When dealing with a difficult situation in your relationship, it is common to turn to a family member or friend for a supportive ear. Unfortunately, sometimes that supportive ear may be creating more problems in your relationship. One way turning to a confidant can be detrimental to your relationship is if that person colludes with you. This will prevent you from seeing your part in it and believing the state of the relationship is solely your partner’s fault. It is also counterproductive if your confidant feels anger towards your partner instead of staying neutral. Lastly, it is clear they do not value your relationship or its longevity, if your confidant seems to encourage you to leave the relationship after each fight instead of helping you work on it.
The following are some tips to ensure that if you choose to turn to a confidant, it is a positive experience for you and your relationship.
1) Go into the experience with the intention of learning about yourself and growing, not about venting about your partner. Venting can only make us feel better momentarily. In the long run, it keeps us stuck in an unproductive pattern of behaviour and prevents us from seeing our part in the situation or working on positive changes.
2) The fewer confidants you turn to about relationship issues the better. Ideally, limit it to one. Any more could actually decrease communication with your partner since your energy is focused on talking outside of your relationship.
3) Don’t just turn to your confidant for discussing the struggles in your relationship; be sure to celebrate the successes as well. Failing to do so can create an image that your relationship is worse off than it is and ultimately, can impact how your confidant supports you.
4) The confidant you choose needs to be an ally to your relationship. An ally to your relationship is someone who will not pass judgment on your partner. An ally realises there is no “good guy” or “bad guy” in the relationship. They also hold you accountable perhaps by asking you what you think your contribution was to the problem or what you could have done differently. The end result is that it helps you look at the situation differently and constructively; consequently helping you grow in relationship.
5) Out of respect, ask your partner how they feel about you sharing about your relationship with your confidant. Explaining that you are doing so to focus on your own growth will most likely help your partner to feel comfortable with it.
6) It is crucial that you take what you have learned about yourself from your conversations with your confidant back to your partner. There is no sense is turning to a confidant if it results in decreased communication with your partner.