How I Improved My Relationships

It has taken me a long time to realize what I want out of my relationships. 

It’s been a long, hard journey to realizing what I want to give and what I am willing take from the people around me. Not everyone has stuck around but those who have truly mean something to me and have helped me understand what truly matters in relationships. Now I’m not saying that I have some secret to life that will make every relationship work out in your favor. Each relationship that you have with another person is special, individual, and built on its own set of unique circumstances. But what I will tell you is this: I have found that practicing two things has made my friendships and my dating experience easier and more meaningful. 

So here they are: acknowledgement and appreciation. It’s that simple but at the same time, it’s not. It’s can be really difficult. When done correctly, it can be a beautiful thing.

I don’t think that I ever truly knew these things until I met the person that I’m currently dating. He’s changed the relationship that I have with myself and his love inspired me to love myself.

This self-love wasn’t like a switch I just turned on one day. It’s tough, some days tougher than others, but I work at it all the time. He practices acknowledgement and appreciation without even realize it. There’s something about him, and I’m not the only one to notice it, but he constantly acknowledges the good in other people. He doesn’t even mean to, it’s amazing to watch, the way he can make others feel so genuinely validated. I noticed this in him early on, but never could put my finger on what it was until I truly thought about how his behavior made me feel.

It made me feel… appreciated. Noticed. Validated. Comfortable. It made me feel as though I could express more and more about myself.

I started to implement these things in to my own interactions, to see how they impacted the people around me. The result was nothing less than extraordinary.

People love to be appreciated. They can never feel too appreciated, and it feels incredible to say to someone. I know you think incredible things about your friends. “Wow, they were so brave in this situation… I really wish I could do this thing that ____ is doing… She’s so talented… He’s so smart… She’s so beautiful.” We constantly have an inner dialogue going of compliments we think about other people, but we hardly ever voice it. Why? I’ll never know.

But voicing those things is a powerful moment that you and this person can share. They will feel that you notice, truly notice who they are, and appreciate their presence as a friend. It becomes a habit. The more that you acknowledge your friends, the more things you see about them that you truly like, and the easier and more bonded your relationship can become.

I was told once, that if you’re having trouble making eye contact with someone, look at them and think of three things you could compliment about them. How about taking that a step further: think of things that you’re proud of them for and actually tell them. When they’re telling you about something they’re going through, stresses they’re under, or things they’ve been doing, say, “you’re so intelligent," “you are radiant," or “you’re very strong." There’s nothing in the world like feeling that that quality of yourself is noticed, and it can change the way you feel about the person telling you this.

But there’s another part of this: realizing those around you who don’t acknowledge and appreciate you. You deserve it and you should surround yourself with people who notice your wonderful qualities and love you for them. As people, we are often more eager to share that love to others than to give it to ourselves. You have to grow okay with the feelings of caring about yourself. Take a step back and realize that you also have the attributes you want to compliment in other people. Understand that if you have these incredible friends, you must be incredible too.

And since you’re incredible, you deserve incredible relationships, real interactions, authenticity. You deserve to feel as though others notice you and care about the friend you are to them. Demand this acknowledgement. Make appreciation a requirement of your relationships. Never sell yourself short, never participate or give your time to someone who can’t see those things about you, because doing so might cause you to stop seeing them in yourself.

It’s can be as simple as a "thank you." Thank you for coming over, for having lunch together, for being there. Thank you to my friends who text me when they’re abroad to remind me that they care. You’re showing you don’t have to be right next to me to think about me. Thank you to my friends for inviting me over to watch a movie. You’re showing that you think it would be more fun with me there. Thank you to my friends who let me know when they’re running late. You’re showing you care about my time. Thank you to my friends who send me funny Snapchats. You’re showing that you care about putting a smile on my face.

It’s these little things that truly mean the world to me, and I couldn’t feel more blessed to have you in my life. Thank you for being such rays of sunshine, you make me laugh until I’m in tears, and I truly feel proud of who you are.