Comfort is a good thing. Sometimes.
But sometimes we need to struggle. Sometimes we need to do uncomfortable things because they’re the right things to do. And because they’ll make us better people.
The same goes with relationships. Some things come naturally with relationships. Like wanting to hold hands. Others — like setting boundaries on what’s acceptable in the bedroom make us squirm in discomfort. But they’re necessary.
Here are four things which I find uncomfortable, but have drastically helped me in my relationships. Do you find these things uncomfortable too, but absolutely necessary?
1. Be Comfortable with Withholding Judgement
Nothing kills a relationship faster than judgement.
You know — the feeling when you’re sharing something important with your partner. But he just goes “Why are you always like that? Can’t you be like _____ instead?”
It feels like the most natural thing in the world — to judge our partners about things we don’t like about them. Everyone thinks their opinion is king — and that they’re just trying to improve their partner.
Unfortunately, your partner has an opinion too. And he’s probably very fixed in his ways.
Judging just makes both parties in a relationship feel unloved. And frustrated.
On the other hand, loving someone means loving them completely. Accepting that their good points come packaged with some bad ones as well. And as much as you wish he’d drop those bad habits — understand that they’re never going to go away completely. We would all do better if we sincerely tried to understand each others’ point of view instead.
We don’t need more judgement in this world. We need more empathy.
2. Be Comfortable with Asking and Receiving
Asking may seem like it’s the most natural thing in life. After all, we’ve all been crying babies before. Some of us still are.
But somewhere along the path of adulthood, many of us stopped realizing it’s OK to ask the world (and your partner) for good things. And joyfully receiving them. Perhaps it’s because we’ve experienced disappointments and heartbreaks. We end up setting safety barriers around our hearts:
“Don’t ask. Don’t expect. Something’s gonna go wrong and all you’re gonna get is disappointment.”
Even when we receive good things — we can view them in a negative light: “Is he being nice to me because he’s hiding an affair?”
It takes courage and vulnerability to be comfortable with asking and receiving. But we need it. How would our partners ever understand the desires of our hearts — if we never ask for them?
So ask. And receive with gratitude. Otherwise, our relationships end up stunted. Stuck in the mud of negative expectations — instead of reaching the joyful heights of happiness they were meant to reach.
3. Be Comfortable with Conflict
I’m a conflict-avoidant person. I hate conflict. Whether it’s at a sports bar, at the workplace, or worst of all — with a romantic partner.
In fact, for most of my dating life, I would rather bend over backwards to avoid conflicts than to face them head on.
Conflict-avoidance takes away honesty and openness from a relationship. Someone’s suppressing their desires just to “please” the other person. It leads to resentment in one party, and ignorance in the other. Real issues never get resolved.
This isn’t to say that a couple should be fighting all the time. Or that every single relationship issue can be resolved. That’s unrealistic. But a couple needs to be good at handling conflicts — in order to make it work.
If one of the partners shuts down or blows up whenever there’s conflict — that’s a sure sign the relationship is going nowhere.
4. Be Comfortable with Being Alone
Paradoxically, the more comfortable you are being alone — the more attractive you become to other people.
The ultimate killer to attraction is neediness.
“But wait!” you say. “How can a relationship be happy if two people don’t need each other?”
Because there’s a difference between desire and neediness. Desire is “I want to hold your hand, because it lights up my life.” Neediness is “I need to hold your hand, because otherwise I would die.” Desire is the foundation of a relationship. Neediness strangles it.
So don’t be that person who disappears from your friends once you get hitched. Don’t be that irritatingly inseparable couple who’s going to get bored of each other within 2 years.
Instead — schedule some “me time” for both you and him. Give each other space for different friends, interests, and activities. It’ll help keep the fires of passion burning.
And it’ll make you love each other more.
As someone wise once wrote:
“You don’t fall in love when you’re together. You fall in love when you’re apart.”
Pic Credit: “Conversation in the Rain (Explored #83)” by flashcurd
The original version of this article first appeared at Emmagem