Authentic Living: Relationships

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This is the third post in a series on authentic living. If you haven't already done so, I suggest reading the first and second posts so you get the whole picture.In the last post, we talked about authentic living through beliefs and emotions, and how this can affect our relationship with ourselves. Today, we're going to talk about how being authentic with our beliefs and our emotions can affect our relationships with others, and how we can maximise the amount of authenticity we have in our relationships.I've divided this post into the key areas that make or break our relationships: empathy, needs, visibility, communication, and boundaries. All of these are separate, yet intrinsically connected, in both friendships and romantic relationships. These areas are all based on the idea that every relationship is a series of negotiations, and that developing our awareness in these areas will help us be more authentic in our relationships.It's a big topic, so I'm going to touch on each section briefly here. For further reading, listening and viewing on authenticity in relationships, check out the resources page.

Empathy

The ability to empathise with our needs and the needs of the other person is a key part of relationship negotiations. In the last post, we talked about being able to empathise with and show compassion for ourselves. Empathy starts at home (this is why authentic emotions came first in the series), and we need to be able to feel empathy for ourselves before we can truly feel it for others.It is only when we can demonstrate that we understand the other person's position that we can meet them where they are.Think of a bowling lane. If you mis-judge the placement of the pin, you'll throw the ball, but it won't make contact. If you understand where the pin sits, you'll throw the ball, and make a connection that could be a game-changer. When we can demonstrate that we understand where the other person is, we can make contact with them, and a productive negotiation can begin.

Needs

We all have needs and preferences, some of which are shared by humanity, and others that are tailored by our personality and history.Only we can meet our own needs. We might want and expect others to meet our needs for us, but it's not going to happen. An important part of getting our needs met is by talking about them, and communicating them honestly and openly to the other person. Then, we can enter into negotiation.

Visibility

Visibility could also be called transparency. It's about letting ourselves be seen as we really are, and, in turn, seeing the other person as they really are. We encourage visibility in our relationships by being honest, open, and generous.When we're transparent, we earn more credibility because we're real.

Communication

Communication is a big topic that deserves several posts of its own. It means many different things, and we could use 'communication' to describe everything we're talking about here.In this post, communication means talking about what really matters: our values, our beliefs, our ambitions, our future, and our expectations. It's about taking time to discuss things like: what is the nature of the relationship? What do you both want from it? What is the deal, and what are both people's expectations for the future?

Boundaries

Boundaries are guidelines or limits we create for ourselves around how it's acceptable to behave in relation to others, how it's acceptable for other people to behave in relation to us, as well as what we do when either we or the other person does something that falls outside those guidelines or limits.Everyone grows up with their own sets of boundaries, some of which are healthy, and some of which might be not so healthy. Authenticity in relationships involves negotiating each person's boundaries. In this case of friends, this might be around behaviour. For a couple, it might also involve how both partners' lives fit together in a way that allows each to maintain their autonomy and personal space.What is important for authenticity in your relationships? Leave a comment and let me know.Photo Credit: breahn via Compfight cc