Caring, connecting behaviours contribute to the level of satisfaction in a relationship. So, choosing a mate who trusts you, supports you, encourages you, and respects you is likely to result in a more satisfying relationship than choosing one who doesn’t.
The behaviours that you choose to use are just as important as those of your potential mate. Can you comfortably trust, support, encourage, and respect this person?
This article is one in a series on matchmaking. You can find the first article in the series here.
Asking these questions may bring some objectivity at a time when the delight of falling in love can overshadow all else. In an earlier column, I even suggested a mental “checklist” when considering a new relationship. Granted, it’s not very romantic! However, is it helpful?
The focus in Reality Therapy suggests that it’s most effective to concentrate on moving toward what you do want, rather than simply trying to avoid what you don’t.
While concentrating on the positive rather than the negative is effective, it can also be helpful to be able to recognize disconnecting behaviours. For example, does your prospective mate…
- Criticize you? Do you hear that your actions, appearance, or even your thoughts are not quite good enough?
- Complain? Are there lots of complaints, about you or others?
- Blame you? When something goes wrong (there are always things that go wrong) does the blame often seem to fall on you?
- Nag you?
- Ignore you?
- Threaten you? Not limited to physical behaviours, threatening behaviour could include threatening to leave, to embarrass, or to do anything you might fear or find distasteful.
In real life, people don’t act according to checklists. It’s not always easy to recognize a behaviour. Take Sheri, a single mom who hopes she’s found “the one” in Rick.
According to Sheri, Rick is “witty, attentive, and a wonderful companion for my son. I love that we do exciting things I never would on my own. Rick is different, worldly, and I really enjoy being with him. I trust him, I respect him, and encourage him in everything he wants to do.”
However, Sheri adds, “I don’t know whether Rick is really right for me.” Why? When asked about her misgivings, here are Sheri’s examples, with the associated disconnecting behaviour in brackets.
“If I had nicer clothes, he’d take me out more.” (Criticizing)
“He finds my friends boring and doesn’t want us to spend time with them.” (Complaining)
“He thinks my boss is taking advantage of me and that I have poor self-esteem. Otherwise, I’d demand a raise.” (Blaming)
“He tells me over and over that I need a big-screen TV.” (Nagging)
“When we’re with his friends, he interrupts and talks over me.” (Ignoring)
“He’s teaching my son to play baseball. My son adores him and it seems that if I don’t go along with whatever Rick wants, he’ll leave and break my son’s heart.” (Threatening)
Occasional disconnecting behaviours may not be an issue. Sheri’s quandary is whether the exciting and caring behaviours that Rick uses are really enough to offset those disconnecting ones. It is her choice. What do you think?