Once in a while, I have to put on my clinical hat while I address a topic. This is one of those times.
I recently encountered a situation in which someone was putting all sorts of conditions on our relationship: Very troubling.
We all know that relationships are messy in the first place. There are so many facets to them, some inward; others interpersonal. Add conditions and the mess grows biggerr.
Conditions are bricks in a barricade. They indirectly say, “No.”
Because they go around the circle to get to the point, they create triangulation in a relationship. What? Triangu….???
That’s when someone or something becomes the third party in a relationship that is supposed to be between two people. The big problem with this is, nothing can ever be resolved.
One thing that I especially dislike is that conditions push the one on whom they are laid away and put him or her below the one setting up these requirements. Instead of being equals, one person has usurped power over the other.
So, what do you do if you find yourself in this position?
In the relationship I mentioned, I was able to take away the need for the conditions. That might not work in every case, so here are a couple of other thoughts:
*Remember that conditions are an indirect way of saying, “No.” If you understand that, you can interpret them better. If this is someone who will have a conversation with you, asking them about this might help.
*Some relationships simply need to end. If you can recognize that the “no” means, “I don’t want to make a commitment,” for example, it is much easier to say good-bye.
*A bit of assessment and negociation might be needed. Some conditions have come up because of something that caused pain. Acknowledging that, meeting conditions that fit the circumstances and asking to be released from others can build strength and closeness. In other words, own your part.
*A saying we used to have when I was in social work school is, “Look beyond the content to the process.” If someone is putting conditions on you, interpret them. “I have to like your attitude” could mean, “I’m afraid.” If you are able to ask about this, you can get the extra “something” out of the middle of your friendship and solve the matter.
*Sometimes, simply refusing to “play” will help. Conditions don’t work if you don’t cooperate and take the inferior position.
I could probably come up with more ideas, but you get the point, yeah?