Interpersonal relationships are the connection or attachment we have with the people around us or the bond between two or more people. It normally develops through proper and constant communication. We communicate with other people in various ways. It can be oral or non-verbal. Non-verbal communication includes facial expressions, body language, posture and others. Those things send out a message to the people around us. We are easily misunderstood when we say something to somebody and act otherwise, because both words and actions have meanings. The more congruent they are with each other, the clearer message you’ll convey. Communication helps deepen a relationship by constantly in touch with the other person. However, it can also be the cause of conflicts or issues that are sometimes solvable or repairable and sometimes not.
Interpersonal relationships are co-dependent with one another – when one person talks, the other one should be listening. Its goal is harmony, peace, understanding and happiness. As we want to continually co-exist with the people around us, we make them feel good about our existence in their lives as well. It is a give and take relationship in such a way that we give our ears, our time, our ideas and opinions to the other person and they in turn will share theirs with you. When the other person is down, we lend our ears to at least comfort the person by letting the heavy things out of his chest. Advises are usually not solicited in times like this. We only give advises or suggestions to anybody whenever they ask us to or when we are so close to the person that we know he/she will not be offended when we share our proposals. Some comforting words to keep the other person talking without interrupting him by telling your own experiences is usually enough. When it’s our turn to have somebody listen to us, when we are so full that we feel like bursting, they are also there for us. Communication is the key ingredient in a relationship. In it is a transmitter or the person who conveys the message and the receiver or the person who takes the message. Communication bounces back and forth through feedback. Good feedback develops strong interpersonal relationships while bad ones simply ruin them. Feedback includes describing behavior that directly affects you, giving praises, and giving constructive criticism (p. 97-97).
Nonetheless, conflicts arise in every relationship no matter how hard you try to avoid it. These are called dialectics or the tensions in interpersonal relationships. The three common conflicts in relationships are autonomy-connection, openness- closedness, and novelty-predictability.
Autonomy is the desire to do activities on your own, without your partner. There are times in certain relationships that you want to do things on your own or perhaps you want to spend some time with your other friends. I love my autonomy and I exercise it every now and then by going to the beauty parlor or spa center alone and pamper myself. Other times, I do clothes shopping without my partner. Men are not so good in buying clothes and in going to the mall. My partner complains all the time when we go to the mall to buy groceries. In order to save him the hassles of tailing me and to let me have ample times to really choose what I want to buy without anybody pushing me to choose faster, I do my clothes shopping without him. However, there are also things that we do together, which we really treasure. That is called connection. It “is the desire to link your actions and decisions with your partner” (p. 86). When we buy a car, design the house, plan a party and some other important things, we need to communicate with our partners. For me, I ask for my partner’s opinion about crucial steps in decision-making like pursuing a master’s degree.
Openness means trusting the other person. Once you share your deepest secrets and thoughts, it means that you trust your partner with your life. On the other hand, closedness is the opposite. You avoid telling him things or you keep them to yourself. In my experience, I feel real bad when my partner does not open up to me. When I sense that there is a problem and he won’t say a word about it, it scares me because it feels like he doesn’t want me to feel him and be with him at this moment, but I want to.
Novelty and predictability are two ingredients in a relationship that often cause tension. If you are so predictable, your partner will get bored with you. There is no challenge. Novelty is good when exercised well. It develops the relationship positively. My partner loves it when I surprise him by cooking some delicious food. He is the cook in our family but there are times when I do it myself. He feels loved whenever I do such things.
Dialectics are tensions but they are also good ingredients for your relationships. However, when partners practiced too much of these, problems will surely arise. These will lead to break-ups or discontinuity of relationships because you no longer understand each other and the happiness between the two of you does not exist anymore. Exercise these things moderately.