Toledo Counseling Practice The Willow Center

Authentic Communication in Your Significant Relationships

Ellen Larabee, LPCCWillow Wisdom

Hollywood movies often show “love” as a game with secret manuvers and manipulations and a clear winner and loser.  You must always stay a minimum of two steps ahead of the object of your desire and keep your emotions hidden from view.  Here’s a revolutionary idea: your chances of getting your needs met increase exponentially when you tell the other person what they are.  From your first contact, share your authentic self with others.

So…you’re eating out with someone with the potential to become an ‘important person’ in your life and they casually take a French fry off your plate and gobble it down.  Now, consider that, perhaps, one of your pet peeves is other people touching your food. Maybe it comes from a deep-seated childhood issue and maybe your whole family knows about it after the ‘Great Carrot Incident’ at Thanksgiving 2011; but for whatever reason, when that someone takes that fry, you feel an overwhelming urge to slap the offending hand away or, at the very least, say aloud, “People eating off my plate is one of my pet peeves; please refrain.”  Unfortunately there is another part of you who loves romantic movies and that part tackles your authentic self to the ground before something is said that may doom the potential relationship.

But your authentic self will not be silenced so easily…flash forward five years and that person did become ‘important’ and they casually reach for the fry and you flip out because you just can’t take it any more.  Before you realize it, you’ve stabbed the offending hand with your fork and you are screaming about the sanctity of plate autonomy! If it happens in a restaurant, people will stare.  And that important person has every right to be hurt and angry because you’ve effectively lied to them for a hundred fries and now they wonder how many other issues are hidden away.

I pick a simple, seemingly inconsequential pet peeve for a significant reason.  If you aren’t telling people in your life about the pet peeves, how are you ever going to tell them about the big issues?  When you are getting to know someone, anyone, make your boundaries clear from the start—teach the people in your life how to treat you.  Be your authentic self to everyone and if they do become an important person, it will be because they know your authentic self and they stuck around anyway.