How to Relate WITH Others — Healthy Love Relationships Master This Skill
Like peanut butter and jelly or boots and sweaters, some things naturally go together. When you met the love of your life, you just knew the two of you belonged together. You wanted it to last forever. Yet in the day-to-day realities of life, the spark and sparkle may have grown a little dim, maybe you don’t think you’ll ever get the luster back again. This is when fortifying your skills on how to relate with others can help.
Did you notice I put the emphasis on relating with not relating to? Relating to others puts the emphasis on you in relation to them. Relating with others puts the emphasis on them.
There are no irreconcilable differences that can’t be overcome, IF you and your honey are committed to keeping your relationship healthy. We work hard to stay healthy — eating healthfully, exercising, practicing mindfulness and self-knowledge. When we see the benefits, we even begin to love the process. The same is true when building healthy love relationships.
“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” ~ Epicurus
Knowing how to relate to others is the foundation of any relationship. It means you know how to build a connection with or identify with another person. This can be challenging when you seem at odds.
How to relate with others when you’re polars apart
We’ve all heard that communication is the lifeblood of a relationship. But if your communication consists of nagging, blaming, and whining you’re clogging the arteries of your relationship with a bad case of “relationship cholesterol”, giving it “heart disease.” Keep the love flowing by…
1. Ask yourself, what is my focus? If your focus is on you, you’re too nearsighted. And if you’re only focusing on your partner faults, you’re magnifying them with a laser that eventually burns. As Wayne Dyer brilliantly said, “Problems in relationships occur because each person is concentrating on what is missing in the other person.” The key is to focus on the things that make you love your partner.
2. Remember to be friends. Relationships turn ugly when they become adversarial. This doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an accumulation of snide and cutting remarks. It’s the stiff posture, with arms crossed or with hands defiantly on the hips. It’s the tight face and cold eyes. It’s the impatience, the silence, the defensiveness, the prickliness, the lack of humor.
Break down the defenses within yourself and in your partner by…
Softening your eyes and maintaining good eye contact to indicate they have your full attention.
Relaxing and tilt your head slightly to indicate you have all day to hear them.
Inching closer physically. Think of it as if you’re working to tame a wild kitten you want to eventually cuddle.
Touching with affection. When your words aren’t getting through, the feel of your skin on theirs reminds them of the good times and melt their defenses. Your calmness syncs with their nervous system and they calm down. After all, it’s hard to keep fighting when you’re holding hands.
Smiling gently and reassuringly. Your words are understood in the context of your facial expression, which reduces miscommunication.
Drawing out your words and softening your tone. How you say it has as much impact as what you say.
3. Only do things that grow love. Just as some people avoid gluten, because it makes them ill, avoid relationship “junk food.” They may feel good as you say or do them, like eating a bag of chips, but afterward you’re going to be sick. They include:
- Name calling
- Silent treatment
- Withholding sex as a bargaining tool
- Rehashing past “crimes”
- Jumping to conclusions
- Imputing bad motives where there are none
Since our brains already have a negative-bias, long-term exposure to these behaviors alters the way your brain sees your relationship. It begins to perceive your relationship as a threat to your well-being, like a virus attacking your immune system. Unless you mindfully reassure yourself that all is well, you could develop a self-destructive “anti-love autoimmune disorder” that pushes you further and further apart, even though that’s not what you want.
4. When your relationship is wounded, immediately bandage it with love. You can do this with…
Sincere apologies that acknowledge your role in the fight. Share your feelings of love with each apology.
Clarify the difference between what you said and what you meant. It’s okay to say, “Sorry, that’s not what I meant. Can I please say that again?”
Stop hinting and beating around the bush, as you kindly say what you need and ask what they need in return. It’s helpful to be vulnerable as you use this formula: I feel ____ when you ___. Can you/we ______ so we can work this out?”
Leaving the injury open for days let’s it fester, sometimes to the point of “amputation” or separation. Make amends and cover the wound quickly. And once it starts healing, don’t keep picking at the scab, rehashing it, throwing it back in their face.
5. As sleep is required in the physical healing process, rest is imperative in healthy relationships. Agree to shelve an unproductive disagreement until later in the day. Go do something that calms you down and restores you. Then come back and find a solution together.
We must learn to embody who we want to be in everything we do, including how we relate to others. That’s why I encourage you to download and practice the principles outlined in my free report, 10 Steps to an Embodied Practice. After all, building a healthy love relationship can be one of your most rewarding practices.