Assume the role of relationship killer
Throughout my life, I’ve seen and experienced many relationships rise and fall. It can be tough for people to keep friendships and romantic relationships during their teens and 20’s, since most people are still changing and growing into full maturity during these times, and have a tendency to just drift apart. This, however, is not always the case. I’ve witnessed, both as an outsider and a participant, many a friendship fail over stupid and/or completely avoidable reasons. While the specifics differ, the core reason usually has to do with communication, and a fairly large amount of times it all comes down to assumptions.
Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Someone says something that irks you or seems odd to you, and you assume they mean one thing or another, based on a myriad of reasons. These reasons can range from your knowledge of how that person has acted towards others in the past, to your past experiences with others who acted similarly. Problem is, people tend to assume someone meant one thing, even if they didn’t actually mean that at all. This is a big problem because that initial reaction causes an immediate emotional response which attaches itself to the memory of the statement/incident. Because of this, any future conversations or arguments about it will be tainted with emotional bias, however irrational, and will make it difficult for that person to think objectively.
The first reason I mentioned (there are tons, but I’m only gonna talk about 2 here), is how someone has acted or spoken previously. Consider this. You have a close friend who, when they get upset with someone, pulls away from them and blows them off constantly. Then, all of a sudden, that person appears to be blowing you off. You don’t speak for awhile, and you immediately think that they are upset with you. When you finally talk to them again, you may be a little guarded or even angry, thinking that something you did upset them and you weren’t able to even explain before they pulled away. But maybe it wasn’t that at all. Maybe that person was just going through a tough patch and needed some alone time to work things out. Maybe they were swamped with work and family shit, and didn’t have time for friends. I’ve done that before as well, and wasn’t even aware I was doing it. The only way to know is to ask, and the best way to ask is from a place of honesty and compassion. If you really care about that person, try to reach out and say something like “Hey, is everything ok? I noticed you’ve been pulling away lately, and want you to know that I’m here if you wanna talk about anything, or have any problems.” Let that person know you give a shit about their friendship, feelings, and well being. That is, if you really care about the friendship itself. This also goes the same for romantic relationships, and is much more important in that situation.
The other reason I’ll go into is based on your personal previous experiences. This has a fair amount to do with your self esteem, and how you’ve been treated in the past. The best example I can give is my own experience. If I’m walking around in public, and a girl looks at me, then looks away and smirks, I immediately think she’s somehow laughing at me. She might be thinking I remind her of someone, or I might be wearing a funny shirt or whatever. It doesn’t matter. My initial response is almost always that it’s because of something wrong with me. This, of course, has to do with my past, and what it was like for me growing up, especially in school. Hell, for all I know, she might even be thinking a little wink wink, nudge nudge, know what I mean, say no more! Still, my initial response colors my entire reaction. I’ve been around others who have had similar responses to something someone either did or said to them. For something said, it could be completely complimentary, but the initial assumption could be very negative just because it’s all you know. Dangerous ground.
I’ve spoken about communication before, but it’s never too much. This is the major reason, in my opinion, for relationships failing. Whether it be a close friendship, a marriage, whatever. It doesn’t matter. If we assume someone’s intention, and let it fester, it will easily blow a small innocuous thing way out of proportion. If you have a question about someone’s intentions, ask them about it, and do it from a place of peace. If you wonder if you upset someone unintentionally, go to them and ask. It’ll make your bond with that person much stronger, since they’ll realize you actually give a shit about them and their feelings. Remember, if someone comes to you to talk about an incident, they either want to build a better friendship, or want to keep the existing one intact. Think about that the next time you silently hold a grudge over something without all the information. Trust me, I know from experience that great friendships can be lost and ruined over stupid shit like this. It’s happened to me, and I’ve been responsible for it. Once the haze of righteous anger fades, and the clarity of calm realization hits, it unveils wounds that will never fully heal.
Oh, and this is all dependent on the honesty of the other person as well. Gauge your trust in others carefully. Still, I’d rather be up front, honest, and emotionally open. If that person abuses that, they lose out. I lose nothing, personally, by being the “better person”.