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How to define Relationships

Originally posted on March 1, 2022 @ 5:39 pm

In life, we meet many people; in reality, people come and go in our lives irrespective of how much we love them or want them to stay. The uncertainties we face in our relationship with people make it very important to define our relationship with people so that we can commit ourselves to the relationship with clear intentions. I share tips on defining your relationships. At the end of the article, I shared how defining a relationship saved me from heartbreak.

What is a Relationship?

A relationship is simply the connection between two or more people/things. It is the association between two people. Humans are social beings; we connect to two or more people differently.

What does it mean to define a relationship?

The term “defining relationship” of “define a relationship” is “simply setting the tone for where a relationship is heading” or “sharing expectations about a relationship in clear terms”. Our relationships are defined by the emotion expressed between two or more people.

People often become heartbroken when they discover they gave more to a relationship than it deserves. Defining our relationships is a skill that we must all master. It can save you from heartbreaks or backstabbing when it is done right.

I recall a time in my life when I was confused and overwhelmed by the relationships I shared with people. I had a lot of people around me, and I could not define each relationship. I am a very open and welcoming person. I relate with people without boundaries, and sometimes some misunderstand my openness to love.

After suffering so many heartaches from failed friendships, I was determined to define each relationship, especially my relationship with the opposite sex. I reminded them that the relationship was nothing more than friendship to me.

Five Different Types of Relationship

Before you can define a relationship, it is necessary to understand different types of relationships. Everyone cannot be your friends, brother, cousin or family. It is important first to understand the types of relationships.

The man of too many friends [chosen indiscriminately] will be broken in pieces and come to ruin, But there is a [true, loving] friend who [is reliable and] sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24 AMP

  • Family

Family is a fundamental part of each individual. Families are people who have a biological relationship with us. Many social behaviours, characters, and habits result from family backgrounds. Examples of family members include; Uncles, aunts, siblings, parents, and grandparents. A family relationship is usually the most important relationship to many people.

Defining Relationships: Family
A family eating together. These moments bring Joy. Photo Credit: Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Family is a strong cord that binds people together. We often tend to be sentimental regarding this kind of relationship. We protect it with every iota of our being because it is one relationship we value. Even though it is an integral part of our lives, we should still set boundaries.

  • Colleagueship: Professional or Work Relationship

 Colleagues are fellow members of a profession or organization. You share a professional relationship with these people. Don’t be surprised when they show attitudes that prove that you’re not more than a colleague to them. We tend to mistake this relationship for friendship because we spend most of our time with these people.

Defining relationship : colleagueship
Professionals shaking hands after a business deal. Photo Credit: Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

This relationship is significant. Colleagues are people who help on a career path. They serve as a motivation to us. Sometimes our colleagues become our mentors, guiding us along our career path. It is one relationship that shouldn’t be treated with levity. Relate well with your colleagues but always remember they are a capable competition.

  • Courtship or Marriage Relationship

Courtship or marriage is one relationship we all hope to have. Some of us want someone we can be ourselves with when we are weak or strong. Courtship is a time meant to study and understand the other person; it forms the basis of marriage.

Marriage is a significant relationship that defines the path of our lives. The period of courtship is a time to prepare for marriage when two people discuss important marriage issues and understand each other’s expectations. The talk of divorce in marriage is easier said than done, and this is why it is important to get it right before marriage.

  • Friendship

There is no peace as great as having a peaceful and blissful friendship. Life is enjoyable when you know someone has your back. Friends are people you have tested and can be trusted to stand with you through thick and thin. Random people cannot be called friends but can become friends over time. Friendship is a key to success because we all need people to succeed.

One of the most outstanding examples of friendship that comes to my mind is the biblical friendship between David and Jonathan. Their souls were closely knitted together. The love between them was more than we could imagine. Friends always have your back; they are not in your life for what they will benefit.

  • Acquaintanceship

Acquaintances are people you’ve been introduced to at one time or the other. They can also be people you’ve met somewhere but you do not share a close relationship or bond with. This relationship may seem insignificant, but it is the basis of all relationships. We meet people every day, and these people may become an essential part of our lives in no time.

Steps to Define Your Relationships

We can all make life decisions about who we allow into our life. Sometimes people form relationships by accident, and this relationship may bring much hurt and pain beyond what we can accommodate. There are a few steps we can take to channel our thoughts and define our relationships to prevent emotional trauma.

  • Understand Yourself

This, above all: to thine own self be true

And it must follow, as the night the day

William Shakespeare

Be true to yourself; understand your personality and how relationships with people affect you. Know what you can tolerate and what you can’t. You are the master and architect of your life. The fact that we all need people doesn’t mean we need everybody. Know and understand yourself first; then, you can understand others. That is why self-discovery is important.

You benefit more when you understand who you are and your weaknesses and strengths. People will only take you seriously if you know what you want. Understanding yourself and knowing the kind of people you want in your life is essential.

  • Patience

Sometimes things aren’t clear right away. That’s where you need to be patient and persevere and see where things lead.

Mary Pierce

Patience is indeed a virtue. It is crucial to develop a habit of being patient. When you meet new people, relate with them normally. Don’t try to impress them; calmly examine them and understand them. Don’t be in haste to form new relationships. The kind of people we allow into our lives means a lot. Imagine the repercussion of a goat allowing a tiger into his fold; the consequences are dire.

Sometimes we meet new people when we need comfort, these people help us, and we sometimes bring them into our lives. I know many people who have done this, and they find themselves hurt and disappointed when their trusted friends backstab them.

  • Take a Break

Take a break when you discover you have this closeness with people you can’t explain! It ensures you have time to evaluate the relationship. When you take time off, you can understand how much you’ve allowed them. The break is good, it helps to loosen tensions, and you also have time to see if you want them in your life.

How to define Relatioships : Take a break
Take A Break to see if the relationship truly matters to you. Photo Credit: Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

During the pandemic, many of us realized the depth of some relationships that we thought had a firm grip on us. The distance created due to the lockdown helped us evaluate our lives. Take a break whenever you feel overwhelmed by the relationship or affection for someone.

  • Understand the Signs

Even though it is important to relate with people properly, you still have to understand the signs pointing in the wrong direction. Imagine this scenario; you have a close female friend who never sleeps until she hears your voice. She always clings to you, and she introduces you to everyone. It can be a pointer she’s in love with you while you see her as a friend.

Her care may be rubbing your ego; you may feel important, but it’s an impending danger. It may not mean she’s fallen in love with you, but this is something to consider seriously. Discuss with her and set the relationship on the right path.

Maybe you have a neighbour who wants to know everything about your marriage. They may be saying negative things about your partner. You must understand the signs as much as they may not mean harm. Such a relationship will put negative thoughts in your heart, affecting other areas of your life.

  • Have the discussion

We sometimes see the signs when people are going overboard. We tend to sweep things under the carpet and assume the other person should know better. We all want to be the hero who accommodates and sees the good in everybody. We do not want to take the first step. It is essential to state boundaries with people when you think they are getting closer than you intended. We are sometimes afraid to discuss that because we may be assuming things.

Having this discussion helps to clear confusion and doubt. It also sends a clear message to the other person. They get a clear understanding of what your intentions are. It may feel unpleasant to bring up the discussion and discover that you assumed the events. You must clear the air for your emotional and mental well-being. You must also pick a perfect time for this “define relationships” discussion.

  • Express Your Thought about the Relationship

When you relate with or talk to people, don’t be afraid to refer to them by the name of the relationship you share with them. Introduce them to people using the names ‘he is my friend’, ‘She is my sister’, and ‘that’s my boss or colleague’. Don’t refer to everyone as your friend. Don’t give false opinions or impressions to people. Let people know what you think about them, and do not be afraid to say it as it is.

  • Set Boundaries

Defining Relationships : Setting boundaries
Decide the pedal you prefer in your relationship. Please don’t leave the option to people; you may get hurt by their choices. Photo Credit: Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

We should set boundaries in our relationships with people. Boundaries give an idea of how you want the relationship to go. Limits don’t mean you’ll have to insult the other person, but it means you are trying to draw terms for your relationship. One easy way is to discuss what you like and don’t like with the other person. Remember to be open-minded, understand the other person and reach an agreement.

My DTR Experience

  I had this friend in my university days; we were very close, and people around us knew we were close. We talked about many things, and I felt comfortable talking to him. He was my senior, which made it easier to relate with him. People were teasing me because they thought we were in a relationship. I would laugh and tell them nothing was happening.

One day he called me and told me that no string was attached to our relationship. I was happy and a little disappointed because I hoped the relationship might lead somewhere.

I wasn’t hurt or shocked because I have trained myself not to assume anything about my relationship with people. After that scene, we still speak with each other and usually relate. Today, we are married to different people and still talk to each other.

I sincerely respect this person for doing this because it is lifesaving. Some men will assume you know the relationship means nothing until the bombshell. Don’t hesitate to let people know your thoughts about your relationship with them, and never allow anyone to play with your emotions.

In Conclusion, we sometimes fear what people will think about us if we make firm decisions. Create time to categorize the people in your life into the category they belong. Don’t harbour toxic relationships because it is unhealthy for you; make a deliberate effort to leave a toxic relationship for your mental health. Defining relationships is very easy if you are willing to create boundaries. You can learn how to create relationship boundaries from this post here.

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