When you get involved in any kind of a relationship, that connection comes with a few responsibilities. In fact, in many connections there are loads of responsibilities. Trouble presents itself when someone engages with another person with the intention that the interaction is all about them.
For instance, that guy who decides he wants to take you out, when really his intention is to achieve a one-night stand. Or the girl who decides she wants to become friends with you, only to realize all she really wanted was to get close to the ‘popular’ group of friends you hang out with. How hurtful would it be to learn that you’ve been used by someone you thought was a nice person? How does that change what you do in your next encounter with someone new?
Whenever you deal with another person, there are a few responsibilities that can come with that relationship:
Respect ~ The #1 important aspect of any relationship is to be respectful to each other. Respectful in the way you talk, treat, engage, and in some cases, end a relationship. Whether dealing in business or personal, respect, from you, can always be present through the process. From a personal standpoint, when you’re dating, checking someone out to determine if they will just be an acquaintance or a possible relationship, or when you’re already in a relationship, you need to be respectful. Even when talking about a date that gets out of hand and a one-night-only ensues, there is still room for respect. Deciding not to call or making every attempt to avoid that person just isn’t right. Be mature enough to stand up and show that person they are worthy of your respect and expect the same in return.
Kindness ~ As the old saying by Dorothy Parker goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” While many may not agree with this statement, you should ask yourself if what you’re getting ready to say is important enough to warrant any ill feelings that may occur. Are you being aggressive, combative, or will this person resent you for hurting their feelings?
Certainly, there is always constructive criticism and debate necessary in life, but in more situations than not, there are many of us who could stand to keep our comments or opinions to ourselves. Just ask yourself, can you walk away from this conversation feeling good about what you said…and is that good feeling coming from being right, being helpful and kind, or because you love a good fight.
Caring ~ When you tamper with someone’s feelings, you have the choice of showing that you care or that you care less. Being able to show empathy or concern for someone else is what makes us human. When you decide that another person’s feelings are not important or deserving, you make the choice to take the lower road.
Of course, there are going to be times when someone doesn’t deserve your niceties–a one-night stand, an abusive situation, a friend who is two-faced–but there is still a choice to be made on how you handle yourself. Regardless of someone else’s actions, you still have the choice of how you want to handle the situation. You can take the higher road and stick up for yourself in the process.
For instance, you can say you’re sorry that you had to take legal action for an abusive relationship, but it was the right thing to do and you hope they get the help they need. You can tell your one-nighter or two-faced friend that you didn’t appreciate how they treated you, but you’re sure they must have some character issues to deal with and you wish them well. Sounds a little cocky, I know, but there is a way to say it so you’re standing up for yourself and wishing them well at the same time.
Genuine ~ If you are always true and honest with yourself and others, you are being genuine. Taking the time to figure out how to deliver a less than positive message that needs to be said, in a kind and caring way, can still be achieved when you need to be genuine. No one likes to be lied to and even the smallest of lies can be hurtful; not to mention, the fact that they may not trust you again in the future.
Sure, we may tell someone they look fine when they show concern about their appearance, especially when we know there’s not much they can do about it (i.e. baldness, unattractive, disfigured), but that doesn’t excuse those little lies that are hurtful and inappropriate. If you know someone who consistently tells you one thing and does another, or you know they are handing you a line because you know the truth, you know what I’m talking about. There’s a small difference between being polite and being correct and people know the difference. The truest test of a person’s character starts with being a genuine person.
Appreciation ~ Showing your appreciation to someone who treats you well is very easy to manage. It’s as simple as remembering to say “thank you,” while giving back to that person…so you don’t become one of those people who always takes but never gives.
The real test of being able to show appreciation comes when you deal with someone who isn’t as deserving to receive it. How does that work?
You could be appreciative for the lesson you learned. Maybe because of that situation, you learned something valuable that will change your life for the better. In the instance where a one-nighter takes the time to apologize and admit that they were wrong, you could tell them that you’re grateful they took the time to tell you the truth about what was really going on. Then again, there may be absolutely nothing to be appreciative or grateful for in your particular situation. It’s very possible that you were treated so badly by this individual that no amount of apology warrants your appreciation.
Even if you can’t find something to be grateful for, there are only a few reasons for not being respectful, kind, caring, and genuine…even when they don’t deserve it. It’s easy to take the path of lashing out to pay someone back for their ill intentions, but it takes a person with true character and self-awareness to look past those actions, stand proud with integrity, and find the higher ground of good will. Be that person.
To read more on dating, relationships, family and friends, check out my book, Loving with Purpose.