Friends come and go, but we all have the few friends who will always be in your life through thick and thin. I have a friend who has been very close to me since childhood because our families were close. We have a brother and sister kind of relationship, she feels comfortable talking to me about all her personal problems and especially when it comes to her love life. She likes to hear the “male’s” perception on the situation and that is where I come in. Lately the biggest problem in her relationship is the break-down of communication between her and her boyfriend and when they do talk it is always an argument. In the article “Arguing Can Be Good for a Relationship…When It’s Done Constructively”, author Stan states that, “arguments are due to a breakdown in communication, one or both parties are having a hard time expressing feelings, or one or both of you is having a hard time understanding. Breakdowns in communication lead to frustration.” This statement by Stan almost perfectly describes my friend’s problem in her relationship.
It is important to understand what is going on in your significant others life, he or she might be feeling pressured to do well in school, at work or even to make sure the other person in the relationship is feeling happy. In the article, “Too close for comfort” written by Stephanie Coontz she states that “As Americans lose the wider face-to-face ties that build social trust, they become more dependent on romantic relationships for intimacy and deep communication, and more vulnerable to isolation if a relationship breaks down.” In the case of my friend’s situation her boyfriend has already graduated from college so he has a career so the face to face contact is not always immediately there for them.
In Julia T. Wood’s book Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, committed love is described as being voluntary, it will include sexual and romantic feelings and is considered primary and permanent. My friend feels as though her boyfriend’s commitment to the relationship is starting to falter very quickly. Wood talks about three dimensions of romantic commitment, and they include; Passion, Commitment, and Intimacy. Passion is defined as intensely positive feelings and desires for another person, commitment is defined as the intention to remain in the relationship and lastly intimacy is defined as having feelings of connection, closeness, and tenderness.
There has been a lack of intimacy in the relationship; this is due to the distance between them. As I stated earlier my friend feels as though her boyfriend is starting to lack commitment for the relationship, she has disclosed to me that he feels like they are not close anymore. Listening to someone’s personal love life like I do with my friend is not easy because since I care about her feelings when we talk I am very mindful. Wood defines being mindful as paying complete attention to interaction occurring during the moment, without imposing your own thoughts, feelings or judgments on other communicators. Another key factor in being a mindful person is asking questions and showing positive nonverbal responses.
When we talk about her relationship problems I always ask her how does the situation make her feel, or what do you think caused a specific argument to happen, and if there was a big argument was it helpful. A key factor in why my friend feels comfortable talking to me about all her romantic problems is because she knows that I’m always listening to her and not just hearing her. People get the two confused all the time, just because you say that you hear someone does not necessarily mean you fully understand what is being said. Wood says that, hearing is physiological activity of sound waves hitting the ear drums whereas listening is the process of being mindful, hearing and selecting and organizing information, interpreting communication and responding. As I have stated before I always question her on how she feels whenever she is talking about a situation at hand.
In conclusion my role as a good friend all starts with mindful listening and not just hearing what my friend is saying to me. Mindful listening is also important for romantic relationships. My friend and her boyfriend can use that approach to better understand how to fix their problems, and that can be done for anyone who is in a romantic relationship.