“15?! 15! Do we really need so many?”
Maybe all 15 of these aren’t important to you. That’s okay. Maybe you don’t feel like reading 15 long, drawn out explanations. That’s cool. I bolded the key ideas so you can scroll through quickly to get the points (you’re welcome).
I made this list to reflect on when Sabby* arrives unannounced to ruin my day. Any or all of these may apply to your relationship; it’s okay if they don’t all apply to all relationships. Determine which areas are most important to each of your unique relationships, then a.) see if those areas of your relationship are healthy and b.) identify areas where you would like to see growth…
1. Be honest about your feelings. Good or bad, keep it real. Holding it in or saying what you think you should is fake. Yes, sometimes it’s best to not act in emotion or to listen and be supportive. However, if something doesn’t feel right or you disagree or you’re hurt, speak up. Relationships grow in truth. Neither of you will grow individually or together if you keep a barrier up.
2. Be vulnerable. Take a chance. Share something you’re hesitant to share. Be emotional and fully present in your emotions. Are you sad? Say it. Do you miss them? Say it. Are they important to you? Say it.
3. For gawd’s sake, say, “I love you.” “Love you.” “You’re the best.” “You’re the real MVP.” “You my one.” “I fuckin love you.” Say that shit. Create a special word or phrase and text it. Sing it. Just say it. Often.
4. Respect each other’s stuff. Time. Space. Relationships. Culture. Beliefs. Commitments. We all have stuff that requires our time and focus. Respect when they need time to handle their stuff. It doesn’t mean you’re not a priority or they’re too busy for you or you’re not important. It means they need to handle stuff to make time for you.
5. Make time/spend time. Answer calls. Return texts. At least say you’re busy and, if you can, let them know when you’ll be free. Plan calls, video calls, and time to hang out. 10 minutes or 4 hours, it doesn’t matter. Setting and finding time to share gives you both something to look forward to.
6. Don’t play games. Again, answer calls and return texts. Text them first. Don’t play the, “I’m not gonna call them. I want them to miss me and call me first” game. It’s unfair when you’re playing a game only you know is happening. Stop it.
7. Communicate. Don’t just do stuff together; talk. Be interested in them and be an engaged listener. Ask questions you truly want answers to. Be open to their questions and share. Keep a conversation going. If plans change, tell them. If you’re running late for plans, keep them updated.
8. Be supportive. Be there when they need you. Hear them out. Use calm, loving words, even when they are really upset. Ask what they need from you. Give advice sparingly and comfort genuinely.
9. Fight fair. Don’t use their expressed emotions, thoughts, or secrets against them. Don’t use what you’ve learned to hurt them, no matter how hurt you are. Take time and cool off. Remember, you’re both human with your own unique experiences and try to be understanding of their perspective.
10. Laugh and enjoy your time together. Be present and engaged. Let your guard down and be silly. Make a fool of yourself and let them do the same.
11. Share stuff. Your favorite snack. A painting you made. A song that reminds you of them. Ideas. Links to shared interests. Whatever makes you think of them and feels important enough to share.
12. For gawd’s sake, show affection. Hug. Kiss. Snuggle. High-five. Hold hands. Fist bump. Secret handshake. Whatever works that is comfortable for you both. Human contact, when desired, is very important.
13. Create security. Assure them of their importance in your life. Show them what they mean to you. Be their cheerleader and biggest fan. Give them so many reasons to never doubt your love.
14. Deal in factuals. When negative self-talk and doubt happens, talk in facts. “Fact: they love me… Fact: they told me [fill in the blank with something special/important and true]… Fact: they are busy right now… Fact: they always call back when they have uninterrupted time to focus on me…”
15. Cherish what you have. Shit happens. People move. People get busy. People grow apart. Cherish what you have with them now. Be open and don’t limit your friendships. Allow yourself to be challenged and pushed to grow.
|*The Sabateur aka Sabby is the mean internal voice that pops up with negative self-talk. Asshole.