Relate Well! Blog

Addressing the all-important and often perplexing topics and issues related to enhancing your personal growth and professional development

Finding the Courage to Trust Again

When it comes to relationships, let’s be clear – the last thing you want to do is trust someone who is not trustworthy.  In fact, it’s foolish to trust a person whose behavior is characterized by lies and broken promises.

But one of the biggest challenges in many relationships is the difficulty some people have with being able or willing to trust someone who is truly trustworthy.  These are often men or women who have been hurt or taken advantage of by important people in their lives, resulting in a conditioned response of suspicion and fear.  Sadly, this virtually guarantees that intimacy will suffer significantly.  The absence of both trust and intimacy can often give way to a vicious cycle of conflict, abuse and isolation.

If your capacity to trust others is limited because of the insecurity and vulnerability created by abuse, keep in mind that there is hope.  The trauma of abuse frequently triggers the development of irrational beliefs...

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Relationships Under Construction

For many of us, few things are as irritating as having a road you frequently travel come under construction. You often have to deal with dust, delays, bumps and detours for many months. The upside to having to endure the challenges of construction is that if the job is well done it will make your future travel much easier and enjoyable – the same is true for relationships under construction.

Like roadwork, successful relationships, whether at home or work, require a process of assessment, planning, and construction. Whether you are building a new relationship or attempting to improve an existing one, if you fail to adequately prepare and build you will not be able to effectively meet the demands that come your way.

Assessment

Building or improving a relationship begins where you are right now. What values need to be in place? Is your foundation set on honesty and trust?

Planning

Talking about shared interests and things you have in common can draw you closer to someone....

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Recovering from a Broken Friendship

Relationships… we were created to desire, seek and be enriched by them. When they thrive, the joy is intense. When they break, the pain is devastating.  But as difficult as it is, there are steps you can take to get over – and get through – a broken friendship.

Let me introduce you to Cindy and Lisa, who met each other at work and soon began developing a very close friendship. They spent time together on the telephone, hiking, taking their children on outings, and playing tennis. They encouraged, advised and comforted each other and trusted one another with their greatest hopes, dreams and fears.  

Five years into the friendship, Cindy sensed that Lisa was beginning to pull away. The telephone calls decreased, invitations to dinner became infrequent and the usual warm greeting exchanged in the office began to feel awkward and forced.

At first, Cindy shrugged it off by telling herself that Lisa was just busy with her family and other commitments....

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Can You Guess What The Foundation of a Happy Marriage Is?

With Valentine’s Day upon us, our minds turn to love and romantic relationships. What do you think is the foundation of a happy marriage? Many people would guess that it is good communication, the ability to resolve conflicts, mutual respect, or martial commitment. Although these things are very important recent research shows that the best predictor of marital happiness is friendship.

Think about it. If you are friends with someone, you make the effort to maintain good communication, spend time together when possible and laugh at each other’s jokes even if you have heard them before. If you are really close friends, you should have enough confidence in the relationship to tell them when you see something in their life that concerns you, or to accept negative feedback from them. You share a connection that grows from appreciation of how much that person is like you, or how interesting they are because they are different from you – or a combination of the two.

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Men and Women Have Different Social Needs

Back in the “olden days” when my children were still living at home and our main source of communication was a house phone that we all had to share, most of the calls received in our home were either for my daughters or my wife. If it hadn’t been for solicitors calling during the dinner hour, I would rarely talk to anyone on the telephone. One of the reasons they received more calls was because they highly value conversation and close friendships and go out of their way to cultivate them. It’s not that I (or other men) don’t value relationships, but we don’t tend to need as many relationships or as much contact in order to feel emotionally and relationally satisfied. In general, women rely upon and desire close friendships to a greater degree than men.

Even though it is a healthy, normal difference between many men and women, it can sometimes create tension for a couple. I hear it in marriage counseling sessions sometimes: the woman can become...

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Don't Miss the Opportunity

Do you have plans to spend some time with the people you care about the most? If not, stop what you are doing right now and think about something special you can do with your kids, spouse, significant other or friend that you will really enjoy.

Sometimes our most special memories happen when there’s nothing special going on at all. I know Saturday mornings can be busy with household chores, but taking an hour to snuggle on the couch to watch cartoons with your kids can become a lasting memory. On the other hand, stepping away from the TV to take a moonlight walk with your spouse can bring you closer through unhurried conversation.

Coffee dates with friends can be very effective therapy for a stressed out mom or hardworking student. Men can experience some great bonding time by working together on a project. If you have a repair to do on your house or car, consider calling a buddy or a teenage guy to be your helper.

Life is jam-packed with obligations, work and...

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How to Sabotage Your Relationships

Send mixed signals – What a great way to get off to a bad start in a relationship! If you want people to be confused and angry, be sure to keep them guessing about what you are thinking or what you really mean.  It can also drive people crazy if you’re unwilling to express your honest opinion, or if you make them wonder if you’re telling the truth.  Mixed signals will keep others off guard and frustrated.

Assume the worst – Convince yourself that the friend who let you down did it on purpose; don’t even consider the possibility that it was an honest mistake or simple misunderstanding.  If something doesn’t go your way, you can effectively sabotage your relationship if you begin by assuming that it’s never going to be okay, and then respond accordingly. Rehearse the belief that you have to look out for Number One because others are out to get you.

Blow off Commitments – Don’t say “no” to anything –...

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