Being able to have difficult conversations is something I need, in any close relationship. I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships, the five things I need, non-negotiable.
the five things I need
- mutual respect
Respect is like love, but less sparkly. I need to be seen as pretty much equal to anyone I’m going to be close to. If the other person thinks they’re better than me, its going to hurt to the point of poisoning everything. It’s happened–I know. I get bitter.
2. mutual honesty
Some people like to relate as activity partners, or to casually check in with someone from time to time. I can enjoy those ways, but if I really like someone, I’m probably going to tell lots of truth to them, and it can get deep pretty fast.
What I like relationship for is intimacy. And honesty is basic for intimacy. I know truth can be slippery. But an intention to speak the truth is vital because otherwise, sharing is a waste of time, really. Deception derails intimacy.
3. can have difficult conversation
Even in a super conventional relationship, difficulties will come up. You’ll need to talk about death, money, when someone said or did an unkind thing. Problems happen–you need to make sense of what happened together and collaborate on solutions.
So having difficult conversations is part of life, and part of being an adult and close to people. If every difficult conversation makes you flee, or you won’t answer questions, or avoid certain areas indefinitely, dancing around the truth–that’s not a fair way to handle things. Especially if the other person is hurt by that and always compensating for that, or guessing at stuff that shouldn’t be guessed about.
Then if you’re doing something less conventional, in relationships or in your life in any way, you need to be able to have difficult conversations even more. If you’re disabled, queer, live in community, have addiction issues, have a non-standard family style, or for whatever reason you’re not following normal scripts, clear communication becomes the potatoes, not the cayenne pepper.
So you should have a master’s degree in it. Yeah! My thesis is called Beyond I-Statements: How Being Grounded Deep in Self-Awareness Helps us Connect with Others Who Are Grounded in Deep Self-Awareness. Or maybe it’s Boundaries For Huge-Hearted Givers: How Clarity About What You Won’t Do Makes You Free.
If it’s not fun, it’s not nourishing me. Difficult times are inevitable. But fun level is an easy gauge of whether this relationship is nurturing my soul and worth it.
Ming gives me high fun–wordplay, cuddle, eating delicious foods together, going on trips, building a life together. He supports my writing and art, and all that I do, really. There is no better fun than that.
Other types of fun include gardening, graffiti, trike riding, music, works of mercy, sharing zines and other writing, ecstatic dance, singing, ritual.
But mostly it’s a chemistry thing. An activity could be exciting with one person and dull with another. It’s the spirit of the relating. Some people make everything fun! My mama was like that. It’s magic.
5. learning and growing together
I need close relationships to be alive. One way to tell that is if we’re still learning and growing together.
My bestie I have known for 30 years. Our relationship has gone through its seasons, but we always love to bring one another new ideas, things we made, art, beauty, observations about birds or words.
Having shared projects can be very fun, but learning can be as simple as the links we share, attentiveness, and staying changeable together.
How do you like my list? Are your requirements like the five things I need?
I need people I’m close to to recognize my disabilities and care about them, but that could be under respect. I need to avoid violence and heartless exploitative sociopaths, but that could be respect too.
Love to you and all your close relationships. I hope you can connect with people in ways that bless your life sustainably. Peace is possible. Let’s do domestic nonviolence for all of our days.
“I want to live with you,” is one of the sweet things I say to Ming all the time. Being super close is my favorite. Again and again, I come back to home, the families we make, and how to be close in ways that work for everyone.