Previously Published to News Break
So many of us enter into a relationship thinking that “this might just be the one.” Everything’s going great. You guys are in sync. You share a number of common interests. But, then you comfortable. The first time something seems out of place, we start questioning everything …and to the point of overanalyzing it. An analysis is great, but it’s only great if you do it correctly. Stop thinking the worst about your relationship, and analyze your relationship the right way.
What’s love got to do with it?
For those of you, who are familiar with DISC assessments, you know that there are three natural states of our being. One is our perceived self. One is our private self. Another is our public self. How we act towards someone new isn’t always based on how we actually feel about them. Sometimes it’s how we are feeling about ourselves going into that new situation and the environment in which we are spending our time getting to know them.
When we are new in a relationship, we might be nervous. So, we tend to act in the same way that we may deal with under stress. We are extremely careful, extremely tentative. On the contrary, those of us, who are less nervous, may act on behalf of our public self …still not as confident, but just as much — if not more — worried about what others think about us, especially the person we have taken interest in.
As we become more comfortable with ourselves, with our new situation, and with the person, whom we have been courting (if we can still use this word), we tend to act with our private self. This is how we act when we are home, when we have taken off the mask and when we are in our most natural state.
The first sign of trouble.
Depending on how long we have been acting in our other states and how long we have shielded our private state from our partner in crime, one of two things seems to commonly happen.
1. Our partner can start to view us as “fake.” Because, hey, we aren’t the same person that they met and now our true colors are shining through — even though both versions are different versions of ourselves.
— Or —
2. Our partner can fall deeper in love with who we are when we go home at night… And, this person isn’t always who we want once their true colors start to come out. But, then again, sometimes it is, and that’s why people decide that they want to spend the rest of their lives together.
Because we evolve and change based on our situation, our environment, and the people we are around, our personalities and traits will continue to change over time. Not understanding this shift will leave us wondering why certain people are starting to look at us differently, why they start to question us when they never have before, and why our personalities start to clash. In fact, their own personalities may start to change, and they become someone we don’t know anymore, either.
This, in itself, can bring conflict. Miscommunication can breed turmoil… and as they say, “familiarity can breed contempt.” We start thinking about our future, and especially our future with this person. Our fears begin to drive us, our insecurities haunt us.
Most people fear the unknown, and as your life changes, so does your personality. You may not recognize it at first, but people truly do have the power to influence who we are, what we do, and how we react to each new situation.
A few questions we might ask ourselves:
- Can we trust our lives in the hands of someone else? Someone new?
- How do you get to know someone inside and out, before taking that big step to spend your life with that person?
- How do you avoid conflict over time, and keep the relationship fresh?
- How do you improve that relationship and keep communication going strong?
Learn to understand his or her characteristics.
We, as humans, are generally good. This is a concept you will hear over and over again. But, that’s only because it is true. We do what we are taught. We act according to what we know. We know only what we can perceive. We are all very much alike, and all very much different. In fact, our differences are so much alike that it can be all too confusing.
Not all men are dogs, and not all women like to nag. We react according to our situation. We act in order to protect our own egos.
If this person really means something to you, take the time and get to know them. Don’t be afraid to get to know them on a more personal level. Small talk is great. In fact, we want to know about the way they grew up, that their favorite color is black and that they can’t live one Sunday without watching the Steelers play. But, who are they when they need to make a difficult decision? Who are they when working within a team dynamic? Are they the same person in public as they are when you are alone?
You are a sociable person, who loves family events. You have a big family and love to be around them. Or, you love to shop. You like to go to the mall and love scouting out all the sales — whether you decide you want to buy something or not.
Is this someone that will join you in all of your adventures? Do you even want them to be at your side when you’re in all your glory? They love being around you, but they don’t feel comfortable in those types of environments. They sweep their own personal feelings under the rug because you are their exception.
They don’t care where they are or what they are doing, because they just want to be with you. Yet, they can’t help how they react when placed in an environment in which they are uncomfortable being around.
Take a few minutes, right now, to reflect on your relationship:
- Do you see that they putting themselves in an awkward situation just because they want to see you happy, whether they are happy or not?
- Are you okay with negativity swirling around your joyous occasion — or do you make concessions to avoid those types of conflicts, while still enjoying the things you love?
- Do you realize this has nothing to do with you or who this person is within their heart?
- How do you communicate that you love spending time with this person but you also love spending time with others — without hurting their feelings?
When you start to understand how this person thinks, acts, and responds to their environment, this is when you really start to get to know them. You can gauge whether or not this is the type of person you want to be with and if they have the type of personality that yours will harmonize with. Some people are better off as friends, and that’s okay. But, when you speak about being in a relationship, you are generally talking about a long-term situation in which your worlds become one. You have to be okay with not just them, but also yourself, in the long run.
Learn to communicate better.
Once you learn, who you are spending a good majority of your time with, you will begin to learn what you can or cannot say around them. If they are overly analytical, as can be the case with a C-type personality, you can’t fully talk about situations that are going to make their minds wander and make them question you more. Three months down the line, they will ask you questions about something that you have long forgotten about — and have concern when you have no idea what they are talking about.
Likewise, an I-type personality may be someone you want to keep some secrets from, because they may inadvertently tell the next man without really thinking about the repercussions for an innocent conversation and what that may bring to the relationship. Similarly, a D may eventually use those things against you to get what they want or to get even when they feel they have been wronged.
On the brighter side of things, communication is everything. It’s key to every relationship. Healthy dialogue, open discussion, empathy — these are all things that every great relationship needs to survive.
Learning what to say and how to say it can make the biggest difference in the world. It’s not always about what is actually said, sometimes it’s also about perception. In fact, it’s also the reason why two totally different people can say the same thing to the same person, and that person will react differently.
Avoid what makes them tick.
When you get to know someone and learn, who they are at their core, you will also learn what makes them tick. While an I-type personality has no problem going from work directly to an event — especially if they are going to network, the S-type person may feel they need more time to prepare. The C-type might not want to go out at all, and the D-type may only want to go out if they are being recognized for an achievement.
If you are a risk-taker, who acts on a whim, this might be a problem for someone who craves stability and needs assurance that everyone move you make is going to be a safe one. It will cause them unnecessary stress, and the more it happens — the more they feel they are walking on eggshells. If you are very people-oriented, but this person needs their alone time, they may hate having people around them just to appease your needs, while they need time to recharge — especially if you are their peace and they just want that one-on-one time alone with just you.
If you are “loud and outgoing”, this may be confused as “aggressive and confrontational” by someone much quieter and much more reserved than yourself. You might not even be taken seriously, because they mischaracterize you as the life of the party — and, even if you were the life of the party, does this mean that you aren’t loving, nurturing, diligent or successful? If you don’t understand their point of view, you could easily be offended. This of course will cause problems, and they would have at this point made you tick.
Accept their differences. Realize the exceptions. Appreciation is everything.
Once you know who you are dealing with, embrace them for what makes them unique. Learn to love them for who they are and let them know you appreciate them for it. Learn to accept your differences, and how to maneuver around them naturally. Not every battle is worth fighting, and not every fight is meant to be won. Appreciate the difference in opinion and try to see things from another point of view.
Realize this person is trying, even when it may seem like they are not. As uncomfortable as it may be for them to join you at a family outing, when their own family is in shambles, says a lot in itself. Communicating your concerns by allowing them to voice their inner feelings openly can work wonders.
Be open to accept what they say, whether you like what they say and how they say it, or not.
Realize not everyone knows how to communicate well — even when they have the best of intentions. Listen for what is not being said and listen from a positive point of view. Let them know you appreciate their sentiment and tactfully indulge them in your own — but, don’t force it. They might not be ready to hear it just yet.
At some point in time, most people have learned that you can’t just trust everyone. So, they don’t, and they live by it. Trust must be earned, and it has to be built over time.
Showing and demonstrating your genuine interest in someone doesn’t guarantee trust overnight. Yet, continued appreciation for someone will allow us to trust that their intentions truly are pure and will keep us from causing the conflict that can push others away.
When there is no longer conflict or the threat of conflict, this person will start bringing their guard down and will feel just as appreciated, as you allow them to feel. Trust will soon come, and better communication will follow.