When relatives, friends, colleagues and dating couples experience declining quality in their relationships, they sometimes focus on a sense of boredom, failure, or depression, even anger. Exasperated remarks such as “He/she just doesn’t ‘get’ me” and vice versa express a lack of insight and/or frustration in one or both directions of the relationship. Tension builds because you remain interested in interacting with someone, perhaps becoming intimate with them, though their interest in you has decreased or simply not increased. You might even be feeling somewhat worthless due to the limited relationship. You might feel frustrated that you don’t know how to improve the situation. The solution to the stagnating or lessening relationship with each other seems to be some kind of cosmic secret. The irony of the problem is that the elusive nature of the answer is the key to improving things.
As your aggravation grows, your sense of self-worth might decline. Romantic relationships are known for the phenomenon. Think of yourself or someone else remarking “I just have to have… I need… Life is not worth living without… that person in my life.” Oddly enough, though, the way to improve the relationship is revealed by how the relationship went into neutral or reverse to begin with; Your sense of limitation, that your life only has meaning or pleasure if that other person is part of it, complicates an initially simple situation. It’s not realistic to stick the other person with the responsibility for making you happy. That’s your job.
Move past a sense of worthlessness by focusing on your passion, your sense of purpose in life. People who rise above their limitations tend to excite everyone around them, including themselves. The self-confidence which results from that can improve any relationship, even one with a limited shelf life. The person you long for as a romantic, business, or study partner will be more likely to spend time with you once you generate your own joy in being alive.
We can’t control how other people feel about us, even if we’re passionately in love with them. As you might know from past experience, messaging someone about why they’d be wise to spend time, work or study with you, even date or marry you, is the route to ending a relationship. Nagging fosters resentment, not affection. It signals desperation and the fact that the other person might have been wise to limit their time, or part ways, with you. The life lesson in that scenario is the need to demonstrate your worth to the people in your life, not harass them into believing it.
As many mental health professionals remark, you need to listen to your gut, your heart, that whisper or roar in your soul. Do what gives you joy, a sense of meaning and a sense of purpose. Follow your passion. Being self-led is smart. Other people will realize that you direct your life and give it meaning, that you do not impose a “make me feel meaningful” obligation onto someone else.
Here’s a list of ideas to pursue when you want to improve a relationship of any sort:
- Appreciate the other person’s talents and skills. Focus on their finer traits.
- Compliment the other person on their strengths and insights.
- Give yourself and the other person the freedom to “be” the person they are.
- Keep it real. If negative thoughts disturb you, remember Byron Katie’s “4 Questions” so that you can turn around your mindset into positivity or at least into neutrality instead of negativity. You can learn more about her calming method for clarifying reality and alleviating self-imposed suffering at Byron Katie’s website.
- Remember: None of us control the future and we harm ourselves by focusing on the past. Stay in the present.
- Share time doing things that each of you enjoy.
- Spend time reflecting on what each of you finds important.
Mental health professionals have other tools for helping you to improve your relationships. Do it smart. Reach out to online or in-office practitioners who are ready to help with that.