As we carry on with interpersonal effectiveness this week we are looking at relationship types and what you as a person might expect from various people. To maintain any relationship you first need to understand how important the particular relationship is to you. By asking yourself a few simple questions you can prevent yourself from becoming too attached and emotionally unloading on strangers which a lot of people with BPD do. So join me as we take a look at the people in our lives and what they mean to us…
While there are many ways to go about this I personally prefer the ‘Marshall B. Rosenberg‘ method of nonviolent communication. Using this very method we can find out what we want from the relationship and what they expect from us. There are four steps to this…
To those of you with BPD this will be THE most important step in this process and it will stop you from judging people as abandoning you (which many with BPD so often do with any type of relationship). By simply observing people rather than judging them you will observe that your partner or friend is late for your meeting. They are not abandoning you and they are definitely not trying to anger you. By making a factual observation you will see that they are just late for whatever reason.
Or in another scenario, you might sense that the person you are meeting up with is feeling down, or not quite their normal self. It’s important to not make judgments on this, just observe that you are noticing/feeling something from them and move on. Making judgments from a feeling is never a good move and will only make you appear tense as you wait for them to say something about how they feel. If you are relaxed and show you are listening to them they are more likely to open up if something is indeed wrong.
2 – Feelings
Keeping your emotions boiling inside of you is always going to result in over boiling and in the end eruption. It is important that you always try and communicate your feelings to others rather than keep them inside yourself. If your date is late don’t just ignore that issue because they will do the same because they feel it is OK, by simply telling them that they are late or that you were worried will make them explain why they were late and hopefully that will put your mind at ease.
3 – Needs
For this strategy, you need to communicate with others what you need from them, provided you are not getting what you need from them anyway. That sounds complicated, so here is a scenario. Say your best friend is always late or never answers their phone when you need them most. They might not know they are hurting you by doing this, so you should tell them that being on time and picking up the phone when you call them is something that you expect and need a best friend to do. If they refuse or can’t do that maybe you should readjust your needs from them because they are clearly not best friend material.
In another scenario what if your partner seems a little blasé about meeting up with you or going out? It’s no good getting into an argument as it won’t do anyone any good. But expressing your needs to them you might find they are a little more interested in doing such things. Please note that this is NEEDS, not wants or requests. That is the next part.
4 – Request
The final part of the Marshall B. Rosenberg method is to make it clear what you expect from the relationship. It’s not just about telling them what you expect from them its about asking yourself inwards what you expect from them. Should you really be seeking comfort and validation from a stranger? No, not at all, but you should get it from a loved one or a close family member. By knowing yourself what you request from any given relationship means you can then better communicate with them what you expect. After all, you can only see your needs met if that person knows your needs!
At the very least have a think about this form of nonviolent communication and how many times it might have got you out of trouble in the past. That happened in the past isn’t going to change, by thinking about those previous scenarios it might help make sure future relationships don’t go the same way.
This Week’s Homework: Even if it’s a short list write down all the people who are close to you in your life and using the method above try and work out what they mean to you and what you should expect from them. Please note there that I said “should” because we don’t always get the type of relationship from people we want. Personally, I wish me and my Sister were closer, but since she moved away that request I want from them is no longer possible. So do jot some names down and if you need any help do let me know in the comments below.