Keeping it real in relationships
If you're dealing with a feeling of disconnect in your closest relationships, you're not alone, according to a recent study of 2000 British people. Pastor Denis Wade shares some of its roots and some practical tools to help you get real in relationships and friendships
I recently came across a news report of a study that found two-thirds of people in Britain believe nobody knows their true personality - with one in 10 even feeling this way about their other half.
When it comes to close friendships, almost a fifth believe even their best friends don’t know the ‘real’ them.
In our experience of 35 years of marriage and of counselling couples and single people, my wife Lorna and I have seen this many times: men and women disconnected from friends, families or partners, unable to resolve conflict or show who they really are.
We’ve found that it all comes down to one thing: a lack of communication at a very personal and intimate level. All too quickly, disagreements over finances or roles and responsibilities snowball to fill your entire focus, eating up your time and attention.
What we often see is the battle of the sexes and the conflicts in relationships with family or friends played out against this backdrop. The relationship is stuck in the quicksand of those disagreements, distracting people from doing the hard work on the deeper issues: fears, trauma and turmoil, insecurities or abandonment etc.
I advocate that what works for a harmonious relationship is being open and honest with our thoughts, emotions and needs – including the things that we need.
But here’s the thing.
The more we hide our real selves from those closest to us, the harder it is to be real with ourselves - and with our Creator, who already knows us completely (Psalm 139:1-5).
So, how do we begin to discover our true personalities?
It’s a lifelong journey, as Lorna and I can attest to, and some of these issues may require counselling. But here are two practical resources that can help you get started:
Taking a personality test- Such as Myers Briggs is a good place to begin to understand and accept your own personality, strengths and weaknesses. Doing this will help you to get comfortable with who you are and what you need. Take the 16 personalities test to find out more.
Discover your ‘love language(s)’ – Part of getting to know what you need is learning how you give and receive love, whether it’s quality time, acts of service or physical touch. Developed by Gary Chapman, author of The five love languages, this quiz is useful for couples, singles, teens and children. Take the quiz here.
For more resources on love and relationships head over to our Love and Relationships resources page.