When it comes to fiction writing there is an old saying – Show don’t tell.
When I was thinking about this aspect of writing the other day, something dawned on me.
The show don’t tell rule is totally different when it comes to relationships.
By relationships, I don’t just mean the romantic kind. I’m referring to relationships with family and friends as well as partners.
For the purpose of this post, I am specifically referring to established relationships. New relationships and dating are a whole different ballgame.
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Here are my thoughts on how to be better at show and tell with the cherished people in your life.
Don’t assume people know how you feel about them
This is one of the biggest mistakes people make in relationships. We assume people know how we feel about them.
I have mentioned the problem with making assumptions in an earlier post.
Older generations were sometimes raised to not openly express their feelings and as a result of this people often feel neglected or worse unloved. The fact is they may be loved very deeply.
With family, partners, and friends it is essential to not only show people you love them via your actions but to tell them as well.
I think married couples and family fall into this trap the most often. We sometimes take those closest to us for granted, particularly if we have known them for a long time.
Have you ever heard anyone say, ‘ I don’t need to tell them how I feel, they already know?’
Yes deep down they may know, but that’s missing the point. Every now and then people need to hear you verbalize heartfelt emotions.
Related relationship content –
- 20 Ways to Show Genuine Interest in People’s Lives
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- 20 Questions to Ask Yourself if You Want to Find Love
- How to Survive Being the Black Sheep of the Family
Telling won’t mean much if you don’t show you care
I’m sure we have all known people who say they love someone, yet treat them disrespectfully.
Anyone that has ever been cheated on by a partner knows this feeling only too well. Hearing ‘I love you’ after finding out your partner had an affair feels hollow and meaningless.
If you are telling someone you love them, then you need to walk the talk.
Naturally, this doesn’t mean that you are never going to get angry or disapprove of their actions. What it does mean is that you won’t treat them badly, whilst telling them how much they mean to you.
The same can be said for parents and children. While telling your children you love them is a wonderful thing, constantly yelling at them and belittling them, whilst telling them you love them is bound to be confusing and hurtful. It may also affect the child’s self-esteem in the long run.
As the old saying goes, ‘Action speaks louder than words’ in many cases.
Related post – 20 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Relationship
Telling is important
Telling family, friends and partners you care about them is important.
People need to feel valued and loved.
How often you tell someone you care about them comes down to the relationship between two individuals. In families, it may also come down to the dynamic and culture of the group. Some people don’t need or want constant validation, while others do. What is smothering for one person may be soothing for another.
This comes down to knowing and understanding your partner, friend or family member.
It comes down to finding the right balance of emotions that you are both comfortable with. Notice I used the word both.
If an adult is needy or clingy and constantly requires your attention and outpourings of emotion, you will need to speak to them about an emotional balance that works for everyone. The same can be said for people who seem cold and distant.
I recently discovered the book, The 5 Love Languages and had a massive Aha moment.
The 5 Love Languages are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. Each of us has a dominant love language. Our dominant love language is how we express love to others but also how we prefer people to express their love for us.
If someone’s dominant love language is words of affirmation, then it’s incredibly important for their loved ones to say the words. Without words of affirmation, they may not feel valued and cared for, even if you are doing other things to show you care (like buying gifts or helping them out around the house).
Whilst this particular book is written for married couples, it does also apply to other relationships.
It’s not just about the L word
We tend to get a bit fixated on the love word in relationships.
Sometimes ‘I love you’ seems like the most overused three words around. Yet it is also not said enough.
There seem to be a lot of people saying it that shouldn’t be and a lot of people not saying it that should.
As with most things in life, timing and sincerity are important.
I challenge you for a moment to think of all the other words that you can also use to express your feelings.
One that spring to mind immediately is ‘I’m proud of you.’
This particular sentiment is one that many people are crying out to hear. These five words alone can have a profound effect on the way people feel about themselves. Parents, in particular, need to say this to their children (no matter what age they are).
To be fair, I believe many parents would dearly love to hear these words from their offspring as well. Remember it’s about give and take.
Is there someone in your life that you need to express how you feel about them? Don’t wait. Don’t hold back.
Show and tell people in your life how much you love and care.
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