BSCOM 234: Foundation of Interpersonal Communications
Far too often, it seems that many people have the belief that relationships, whether they be platonic, professional, or romantic, are easy. However, any type of relationship requires the dreaded “c” word: commitment. Having commitment along with open and healthy communication means that your relationship has the proper ingredients to continue to grow and be robust. Luckily, I have found one who believes in commitment. I am in a committed relationship with my partner for one and a half years.
My partner and I met on our first date on May 26, 2018 and it has been a journey since that beginning! We are definitely in the intimacy stage of our relationship. However, we have not always been as close and intimate as we are now. Like any relationship, we had the escalation process but since we started dating the first day we met, we went through the stages very quickly to get to the intimacy stage. By ‘very quickly,’ I mean that it took us about a month and a half before we thought (and knew) that we loved each other. Although my feelings were correct, I would not recommend this – good things take time. I say this because about three months into our relationship, my de-escalation process began and happened very quickly. Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond refer to this as a turning point, which in my case was a specific event associated with a negative change in a relationship (p. 268). I had several things happen back to back that caused a lot of stress on me. The final straw, or turning point, was something as simple as pulling my back. My boyfriend is so kind and wanted to do nothing but help, but his love and care at that time was overwhelming me and I abruptly ended things. To make a long story short, I was eventually able to win him back, but this time our escalation stages moved much slower than before. We, essentially, re-started in the exploration stage of relational escalation. We needed a fresh start and, according to Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, communication becomes easier in this stage and I certainly have to agree (p. 265). In the exploration stage, we really got to know each other better than before. After spending about three more months in the exploration stage, we moved on to and through the intensification stage and have finally came full circle back to the intimacy stage.
Through this one experience alone, I have learned what it takes to make a relationship both short term and long term. The factor that made “round one,” as we call it, of our relationship short term was lack of communication. While I cannot speak for him, I know that for me, had I expressed my stresses, concerns, and emotions, I know that we would not have taken our break. In Al and Ben Carraway’s book Cheers to Eternity: Lessons We’ve Learned on Dating and Marriage, the say that constant communication is one of the most vital needs for a marriage to become and remain strong (p. 32). I absolutely agree with their point here. This is the reason “round one” of my relationship was short term but “round two” is becoming long term. During our break, I took the necessary time needed to focus on myself, reflect on how I acted and reacted, and learned from them. While the break was one of the most miserable times of my life, from it grew life lessons that have made me mature as a man. In our relationship now, we have learned and continuously are learning how to become better communicators with each other.
A lesson that we are learning in our relationship is the balance of power. We absolutely have a symmetrical relationship, which Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond define as a relationship in which both partners behave toward power in the same way, either both wanting power or both avoiding it (p. 259). Neither one of us want to have the full power and do not mind sharing the decision making, which can sometimes be a fault and be unattractive. There are times that I have an idea in mind and have no issue making decisions, taking the power for the moment, but there are other times when I want a decision made for me! When we are both indecisive, I get annoyed! This is not to say the level of attraction decreases but there is a little less “like” in the moment. This is also an area that can be improved for us. We have a fantastic relationship but deciding on things such as where to eat (which is every couples problem!), what art to put in our apartment, or the type of bedspread we like is a stressor for me. These are silly little things that, in the end, are minute but it is something that we can work on as a couple.
In order to make our relationship work, there are certain strategies that we can use to ensure a long, lasting, and happy relationship! Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond provide several strategies and skills that couples can used to escalate and/or maintain relationships. One of the strategies that we have already been and will continue working on is to express emotions. This does not always come easy in any type of relationship but a key to any successful relationship is to express emotion. Part of expressing emotion comes with a certain level of vulnerability and trust. According to Clark and Finkel, if someone believes they are with a partner who cares about their welfare then that person will be more apt to express emotions (p. 170). If you do not believe that your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner cares about you, you most likely will not feel comfortable sharing information with them. This also applies to platonic and professional relationships, as well. As humans, we have intuition and my experience has always taught me to trust that! Another strategy that we will use in our relationship is engaging in relationship talk. Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond define relationship talk as, “talk about the nature, quality, direction, or definition of a relationship (p. 341).” We always say things like, “Can you believe a year ago we…” or, “Do you remember on our first date when…” Relationship and future talk is, admittedly, one of my favorite conversations. I am a lover of love and love thinking about the future. Having an open dialogue about your relationship has proven very helpful to us. It keeps us in check! Having relationship talk is also an effective way to help increase intimacy, given you both are on the same page. There is nothing more endearing then hearing your partner tell you how happy they are with you.
Both relationships and communication are no walk in the park! Relationships are critical to life and no relationship is possible without communication. Learning how to be an effective communicator, which includes being an effective listener, is step number one when building or maintaining relationships.
Beebe, S. A., Beebe, s., & Redmond, M. V. (2014). Interpersonal Communication Relating to Others (7th ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.
Carraway, A., & Carraway, B. (2017). Cheers to Eternity : Lessons We’ve Learned on Dating and Marriage. Springville, UT: CFI.
Clark, M. S., & Finkel, E. J. (2005). Willingness to express emotion: The impact of relationship type, communal orientation, and their interaction. Personal Relationships, 12(2), 169–180. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1350-4126.2005.00109.x
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