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Have you seen a movie called The Blind Side?
It’s about a big dude who plays football. His position on the field, Left Tackle, was created to protect the pretty boy quarterback from the blind side blitzers who want nothing more than to leave him in mangled pieces on the football field.
What I’m about to give you is the Left Tackle of relationships (analogies like this happen when the Super Bowl is too close to Valentine’s Day. Don’t blame me, blame the NFL).
I consider myself a “relationship” guy. I’ve said it on this site before. I’m a fan of Love. I love the idea of Love. I love Love’s potential picture in my life. In fact, Love is the reason I am a Christian because I believe God created love and relationships. I think He meant it to fuel our lives. When you boil it all down, I think it’s why we exist.
But if that is true, why do our relationships fail so often?
That’s a loaded question, I know. One of the reasons relationships fail so often is our inability to protect our relationships from the blindside blitz coming from the weak side. Most blindside sacks in relationships happen because of two words. Bad communication. Here’s thing, we’re always communicating in our relationships in one way or another. It’s just not always good communication. In most failing relationships, someone’s holding back how they really feel. Or, someone always says exactly what they feel without considering the best way to say it. Both are examples the sort of bad communication that turn a relationship into a ticking bomb.
So what are some good communication habits you can use to protect your relationships? Here’s a few ideas.
The Representative (for daters)
When we date we’re on our best behavior. And we should be. We flaunt all of our pretty colors, curves and cordiality, and hide all the ugly. And that’s fine. But I think we should begin as early as possible being as real as possible about who we are. That doesn’t mean you go around firing off all your faults to people the first time you meet them. But it does mean that once you find someone you really connect with, it’s best to represent who you really are and set the right expectations for the potential relationship. It’s often the case that we set ourselves up by communicating expectations in a relationship we aren’t able to follow through on. It’s tricky, because most of it is non-verbal.
This is especially tricky for the fellas, because half the time we don’t know what you ladies are thinking. We’re just clueless like that. But the need to impress is the very nature of courting, so by all means impress away. Just remember that whatever you do to get the girl, you must do to keep the girl. She expects you to! Once you declare yourself the winner of the sweepstakes and stop pursuing, she’ll feel less valued. And when she feels less valued… well, let’s just say there’s always someone waiting to pursue and “re-value” her.
So guys, you can’t be a gentleman, have a listening ear, and care about her hobbies at the beginning of the relationship if you don’t plan on continuing those things. If you do, you might as well be stepping out on the relationship field with no Offensive Line at all. What you do communicates who you are. And once you’ve communicated who you are, that’s who most ladies expect you to be.
Ladies, the same goes for you. There’s a reason your man was enamored by you. Candidly speaking, if he’s physically attracted to you, if you’re supporting his efforts, if you’re showing him a healthy version of respect, keep it up. If I haven’t learned anything else in life, it’s that ladies are just as ruthless as the stereotypical man.
Look, tough conversations are a part of relationships. We like to run from them or think they things will resolve themselves, but that’s not the way it works. You’re going to have to have some tough conversations and I say you have them as soon as they’re needed.
We are emotionally fickle creatures (even dudes), either too passive or too aggressive. Passivity doesn’t want to rock the boat. They’re afraid of driving their significant other away. It’s just safer to internalize or trust the illusion that things will change on its own. Aggression insists their voice be heard, often in less than tactful ways. It’s often brutal, blunt, and eager to criticize and dominate.
As I said before, neither of these will do.
Here’s a little something I’ve come up: Anything can be said with the right words and the right tone at the right time.
I know how that sounds, and the stars don’t need to align perfectly for good communication to happen. The key is understanding. You can’t always cram your thoughts down people’s throats and expect them to accept them. Sometimes, it’s much better to spoon-feed.A good communicator in a relationship speaks in their partner’s language. This will help you choose the right words and tone, and recognize the right time. Understanding the way your partner hears your words helps you communicate more effectively. Remember, too, that communication is a two way street. Your thoughts and opinions matter just as much as your partners’. No more, no less.
Now, good communication also leaves room for reaction. Spoon-feeding your thoughts and feelings doesn’t mean they’ll always go down easy and smooth. And that’s ok. Because emotional reactions are part of the deal. Don’t let them scare you. There’s a reason some conversations are tough. They could offend, anger, or sadden somebody in the relationship. Or, it means someone has to take the risk of vulnerability. A risk we are all hesitant to take. But it’s worth the risk to iron out issues before they grow into mountainous beasts of false assumptions and hidden contempt. Besides, the hard conversations are unavoidable. And often, the longer we wait, the harder they get.
If a couple learns good communication habits early, they can put out most fires before the blaze. Good, open lines of communication shortens the cause-and-effect chain of disappointment and inevitable failures. It also draws you closer to each other and builds trust. It’s the Left Guard protecting your relationship. As long as you’re communicating well, there is no way your relationship can be blindsided.
What are some good ways to protect your relationship? What are some examples of difficult conversations?
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