The Modern Psychology of Human Relationships – Part 1

Most of what is contained in this article is just plain common sense.  However, most of us are so blinded by the events in our daily lives that we tend to overlook these simple facts of life. No matter how unsocial or introverted a person is, the saying ‘no man is an island’ applies to all human beings.  We all live together on this one planet – six and a half billion of us.  Inevitably we all have to interact.  Some of these interactions are thrust upon us, some are chosen by us, and some are already there when we come into this world. Among all subjects or topics, understanding human relationships is one of the most controversial and misunderstood in the world.   What is the reason behind the vast disagreements, frustrations, arguments and clashes?

Every relationship in this world has a different set of dynamics, values and emotions.  We behave differently with parents, brothers or sisters, teachers, colleagues, prospective life partners and friends.  Furthermore, each individual relationship is a different story, with its own past, its own present and its own future.  Everyone in this world has a totally different type of relationship with people in each of these categories.

Modern life has become so fast and busy that people no longer have the time to think about others or to think back on the effects of what they may have said to someone.  We have become like mere robots – necessity dictates our activities and timetables.  But we have what those machines can never have.  We have feelings.  And these work both ways.  We have them and, yes,  we forget that others have them as well.

Human beings are not perfect or predictable.  Even people whom we think we know very well will not always react the way we expect them to react.  This is obviously unfair but we have no control over other people’s thoughts or feelings.  But by reacting in a sensible way, we can affect the outcome of a situation from getting worse.  Conversely, by over-reacting or getting emotional, we can ruin a perfectly mendable situation.

We can never be too cautious.  Unfortunately, people remember things we would not like them to remember.  They also forget things that we would have preferred them to remember.  It is just human nature.  It cannot be programmed or externally controlled.

Firstly, no two people in this world are alike.  Human nature cannot be generalised or defined to fit any one person’s profile.  No matter how similar or alike two people may be, there is always a set of differences somewhere along the line that suddenly sets them apart.  It is an absolute truth that you can never be one hundred percent similar to any other person in this world of ours.

Secondly, no matter how badly we want to believe that they exist, there is never any such thing as an ideal relationship.  No matter how hard you try, remember that you can never ever please anyone all the time in every way.   In fact, trying too hard is counterproductive in itself and raises questions in the other person’s mind.  Remember, no matter how friendly or caring they are, everyone has the capacity to think. If you make extra unexpected gestures, your very motives can be called into question and your efforts can be grossly misinterpreted or misunderstood.  Many a friendship has suffered as a result of people trying too hard to please.

Essentially, we all consider ourselves genuine people who are bursting with good intentions.  Therein lies the basic flaw.  Because we are so willing to give, we unconsciously have expectations from others.  And when others fail to meet those expectations, we are hurt, crushed, insulted, depressed and betrayed.

We are individuals.  We have our individual limitations.  We are conditioned by the events in our lives and by how fit we are emotionally, physically and mentally.  We get tired, we feel hot, we react to stresses and unexpected events differently.  Some of us recover quickly and walk away smiling, others re-live a negative experience for days on end and are haunted by it day and night.

We make plans based on our individual expectations.  But we forget that no two human beings in this world can ever synchronize their moods.  When you are happy and on top of the world, the person you are going to speak to may be unexpectedly depressed, angry, tired or in any one of a dozen different emotional states.

We all think differently.  We have different sets of values.  What may seem unacceptable or outrageous to one person may be perfectly normal in another person’s eyes.

How do we protect ourselves from such devastations? When many of us carry our hearts around in the palms of our hands?  Even to survive and to pull yourself together, to function when you are shaken, you must build a protective shell around yourself.  When you do not feel like speaking or interacting with another human being, you must put on the proverbial ‘mask’ and pretend, for life must go on.

There are no absolutes.  The world is not always cruel and callous nor is it a bed of roses.  People are often very unfair and they make no excuses for their behaviour..  We must accept that this is the way the world is.

The world does not have the time or the patience for our problems, nor can it always give us time to pull ourselves together when we are hurt.   This is probably the hardest part of being a caring and sensitive human being.

For some, the exact opposite may apply. Life may have made them cold and unfeeling.  They trust no one and they never reveal their true thoughts and feelings.  They may have been snubbed or rejected once too often and they do not want it to happen again.   These people have to learn to trust others again, but obviously in a long and, for them, a difficult process.

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 luck enough to be nurtured by their parents.  They may have that empty gap forever in their psyche.

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 enamoured we were with certain others.

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.

Many of us 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.

Forgiveness is the hardest thing in the world.  Because others never forgive us. Some of us also remember past events and then hold grudges.  These can poison potentially friendly and beautiful moments that turn out frightfully unpleasant.

The author, Asad Bhatty, is graduate from USA as well as MBA from Bradford Management Centre, University of Bradford, UK. His full profile is here.

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