By Susan Scott, Fierce Inc. Founder, and bestselling author
When you’re finally ready to dive into your next relationship, remember that conversation is a driving factor to its success- whether you are expressing gratitude, giving feedback, or apologizing. The conversations we have are not about the relationship- the conversation is the relationship. What gets talked about and how it gets talked about, determines whether it will thrive or flat-line. It’s amazing how much fresh air enters a relationship when people tell the truth- most just don’t know how to do it in a way that enriches the connection.
8 Conversations to have with your Partner (Excerpted from Fierce Love)
● Conversation 1: Do I Want This Relationship? Is my life working for me – am I off track with my hopes and dreams?
● Conversation 2: Clarifying Conditions – Yours, Mine, Ours. We must teach people how to treat us. We get what we tolerate.
● Conversation 3: How Are We Really? People change and forget to tell one another. Manage issues and stay current with your partner.
● Conversation 4: Getting Past “Honey, I’m Home”. We meet up at the end of the day, having tackled our to-do list, and those things are mentioned only in passing, if at all. Nothing new. No deep connection. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, we feel seen.
● Conversation 5: Let Me Count the Ways. “Thanks, babe,” doesn’t cut it. What’s more meaningful is a specific affirmation. If your partner does something that touches you, speak up.
● Conversation 6: It’s Not You, It’s Me. Relationships don’t survive unless we are willing to tolerate imperfections in our partners and recognize that we have our own. Learn how to apologize.
● Conversation 7: It’s Not Me, It’s You. If a problem exists, it exists whether we talk about it or not, so we might as well talk about it. If you and your partner don’t talk about things that disturb you, one or both of you may eventually blow up.
● Conversation 8: I Love You But I Don’t Love Our Life Together. This is the conversation needed when you know that something MUST change. You’ve given your all and have done your best to be loving and lovable. You may believe that there is no way to reach your partner. I would ask you to remember that you loved this person at one time, enough to commit to him or her, so before you decide to leave, give it one last shot.
The Silence after the Conversations
When we commit to someone, we want it to last forever- to have a fierce bond like a blazing campfire. But what happens when the fire is extinguished and we are left with ashes that cannot be rekindled?
Exit with Grace
It’s a tell tale sign when we imagine the future and our partner isn’t in it. This moment sneaks up and breaks our hearts. But this does not indicate failure- unless we were dishonest to ourselves throughout the course of the relationship. Since conversation is the relationship, if you have given it your all, and done your best to love and be loved, sometimes, the best decision you can make is to exit it. My advice? If you’ve given feedback in the past and asked for it in return, if you’ve told your partner what you love about him or her—often—and if, when nothing changed, you let your partner know what was at stake, then saying it’s time to part will not come as a surprise.
The fear of being alone frightens many people. It’s easy to want another person to fill us up and make us happy, but that’s not their job. Happiness is an inside job. A partner is not required for you to give and receive love. When a relationship fails there’s often grieving, but it’s grieving for the person you thought someone was- you’re missing someone who never existed. It’s the “now what?” and the fear of being alone that frightens many when they consider leaving a relationship. An important question is, What will give you joy? Perhaps you need to go on a search for adventure and laughter. If you are unhappy, you leak unhappiness everywhere you go. For us to feel that sense of joy, there must be something more. If we love and are loved, that “something more” can make all the difference.
Where Might Joy be Found?
What if you’ve been able to solve everything except the unsolvable, which is that the person you love doesn’t or didn’t love you in return, or that you couldn’t continue to love the person you married no matter how hard you tried? Being alone can be exhilarating. You have your own space, can manage your time around your own needs and interests, and can focus on self-realization. Find joy in little things- like getting up at 2:00 am to make a cup of hot cocoa, without the anxious inquiry, “are you okay?”
Maybe the joy we constantly seek has been right under our noses the whole time. Consider that perhaps, apart from friends and relatives, the person you are most meant to love, to connect with at a deep level, is yourself.
Remember that conversation you had with yourself: Is my life working for me? Am I the person I was meant to be? I hope you answered those questions and worked on any parts of your life that haven’t been working for you. If there is still work to do, there is no excuse not to do that work now that you have only yourself to consider. There is something freeing in knowing that your only job is to lead as full, eventful, and joyful a life as you can, so that it doesn’t ever feel like you’re just waiting around for some magical person to show up in your life. You are the magic. You are in control of the conversation. The conversation is the relationship. The deeper the conversation, the more fierce the love is.
Susan Scott is a New York Times bestselling author and leadership development architect and founder of Fierce, Inc., a global training company that helps Global 1000 companies generate significant results by transforming the conversations central to their success. She pioneered the process of fierce conversations that has touched the lives of millions of people and now she’s freshly applying these ideas to our romantic relationships. Susan lives in Medina, Washington.