This is the seventh of the blog posts based on the top ten most read Straight Talk Tips that go to my clients each month. The tips are free and you can sign up for them here

How to start over over in a relationship

Relationships can get stuck. Conversations end in argument; the same buttons get pressed; the same accusations are thrown; you don’t listen to each other. You want to resolve the problems so you can move on and you’re tried everything you can think of; but you end up in the same place every time. You’re locked into a loop. Your frustration grows.

Computers get stuck too, but the solution can be quite simple. Control Alt Delete: reset: reboot: start over. It works for computers. Why not in relationships? Sometimes the quickest and simplest way to move on in a relationship is to press the reset button. It allows you to reset the ground rules and start over.

There are some clear signals that tell you it’s time for a reset. Listen out for these phrases.

We keep talking about this but nothing changes.

What’s the point of talking? You always do it your way!

Things change for a while, but then we’re back to the same old…

Every time we discuss this, we end up arguing.

Pressing the reset button in a relationship means changing the ground rules for the way you relate and communicate. It takes place in conversations that start with: Can we talk about, how we communicate: or, where we’re going in our relationship: or, the way we give each other feedback: or, our relationship with your mother…

It includes ground rules for the conversation itself, for example: Can we start over with this and help each other focus on the facts. Or you might say: Can we agree to hear each other out, without interrupting. Or, Can we agree that if we start to get emotional about this, we’ll take a break before we say anything we’ll regret.

Using reset at work deals with expectations, boundaries and acceptable norms of behaviour. Resetting personal relationships covers much the same issues. It allows you to step back and clear a safe space in which you can hear all sides of the issue. Then you can try to reach agreement on future behaviour or future ground rules to which you both commit. When you get it right you can go a long way toward creating a basis for conversations that will be safer and far more productive.

When you find that you are locked into a pattern of poor communication and bad behaviour or you are in a dysfunctional relationship, try pressing reset. It breaks the cycle and gives you a chance to start over on a new footing.

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