The Modern Psychology of Human Relationships – Part 2

As I wrote before, a lot of the observations here are common sense, but we do not always consciously take these into consideration when we are affected by another person’s remarks or actions, whether personally, professionally or even casually. As mentioned previously, we must be realistic in our analysis.  There is no such thing in this world as a perfect relationship with anyone. Some relationships are generally better than others, but inevitably and unintentionally, problems occur.  That is the way of the world.  Try as we might, this is beyond our control.  As much as we would like them to, people (whether they are our family, our friends, our colleagues or anyone else for that matter) will not and do not always respond as we expect them to or want them to.  Each person is always going through various types of thoughts and feelings that could be in direct contrast to those of any other person at that moment.

Laying the Foundation

The most basic and most crucial relationship in our lives is the one with our parents.  The way we are nurtured, taught, appreciated and trained shapes us into who we are.  Parents often unconsciously and unintentionally create psychological barriers.  They shower too much love and attention on their child.  Or they ignore the child totally. Others may not even have been lucky enough to be nurtured by their parents.  They may have that empty gap forever in their psyche.

Our Friends & Contemporaries

Our relationship with our friends is on a different plane altogether.  With them we can be informal.  We can supposedly share hopes, dreams, good experiences, bad experiences.  They are usually our contemporaries and are going through similar experiences.  But friends come in all forms as well.  Some are genuine.  Some manipulate you based on your weaknesses.  Others do not even care but put on an act.

Unfortunately we learn all this the hard way.  Years later, many of us regret how we treated certain people or how enamored were we with certain others!

Friendships among peers are usually the most volatile and unpredictable.  They tend to disregard a lot of things when they become informal.  Herein lies the danger of treading on one another’s sensitivities.  It seems okay to us when we say or do something to anyone else, but when it is said or done to us, it hurts badly.  It sounds harsh, but it is very true. If we are not considerate of others, we should not expect others to care about our feelings either.

Things said in jest or to tease a friend can go too far, and we can end up offending them or hurting them.  Once we cross that line, things said cannot be taken back.  Always be aware of what you are saying and doing.

Basic Decency

This is something everyone must nurture.  It is taught by all preceding generations to their young and preached by all religions.   If you are not considerate, well behaved, morally upright and socially aware, you will struggle to fit into society.

If you show decency, consideration and good manners, you will be accepted and liked much more readily than if you do not.

Sense and Maturity

Our personal maturity plays a very important part in our approach to our relationships.  Contrary to popular belief, maturity has no correlation with age.  Some teenagers can be very sensible.  Even some people who have reached their fifties can lack basic sense because they never learned from their mistakes.

Always try to foresee the possible consequences of whatever you say and do.  Never allow over-confidence or lightheartedness to cloud your good sense.  No matter how informal or friendly we are with someone, it is all too easy to forget that they, just like us, have feelings.

Showing Due Consideration

For some reason, people sometimes forget a very simple fact.  Good manners are essential to good relationships.  We are often rude and even inconsiderate to others..  We poke our noses into things that do not concern us.  We go too far in our jokes or casual remarks.  We forget how we would feel if another person acted that way towards us.

Many of us often have irritating characteristics that we are often not aware of ourselves.  These can annoy others who then avoid us while we remain confused at their attitude.  People do not tell us for fear of offending us or hurting our feelings.  They just avoid us whenever they can.

Practicing forgiveness is the hardest thing in the world.  Because, when it is their turn to do so, others never forgive us.  Some of us also remember past events and then hold related grudges. We keep re-living what that person said or did on a particular occasion.  The other person may even have forgotten about it. These grudges can poison potentially friendly and beautiful moments that then turn out frightfully unpleasant.

Role of the Media

We cannot deny that the relationship stereotypes portrayed in the movies and on television affect our attitudes and our behavior towards others.  We all want to stand out and be appreciated.   However, rudeness and sarcasm are not the right way to go about it.

Sitcoms, advertisements and dramas frequently portray the image of the arrogant and rebellious hero who cannot be bothered with how others react or feel.  He is the one everyone runs after and idolizes.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  If you are inconsiderate and rude, people will avoid you like the plague and you will become a social outcast.  Remember, respect begets respect and disrespect begets disrespect.

Jumping to Conclusions

 We all do this unconsciously.  We see a person from a certain ethnic or social background and we assume things about them that may be farther from the truth than we could ever imagine.  We tend to take a lot of things at face value.

Opinions are quickly formed and circulated.  Just because a view about a person is widely held does not mean it is true.  Get to know a person before you can claim you know him.

Trust is a Sacred Thing

We must never succumb to the temptation of betraying a trust such as a fact a friend or anyone else has confided in you, believing you to be sincere and reliable.  Once you shatter this trust, your relationship is forever ruined and no excuses can make up for the hurt caused by it.

The temptation to share a secret is one of the strongest temptations in this world, and it has ruined more friendships than can ever be counted.  Once you break this trust, the anguish you cause belittles you even in your own eyes.

It is easy to be tempted to reveal such things but then you become a person with no conscience and no principles.  Imagine that you have revealed something very, very personal about yourself and the “friend” you reveal it to turns around and advertises it to others.  You will be very, very bitterly hurt and you will never, ever trust that person again.   Now put yourself in their shoes.

Marriage

The psychology of marriageThis is one relationship that can never be prepared for or even predicted, no matter how favorable all circumstances are, simply and simply because we are humans and our expectations subconsciously increase in proportion to our own efforts. We all imagine ourselves in blissful, harmonious marriages where everything can be resolved painlessly and smoothly.  As much as we would like this to be a fact, human nature itself is our biggest obstacle.

Arranged marriages are a requirement in many cultures, and these are at highest risk, as we do not know our partners when we meet them in supposedly the closest of relationships. Such marital relationships have worked that no one ever expected would work, and those have failed which people thought would be ideal.  Some basic principles, however, can be summarized which would affect such relationships positively more often than not.

  1. Mutual respect and consideration.
  2. Good sense and common sense.
  3. As far as possible, realistic expectations on both sides.
  4. Not getting unduly influenced by anyone else.

Things go wrong when we start accepting advice from those whom we believe to be sincere and honest beyond reproach.  The only exception that can generally be made to this is advice from one’s parents. It is not being implied here that such people do not exist, but awareness of things must be there so that we do not unknowingly hurt one another beyond repair.

Partners are afraid to be fully honest about everything, especially if one partner is prone to rather emotional responses in certain situations.  Unfortunately, no amount of remorse or apology works with certain personalities.  Opinions, once formed, are often unchangeable without a lot of hard work and sincere effort.  And it must be permanently sincere.

Conclusions

Human nature is a complex and extremely sensitive beast.  It takes patience, delicacy and cunningness to tame it or sharpen it.  It can endear us to others and it can cause us to be hated by others.  We must take our interactions with others seriously and handle them with care.  Words spoken in haste often cannot be taken back, so they must be chosen carefully.  Opinions about others must be formed only after knowing the whole story, and not only from one point of view.

 (This series of observations is in continuation of my previous article on the subject.  As before, these are simply overviews of some key aspects of the world of human relations.  Obviously, one or two written articles cannot possibly cover all aspects nor can they do justice to the whole complex spectrum of human relationships in this world. Read part 1 here.)

Asad Bhatti

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