aNativity.jpgI discovered something recently on at the Relationship Coaching Company and thought I would pass on some of this helpful information.   The reason for this is that I have found that I keep hitting road blocks in relating to some people, especially in potential new friendships in which I’m putting in a lot of effort.  I suppose that’s a clue: putting in a lot of effort.  The best relationships I’ve formed over the years have seem to be effortless.  We connect because we laugh at each other’s humor or are interested in similar topics of conversation.  But ultimately I’ve found relationships are sustained when we care deeply for one another’s welfare and happiness.

I went into ministry mostly because I care about people.  I have a deep empathy for others and a facility understanding what they are going through.  For example, these past few months I’ve been very concerned about some dear friends who seem to have dropped out of sight.  It’s not like them not to return my phone calls or send their annual Christmas card.  I’ve been trying to get information through their son who has been slow to respond.  Meanwhile I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that one of them may be ill.  Maybe I am overly concerned, but as a highly sensitive person it’s hard not to be.

Despite my emotional involvement with my old friends, I wouldn’t have it any other way.   It’s been instructive for me to reflect on the following question:  What are the values that keep me connected to my long-standing friends and that I seek in new relationships?

Even though my own habits and life choices are pretty well set, or maybe because they are, I need to be clear about what’s going to work for me and my motivation as I open myself to others.  By looking at my values, needs and wants I can cut through any emotional calcification and remember that I am still able to change, if necessary.  The following exercise was very helpful to me in clarifying where I stand in my hierarchy of values, needs and wants.

My Relationship Values:  Relationship Values usually have the following characteristics:

  • They are non-negotiable and essential to the existence of the relationship – the relationship will not work for you when it is missing.
  • They tend to be black or white, met or unmet, no room for gray.
  •  While black or white, they also tend to be subjective – what matters are if the requirement is met or not met according to your standards.
  • They tend to have much power – if you have to think about it, chances are it’s a need.
  • They are behavioral events in the relationship, not traits of your partner.

 Begin to make a list of Relationship Values.  As you do it, consider the following: 

  • For each value that you come up with, apply the following test: “Could a relationship possibly work for me if this one value were missing?” meaning that if it were missing, you would have to leave the relationship sooner or later, no matter how committed you were, and no matter how much you loved each other and wanted to make it work.
  • Be honest and rigorous in testing each value. If you can come up with an exception, a way to stay and make the relationship work without meeting the value, then it is not a relationship value.
  • Relationship Values that don’t pass the test are most likely needs; transfer them to your Needs list.

My Relationship Needs

Check in with your heart and what you know to be true about yourself, and then begin to make a list the functional and emotional needs that you can identify.  Add items that did not pass the test for values.   Needs usually have the following characteristics: 

  • They are important to your well-being, both emotionally and functionally, in the world.  When a need is not met, you feel dissatisfied inside and out.
  • When they are not met, this causes you frustration or misery that becomes an issue for you in the relationship.
  • Needs are negotiable.
  • They come in shades of grey, not black or white.
  • Needs are measured objectively much of the time.
  • They have power to create misery but not destroy the relationship.

As make your list, consider the following:   For each need, apply the following test: “Would I experience an issue each time this event did not occur?” If the answer is “Yes”, chances are this is a need.  Needs that do not pass the test are most likely Wants – transfer them to your Want list.

 You can find a sample lists of Relationship Values, Needs, and Wants HERE.


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