What Makes a Relationship, Any Relationship, Real?

Regina Clarke
Nov 11, 2019 · 6 min read

One thing I am certain of is that telling your lover, partner, companion, pal, colleague, relative, or neighbor that it’s time to talk about your relationship is probably the least valuable thing you can do. Why?

First of all, you have no idea if they want to talk about the relationship with you, even or especially if you want to force feed that conversation with them.

For sure, you think it’s important. You want to clear up your confusion, establish that you and the other person of interest are on the same page, and get a guarantee that they understand where you’re coming from and why.

Seems like a reasonable approach, no? No. Because most of the time, you aren’t looking for a dialogue with them. What you want is for them to listen to you until you’re done explaining everything that’s on your mind. Essentially, you want them to want to listen to you.

That gets a bit problematic, though, because if in fact they are not actually listening to you, instantly you feel a lot of things, and none of them are good for your health and well-being and spirit. These feelings can include some of the following: anger, sadness, frustration, bewilderment, disturbance, abandonment, and hostility. In a recent article, What Happens When People Actually, Really, Listen to Us?, I describe how valuable our willingness to listen to someone else can be.

But telling someone you think you both need to sit down and talk about your relationship usually means you need to broadcast how you feel, because that’s what’s bubbling up and on stage for you, front and center. It doesn’t mean you are all that interested in listening to them. To add to the mix, it’s likely you’ve made assumptions about how they will respond, and you have gone over in your head a hundred times what you’ll say to their imaginary responses. When you do get them to sit down and hear you out, the surprise comes when they don’t follow the script, or seemingly worse, are unaware a script is necessary.

The biggest danger in a relationship is the hidden agenda. It doesn’t matter what the subject of that agenda is. What matters is that it serves us as a template for how we see the relationship and uses (saps) our energy as we try to either anticipate or circumvent outcomes we believe are likely. We hold on to our assumptions and expectations, which comprise the hidden agenda, even though these may be nothing but illusion, or delusion.

Sitting down to talk is always good, if the intention is an exchange that is mutual, a conversation sought by both for whatever purpose, and the thoughts voiced are intended to bring peaceful and mutual resolution.

On the other hand, sitting down to talk as a way of making reality conform to our agendas is not going to have long-lasting value, except to give us a way to air our grievances and/or our exact plans (in our mind) for the relationship.

Of course, almost every relationship has conflict. Two individual human beings are never going to see things exactly the same way. We are unique, each of us here living with our own sense of mission and belief.

When our desire is to make another see our way of thinking and feeling so as to foster greater communication and empowerment and expansion, our world and that of everyone around us prospers.

When our desire is to insist, even force someone to agree with us, so that we feel better, or think we do, then we lose ourselves in a false perception, and the world around us has gray tones, the truth of outcomes becoming obscured and limited and narrow.

So, Fine, You Let Go of Hidden Agendas. BUT,

you’re still going to have feelings that rise up when something in the relationship seems to go awry, or causes you to feel hurt or upset or angry, however briefly (and briefly is always a better alternative).

What are you supposed to do before allowing the default reaction to set in where you tell your person of interest you both need to sit down and listen to you?

Get curious. Ask yourself this first: What is going on here? What is this feeling I have right now telling me? Why do I have this reaction? What do I really want?

If you stop and ask these four questions, things change for you. It also takes courage to do this, because what if you realize your feelings are telling you that instead of wanting to salvage something in the relationship, in reality you want it to end? Or what if you identify your feelings as coming from a place actually unrelated to your relationship, some trigger from a childhood experience or traumatic event that happened long before the present moment (or yesterday when the grocery clerk was rude to you)?

What if you don’t need to sit down and make the other person talk about your relationship, but instead, discover you need to sit down with you for the same reason — to find out what you want, and not what you think you want? Or think you are supposed to want? Or think the other person is supposed to want?

What does taking this path accomplish? Why does being curious about what is going on end up transforming everything for you?

It is because when you do this, you are taking responsibility not only for your own feelings by identifying them, but also for the integrity of the pending conversation, and ultimately, taking responsibility for the relationship itself. You question less what the other person is doing to make you unhappy, and more what you are doing to make yourself feel unhappy. Maybe you have settled for a relationship that is not good for you or for the other person. On the other hand, maybe you have not let yourself be aware of the good things that you value in the relationship, that far outweigh the negative feelings.

And just maybe you are able to figure out what’s going on because you shape your reality by how you see the world, and being curious about how you see the world means you are open to its unsettled, uncertain, messy, sometimes chaotic, and always unpredictable ways.

There is one absolute here — how you see the world is your choice. When it is a choice made with awareness, you can trust the outcome — it’s the one you have recognized is true because you are listening to your own heart, first and foremost. You have stopped seeking validation from someone else for how you feel.

How do you know a relationship is real? What it comes down to is this…in the end, if you have a real relationship with yourself, you are going to have it with anyone who enters your life, whether they are just passing through or stay around.

You are going to act authentically, without neediness, without hidden agendas, and without requiring anyone else to be other than who they are.

There is a distinct effect that emerges when you do this. You become someone who is a wayshower, a lightworker. When people are around you they feel something that resonates with their heart. They sense they can be more open, and curious, themselves. You bring them an awareness that wasn’t there before, just by your presence. This can change the world.

It’s quite a wonderful relationship to discover, this real one with yourself.

It is part of your soul’s beautiful journey.

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Regina Clarke

Written by

Storyteller and dreamer. I write about the English language, being human, the magic of life, and metaphysics. Ph.D. in English Literature. www.regina-clarke.com

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +793K followers.

Regina Clarke

Written by

Storyteller and dreamer. I write about the English language, being human, the magic of life, and metaphysics. Ph.D. in English Literature. www.regina-clarke.com

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +793K followers.

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