As a dating and relationships blogger/coach, I’m grateful that I get to chat to singles and couples about their relationships on a daily basis. The issues they come to me with are always slightly different from the other but there’s always one underlying theme – one thing these relationships lack. And that one thing lacking in many relationships isn’t always communication, sex or quality time. From speaking to dozens of couples at every stage of dating, it’s a simple thing – self awareness.
Let’s take a few steps back.
What does self awareness look like in a relationship?
Self awareness in a relationship is the ability to recognise how your actions (verbal and non-verbal) affect your parter. It could be acknowledging that certain actions can lead to confusion or frustration for your partner i.e. when you show your interest in a guy but then go MIA for days or when you don’t have romantic feelings for a guy but continue to date him anyway. Simply put, it’s knowing how your actions contribute to the health of a relationship.
Yet…this one thing is often neglected and leads to a lot of miscommunication. Here are different times where self awareness plays a role in your relationship.
During conflict resolution
We all have different ways of resolving conflict. My style tends to be passive-aggressive (I’m working on this, no one is perfect) where as my husband tends to take a direct, confrontational approach. You can’t argue that one style is ‘better’ than the other but for conflict to be resolved, both parties need to recognise how their approach to solving a problem affects the other. In my situation, I know that it’s best to talk about a problem as it arises and not stew in my frustration for hours. This isn’t easy to do but I know that it has to be done if we are to meet in the middle. Whenever I’m tempted to walk away and shut down from an argument, I often think about how my actions will cause ripple effects on the rest of our day/night.
Knowing when to say sorry
Some couples fight just to prove they’re right but half the arguments that happen aren’t worth fighting about i.e. who took the garbage out last. Often in an argument, we naturally go into defense mode which feeds our need to be right. (We have so much pride!) There are times where it’s best just to acknowledge your contribution to the argument, swallow your pride and say “I’m sorry”. It cuts the time you spend arguing by 50%.
Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?
When you’re hurt by someone’s actions
Self awareness isn’t limited to how you affect others, it’s also the ability to recognise your own emotions and reactions to things. When I was younger, I’d get frustrated and annoyed with situations without really understanding why. I always thought I fell ‘victim’ to things that were ‘beyond my control’.
In reality, we are all in control of our feelings. Whenever I feel frustrated with my personal or professional life, I stop and think about the source of my emotions…because sometimes it’s as simple as me being tired and cranky.
In summary, self awareness is the ability to recognise how you affect others in the way you speak and treat them. The more you develop this skill, the more you’ll see communication in all of your relationships improve.
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Iona is a Wellness Coach specialising in relationships and dating. She works with single women to write their own love stories.