14 Dos and Don’ts of Healthy, Meaningful Relationships

1.

Don’t expect yourself to have the same experiences as others in order to relate to them. Do learn to hear other people’s painful experiences even if they don’t match your own.

2.

Don’t go on and on about your problems without clarifying whether you want me to just listen or whether you’re seeking to make changes and would like my input or advice. Do make it clear what expectations you have for our interaction.

3.

Don’t make allusions to having a secret and then not tell me what it is. If you don’t want to tell me a secret, then don’t suggest you have one (some exceptions may apply to trauma-related issues). Do tell me personal things about yourself if you feel up to the challenge.

4.

Don’t compare yourself to me, then get angry and not tell me what’s going on. Do speak openly of your insecurities and the ways you are trying to work on them.

5.

Don’t pretend to listen to me while thinking of how you can make yourself into a certain kind of person through our interactions. Do listen to me for me.

6.

Don’t compete for most traumatic or most interesting experience. Do realize that it matters how you feel when you tell something, whether you’re present in your own story, not how dramatic the events were.

7.

Don’t interrupt or interject too much. Do question a social style that depends entirely on inserting yourself into others’ stories/social space.

8.

Don’t create conflicts in order to have something to talk about. Do talk about things that are important to you or just be silly.

9.

Don’t be afraid of silence. Do cultivate meaningful silence.

10.

Don’t blame people for problems that are circumstantial. Do understand the full context when you can.

11.

Don’t quickly blame people when they try to talk with you about an issue that they have. Do listen with an open heart.

12.

Don’t blame other people just to deflect from your own undoings. Do be honest about your own imperfections.

13.

Don’t expect me to nurture you, especially if I haven’t been vulnerable with you lately. Do ask polite, open-ended questions.

14.

Don’t assume that you know what I’m thinking. Do ask me what I am thinking.

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About pennapril

feminist, activist, poet
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