What do I consider essential, indispensable elements of a relationship?
Trust: I need to be able to depend on you to follow through with your words and actions. I need to know that I can count on you.
Honesty: I need you to tell me the truth. Sometimes even if you think it will hurt me. I am not made of china – the only way I can improve myself is to know what I can improve. This doesn’t mean you have to be mean about it – diplomacy is a valuable skill.
Communication: I need to know that you will communicate with me about things that come up. If our plans need to change, if there is a boundary somewhere that has come up, if you don’t want to do something with me, if you’re having a feeling about something and want my help addressing it, I want to know so we can work it out together.
Emotional Labor: I need to know that I can ask you to take on some things that I can’t handle, for whatever reason. This doesn’t mean I need you to take on all of my emotional burdens or some of them all of the time – I have a therapist I can talk to things about and I have mechanisms in my own brain for dealing with my emotions.
Desire for Personal Growth: I need to know that you are working to deal with your own issues and not just letting them stagnate until they become capital P Problems. I will most certainly help, if you would like help with them or would like someone to run an idea by. But I cannot and will not do your growth for you.
Affection: I need you to want my company or communication every once in awhile. I want you to look fondly on me and speak kindly of me. This tends to grow over time, so I don’t expect it from the get go.
Acknowledgement: I need to know that I matter to you, that I have a place in your life. I prefer that I am acknowledged to those people who matter in your life. I will not be a dirty little secret. I’ve been there before. This is not something I can do.