I may not be very old, but I consider myself moderately wise. I pride myself on always reaching for a better relationship, not just with John, but with anyone I have a relationship with. With it being Valentines day, I decided I would share some of the best advice I have gained over the years on how to improve the relationships in your life.
You have to show up for yourself before you can show up for others
This is my most important advice I can give. I try to tell people this all the time and so many people just don’t get it. Especially when it comes to a romantic relationship, you are not together to make the other person whole. You are not the yin to the yang. You can be very different people and be in a thriving relationship, but you do not add anything to the other person.
Relationships are about two people going on a journey together. Before you start that journey, you both have to be whole, individual people. What I mean by this is you have to accept yourself for who you are, know who you are, and know what you stand for. So many people get into a relationship and hope that the other person will give them something they don’t have. This is unhealthy and it’s called codependence.
Have your own likes, interests, loves, fears, hobbies, friends, and share those with your partner. Engage in each others lives and live them alongside one another with so much love. If you don’t know who you are, how is your partner supposed to know for you?
Understand the people you are in a relationship with DEEPLY
Something I have done in the last year that has really helped me understand my personal relationships is trying to figure out the people I am close with on a deeper level. For example, I know almost every single one of my friends and families enneagram number, tendency, and love language. (If you don’t know what these are just DM me)
I know how they want me to express love to them, how I should apologize to them, why they react to the same situation differently than I do. It helps me connect with them more. It helps me understand that they are different than me. They have different needs than me and I can show up for them accordingly.
The deeper you understand the important people in your life, the happier you will be and the happier they will be in a relationship with you. If they are an especially good partner, they will do the same for you.
Make the effort and show up well
This one is tricky for me to discuss because I genuinely believe there is a fine line you have to walk with this one. This advice can get ugly and cause a lot of resentment in relationships. For example, you have a friend or family member who will keep in touch, makes plans with you, remembers your birthday, etc. Thats great! They make the effort and it shows very much! The problem is they don’t show up well. They flake on plans. They’re on their phone at dinner with you. They’re not interested in talking about you, only about themselves. They are not showing up well for you.
I absolutely can’t stand this and it’s something I discovered a few years ago that helped me cut a lot of people out of my life. People who show up well and put in the effort do not have to show up often. They just have to show up in the best way.
A positive example of this can show up in any relationship whether it be a spouse, a family member, or a friend. Friends who you don’t see much, but they make the trip to see you and want to get dinner and talk for hours and hear about your new job and your new cat you got! Family who you only see at holidays, but they give you such a thoughtful gift and give you the biggest, genuine hug and tell you how much they miss seeing you, but are happy they get this chance. A partner who works long hours, but makes sure to sit with you at the dinner table and ask about your day and helps clean up the dishes, even if it’s the only 20 minutes you see them everyday.
You can’t just make the effort. You have to make the effort, and show up well. One without the other is never enough.
Look, we all go through tough shit in life. We all also have ego that makes us look at other peoples lives with judgment and compare whose life is harder. I understand because I used to think like this all the time.
In a relationship, you need to have overwhelming empathy for the other person; not sympathy, empathy. Sympathy is when you feel sorry for someone else. Empathy is when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes. By putting yourself in their situation, you can understand why they don’t ever text you, why they spend all their time with their boyfriend and not you, why they never help you with the chores.
When you step back and look through the other persons perspective, it makes a lot more things understandable than a problem worth fighting about. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Even if the person who is weeping is weeping about how they spilt diet coke in their limited edition Louis Vuitton bag and you know they’ll get a new one tomorrow, just remember they are still upset that they ruined something they didn’t want to ruin and they probably feel really bad about it. Meanwhile my biggest problem is the purse I’ve used for 9 year finally has a hole large enough my things fall out of it…. you get my point.
Always work to do better
We are all bound to make mistakes. We are not perfect. We are not even moderately close to getting through life (at least I’m not. I like to think I’m not alone). If you are not striving to always be a better partner, friend, sister, daughter, coworker, boss, or whatever, you will never grow and have exceptional relationships.
If you are always looking at the other person as the problem, you are never going to have a good relationship. Remember that you can always do better, that sorry isn’t enough, and you need to always work to grow, improve, and be the best you can be.
In the last year, being more aware of these things has improved my relationships all around. I am closer with my close friends, I cut people out of my life who were not showing up well for me, I have a partner who I absolutely adore and pursue everyday, and I love and appreciate my family more than anything in the world.
Even though today is Valentine’s Day, show the people you love that you love them everyday. Always remember that they could not be here tomorrow and if they weren’t would you be happy with the way you showed up for them?