In a new relationship, we often hope to have found “The One”. That our dream has come true, to be with a person who is as committed as we are to a healthy, caring, lasting connection. That it lasts forever.
As time passes, we sometimes realise that the new relationship is not as meaningful as we had hoped and that it is not truly satisfying.
How do you know that you are already in a meaningful relationship? Here are some of the characteristics:
What: Can you freely express your thoughts, ideas and feelings with your new partner? Or are you on guard with what you say and how you say it?
Why: Communication is critical in a relationship as it is your way to connect with people. Open, honest, and respectful conversation is the foundation of a meaningful relationship.
How: A good communicator is both introspective and perceptive. He/she doesn’t play the blame game, and listens to understand – not to answer. Full understanding is the goal here, not winning.
What: Accepting someone else’s ideas, existence and life circumstances without judgment equals respect.
Why: A relationship without respect cannot thrive with honesty and interdependence. If we ourselves want to be respected, we need to respect in return.
How: Treat others how you want to be treated. Show respect, so you too can receive the respect that you deserve. It’s not a one-way-street.
What: Honesty is being true to your heart and actions.
Why: In any kind of relationship, honesty is important. It is the foundation of trust and communication. Without it, a relationship is doomed.
How: Being honest needs communicating clear expectations of yourself and the other person, admitting to any mistakes, and expressing how you honestly feel. Honesty also means being kind. Especially if there’s a difficult message to convey, being brutally honest can be counterproductive. A little diplomacy goes a long way. Remember the golden rule in communication: communication is not about intent, but about impact. Be prepared to adapt your communication style to the person you’re communicating with.
What: Your action must also match your words. Do what you say you’ll do. Increase your integrity and dependability for the relationship to grow.
Why: Providing support to the other person in your relationship creates a strong pillar of trust. Having a partner who is dependable makes the relationship grow easily and comfortably.
How: Keep your commitments and promises, be physically and mentally present for the other person, both. If you can’t commit, be honest.
What: Feeling the emotions, feelings and thoughts of the other person is empathy.
Why: Supporting your partner physically, emotionally and mentally is important for him or her to feel fully accepted.
How: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Try to understand what the other person is going through and feeling before trying to fix it, respond to it or ignore it.
What: Interdependence is when two independent people allow themselves to depend on the other. Allowing yourself to be weak because you know that the other person has got your back, and vice versa, is the sign of a strong relationship.
Why: Interdependence is stronger than a co-dependent relationship because both people are coming from a position of strength and they choose to depend on the other (in a co-dependent relationship neither of the partners has a choice). This has a powerful effect and leads to “the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.”
How: Interdependence comes from thinking “togetherness” in every scenario – find ways both independent people can benefit and grow together from each decision. It’s no longer “me” vs. “you”; it’s “us”.
What: Every strong relationship needs a purpose – a reason why two people should stay involved with each other. The purpose can have many different facets, and it can change over time.
Why: The purpose helps define what is expected of and appropriate in the relationship; it’s important to reflect on it. It’s also important that the purpose is shared. If the purpose is different for both partners, both people will still be useful to one another, but not more. Once the purpose is reached or vanishes, the person is no longer “useful”. That’s the reason why so many couples divorce once the children are raised. They have lost the purpose of their relationship.
How: Finding and defining the purpose for a relationship starts with the person in the mirror. What is your own purpose? Answering this question may be harder than you think. Defining a purpose with another person includes evaluating why you are in a relationship. A purpose is not etched in stone. As a couple, it’s important to keep checking in and re-aligning with the other person.
There is of course more depth to each of these top qualities of a meaningful relationship, but the above synopsis gives you a starting point to understanding what it takes to have a meaningful relationship. By working on each of these qualities, you can deepen your relationship with the other person, which in turn helps you grow as a couple.