HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS START AT THE FIRST HELLO
When Sally first started dating Dan she was enthralled. He was incredibly handsome, very successful and the life of the party. She loved his sense of humor and his ability to get along with anyone.
She also hated that he was the life of the party and his ability to get along with anyone -- especially other women.
Sally couldn’t believe Dan liked her and she was determined to do whatever she needed to do to keep him liking her. This meant that she would not speak to him about the things that bothered her -- his drinking and flirting. Although she didn’t like that he flirted with everyone in his vicinity, she knew he was going home with her. She also figured that he would outgrow his partying ways, so she didn’t mention his drinking either.
Ten years and two children later, Sally now has to deal with her husband Dan’s affair and drinking problem.
Healthy relationships start at the first hello. When you first meet someone, you need to be clear that you deserve a healthy relationship that fuels you. You then need to deal with non-healthy behaviors as soon as you see them. If you don’t, these behaviors will grow until they take over your relationship.
I remember, over twenty years ago, being jealous of my boyfriend (now my husband). I was often worried about him finding someone else or not wanting to be with me. Consequently, I would give him the third degree. (Yes, I’m aware this is not very healthy behavior…but I was young and, well, insecure). Anyway, at first, my husband was very reassuring and would answer my questions. He thought if he heard me out and reassured me enough I would trust him.
Instead, my questioning got worse.
Finally, one day my husband sat me down and said that although he loved me very much, if I didn’t get the jealousy under control, our relationship wasn’t going to make it. Talk about a wake up call! I then remembered something my mother had said about my father: “I should have dealt with his jealousy when I first met him. Letting it go just made it get worse.” My husband’s limit with me was the best thing he could’ve done for our relationship. I was not happy at the time and… I knew he was right.
Letting things go in the hopes of not wrecking a new relationship…can absolutely wreck a potentially long-lasting relationship. When you know something is off in your relationship, address it. Don’t try to ignore it, rationalize it or hope it will go away -- change it. Address the issue when you see it and don’t wait until it’s too late.
• If your partner doesn’t open up and share…address it.
• If your partner flirts with everyone and their mother…address it.
• If you’re partner drinks too much, puts you down, rages, is addicted to the computer, puts everyone else first, teases you constantly, lies, doesn’t tell you how he/she feels and on and on…ADDRESS IT!
Remember: healthy relationships start at the first hello. The moment you start a relationship you should be shaping it to be a healthy one that fuels you.
CHALLENGE: Start new relationships with healthy habits. Talk about difficult issues, address your concerns, be respectful and cherishing (and accept nothing less from your partner) and have the attitude of the chooser, not the choosee. Remind yourself that healthy relationships start with the first hello. What is a problem now, when left untreated, will be a bigger problem later.