Communications 101: Getting what you need from your relationships

Throughout middle school and most of high school, I didn’t have any friends who I truly felt comfortable being myself around. I didn’t know it then but it’s possible to have friendships that seem great on the surface but are actually pretty unhealthy. Since then I’ve come to see any relationship as a complex emotional negotiation, in which we try to strike a balance between our needs and the needs of those we care about. Like any negotiation, there is bound to be compromise. But when does a compromise become toxic?

For me, if you aren’t able to communicate with honesty and openness, then it’s time ask yourself if you’re getting what you need from your relationship.  You should be able to freely discuss anything without the fear of being ridiculed. If you feel any hesitation discussing anything with another person there is an invisible chasm that demands attention. Perhaps the fix is a simple heart-to-heart conversation. Perhaps the relationship hasn’t been given sufficient time to blossom. Perhaps the relationship is something you need to get out of.

Now, there’s only one exception to the communication rule:  if the communication is physically or emotionally abusive in any way, it’s best to part ways, in any circumstance.

Maslow ABC'sWe are innately social beings whose happiness is intimately tied to our relationships. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow is a well-known psychologist) safety/security (which can be poorly influenced by abuse) and love/belonging are second and third, respectively, to physiological concerns (air, water, food). Basically, the theory states one must achieve safety/security and love/belonging before one can achieve self-esteem.

So, take a moment and really assess all of your relationships (with your father, mother, aunt, friend, boyfriend, wife, daughter, etc.). How are you communicating with each person?