Establishing relationships is one thing and maintaining them is another.
“They’ll get it. I don’t have to explain why I reacted that way,” a person says. No, if this is a relationship you care to keep, it is strongly advised that you put the effort into doing so.
Relationships are about rupture and repairs. One might say that a relationship with arguments is healthy, and a relationship without one is even better. Neither sounds appealing. Imagine a relationship with constant bickering and no resolution. A relationship filled with fear and anticipation of when the next argument will take place. As for the “healthier” option, are you not arguing because life is good, or are you avoiding tough conversations?
Conflicts are inevitable in relationships. How you work through them determines the route and progression of the relationship. This, of course, is not to ignore how our pattern of interactions develops through our maturation period through consistent reinforcements and socialization. So, be mindful and aware of what you contribute to the conversation. It would not be fair for one to put in the work hoping to repair the rupture while the other person entirely directs the blame on the other individual with no self-reflection.
Why engage in a tough conversation? The emotions or sensations we may experience after a distressing or anxiety-provoking interaction consists of an element we tend to overlook. And that is the impermanence of those emotions. Yes, we will likely feel uncomfortable while having the conversation and possibly after it. But what about the sense of relief after allowing some time to let those emotions take their course? You may ask, how is it a relief? A broad and straightforward answer is that you and others involved in the conversation shared your perspectives, attentively listened, and expressed vulnerability: that in itself shows a sense of care and understanding between individuals. In such instances, you encounter the opportunity to let go of the need to control or predict the outcome of something out of fear. You chose to listen and be listened to. Of course, this is not to undermine the uniqueness of each situation, personality, and topic at hand. This is for conversations we may avoid for the sheer feeling of uneasiness rather than one characterized by a safety risk. And so, why not avoid a conversation? To express our wants and needs as a means to protect against miscommunication, as well as the adverse outcome of accumulating residual feelings. And as an emphasis to the last point, avoiding a conversation builds on feelings we are not aware of yet, and they may express themselves differently until one day, we find ourselves wondering how we have come to resent the person or people we once adored.
So, next time you get into an argument— No, the other person is not going to get it. They are not mind readers. If anything, they will fill that void of not knowing why you reacted that way with assumptions based on their past experiences and core beliefs. Those assumptions could be in your favor, or they could push the person away from you. Little by little, there is less care, less contact, and no more relationship.
Written by Zuhra Al Yarabi
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphic by Claudia MacPhail