Life throws us many curveballs, particularly with relationships. More often than not, the ever-expanding web of friends, lovers, and acquaintances can become messy. This is especially true when friends develop romantic feelings for each other or when casual connections begin to grow more than that. Defining relationships can help you avoid awkward situations, and manage your friendships properly.
Defining Relationships Internally
The first step is to consider your the connection you have with the individual. This is not just how they relate to you, but also how they relate to others in your chain of connections. Individual bonds could be stronger than others, and your interactions with this person may not affect only your relations. This seems like common sense, but far too often we ignore ripple effect even minor actions can have.
After defining the connection, put boundaries in place to keep the relationship as you like it. Do not think of these as concrete; make them flexible. Our relationships are ever-evolving with others, but starting out by defining what they mean to you is never a wrong decision. It creates security and helps manage complicated situations that develop later.
Working With The Individual
Though it is not always necessary to define friendships with the other person, describing romantic relationships can be critical. Hurt feelings and unmet expectations are commonplace with carelessness in the dating scene. Defining romantic relationships can dampen the emotional damage or eliminate it entirely.
Dating or going out on dates does not make you exclusive with another person unless you both agreed you were exclusive. Communicating this upfront may seem awkward, but honesty is considered one of the most sought after traits in any romantic partner. Expressing desire for romantic relationships or casual affairs is also important in their own right. After both of you establish your positions, it is important to see where you align. In some cases, it may be best to end the romantic relationship instead of trying to force the desired outcome one way or the other. A bit of pain in the present from the separation is infinitely better than investing time and leaving later.
Being Honest With Yourself
When figuring out what you want, always be honest with yourself. Reflect on what you are looking for before committing to one approach or the other, and be honest with what you want from the relationship. Some may try to convince themselves they want a fling when what they want is a serious relationship or vice versa. Understand your desires and act according to your values unless you have a serious desire to change. Otherwise, you will not receive any fulfillment from the connections that you make. This hollow connection, a bond for the sake of having a bond, is a disservice to the other person as well as yourself.
Relationships are inherently complicated, and even simple ones become that way eventually. Learn to understand yourself first, then the other person. Get the most out of your associations, and live a more enjoyable life because of it.