Most of our relationships have become casual. We allow them evolve without thinking about how we want them to be. We do not take the time to maintain them or keep them on track. What if... we invested some time to define our relationships by thinking about and deciding what we want them to be. We could ask ourselves: What am I looking for in this relationship? Then, we could set "parameters"
(like limits) to keep that definition intact. Whenever one of us starts to deviate from that definition, we care enough to set a parameter and say or give them a signal that says: That is not what this relationship is about for me; I want it to be more like this.
Effective parameters can be subtle, but they are always clear. For example, when a coworker flirts with you, think about whether you want flirting to be part of that relationship (definition). Then, give them clear signals (parameters) telling them whether or not you want flirting to be part of that relationship. Or... when a friend is not spending as much time with you as you would like (definition), let them know that you miss them and would like to see them sometime soon (parameter). If they are not available on an ongoing basis, you can redefine that relationship to more of an "acquaintance", and seek a new friend to meet your friendship needs.
By setting parameters, both people than know where they stand with each other. This leads to trusting the relationship and trusting each other. It allows us to get what we want most from the relationship. Defining our relationships and setting parameters to maintain them lays a foundation for them to go deeper and to be more fulfilling.
Defining relationships and setting parameters requires a lot of work. Definition requires thought and difficult decisions. Setting parameters requires courage and strength to address awkward and difficult situations. And... we have to pay attention. But sooner or later, we have to ask ourselves, "Just how important are our relationships to us?"
About the Author
I, Michael Hoffman, am a licensed psychotherapist, teacher, and author with 25 years experience in counseling and teaching experiential workshops. I have maintained this blog since 2009 and will publish my second book Natural Way of Being in 2018.
I offer in-person and video-conferencing counseling, intensive workshops, and online courses to allow participants to directly experience their natural way of being and the life they would have for themselves.