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Curiosity

Erika-Lee Shaw

Erika-Lee Shaw

Curiosity. It may have ‘killed the cat’ but in my experience it has the exact opposite effect on relationships. 

How do you know what to do to keep a relationship alive? Did your parents walk you through a step-by-step guide of how they managed to make their relationship work? Perhaps your parents weren’t ever in what society would call a traditional relationship, or perhaps they separated. Do your friends and colleagues talk to you in depth about the emotional intricacies of their relationships? Do you know how to resolve conflict while yourself feeling triggered or reactive? Were you taught how to manage your own values and expectations when it comes to making a committed relationship work with another human being? 

Most people answer no to many if not all of the above questions. We are given very little organic advice and guidance about love and relationships. Unless you actively seek out information and education from books, lectures, podcasts or know what questions to ask, it can feel like you are out there taking shots in the dark. 

For many, seeking relationship counselling is daunting. There are varying reasons that may prevent people from booking in with a professional including financial restraints, social pressures or accessibility concerns. Wherever possible and appropriate I like to share insights or tools that could be helpful and start to open up lines of communication and understanding, without the need for a counsellor present. 

One of these insights is: be curious. When your partner does something you don’t understand or communicates a need you don’t know how to meet, take breath and get curious. Ask them what’s happening for them, ask them why they feel that need is important. Communicate to them that you want to understand them, ask them to help you get clearer on what it is they need from you. 

When we become curious instead of reactive, we change the narrative. When we ask questions and seek to understand, we open up the conversation and begin engaging in a new way. Very often in life, people don’t feel heard or validated. When we ask questions and convey a genuine desire to know more about our partner, we are showing them that we are hearing them. We are demonstrating that we wish to understand and validate their experience. 

Additionally, once you understand your partner and the motivations behind their behaviour/needs, it provides an opportunity for you both to create clearer plans and ideas on how you can incorporate each other’s needs into a balanced relationship. 

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