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I spend a lot of time in my work with clients talking about relationships. As young professionals who want to be sure they are making the right decisions for themselves when it comes to both their career and their relationships, my clients want the tools they require to make that happen.
In my more recent conversations with my clients when teaching them the tools to build healthy relationships, I have added a necessary caveat: that not everyone is capable of being in a healthy relationship. I will explain what I mean by this by giving you a brief description of what I teach my clients about the building blocks of a healthy relationship.
When building and fostering healthy relationships, enough of a positive impact can be made when even only one partner is creating change in themselves and in how they are approaching that relationship. In a healthy relationship, even when only one person changes their approach in a positive way, it is almost automatically reciprocated (naturally) by the other partner in the relationship. For example, if you are not feeling heard in your relationship, you can change that by you working on your listening skills and becoming a good listener yourself. When you do that, you will find that your partner, and others around you, will start listening to you too. The reason this happens is because you are creating a culture of listening by being a good listener and modeling what it is that you want to have in your relationship(s). This will work when you are in relationships with people who are emotionally healthy themselves. Allow me to explain what I believe it means to be ’emotionally healthy.’
My belief, understanding, and experience is that someone who is ’emotionally healthy’ is someone who is capable of respect and understanding of the other and of empathy (which is an outgrowth of that respect and understanding.)
If you do not feel respected and accepted by your partner, the first step to take is to ask yourself whether or not you respect and accept them. (If you do not or are not sure whether or not you do, I suggest you explore this either on your own, with a trusted friend, or a professional.) Be honest with yourself. Honesty is both respectful to you and to your partner. The next item you might want to explore is whether or not you truly respect yourself. (Yes, we are getting a bit deep here, but it is important for me to be thorough. I will expand on each of these concepts – respecting yourself and respecting others – in future posts.)
If at the end of your exploration with yourself about these questions regarding self-respect and respect for your partner, you come to the conclusion that you do respect yourself and that you do respect your partner, be sure to express that and actualize that in your relationship (i.e. show respect to yourself, and show respect to your partner.) When you do this, just as in the listening example I gave above, you are creating a culture of respect, which in a healthy relationship, with a healthy partner, is naturally reciprocated and created in your relationship.
When you are being honest with yourself and are honestly making a real effort to both respect yourself and your partner, and you feel that it is not being reciprocated by your partner, however, you might want to consider whether or not you are in a relationship with someone who is capable of showing or giving respect, understanding, and empathy. Furthermore, if you feel that BEING your true self and expressing what is true for you is NOT accepted by your partner, then it is very possible that you are in a relationship with someone who is not capable of being in a healthy relationship.
In a healthy relationship, each partner enjoys the feeling of comfort and safety of being their true selves, of sharing what is true for them, of having his or her own opinions and ideas, and of being able to share these opinions and ideas without fear.
If and when you do feel afraid or unaccepted by your partner to BE yourself and to share what is true for you, I encourage you to explore with yourself, other trusted individuals in your life, and/or a professional to be sure you are in a relationship with someone who is ’emotionally healthy.’ This exploration will give you the insight and support that you require to make the right decisions for yourself moving forward, and help you to build healthy, happy, and respectful relationships; you know, the kind that you deserve.
In support, admiration, and in awe of all that you are,
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