Good Manners Mean Good Relationships

My boyfriend's manners make me angry. Sometimes he is nice, but other times he is rude -- mostly to me. He'll ignore what I'm saying or act impatient with me, and he's almost always late when we plan to meet somewhere. It's not that I want him to turn into someone he's not (I'm not looking for some proper English gentleman or anything), but it hurts me when he acts so rudely toward me. --A


Dear A: Good manners are an integral part of building successful relationships, so I'm not surprised that your boyfriend's behavior is upsetting you. It probably makes you doubt his feelings for you. If he intentionally acts this way toward you or does it to keep you at a distance, then I'm afraid you have a serious problem. If, however, he isn't aware of his behavior, perhaps now is a good time to sit down and discuss it with him. You may want to explain to him that good relationships are based on being kind to each other and anticipating each other's needs. Here are some other elements that make all types of relationships, from friendships to family ties to romantic unions, work. I hope they help you to develop a better partnership with your boyfriend.

  • Honesty. Can both of you be truthful? Can you be yourselves? A good relationship cannot be built on lies. Honesty includes being honest with yourself. For example, are you being you or just putting up a front to make someone else like you? If you can't be honest with yourself, you can't be honest with the other person in the relationship.
  • Support. Do you support and praise each other? Do you stick by each other when disappointments arise? Remember, support doesn't necessarily mean you have to agree all the time. In fact, true support means letting each other know how you honestly feel, as long as your honesty doesn't cause the other person unnecessary pain.
  • Understanding. Do you show that you are listening and trying to understand each other's feelings? It's important to never dismiss someone's feelings as silly or unimportant.
  • Trust. Relationships do not work when either person cannot be trusted -- when he or she breaks promises or doesn't stick to an agreement.
  • Punctuality. Showing up on time may seem like a trivial matter, but it's not. The best way to annoy others, and make them question whether respect them and care about their feelings, is to keep them waiting.
  • Respect. Beyond respect for each other, it's important that you each respect the important people in each other's lives. That means behaving politely when you go to your in-laws' for dinner, even if you would rather be bitten by a rattlesnake than endure the painfully dull dinner conversation and your mother-in-law's inedible cooking. It also means keeping your gripes to yourself when dinner is over and you're back at home.
  • Freedom. Space and time alone are important in any relationships. You should be able to accept that the other person has his or her own life and needs to spend time without you. Possessiveness is unnecessary in a healthy relationship.
  • Faithfulness. We all blow it now and then. It's important to be able to give the other person the benefit of the doubt and, more importantly, to forgive and forget their mistakes.
  • Fun. While not an element of good manners, having fun together is another key to a good, long-lasting relationship. Partners should be able to let go and be silly together. Shared laughter is a sign of an easy relationship.
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