clearly communicate the things/experiences that you want to share with your partner/companion and why it’s important to you.
- Treat your partner or companion how you want to be treated.
- Treat each other as humans.
- Stop playing games.
- Respect the moments that you are together; alive and breathing in the same space without trying to label it.
You might be thinking to yourself at this moment, “Tephra, well what if I saw my partner flirting with someone else? Isn’t it disrespectful if he/she flirts with someone else?”
First of all, no one can steal respect from you. We often give it up by losing emotional control when these things happen. What this might be doing is dishonoring a commitment that you’ve made to each other and breaking down the foundations that you’ve agreed to build together. It’s not just about you. It’s about both of you. Your partner is hurting themselves by breaking a commitment.
Ultimately don’t be afraid to make a clean break if need be. In doing so, make sure to be honest with yourself and with your partner or companion if you decide to go separate ways. Closure comes when you know that you did the work that you needed to do in a relationship that is coming to an end. Where the road ends, a new path begins.
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