After a particularly unsuccessful relationship, I took away a couple insights that I've found particularly useful and will share with you today.
When I started writing essays for the various humanities subjects I studies, I was taught to state the definitions of the words I was using to formulate my argument. It's a standard part of academic writing and beginning your argument with clear frameworks means that you're less likely to go wandering off into the intellectual wilderness and never find your way home. It sets up your thinking, which informs your argument (because all essays are supposed to be arguments).
Please let me make it clear, I believe relationships are not arguments.
I do believe in communication within relationships (oh yeah, and I'm using relationships in the broadest sense of the word, not just loving, intimate relationships). I believe in communication, mostly because my own telepathy is pretty rubbish, and sometimes people do things which confuse and may make perfect sense to them...but leaves me scratching my head. Rather than try to rationalise or create stories around someone's actions, I'd rather ask.
When I first start getting to know someone, I like to find out their definitions of things. Firstly, because I'm nosy, I remain deeply interested in how people create their realities. Being a writer and an NLP Practitioner...only adds to this nosiness. The definitions people use reveal the frameworks for their thinking, it reveals how they construct their world and it because as human beings there will be tension between what they want and what they do.
I find people endlessly fascinating.
When you know where people are coming from, what their core values are, where their beliefs lie, you've got the foundations for a strong friendship or loving relationship.
I have found this to be very useful when talking about the vague words we use all the time. Consider 'love', 'friendship' and 'relationship'.
It all sounds straightforward doesn't it? Not quite.
Using someone's definition assumes a couple of things: firstly, they are articulate and self-aware and secondly, that they will always follow through on their definitions.
You see, there exists a kind of schism between what I would like to be, as a person and what I actually do. Within my behaviours there are paradoxes, anomalies and contradictions. And that's what makes human beings endlessly fascinating to me.
And what do I trust, when someone's behaviour and action are not joined up?
I trust the action. Always.
And I trust how their actions make me feel.
I once dated someone who claimed to be 'into me, big-time'. Yet, he was always late. He was stingy emotionally and he'd change/downgrade our plans at the last minute. I'd gently broach the subject, he'd say 'baby, you're fun and hot, of course I want to be with you.' I'd leave the conversations feeling insecure. In the end, I called things off.
I don't particularly like being called 'baby'. I'm a grown woman with a long and lanky teenager. I've gone past the age where being called 'baby' is cute.
And I didn't like how I felt around him.
And that was the other big lesson I've learnt in relationships.
It's not how I feel about someone, which I take most notice of now. It's how the other person makes me feel when we're together and when we're apart. But we'll maybe talk about that another time.
So, has that been useful for you? What are your definitions? What are your partner's definitions? How do you resolve the differences?