INTRODUCING a blogging collaboration called 12TOPICS with Bobbi. Each month has been assigned a topic. On the second Tuesday of every month, we’ll be writing a post based on a prompt about the chosen topic from our own perspectives + experiences. On the last Tuesday of every month, our 12TOPICS posts will be about that topic more generally.
We won’t be sharing our posts with each other ahead of time. We want to make sure you truly get our own, separate perspectives (+ the surprise factor is so much more fun for us as well!) I’m so excited for this collab! Seeing it unfold every month is becoming my favourite.
This month’s topic is relationships (for obvious reasons) and today’s question is: what’s one trait of a successful relationship (of any kind)?
[The question says any kind of relationship, but I’m going to address relationships that include affection and love.]
I’ve been thinking about this question for weeks. I mean, there are the obvious ones: honesty, communication, etc, but it wasn’t so much that I was looking for a novel answer but one that would mean something to me, personally.
I started thinking about all the relationships in my life. With my parents. My brother. My friends. Romantic partners. All the important relationships. Admittedly, some are not that healthy. However, some are stellar. One trait stood out to me. The one I find I value so very highly. One I struggle with in some relationships and one that is there in every amazing relationship I’ve ever had. It’s a trait both people must possess.
The ability to accept and recognize your flaws and take responsibility for them.
Most of us don’t like to be sat down and told we’re bad at something. I’ve been everything from a rage monster to a numb shell in such situations. But in my best relationships, I’ve been hurt, yes, uncomfortable, definitely, but mature enough and felt safe enough to accept constructive criticism about my flaws. Discuss them, even. I’ve also been able to give constructive criticism to the other party successfully.
In my not-so-great relationships, I haven’t been able to and usually the other party isn’t able to either.
I think this speaks to a variety of things, most notably the character of the people in the relationships and the quality of their relationship. While I would not say having this trait means the relationship is automatically successful, I think every successful relationship has this trait.
To be able to accept your flaws and take responsibility for them requires a lot of vulnerability. It requires you to feel safe so your walls don’t go up. It needs a lot of trust and remembering that the other person is on your side. It is extremely difficult to have a not-so-positive spotlight shone on your person. No one likes to have holes poked into their character. It is hard regardless of whom it comes from.
On the other hand, to give constructive criticism is also a skill. To do it well, to do it without blame or shame can be really hard. It needs a great deal of love and trust as well. Giving someone bad news, saying something that can be taken in a negative way is very hard. If it’s not hard, you’re probably not in the right frame of mind to do so.
A relationship where flaws can be discussed is probably a pretty good one, I think.
Flaws are like..chinks in the armour. The thing about chinks is you can’t fix them until you recognize they exist and are willing to fix them. The best of relationships help you do that. They create an environment where you can take off the armour and examine it, without fearing for your life.
Of course, the armour analogy, when I think about it, is a problematic one. But it gets the point across in this case..and we all do wear armour. Even vulnerability can be like armour..which is a weird thing to think of, but it’s true.
Why is this so important?
Maybe because it means two people are able to not only see themselves clearly but each other too. Love is a great thing but to be blinded by it is always dangerous. We are human beings and invariably, we are not perfect. Being able to see that and live with that and still love is something to celebrate.
I think the greatest friendships are where we are able to tell each other hard truths without fearing the destruction of the relationship. And the best relationships have a foundation of friendship. Even the parent-child relationship, when children are no longer children. Even the romantic relationships. And definitely the sibling relationships.
So, there you have it. That’s my answer. Now go check out Bobbi’s, I’m sure it will make you think just as much as mine did hopefully. 🙂