It is often said that we “don’t want drama” in our relationships. After many years of working with individuals, couples and groups, I can say with surety that the one foundational reason for drama is emotional immaturity and lack of emotional safety. So how do you know if those things are not there?
There are Boundaries. Most of us know it’s not ok to hit someone, steal from them, etc. But I think many are not aware of the emotional and psychological boundary work that must be done in any relationship for it to be safe. That’s it’s also damaging to rage at someone and shame them. To not detach and accept their thoughts, feelings, needs and choices whether or not we agree with them.
There Isn’t Manipulation. I talk about this topic often on the show because I see firsthand the relational devastation it can do. The worst part is so much of it is invisible and cloaked to look innocent like “just kidding or I never said that” sort of thing. This crazy-making makes the damage to the receiver that much more severe, especially since it takes them awhile to realize why they’ve been so angry and anxious…
There is Trust. I believe this is a culmination of demonstrated healthy boundaries, lack of toxic behavior and good follow-through on agreements. There are ground rules for communicating and behaving with a collaborative spirit that assumes equal responsibility if between two adults. This takes time to earn and is so fragile it can be broken in a second.
Overall, there are the millions of moments and experiences in our relationships that lean toward safety and trust, or fear-based and even toxic. Most moments in and of themselves won’t make or break trust outside of threat of harm or betrayal. Instead, they add up slowly over time on one side of the scale or the other.
So when you look around at your relationships, try to assess with whom you feel safer with and perhaps why. I think we can always be more kind, more consistent and continue to work on becoming our healthiest selves so that we can be safe for them too.