When we are in a very close and intimate relationship, there may be blind spots that we may not be aware of. However, not making an effort to acknowledge the people we love could lead to a breakdown of relationships.
The irony is, it’s hard to tell when you’re taking someone for granted because well, that’s probably when you ARE! Try this – take a moment to reflect on your past few interactions with the people you love.
When you were out having dinner with your family, were you busy updating your Instagram feed?
When your best friend confided in you about her work problems, were you thinking about your own work problems instead?
When your husband told you about his day, were you fretting about whether the children had already done their homework?
If any of the above sounds familiar, that’s because it’s easy to be emotionally complacent when we’re with people we are comfortable with, who we know aren’t going anywhere. If you’re reading this and someone in your life comes to mind, perhaps he or she is someone you need to make more effort with. How?
Try new stuff together
Instead of always doing the same things or dining at the same restaurants, step out of your comfort zone by trying out new activities together. For example, if you and your friends are always meeting late at night for after-work drinks, you could shake things up by organising a movie marathon at your place instead. Or, if you find that you and your boyfriend are falling into a dinner-and-movie rut, why not take the initiative to suggest something new like going for a hike?
By thrusting yourselves into a new environment, you get to discover previously-unknown facets of each other’s personalities. For example, I never knew how gritty my mum was until we went on a hike up a mountain in Malaysia! In fact, I was the one whining and grumbling the entire way; she just kept her head down and trekked on. I definitely had newfound admiration for her after that hike!
Force yourself to be present in the moment
When we are with someone we see often or are comfortable with, we tend to be distracted when they’re talking to us. We are either looking at our phones or thinking about our own problems instead. The next time you’re spending time with a loved one, set your phone on Silent and make a concerted effort to really listen. With everybody’s hectic and highly-strung lifestyles, all of us would appreciate someone taking the time to slow down and listen.
Who says surprises are only for birthday parties and wedding proposals? If thoughts of your mum or dad flit into your head during the middle of a workday, why not pick up the phone just to say Hi? It feels way more personal than a text message, and wouldn’t take more than five minutes of your time. And both of you will probably hang up the phone feeling a whole lot happier.
Or, if you’re in between meetings and within the vicinity of your friend’s office, pop over to see if he or she can step away for a quick coffee break. It helps break up the monotony of his or her workday (and yours!), and is a great way to strengthen your bond.
Don’t forget your P’s and Q’s
This is the most basic thing to do, yet also the most forgotten. When we are with people that we are comfortable with, we tend to forget to say, “Please”, and “Thank you”. Some people may dismiss such courtesies as being too rigid and formal, but I’ve found that simply saying “Thank you” helps bolster relationships. By acknowledging the other person’s help (even if it was something as simple as fetching you a spoon from the kitchen), you are saying “Hey, I respect and value you.”
Ultimately, every person just wants to feel needed and acknowledged, and it doesn’t take big or grand gestures to achieve that. Very often, it’s the little things – the things that say “I’m thinking of you” – that are the most memorable.
About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30.
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