Developing New Relationships

Beginning a new relationship calls for using what you have learned from every relationship you have been involved in — the ones that have ended, as well as the ones you have enjoyed for decades. Following are a few ideas to ponder as you begin to get to know the person you were introduced to and perhaps find yourself asking, “What do I do now?”

Paying Attention: Frequent phone calls, brief visits, and intense listening may be more necessary than spending the day together. Each of us has a unique way of interacting. Find what is comfortable for you and your relationship. You may want to vary your way of paying attention (more calls, less visits) to discover what works best for both of you.

Expanding the Circle: By including your family and friends in this new relationship, you extend the hand of welcome, and your new acquaintance will enjoy a sense of being included. Being included in the lives of others and having the opportunity to share and participate gives us all a feeling of being attractive, capable, worthwhile people. This highly treasured feeling of value is one that people who have been left out of ordinary life have not often had.

Sharing Life: Building trust in a relationship takes time, and if trust has never been a part of your relationships, it becomes a new experience that is not always understood or believed. It might be helpful to share your struggles, disappointments, fears as well as your hopes, expectations, and joys. By sharing you are trusting this person and revealing that you also have good and not-so-good times in your life. Building trust develops through this sharing of life during times of struggle and celebration, both equally important in developing authentic relationships.
Telling Truth: Situations can be threatening. Choices can be difficult. Feelings can be uncomfortable. Facing ‘what is’ honestly and together becomes a strength. Avoiding true concerns creates dis- tance and weakens relationships. Keeping your word, being on time, and completing what is started are all examples of honesty in relationships.

Weaving Traditions Together: Sharing special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and significant events adds meaning that lightens the heart when those times are remembered and re-
counted. Cards, meals, and memories attached to small gifts add continuity and color to a world that can be hostile and cold at times. Caring, reciprocal relationships have the potential to erase old barri- ers and to create the opportunity for a rich tapestry of human warmth and beauty to emerge.