The Guidebook to Improved Relationships – Respect and Honesty

People have the uncanny ability to deceive themselves.  This quirk frequently comes to life for those in new romantic relationships.  Although red flags may appear, our infatuation goggles make it remarkably difficult to heed the warning signs.  Blissfully unaware of the long-term implications, we continue to hold on to the fantasy for as long as possible.

They call it a red flag because you’re meant to at least notice it.  It may go away, but it may not, and if it doesn’t, if the red flag remains fixed in the mud, your ignorance will eventually crumble from bliss to misery.

From there begins the rough road to bitterness and resentment.  Rather than a place of comfort, of renewal, your relationship becomes a place of stress, of struggle.  That’s not the way it’s meant to be.

To avoid this fate, not only must you attend to the warning signs, but you must also be yourself.  Without apology, without shame, be who you are, say what you think – be courageous and have integrity.  If there is something that troubles you, something that’s gone unsaid and been left to fester, speak up.  Be honest in how you feel.

Afford your partner the opportunity to get to know the real you.  Only then can you decide whether to be with each other.  Everything else is fantasy, and all stories must end.

Fromm, in The Art of Loving, provides a path through the ignorance.  After care, responsibility, and knowledge is the fourth key element to genuine connection – respect.

Respect

As Fromm points out, respect “denotes, in accordance with the root of the word (respicere = to look at), the ability to see a person as he is, to be aware of his unique individuality.  Respect means the concern that the other person should grow and unfold as he is. I want the loved person to grow and unfold for his own sake, and in his own ways, and not for the purpose of serving me”.

I’m there with the person “as he is, not as I need him to be as an object for my use”.  He continues: “It is clear that respect is possible only if I have achieved independence; if I can stand and walk without needing crutches, without having to dominate and exploit anyone else”.

Just as you walk the path of self-discovery, so do those around you.  Encourage others to be themselves.  Promote honest communication.  Never push someone to be who they are not.

To respect someone means to see them and accept them as they are, not as you would like them to be.

Honesty

In close connection with respect is honesty.  Without this essential ingredient, a relationship – at least a good relationship – cannot survive.  Honesty strengthens trust, security, and comfort; dishonesty creates suspicion, doubt, and stress.

Commit only to speak the truth.  Be faithful to your word and at all costs, avoid breaking the vital trust.  Once broken, it can be almost impossible to rebuild.  This automatically puts a terrible strain on the relationship – never again will your word be taken with confidence; instead, you’ll be subjected to constant scrutiny, whether you’re being honest or not.

Without trust, your relationship will lack the relaxed quality that make good relationships such a tremendous aspect of life.  From a place of distrust, you and your partner will always question whether there’s more to the story, whether there’s something else going on, whether, once again, the trust has been broken.

The best way to preserve trust is not to break it in the first place.  Ensure your words retain their value through the act of consistent honesty.  Be who you are, say what you think, say how you feel, tell the truth.  This is the only path to deep, meaningful connection.

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