A lot of misunderstandings in a relationship stem from a lack of open communication (although in future posts I will also show you that talking is not always a good idea!). We often avoid it in the early stages of a relationship so as not to alienate a potential partner. We don’t bring up ‘forbidden’ topics such as attitudes to having children, marriage, monogamy in a relationship, living together, etc. We think that we will still have time to talk about these things when the relationship becomes more serious. This can bring disappointment and unnecessary suffering. Although difficult topics stir up emotions and controversy, it is worth verifying at the beginning of the acquaintance whether we see the possible relationship in a similar way. On the first date, you may realise that a relationship has no future. If he/she has a completely different approach to fidelity or having children, for example, discussing difficult topics at the beginning will save you a lot of time. And you will avoid disappointment, because let’s not kid ourselves… you are unlikely to get along with a person with a completely different idea of life on issues of core values.
When entering a new relationship, check what assumptions you bring into it.
– Do you know your needs, your values and what you expect from the relationship?
– What is central to the way you live your life (e.g. travel, faith, having children, personal development, caring for the planet)?
– In what areas are you able to accept differences and where are they unacceptable to you?
Open communication in a relationship – how does it help avoid misunderstandings?
Sometimes we fall in love with the other person’s image rather than their true face. There is often a halo effect at work here. This means that we are more likely to attribute positive character traits to physically attractive people. For example, we see a handsome man as resourceful and a beautiful woman as tender and caring. It is worth looking at the other person a little more realistically and seeing not only the advantages, but also the disadvantages. It is the latter that may become difficult for us to accept in the future. When we give in to idealising and imagining the other person, we can begin to interpret their behaviour to fit into our vision. At the beginning of a relationship, we notice every positive behaviour of the other person and add to it that this is a permanent feature of the other person. The state of falling in love makes us try harder and have more energy to act – it’s the moment when the brain is flooded with a cocktail of chemicals that make the other person the whole world. The hormone phenylethylamine doesn’t allow us to focus our thoughts on anything else; they revolve solely around our partner. The love high also intensifies mutual desire. Sleep, food and obligations are then pushed into the background. However, if it were to stay that way for long, it would be too high an energy cost for our body. This is why evolution has programmed us to remain in this state for up to 2-3 years. After that, the amount of phenylethylamine and other compounds subsides, so that we stop looking at our partner through rose-coloured glasses.
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Manipulating a partner as an attempt to change their behaviour
How do you change your partner? This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions in online discussion groups. Many people are counting on someone to share their proven ways. Unfortunately, some people choose deception instead of having an honest conversation about their emotions. For example, they don’t communicate to their partner that they feel tired from preparing all the meals, instead staying late at work to make the other party ‘guess’ that they are supposed to cook dinner. When this does not happen, they feel frustrated and disappointed. Meanwhile, there are no magic tricks to get the partner to change their behaviour. Such solutions are manipulative and rarely produce the desired results. A frank conversation free of resentment and accusations works much better.
To make an assertive request:
– describe the problem in a way that doesn’t blame the other person.
– describe your own feelings
– express your needs as values
– formulate one concrete request concerning the other person’s behaviour
Is it possible to change your partner’s behaviour?
Wondering if it is possible to change your partner’s behaviour and get them to adopt more desirable attitudes? It is worth remembering that we have entered into a relationship with an adult, fully formed person who has certain character traits. Your partner will change his or her behaviour if he or she wishes to do so. For example, when worrying about a loved one’s health, we often wonder how we can get them to change their diet, give up an addiction or visit the doctor. Some even feel remorseful for not being able to encourage their partner to take care of themselves. It’s worth remembering that we’re dealing with an adult who will go to a specialist when he feels it’s appropriate. While his behaviour may seem illogical to us, he is entitled to make his own decisions.