Thursday, August 19, 2010


As we grow older and experience various relationships; some good and some not so good, many of us seek to have a greater understanding of ourselves and the men in our lives so that we can better relate to one another. In our quest to do better and be better, we buy books, attend seminars, join groups and engage in endless discussions about relationships. In an effort to transform the quality of our relationships, we analyze the circumstances that have led to a “breakdown” in communication between men and women. And as our awareness increases, we become “experts” who are able to quickly identify dysfunctional behavior in others.

For instance, we know why our best friend continues to date a man who will never marry her, or can recognize when a particular man has a “fear” of commitment and can’t seem to settle down with one woman. In our arrogance, we may even have a suggestion or two about how to “fix” these problems! And, what about us? Somehow, that’s not so easy to tackle. While we are quick to offer advice to others, we are unwilling to take that same advice and do the work it takes to make ourselves better.

As we become more skillful at labeling issues and calling other folks out about what we perceive to be their shortcomings, we are often satisfied to merely label on our own. Now, of course we cannot change what we do not acknowledge, but simply acknowledging our faults does little to transform the quality of our relationships. While it is smart to understand the dynamics of relationships and what it takes to make them succeed or fail, it does not stop there.

When it comes to our personal behavior, we are quick to explain it away and assign it to some past psychological trauma or social stigma that’s causing us to act out; but when exactly do these explanations cease to be explanations and become excuses? Surprisingly, we expect our partners to understand and accept our faults, while we audaciously judge others for their negative behavior. We become complacent with our circumstances and the comfort of having someone there, while ignoring our part in damaging our own relationships. But, if we are truly seeking to heal the quality of our relationships, we should start the healing at home. In order to transform our relationships, we have to be in the act of transformation. This means that we have to take responsibility for our own actions; to actually BE the standard that we set for others.

So, before we engage in conversations where the finger of blame is pointed away from ourselves, maybe we should instead take the time to decide one positive change we will make within our own relationships. It’s great to be able to spot and analyze problems in other people’s relationships, but the best part about understanding where relationships tend to breakdown is using it to identify where our behavior may be similar and taking the advice that we so freely give to others.

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