This Article is About
close relationships
personal relationships
best behavior
realistic goals
amount of time
period of time
Me Or Us
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Todays world has become much more complicated, in just about every way, than it was for past generations, and our so called “committed relationships” are no exception. Even though our close relationships are different and, seemingly, less committed in some ways there are still universal truths that we can use to determine if they are healthy and/or have the kind of future we are looking for.

Today I’m going to explore some of the most important and common issues we seem to have affecting the health of our personal relationships, and simplify them in a manner that anyone can use to determine the health of their own relationships.

I’m going to explore the impact of age, time, fair play, loyalty and commitment on our personal relationships and the realistic goals and expectations we can and should have based on these factors.

One of the major changes that has occurred over the past few generations is that people tend to decide to live together after only having known each other for a very short period of time; maybe just a few months or even weeks. The problem is that it takes longer than just a few weeks or months to truly get to know someone and their habits. People tend to be on their best behavior when we first meet them and even though most of us intuitively know that it can’t last and that, at some point, we will meet them in their more relaxed and true form, we have no way of knowing when.

Wouldn’t it be much less stressful and, certainly, fill us with more confidence about the future, if we knew the moral makeup and physical habits of the person we want to enter a committed relationship with before we made the commitment?

The other major issue that can only be understood by the passage of a sufficient amount of time is who we are going to mature into. This is more important today than ever before because young people are maturing, physically, at an earlier age and are, therefore, becoming sexually and socially active at an earlier age. This maturation manifests itself more physically than either mentally or emotionally which means that young people are taking on physical relationship responsibilities they may not be emotionally prepared for or even fully understand. They are still growing and changing physically, mentally and emotionally, meaning that who they are today is generally not who they will be next year or five years from now.

Commitment seems to have evolved as well. In generations past we approached commitment in relationships through marriage, now, however, it appears that commitment is expressed through pregnancy. This is such an important distinction, and has such a deep and widespread impact on relationships and society as a whole, that there are shows, such as “Jerry Springer” and “Maury Povich”, that are dedicated solely to the issue of commitment and all of its ramifications.

In the past, if married couples decided to go their separate ways, there were clear moral and legal directives for handling the responsibilities related to both children and property. Now it is not so clear. Fair play and loyalty are the other major issues that seem to lose their clarity too. I’m talking about the two together because they are intertwined. Fair play and loyalty can be understood clearly if you just ask yourself one question. How would I want to be treated in the same situation? Pretty simple!

Maybe not. If you watch the shows I’ve mentioned, read columns like “Dear Abby”, watch Dr. Phil or even just talk to people about their relationships, the one common thread that jumps out is that it is “all about me”. What I mean by that is each of the people involved is concerned only by how their relationship affects them. They don’t seem concerned at all about the other party.

Conversely, in healthy, functional relationships each of the two parties spends more time thinking about each other; each others needs, desires, issues, problems and goals than they do about their own. Then when an issue arises they ask; “how do I want to be treated and/or talked to?” That then is how they treat their partner. Wouldn’t it be less stressful and generate a great deal more confidence if when we decided to enter into a relationship, whether it is just about dating or being fully committed, we first asked each other what our goals and expectations for the relationship were? And in doing so, we clearly named and defined the issues that are important so that we clearly understood each others motives?

Ok, realistically that’s probably not going to happen, however, I would bet that each of us has a pretty good idea of what we want out of the relationship. So, wouldn’t it be a good idea to compare that to what our partner says and does in order to determine whether or not there is at least a chance of the relationship working?

The bottom line is, if you want to stay off Maury:

Take plenty of time to get to know each other and how each of you act in many different types of situations;

Ask lots of questions about every facet of each others lives including aspirations and goals;

In every situation, before you act or react, ask yourself how you would like to be treated or spoken to in the same situation.

These three things, taking time, asking questions and projecting, will take all of the confusion out of your relationships allowing you to make “informed” decisions which will, in turn, give your relationship a much greater chance to succeed.

Street Talk

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