Relationships: Vive La Dif·fé·rence...or not.
We all long to be connected in love, friendship, work, play. Our relationships give us the richness, excitement, the “juice” in life. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, etc. The great fairy tale The Ugly Duckling describes our frustration, search, happiness when we find our tribe, or flock.
“Ah, finally, somebody who really gets me, I don’t have to pretend, or work so hard, or be bored. I can just be myself all the time! I feel so free, so happy!”
Then a moment arrives when our friend, lover, partner, colleague begins to exercise their own right to just be themselves too, and no matter how sophisticated, knowledgeable, consciously aware we are suddenly we feel a little less wonderful, maybe a bit hurt, or a lot hurt, or confused.
Our differences have presented themselves, either subtly or dramatically. All of a sudden we’re w-a-y less enthusiastic about celebrating them.
Now what do we do? We’re too smart to stuff our feelings, and pretend. So stuffing isn’t an option.
We could act out, become covertly passive-aggressive, but even if we can get those little jabs in it doesn’t make us feel better.
We could split, find somebody else…somebody who really, really gets me. That’s rolling the dice, though. No guaranteed outcome that we’ll feel better…and so much work!
In my life, and practice, I have found a semi-magic bullet. It doesn’t work all the time, but it works most of the time.
That Semi-Magic Bullet is:
We all have pretty good brains, or we wouldn’t be writing or reading this Newsletter. Using our
brains to negotiate our differences can generate more trust, intimacy, and deepen ourselves in and out of relationship.
Three tips for negotiation:
1. Make an appt. to talk. Talking implies both bodies being in the same room at the same time. Talking is not to be misconstrued as texting or e-mailing, both of which are excellent devices for making the problem worse. Texting and e-mailing require reading symbols on a screen and lack nuance, feeling and spontaneity.
2. Express yourself to the other person using “I” statements. The minute you begin using “You” statements you will create defensiveness and resistance which will make your meeting about 6,000 times longer…navigating the speed bumps and detours that will naturally occur.
3. Recognize and accept that the other person has just as much right to be who they are as you do, that you will probably not get 100% of what you want…but, frankly, 50% is pretty good. They were not put on this planet to meet your needs. Inconvenient, I know, but true.
4. Allow periods of silence in the conversation. When you take a breath, or a break, something good might happen. Listening carefully, even though it’s a pain, is key.
5. Come to an agreement, and make an appt. to have another meeting a week, six months or a year out, to renegotiate…because things change.