Greetings, my fellow Survivors, Butterfly Ninjas, and Choose Courage Foundation Supporters! My last blog exploring Relationship Green Flags had insightful viewpoints from so many of you that my heart is full of gratitude and inspiration, so I thank you! Articulating what “green flags” are for a relationship (the myriad of beautiful relationships we are gifted with in this lifetime: friendships, romantic partnerships, familial relationships, co-workers, and more) provides a strong foundation for building a lasting, healthy relationship. Once again, I reached out to you and was astounded by the knowledge you shared so openly from the heart. So, let’s get started!
I want to reiterate the definition my best friend, Shelly, gave for a “green flag”: a specific incident that gives you insight into who the person is. I believe this is how people truly get to know one another, which is the first step.
I want to start with humorous anecdotes as I believe that laughing together is one of the best aspects of our relationships. A longtime best friend said, “Low expectations. JK!!! :)”. After I stopped laughing, I started thinking. For, I believe there is often much truth in the funny. Expectations are normal, but they often turn to judgment and resentment if they are not met. Primarily if you did not clearly communicate what they are! So, heck yeah, take a step back and be present and open and grateful in your relationship; lowering expectations will create an opportunity to meet each other’s needs. My brother Jason said, “Be weird together.” Yes, please! He followed with, “You’ve gotta weird ’em out to weed ’em out.” I say, “The weird in me honors the weird in you.” Laugh with your fellow humans. Play together and have fun. I have heard here and there (everywhere!) that laughter is good for you.
My longtime friend Amie aptly stated, “Give grace when it’s needed.” This is the perfect segue into the sentiments that echoed through almost everyone’s contributions. Grace is defined as courteous goodwill, and applying the numerous aspects of grace to your relationships will pay off in longevity. Danyelle said, “Being able to compromise (give and take)…forgiveness, empathy.”, and I was struck by the profound nature of her words. People, including ourselves, mess up. A lot. Actual vulnerability and connection form when you apologize and forgive. It is graceful to apologize and then work to change your behavior. It is graceful to forgive and not hold a grudge. It is graceful to be honest when you have made a mistake. These are the qualities of a lasting relationship that almost every person articulated: trust, compassion, empathy, honesty, vulnerability, respect, compromise, forgiveness – and these qualities can neatly be summed up in extending courteous goodwill to one another.
My college roommate, Sarah, said, “Healthy boundaries.” Healthy boundaries encompass a multitude of traits of lasting relationships. Common interests, dreams, outlooks, and hobbies are essential. It is also crucial to have the courage to allow your partner to pursue their interest, plans, and hobbies independently. Healthy boundaries are vital to communicating effectively with others. And, guess what. We are going to disagree with each other. This is where boundaries have the power to save, improve, and deepen relationships. Jose brilliantly said, “Having agreements about how you will engage with each other when things get bumpy, or you disagree. Any long-term relationship will hit obstacles. Having a plan in place for when that happens, I think, can be really helpful. Also, understanding what each person needs in those moments, like “I need space, I need to know that we will talk by x time.” Explicitly having a conversation about each person’s orientation to disagreement or conflict.” I will add my own personal boundary I call the “24 Hour Rule,” that my therapist spent multiple sessions drilling into my psyche. It is simple – if a person says something to you that makes you feel hurt, angry, upset, and you find yourself about to lash out in haste – wait. If you hold your tongue for 24 hours, odds are you will not still be out of sorts; if you are, you will be able to communicate rationally and effectively by that time.
LOVE. “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” –Zora Neale Hurston Love is a vitality, making us come alive in all of our relationships. I believe it is the basis on which each and every relationship we have is built upon to last. Love comes in so many forms, and I cherish loving and being loved. Allowing love to guide your connection will allow it to persevere. Of course, a few paragraphs could not possibly sum up how to sustain a relationship, but everyone’s ideas are an excellent place to start. I want to end on a romantic note because we all love a good romance. My friend Heather who has a 23-year long romance still going strong, said, “It’s corny, but we have matching tattoos that say “love beyond reason” written in Hebrew literally translated love over logic. The Hebrew word for love that we chose was Ahava which means love as if through fire or life-changing love.”
One in three women and one in seven men will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime. CCF advocates for courage in the face of this travesty through survivor photoshoots, events and spreading a message of hope and courage throughout the community. If you are in a domestic violence situation, please reach out to someone. There is help, and it is not shameful to seek help because nobody deserves to live in pain. One anonymous phone call to 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) will put you immediately in touch with support.