What you need to know about relationships
Ligia Koijen Ramos from in2motivation shares with us the top five questions she gets asked in her work as a relationship coach. Want to know how to improve your relationship(s)? Read on!
This is not the first time that I am writing about relationships - and it probably won't be the last. Relationships are such an important part of our lives that they deserve the maximum amount of writing possible, because people tend not to know how to relate to one another, even though they have been doing that since they were born. In this article, I will answer the top five questions that I get asked as a relationship coach.
Why are we so incompetent in relationships?
This one is one of my favourites: it is bold and honest, just like relationships should be. One of the ideas about the way we relate with others is that people are always learning with each relationship they have. This is a myth. People learn the basic strategies to deal with others before they reach the age of five, and after that they are just repeating emotional and behavioural strategies. This learning is done with our primary relationships and how we felt in those relationships. And most of the time, family dynamics don’t make people feel safe or free of the need to perform. People become incompetent because they don’t deal with the person in front of them but with their emotional memories.
Why do relationships always seem so difficult?
Relationships are difficult because people have too many expectations and rules. And the difficult part is, most of the time, each person in the relationship must meet these expectations or comply with these rules. These rules, expectations, or mental contracts create a lot of confusion and don’t support clear and honest communication.
The mental image of a relationship is what is going to determine the emotions and the behaviours of that person in that relationship. The mental image of what is a romantic relationship, for example, is very personal and sometimes even very difficult for people to explain or put into words. For example: “I want someone that respects me," he said. “What is respect for you?” I asked. He needed time to reflect, and was still very abstract. So abstract, in fact, that I think it will be very difficult for another person to say: “I can give you that."
How can I know that a person is the right one for me?
You can’t. But that is also not the right question. A relationship is a daily discovery; it is not something that you will know for the future. The needs, emotions, and interests of people change, and if each person is not able to see that and adapt, love will not be enough. But this is the truth for any type of relationship.
Think about a work relationship, for example. When you are 25, you will be looking for a type of work relationship that’s very different than the type of work relationship you are looking for when you are 35, and even more so when you are 45. Accepting that this is normal, and even ideal, will make your life much easier than having the illusion that the relationship should always stay the same.
What is the best way to maintain a healthy relationship?
What I’m about to say is valid for any type of relationship. A healthy relationship is when giving and taking is balanced: when a person is able to give but is also able to take from the other person. Unfortunately, I don’t see this a lot. What I often see is one person giving a lot to the relationship and the other person taking. This will always promote resentment and negative anchoring in the relationship.
It is important to realise that taking is not a form of payment for what is given. Taking is the honesty of asking what the person wants from the other person. This can be time, words, touch, gifts, or services. People usually do not express or ask for what they want. This happens because they want the other person to decide to give it themselves. It is very arrogant and egoistical. The other person will give what they want to give and they deserve the opportunity to give something that is being asked for. If someone does something that you asked for, that can be love.
What can I do to change an unhealthy relationship dynamic?
Use your body more and your words less. Our body is much faster and smarter than our brain. Like I said before, mental images are created with all the learning and culture that people had, and that makes our brain very closed to being honest and clear.
People tend to see the world in terms of right and wrong, which is a type of evaluation that will not help in the context of relationships. The body will communicate what people really want and what is really going on at the emotional level. And to be honest, this is one of the biggest problems when it comes to first dates or interviews: the words are communicating one thing and the body is communicating another, and this gives opposite signals to the other person, which decreases trust.
How to change the dynamic
Here is how you can promote change in your relationship dynamic in a simple way:
- Change the location in which you interact with that person
- Change the physical position that you put yourself in, in relation to the other person (in an argument, if you want to stop it, never put yourself in front of the other person, but choose a more side-on position)
- Take a different position at the dinner table or in the meeting room every time.
Relationships are not complicated, but the idea of a relationship is. To know more about relationships and coaching listen to in2motivation's podcast “The coaches next door”.