A lot of things come to play in a relationship. No one can single-handedly talk about all that there is to talk about in a relationship, but since I’m such a genius, I’ve distilled all you need to know into “5 simple rules for healthy relationships”.
5 RULES FOR HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
This is what begins any meaningful relationship. Whether it be with your parents, friends, teachers, or the lady trying to sell you a bottle of bleach.
Without care, a relationship cannot be established – and even if it manages to materialize out of necessity, it would vanish as soon as the necessity evaporates.
Caring requires that you consider how your actions affect the other person, and then try as much as you can to see that it affects them positively. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate yourself from the equation, but rather that you should endeavor to see that you are not being selfish or self-absorbed.
People who engage in conversations, or transactions with the sole aim of benefiting – without caring about how their enjoyment affects others – are narcissists. These are the people who want compliments and crazy discounts.
Unfortunately for such people, flatterers and salespeople know exactly how to use this against them. Ever wondered why advertisements always talk about how a particular product or service is going to benefit you and make your life a whole lot better, plus, you’d be getting an 80% discount? Now you know why.
And sadly, many people are like this. Most times, once you find yourself in the middle of anything taking all the glory, and discounts, and added bonuses, it is usually not a healthy place to be in.
This is because unless they are making money off you, they won’t be feeling particularly thrilled to be there with you.
When you meet someone for the first time and they complement your shoes, the best thing you can do is pay back the compliment (even if it is complimenting something nontangible about them, like their energy, wisdom, or manners)
Once you can prove to someone that you are not all about yourself, that you also care about them – that you care what color of shoes they are putting on – you would have essentially created a base for a meaningful relationship to be built on.
Trust is an essential part of any relationship, without it, relationships don’t even begin, and even if they manage to, they become inherently toxic, and dangerous.
Imagine trying to be friends with a Tiger. Sure, it looks sexy and the strips are just mesmerizing, but would you dare establish contact? I suspect not.
Talking about suspicion, I suspect you suspect the tiger would pounce on you and bite off your head. This is the same for every relationship. If you can’t trust the other party (if they can’t trust you) it becomes very difficult for the relationship to form.
It is uncomfortable to meet someone on the streets and establish contact with them – this is the anxiety of most single people. I mean, how do you just meet someone with who you have nothing in common and tell them you want to be friends with them? The answer and solution are simple: Get them to trust you.
Okay, it is not that simple, but straightforward. You see, eliminating the awkward feeling can be as simple as pointing out the weather you both are under (i.e. commenting on the heat, cold, or haze). It could mean commenting on the traffic, or noise, or beauty of the environment, or the morning. The faster you can find something that you share in common, the easier it is for you to leverage on that (Note: we all share something in common, we are all humans).
You must have noticed politicians commenting on how they were once “poor”, or came from a certain village, or married a wife from a certain place, or did a certain thing, in a certain way. All these are ways to build trust.
I find it easy to simply comment on topics. If I meet a girl reading a book, I comment on the book. If I find a guy watching a movie, I comment on the movie. If I find a lady shopping, I comment on the groceries. This works like magic. There is no awkward feeling – you won’t feel like a creep asking them about the book they are reading, but you are going to definitely feel awkward if you just go and tell them that they are the most beautiful creatures you’ve ever seen since your mama gave birth to you.
And, you know how things go – one thing leads to another thing (one conversation to an invitation). Soon, you find yourself in their apartment, trying out their “toys”.
The trick is to make them see how similar you are.
Love is selfless. People say they love “fish”, but then they eat the fish. If you love someone, you would not want to do anything that hurts them or puts them in an uncomfortable situation. This means you wouldn’t want to profit at their expense.
This was one of the major issues that troubled me as a teenager: every day I see boys and girls hang out in the name of love, whilst in reality, the guys were after sex, and the girls were after money (or some other terrible mixture of exclusively developed and intentioned, yet damaging, interests).
Sure, sex is allowed. But it should exist on the grounds of bringing both parties pleasure. This is the same with every other relationship. You shouldn’t take care of children because you want them to be your retirement plan, you should take care of them because you care, and just want them to be happy and successful. In return the kids would take care of you not so they can flex on their peers, or even receive your blessings or praises, but because they care about you.
One must care for the other out of their own volition, and for no other reason than goodness. Selfishness has no place in love.
Love is better understood on the grounds of sacrifices and commitment. It is what is required to forgive, support, and simply be there for someone even though you are not benefiting anything in particular.
Love is the glue that binds a relationship when there is no other reason to continue. But love is not enough.
Love is not enough to establish and maintain a healthy relationship. A healthy relationship would require respect and boundaries.
Respect is the ability to become comfortable with – or at least unangered by – someone’s choices, differences, and views. It is what would permit a Muslim to become friends with a Christian, or a gay guy to become friends with a straight guy.
Respect blurs the line of unresolvable differences and makes it inconsequential.
People who can respect those who differ greatly from them are those who enjoy the most meaningful, and richest relationships. They can sit with so many different views, understand, and sometimes even explore them without ever changing theirs, nor hating the others for holding onto, or being those.
And, the truth is, we all differ. No couple walking on the streets has every aspect of their personalities or life identical. And so, the marriages, relationships, or even societies, that last are those in which the parties have decided to tolerate, and maybe even enjoy, the differences of the others.
This commandment of relationships is important more than love. Because, you may not necessarily like the other person, or even do things that benefit them, but because of respect you won’t go on a crusade to wipe them out (you won’t go about killing twins and albinos)
As much as you care about, love, trust, and respect someone, there is still one final ingredient that needs to be put in place by you if you wish to enjoy a healthy relationship in your life
You need to establish strong boundaries that would determine when and where a relationship would be terminated. You have to know the particular point where you won’t take it anymore.
In fact, healthy relationships are born when the people who are in them are willing to leave at any time. If you’ve been paying attention, then you must have realized by now that the people in a healthy relationship all have a life of their own.
People in healthy relationships don’t depend on the relationship to survive – and this is why telling someone that you would die without them is such a stupid thing to say.
Healthy relationships are born when people who are well on their own decide to care, trust, love, and even respect someone else. They have their source of income, have their religion (or lack of one), have their values and dreams, but still decide to be with you.
Therefore, it is not unnatural for such an individual to have limits to what they can handle in the relationship. This is because, there are things that if they permit would harm their source of income, religious belief (or lack of belief), or their values and dreams.
The mistake many people make is that they lose themselves in a relationship. They want – so badly – to be with someone that they forget that they too are people (they forget they are “someone” as well).
Hence, the most important Law of healthy relationships isn’t loving, but rather your ability to pull yourself out of an unhealthy relationship. People who cannot decide when and where to end our relationship can be said to have “boundary issues”.
But, this issue comes in two flavors: Some intrude into other people’s boundaries, and then some allow others to intrude into theirs.
Some people try too hard to please others, then some depend too much on the other person. Some try to change others (change their religion, career, dressing, dreams, etcetera), and then some allow themselves to be changed (they morph their religion, career, dressing, etcetera) to fit in the demands of the other.
Another remix of this is people who expect others to take care of their problems and those who go-ahead to bear other people’s responsibilities.
Such behavior is unhealthy and harmful because it set the grounds for future fights, regrets, and bitterness. This is when you start hearing things like “I spent my youth with you”, “I stopped working for you”, “I did X and Y because of you” ….” …and what did I get? Betrayal, lies, yadda yadda yadda…”
BEYOND THE LAWS
Look. Listen closely. If you were you, and they decided to cheat on you or do some stupid thing that destroyed the relationship, then you still have you.
Let me rephrase that. “If you were you – that is, you didn’t change, nor gave up a major part of who you are because of them – then after everything, you would still have you”.
This is so important because many people get into relationships and then change so much that they cease to interest their partner.
But, even outside the scope of romantic relationships, there is still a need to remain who you are. Like they say “the music of the jungle won’t be the same if a bird refuses to sing because it thinks its voice is not nice”, “a choir won’t be complete if everyone sang with bass”, I don’t know if I got those right, but you get the idea.
Be you. Always be you. Don’t lose yourself. The world waits to delight in you.
Side Note: This doesn’t mean you should stick to bad behaviors, but rather that you should stick to developing your uniqueness and wonder. Be a better entrepreneur, artist, Christian, or whatever you are. Go for the stars and achieve your wildest dreams. Don’t hold yourself back or try to be someone you are not. Do not give up yourself for some stereotypical nonsense. Be you.
And, enjoy your relationships.
Remember the levels and law, and you would be an eternally fulfilled and happy human being
Remember, we are all human beings and crave attention and validation, but the trick is to make sure that that attention and validation comes from the right people, and at the right proportion.
Seeking validation is not bad, what is unhealthy is seeking the validation of people on the internet whilst you have friends and family that already genuinely care about you. And secondly, seeking validation all the time is equally unhealthy.
Validations are like beer, if you take just the right amount, it makes the fear and anxiety go away and you can party like it was 1999, but if you take too much you wake up in the ditch the next morning with no recollection of what happened – feeling like crap.
This is all a roundabout way of saying that you need relationships just at the right amount, but not too much as to become addicted to them. Plus, you should know which relationships are more important.
And I hope, this very long writing was sufficient to both educate you on the levels of relationships, how to value them and how to nurture them.
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I’m an artist, writer, and thinker. I also love reading and playing chess.