Thinking about communication - Livre d'Or








Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes. * Blogroll * Strange words * More links * Bookies * Microblog * Recent comments * Humans only * Second degree * By topic * Cool posts * Writing * New post

Tags

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



livredor
Thinking about communication
Sunday, 23 July 2006 at 09:24 pm
Tags:

Previous Entry Next Entry


My friends, I am having a crisis of faith. (Not the religious kind; I don't have much of that anyway, and I wouldn't bore you with noodlings about details of theology.) No, I am starting to question my faith in communication.

I have always believed that communication is really, really important. Before I was even verbal my mother used to lecture me about how you should always be careful to communicate exactly what you mean and tell those close to you how you are feeling. And I've always lived with that principle.

It's doseybat who started me off questioning this. (She has been causing me to question my assumptions and encouraging me to make really progress in the way I think and understand the world for over a decade now!) She pointed out (correct me if I'm misquoting you) that in fact good communication is no guarantee of a good relationship, and most relationships that go wrong go wrong for other reasons apart from communication problems. We were talking mainly about romantic relationships but it's applicable to other kinds too. For example, if one person stops loving their partner and prefers someone new, the original partner is likely to be hurt and upset, and no amount of communication about what the situation is is going to change that the situation is in fact bad.

There's also all the issues around attraction and sex and that sort of thing. It's something I spend a lot of time worrying about: what if he thinks I'm flirting with him when I'm not, what if I say something general and it's taken as a personal insult, and so on. But it's possible that this fear is exaggerated, it's a leftover from adolescence when none of us had any clue about these things, and now that we are adults we don't need to spell everything out because we have enough shared assumptions and common sense that this kind of disaster isn't likely any more.

sartorias made a really interesting post about marriage in fiction. She points out something that I hadn't thought of: misunderstanding is a convenient way of creating narrative tension while still maintaining sympathy for both characters involved. (Of course, it can get really annoying if it's over-done to the point where the reader is left thinking, if only they'd bothered talking to eachother on page 1, the whole novel would have been unnecessary!) But just because a lot of fictional relationships run into this particular set of problems, it doesn't mean that this is a proportionately huge danger in real life.

I still think good communication is better than bad communication, and some communication is better than none. But I am really wondering if I'm making too much of it. If one feels obliged to discuss every detail of one's feelings and thoughts, that has the potential to get boring. And several people have suggested to me that my very direct style of dealing with attraction can be unromantic or even intimidating, compared to the more expected style of flirting based on lots of hints and allusions and playfulness.

Of course, there's a huge sample bias here; since I believe communication is very important, I'm drawn to people who also care about communication. Indeed, some of the people I love best in all the world are the people I trust to tell me about anything I might want to know of their inner state, and to clarify and make effort to be sure we understand eachother always. But I do know empirically that there are people who are perfectly happy in their relationships and friendships, without basing their interaction on talking about absolutely everything or even really on conversation at all.

If communication isn't the whole story, the major factor that makes the difference between good and bad relationships, then what else might there be? I'm tentatively inclined to propose the assumption of goodwill. Perhaps if there is mutual trust that the people involved care about eachother and don't mean eachother harm, any misunderstandings that might arise will be temporary and easily dealt with, and not the big terrible tragedy that I expect them to be.

I certainly don't intend to stop trying to make sure I listen and communicate to the best of my ability. But perhaps I should be less obessive about this point. What do people think?


Whereaboooots: Älvsjö, Stockholm, Sweden
Moooood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Tuuuuune: Depeche Mode: Enjoy the silence
Discussion: 38 contributions | Contribute something
Tags:

Previous Entry Next Entry




Contribute something
View all comments on this page chronologically



Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
chickenfeet2003: default
From:chickenfeet2003
Date:July 23rd, 2006 08:20 pm (UTC)
15 minutes after journal entry, 03:20 pm (chickenfeet2003's time)
(Link)
I think your point about trust and goodwill is an excellent one.

Communicating one's emotional state is a tricky area for me for several reasons. Communicating my own emotional state is hugely difficult and stressful for me so my attempting to do so risks just generally raising the general level of unhappiness. I'm also inclined to hear such communication from another as a request for help and/or advice. I know (intellectually) that that is not always true but there's a pretty hard wired part of brain that says "if they don't want my input why on earth are they telling me this". Thus I'm not sure that more communication is always better.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: likeness
From:livredor
Date:July 27th, 2006 04:53 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 04:53 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
That's something I'd forgotten, thanks for reminding me. Talking about emotionally fraught topics or even just opening up about things that are usually private can definitely be a hard thing to do. So non-communication might happen because talking is too difficult, not because of putting a low value on it.

I think the help and advice versus listening sympathetically thing is an aspect of communication style. It is really important to establish which a person prefers, whether that's a general personality thing or case by case. Misunderstandings about that issue are a big subset of upsetting misunderstandings, IME, though you could regard that as meta-communication problems, I suppose.

For me, if I tell a partner or close friend that I'm upset, I'm quite happy for them to suggest what I can do about the problem. It's still communication in which I have expressed my feelings and my dear one has listened. Where I get upset is if I get no (meaningful) reaction at all, or if I feel the person is not telling me things that it is important for me to know.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
ewtikins: tangle
From:ewtikins
Date:July 23rd, 2006 08:53 pm (UTC)
47 minutes after journal entry, 08:53 pm (ewtikins's time)
(Link)
Of course, there's a huge sample bias here; since I believe communication is very important, I'm drawn to people who also care about communication. Indeed, some of the people I love best in all the world are the people I trust to tell me about anything I might want to know of their inner state, and to clarify and make effort to be sure we understand eachother always. But I do know empirically that there are people who are perfectly happy in their relationships and friendships, without basing their interaction on talking about absolutely everything or even really on conversation at all.

I don't think good communication and telling one another everything are necessarily the same thing. A friend or partner might ask me, "How do you feel about foo?" and I might not have formed an opinion yet, for example - "I don't know," and "I'm not really ready to discuss this right now," are very valid responses, and if I feel nagged to discuss things "properly" I might clam up completely. Communication when I am feeling threatened or vulnerable can be a very frightening thing, and being cajoled or manipulated into talking about something I really don't want to discuss will make me feel I am not trusted, I am not safe and I am not loved. I know many people who have this response, some to a much greater degree than I have. That said, I don't think "I'm scared" is always a good response to "I really think we should talk about X," because if X is something that keeps coming up and is important to at least one person in the relationship, it will have to be dealt with one way or another. I think running away from communication is sometimes a genuine fear thing and sometimes used as a manipulation, in a way - an emotional "If you loved me you wouldn't make me talk about things I don't like," and I don't think the latter is effective or particularly loving. There's a balance here somewhere. The person who doesn't want to do the talking has to be honest with themselves, and the person who does want to talk has to have patience, and there has to be a genuine caring somewhere that is bigger than whatever fear, or it all falls apart.

Similarly, I don't tell everything I feel to any one person. Long experience has shown that sometimes things which I think I'm very upset about are actually because I'm tired and hungry. I try to assess what's going on physically before I talk about being upset, and if I'm not sure I might leave things for a day or so and see if I still feel the same, or make a self-indulgent post on a LJ custom filter where I know people are going to call me on it if I'm bullshitting or at least not take it too personally. I don't like to let things fester but if I always said what I feel, my life would be even messier than it is now.

I don't think good communication and good verbal communication are the same thing, either. Flirting and hints and allusions and playfulness are communication - they might be more subject to misinterpretation than words are, especially for someone who loves words as much as you do, but they are still communication. Sometimes I can communicate more in a gentle squeeze of a hand than I ever could in words. Of course, this assumes that people are using the same 'language' - which they often aren't - and that they are paying attention to these non-verbal communication things - which many don't. So non-verbal communication is fraught with problems and mis-understandings - but really, so is a lot of verbal communication, for many people.

(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: letters
From:livredor
Date:July 27th, 2006 05:52 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 05:52 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Thank you, this is such a thoughtful and incisive comment, and you're really helping me to clarify my thinking here.

I don't think good communication and telling one another everything are necessarily the same thing.
No, no, they're not. I didn't explain clearly enough what I meant by good communication, I think. It can be good without being absolutely comprehensive. There are situations when not communicating is, IMO, a very bad and dangerous thing, and actively deceiving almost always is. But definitely there are things which are too transient or too personal or whatever to talk about.

Communication when I am feeling threatened or vulnerable can be a very frightening thing
Thank you for reminding me of this. For me, it's extremely rare for me to feel bad in a way that isn't made better by talking about it with someone who cares about me, but I do know that isn't universally true. And I should definitely be aware of that when I'm thinking about communication.

a manipulation, in a way - an emotional "If you loved me you wouldn't make me talk about things I don't like," and I don't think the latter is effective or particularly loving
I think manipulation like that is almost always bad communication and bad relationship behaviour in general. Any statement of the form "X can be a loving thing to do for a partner" can be turned into "If you really loved me, you would X," and the second can easily get nasty, without any reflection on whether X is actually good relationship advice or not.

sometimes things which I think I'm very upset about are actually because I'm tired and hungry. I try to assess what's going on physically before I talk about being upset
Also a good example. I think self-awareness is an important part of good communication, actually, but yes, good communication doesn't mean, always say the first thing that comes into your head in all circumstances!

I don't think good communication and good verbal communication are the same thing, either. Flirting and hints and allusions and playfulness are communication
Another very good point which I had forgotten. Yes. I really need to separate out my obsession with communication and my love of words. And you explain all the non-verbal stuff that I'm deaf to extremely clearly, thank you.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
From:ewtikins
Date:July 23rd, 2006 08:53 pm (UTC)
48 minutes after journal entry, 08:53 pm (ewtikins's time)
(Link)
I don't think completely understanding another person always is necessary to have a good relationship. I think it helps to have a fairly good understanding on the Really Big Things, whatever those may be. I tend to strive to understand as much as I can about everything... but sometimes I don't even understand myself, and how am I to expect someone else to understand something about me that I can't even begin to explain? It's quite a wonderful thing to be accepted for who and what and where I am even when some of that might not make much sense. Of course I don't mean that anyone should accept behaviour from me that is deliberately or repeatedly injurious to any party, but I tend to work on the assumption that Everyone Does The Best They Can and Nobody Tries To Hurt Anyone.

I think that people change and people grow and for a relationship to remain meaningful there has to be some sort of touching-base, something to hold things together. I may be strongly biased. I think that without sufficient time spent together, or in lieu of that excellent verbal communication, people can simply grow in different directions without really meaning to do so. That isn't necessarily a bad or good thing, it just is, but it's very difficult to fix it after the fact with communication when the habits aren't there. An awful lot of it is down to habits rather than conscious effort...

Trust and goodwill are very important. They can be partly built and maintained by what is said, but what is done is also a huge part of the picture. If what is said and what is done repeatedly do not match, trust will break - even if the inconsistencies and discrepancies don't directly affect the truster. This is the "But you broke up with him to go out wtih me, how do I know you won't break out with me to go out with $other_person?" problem. If one acts with integrity one will earn trust. If one acts dishonestly, trust dissolves. What one says is part of what one does, but not the whole of it.

That said, an awful lot of time and trouble can be saved by being careful to say what you mean, and telling those close to you how you feel - in a non-threatening way, preferably. And remember that the other person is the one who gets to decide what 'non-threatening' means.

It's all tangly and an awful lot of it boils down to the "you are not other people" generalisation. I think.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: likeness
From:livredor
Date:July 27th, 2006 07:03 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 07:03 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
I don't think completely understanding another person always is necessary to have a good relationship.
I agree. And it's probably not possible either, so it's a silly standard to aim towards. cakmpls wrote a really interesting post about this question.

sometimes I don't even understand myself
That's part of the human condition too. I actually find I learn more about myself by trying to explain, often.

It's quite a wonderful thing to be accepted for who and what and where I am even when some of that might not make much sense. Of course I don't mean that anyone should accept behaviour from me that is deliberately or repeatedly injurious
I like this as a principle, and it might help me to formulate something that I would want to hold as a goal if communication is less universal. There should be acceptance of what can't easily be explained, but only up to a reasonable point. And not assuming deliberate malice when it isn't there is very important too.

I think that people change and people grow and for a relationship to remain meaningful there has to be some sort of touching-base, something to hold things together
Yes, if you don't actually interact you don't have a relationship, that's almost a truism but not quite. Interesting that you consider that either communication or spending adequate time together might be enough for that.

If what is said and what is done repeatedly do not match, trust will break
In that case I would say that by definition the communication isn't working, because you're talking about active deceit or something close to it here. I guess the thing about the misunderstanding idea is that it clearly does happen that perfectly decent people have relationships that go wrong. Actual bad treatment is a different issue and no amount of communication is going to help with that.

an awful lot of time and trouble can be saved by being careful to say what you mean
Hear hear! But I think it's clear from this discussion as well as my own thinking which led to this post that just that on its own is not enough.

telling those close to you how you feel - in a non-threatening way, preferably. And remember that the other person is the one who gets to decide what 'non-threatening' means
Communication is not by any means an easy answer. I think if it were easy to be honest and communicate well almost everyone would do it.

the "you are not other people" generalisation
Always a useful thing to bear in mind! I think I'm applying that generalization at the wrong level: I know that people are different from me so I want to be careful to talk about exactly how they are different and put in lots of effort to avoid misunderstandings. But I forget that some people are different from me in that they don't want to invest in that process, or at least not in the same way that I do.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
sartorias: default
From:sartorias
Date:July 23rd, 2006 09:36 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 01:36 pm (sartorias's time)
(Link)
I do agree about communication being important, and good will is also important, but yah, it doesn't always create harmony. Sometimes two (or more) people are going to fundamentally disagree about something--whether attraction, sex, belief, how to spend money, or about how they see the world or approach other people. And they can talk endlessly, but as soon as the explanations shift from clarification to attempting to convince the other to change their stance...well, either one or the other sees a new POV or they agree to disagree (and that tends to create a wall on this subject that either has to be worked around or will separate them no matter how much good will) or they start getting angry at the escalating attempts to convince one another to change.

so, yeah, communication is a tool, but not a very trustworthy end in itself.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: likeness
From:livredor
Date:July 27th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 07:38 pm (livredor's time)

Communication is a tool not a goal

(Link)
Thank you, this is helpful. It's sort of the starting point I was working from, that if there is a real disagreement or incompatibility or external problem, then good communication isn't going to make that issue go away. You've expressed that point better than I did. I (perhaps optimistically) imagine that if you have good communication you can at least identify the problem quickly and either not get too deeply involved in the first place, or failing that extricate yourselves quickly, rather than spending many years being miserable and not really knowing why.

Good point that a fundamental disagreement, however well communicated, can be a barrier between people, if it's an issue that has to be avoided. Trying to convince eachother to change is not at all what I mean by communication, communication is about listening carefully and respecting the other even while disagreeing. But that isn't without its problems either, and there are certainly some things you can't practically compromise about.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
Re: Communication is a tool not a goal - sartorias (7/27/06 07:46 pm)
cakmpls: default
From:cakmpls
Date:July 23rd, 2006 09:51 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 03:51 pm (cakmpls's time)
(Link)
I'm rushed, so I'm going to try to make this pithy: I don't see anything that anyone has said above that I particularly disagree with. Communication of some sort is essential to a relationship, obviously, but I think that far more important than the amount, the clarity, the completeness, or any other quality of the communication is that the parties have compatible desires for and styles of communication. (Not "the same," necessarily, but "compatible.")

If there's one thing I've learned in nearly 60 years of dealing with other humans, it's that they are different from one another in every imaginable, and the occasional unimaginable, way. I'm sure there are relationships that have thrived for many years with only the most rudimentary communication, because two people for whom communication was not important found each other.

So I would say that no, you are not making too much of the importance of communication for yourself, because what you need is what you need. And I would say that yes, you probably are making too much of it as a general rule for human relationships.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: teeeeeeeeea
From:livredor
Date:July 27th, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 07:47 pm (livredor's time)

communication and compatibility

(Link)
So it seems like my problem is generalizing from myself to all people? Quite likely; it's an easy mistake and one I should definitely watch out for. I do like the way you're arguing: the key thing is compatibility, not any particular approach being universally the right one. Thank you.

If there's one thing I've learned in nearly 60 years of dealing with other humans
How old did you have to be to be able to carry off this kind of "wise old bird" comment without sounding ridiculous? It's such a great way of introducing your point of view!
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
Re: communication and compatibility - cakmpls (7/27/06 11:02 pm)
ixwin: default
From:ixwin
Date:July 23rd, 2006 09:57 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 09:57 pm (ixwin's time)
(Link)
I would agree with ewtikins that there's a difference between communicating well, and communicating everything; and that the former is valuable, whereas the second isn't necessarily so. I do think - for example - that it's important to be honest, and that it's unreasonable to expect people to know what you want when you haven't stated it explicitly. However, like ewtikins I will often keep my feelings about something to myself for a while, while I work out whether they are transitory, or something that can be resolved by a change in my own behaviour; and only discuss them with the other involved parties if this turns out not to be the case.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: letters
From:livredor
Date:July 27th, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 07:54 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
there's a difference between communicating well, and communicating everything
Definitely. I didn't mean to conflate the two, and I can see how I did give that impression. You can put too much emotional burden on someone; I don't think caring about communication exempts you from taking responsibility for your own issues and your own behaviour.

it's important to be honest, and that it's unreasonable to expect people to know what you want when you haven't stated it explicitly.
Couldn't agree more. This is a big part of the thing that I make a big deal of, yes.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
shreena: babel
From:shreena
Date:July 23rd, 2006 10:43 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry, 10:43 pm (shreena's time)
(Link)
I think it is important but I don't think it's intrinsically important. To put it bluntly: there is no point communicating honestly and frankly 100% of the time if what you're communicating isn't something that your SO/friend/family member actually approves of and likes. I could be completely frank about my need for personal space and my SO could be completely frank about why he thinks my need for personal space is daft but however honestly we communicated, it wouldn't change the fact that we disagreed.* Or, to put it in a different way: communication (on some level, not everything needs to be communicated as others have pointed out) is necessary but it's not sufficient.

*Hypothetical example.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:July 27th, 2006 08:01 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 08:01 pm (livredor's time)

Necessary but not sufficient

(Link)
there is no point communicating honestly and frankly 100% of the time if what you're communicating isn't something that your SO/friend/family member actually approves of and likes
Quite, and very well said. You appear to have summed up my entire rambling post in a short paragraph!

I really like the semi-formal senses of necessary and sufficient; they do help to clarify a lot of tangles, including I think this one. So thanks for bringing that up. Also, yay extremely appropriate icon!
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
syllopsium: carwash
From:syllopsium
Date:July 23rd, 2006 11:35 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry
(Link)
I'm hardly an expert on relationships, but I reckon a shared point of view is the most important thing in a relationship. Whilst good communication is vital, if you're still requiring communication after the initial honeymoon period and don't just *know* roughly what the other person wants there's a fundamental incompatibility between you. Other things include common interests, good sex and reasonable amounts of compatibility.

As to "what if I say something general and it's taken as a personal insult" and suchlike, the difference with being adult is that we realise that sometimes people don't mean precisely what they say, or that we've misheard or similar. You give people a bit of leeway, and frankly, if there is no leeway at all - you'd hardly want to be in a relationship of any kind with them, would you?
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: likeness
From:livredor
Date:July 27th, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC)
4 days after journal entry, 08:12 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
if you're still requiring communication after the initial honeymoon period and don't just *know* roughly what the other person wants there's a fundamental incompatibility between you
Ooh, this is really interesting, because you're coming from almost the opposite point of view from me. I think that a good relationship is where you never give up caring about and putting effort into communication; you think a good relationship is one where communication isn't needed. But yes to there being lots of other factors needed to make a really sound relationship.

You give people a bit of leeway, and frankly, if there is no leeway at all - you'd hardly want to be in a relationship of any kind with them, would you?
Also a good point. And I think that's part of what I'm getting at with presumption of goodwill. If you have that you don't necessarily have to go through the process of being upset, talking about it and finding out that what you heard wasn't what the person intended to say.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
From:lyssiae
Date:July 23rd, 2006 11:55 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Whilst good (as in clear and accurate) communication is important, it's a verbal thing (in the context of your post at least, I assume) which has a huge non-verbal context, and should be tempered with consideration for the listener and any third parties.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: likeness
From:livredor
Date:July 27th, 2006 08:24 pm (UTC)
4 days after journal entry, 08:24 pm (livredor's time)

tempered with consideration

(Link)
Yes, there is non-verbal as well as verbal communication. Good to be reminded of this!

It's also a very good point that consideration and kindness are vital. I absolutely don't think that good communication means being brutally honest and completely unconcerned about the emotional impact of one's words. Communication is definitely two-way, it's not just talking at someone.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
buymeaclue: default
From:buymeaclue
Date:July 24th, 2006 12:32 am (UTC)
4 hours after journal entry, July 23rd, 2006 07:32 pm (buymeaclue's time)
(Link)
For example, if one person stops loving their partner and prefers someone new, the original partner is likely to be hurt and upset, and no amount of communication about what the situation is is going to change that the situation is in fact bad.

I would submit, I think, that while communication wouldn't make a _good_ situation out of this one (assuming the person really is thoroughly out of love and not just having a panic moment, etc., etc., etc.), it might very well keep the situation from getting as bad as it could possibly get.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: likeness
From:livredor
Date:July 29th, 2006 05:58 am (UTC)
5 days after journal entry, 05:58 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
This sentiment is extremely appealing to me, yes. Communication is not the magic wand which will solve all possible problems, but it has a good chance of avoiding some problems, and limiting the harm from other objective, external problems such as the example I gave. Cool.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
hatam_soferet: default
From:hatam_soferet
Date:July 24th, 2006 01:27 am (UTC)
5 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Would love to leave wise comforting advice but am suffering allergies and menstruation hence no brain to speak of, but will try to say something useful when brain returns. In the meantime: general encouragement etc.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: teeeeeeeeea
From:livredor
Date:July 29th, 2006 06:14 am (UTC)
5 days after journal entry, 06:14 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
This comment was a while ago now, so I sincerely hope you're feeling tremendously better. And thanks for being present; the intention for wise comforting advice if you were up to it is a lovely thing too.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
doseybat: default
From:doseybat
Date:July 24th, 2006 09:53 am (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry, 12:53 pm (doseybat's time)
(Link)
I was talking to a work friend the other day; we were talking about managing money in relationships and she casually mentioned that the biggest cause of divorces is financial problems. I was surpirsed to hear this: I have very little idea about the biggest cause of divorces, but I would not have thought it would be money. But to her it is something she is very sure of, that financial problems are the biggest cause of marriage downfall.. I know that the question of marriage breakdown is not strickly relevant to the good/bad relationship factors you are talking about, but I think this example shows that different people are more mentally involved with different issues, perhaps something they historically have an interest in and they notice more than the other issues. Could it be that you have been interested in the communication issue, so perhaps notice aspects of it more than other people would?

I would be really interested in what the major factors are that distinguish good and bad relationships.

I very much agree with what ewtikins said above. You communication has very positive effects imo not just because you are communicating the things, but because of the general "I am friendly and want to talk to you" effect it has at the same time.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: likeness
From:livredor
Date:July 29th, 2006 06:27 am (UTC)
5 days after journal entry, 06:27 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
I am not at all surprised to hear that money is the major factor, because it's really hard to compromise on, and affects so much of your life. I think at the moment, most of our peers don't really have any money to speak of anyway, so they can deal with a partner who has a different attitude to them. But in our culture, most people who get married do so at about the point in life when they have a mortgage and some level of financial status, and these issues must take on a greater importance at that stage. Typically, though not universally, marriages (as opposed to boyfriend-girlfriend relationships) have a fair amount of financial interdependence, too.

So if a partner is careless with money, and it's just their money and doesn't have much effect on you, that's one thing. But if they are careless with money and you're scared that you're going to lose the roof over your heads, or you're watching your life-savings diminish because your partner keeps buying expensive toys, then it almost can't help being a big issue. Equally if your partner is really mean and won't "let" you buy the things you want, that brings in a whole bunch of issues about control. When there are children in the picture I imagine it must exacerbate things; everyone wants the best for their kids, and that's a strong emotional drive. But is the best buying them lots of toys and everything they want, or is the best making sure they have financial security in the long term?

Not having enough money, what ever enough is, is really stressful. And it seems really likely that stress would affect relationships, especially if there are seriously conflicting ideas about what to do about the financial shortfall.

Good point about communication being valuable in itself, as well as being about the content of what you communicate. For some people, physical touch plays that sort of role, but I think it can often be a major factor just that you are interested and want to talk and listen.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
(no subject) - doseybat (7/29/06 07:33 pm)
cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:July 24th, 2006 02:29 pm (UTC)
18 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Personally, I like knowing, understanding, truth and communication a lot more than an average person, which is often a problem.

Also, I think many people communicate insuffiently well. That is, if they're happy in all other ways, I don't think they should talk more. But I think many problems come from not understanding. Often small problems become big problems because people don't understand where the other is really coming from[1].

But otoh, it's by no means everything. I think there's *lots* to "love". Enjoying spending time together. Finding them important to you. Making them happy. Knowing what the other person wants. Having compatible life choices and lifestyles. Sexual attraction. Not annoying each other. Trusting them. And that communication is just one important component.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:July 24th, 2006 02:39 pm (UTC)
18 hours after journal entry
(Link)
[1] For instance, Sally and Matthew appealing to LJ asking about the sense of turning lights off or not. I've seen many such tiny disagreements end up being really annoying and lead to rows, whether or not the couple love each other anyway.

Both people do it their way, and think "It's such a little thing I asked of them, but they do it wrong EVERY TIME, where's the consideration? But I can't order them to do it because it doesn't really matter. So I'll just make jokes about how they're bad at turning lights off/on."

But they realised the electricity didn't really matter, the real clash was between their assumption picked up in childhood of the right way, and that it didn't really matter, but they felt like it did. So they chose to find the true answer and use that. But any other compromise would have done as well.

But often, there are similar problems about much bigger things, like having a child, because each person doesn't really understand what either of them really want.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
redbird: bay bridges
From:redbird
Date:July 24th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
18 hours after journal entry, 09:38 am (redbird's time)
(Link)
I tend to agree that communication is very important. One aspect of this is that it's important to me, so I tend to find friends and partners who also care about it, because such friends are more likely both to enjoy communication and be good at it in ways that are compatible with mine.

That said, accuracy and honesty are more important than thoroughness and level of detail. Also, different amounts of detail may be appropriate, even between the same people, for different subjects.

Good will matters as well, but I think some level of communication is necessary for me to be reasonably sure of the presence of good will, certainly in a more active sense than the assumption "this person is not a sociopath and isn't going to hurt me for no reason" that underlies most interactions between strangers and casual acquaintances.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
rysmiel: swan raised by wolves
From:rysmiel
Date:July 24th, 2006 04:53 pm (UTC)
20 hours after journal entry, 12:53 pm (rysmiel's time)
(Link)
I have always believed that communication is really, really important.

You can include me on that belief, which probably is no surprise to anyone.

She pointed out (correct me if I'm misquoting you) that in fact good communication is no guarantee of a good relationship, and most relationships that go wrong go wrong for other reasons apart from communication problems.

I would certainly query that assertion.

For example, if one person stops loving their partner and prefers someone new, the original partner is likely to be hurt and upset, and no amount of communication about what the situation is is going to change that the situation is in fact bad.

There may be people in the world who would be more hurt by having that baldly stated than by having it be the case, not be told directly, and eventually have it become obvious in other ways; but I cannot begin to comprehend them. Any news is infinitely better than uncertainty.

There's also all the issues around attraction and sex and that sort of thing. It's something I spend a lot of time worrying about: what if he thinks I'm flirting with him when I'm not, what if I say something general and it's taken as a personal insult, and so on.

That, I think, is one that depends on shared assumptions. And while I can be happy with indirect communication, with flirting where I know what the shared assumptions are, I see no way of confirming what they are in the first place other than direct communication. [ You can get a lot from observation, but not to my mind enough. ]

now that we are adults we don't need to spell everything out because we have enough shared assumptions and common sense that this kind of disaster isn't likely any more.

I can see this easily being true within any given community ro social group, and am probably twitchy on this to a large part because of how different the standards on such have been in different communities win which I have lived.

misunderstanding is a convenient way of creating narrative tension while still maintaining sympathy for both characters involved. (Of course, it can get really annoying if it's over-done to the point where the reader is left thinking, if only they'd bothered talking to eachother on page 1, the whole novel would have been unnecessary!)

Yes, and some of us get that reaction a lot more easily than others.

But I am really wondering if I'm making too much of it. If one feels obliged to discuss every detail of one's feelings and thoughts, that has the potential to get boring. And several people have suggested to me that my very direct style of dealing with attraction can be unromantic or even intimidating, compared to the more expected style of flirting based on lots of hints and allusions and playfulness.

Hints and allusions only work with common ground to be alluded to, and allusions which are seen very differently by the two people involved are a really good way to disaster. *hug* I like your directness a lot, fwiw.

since I believe communication is very important, I'm drawn to people who also care about communication. Indeed, some of the people I love best in all the world are the people I trust to tell me about anything I might want to know of their inner state, and to clarify and make effort to be sure we understand eachother always.

I can quite see that your close friends have a sample bias towards being active communicators; it's also, though semantically trivial, probably worth considering that your close friends have a sample bias towards knowing you well enough to probably be certain of a lot of common ground, and are therefore likely to be better at indirect communication with you, than people in general.

(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
rysmiel: swan raised by wolves
From:rysmiel
Date:July 24th, 2006 04:54 pm (UTC)
20 hours after journal entry, 12:54 pm (rysmiel's time)

part 2

(Link)
I know empirically that there are people who are perfectly happy in their relationships and friendships, without basing their interaction on talking about absolutely everything or even really on conversation at all.

*nod* I find that deeply incomprehensible.

If communication isn't the whole story, the major factor that makes the difference between good and bad relationships, then what else might there be? I'm tentatively inclined to propose the assumption of goodwill.

That is also vital IMO, but I tend to think of it as something that one is entitled to expect to a certain point from other civilised people [ at standing up for people who need seats on buses more than one does levels ], but wants a deal more of from a close friend, and that getting from the one to the other will not happen save through communication.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)



Contribute something
View all comments on this page chronologically

Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>