Glenn Stok studies topics on self-awareness and emotional well-being and writes about it to help others with mindfulness and self-doubt.
If you’re doubtful about your relationship, You can resolve confusing feelings and recognize when you’re with the perfect person, by creating a frame-of-reference and being more emotionally available. I’ll begin with a discussion of the first point, and later explain the concept of emotional availability.
What Is a Frame-of-Reference?
When I was dating in my younger years, I never considered having a frame-of-reference in my relationships. I later realized that it’s useful as a reference point to appreciate our partner and recognize the love, joy, and caring as distinctive qualities of the partnership.
For this article, I refer to the following definition of “frame of reference,” as noted in Merriam Webster’s dictionary:
“A set of ideas, conditions, or assumptions that determine how something will be approached, perceived, or understood.”
That means you base your judgment on a particular set of beliefs or ideas. You can see how that relates to the way we might consider our relationship.
The Importance of a Frame-of-Reference
When observing the relationships of my friends, I see two extremes that occur due to lack of considering a frame-of-reference:
- Some partners just can’t appreciate the good qualities of one another.
- Some people stay with an unsuitable partner and don’t realize that it’s a bad relationship.
It’s helpful to let your partner know how you feel and what’s important to you. It’s also crucial to understand how your partner feels—to grasp what their needs are and what they want out of the relationship.
Help your partner share his or her thoughts and feelings with you. Get to know and appreciate their fears. You need to understand their concerns, just as you would want them to understand yours.
If you’re in a new relationship or having doubts about the relationship you’re in, ask your partner the question, “How do you feel about me?” That creates a frame-of-reference.
When you have this frame-of-reference, you can both make an intelligent decision to move forward, if it’s sensible, or to end it without wasting time if it’s unsuitable.
Leaving a bad relationship is just as important as working on a good one because it leaves you available to meet the right person when they come along.
I feel that love is your safe haven. Challenging issues in life become less stressful when two people in love are together and share the same feelings. That kind of love is difficult to stifle!
I’ve learned to focus on achieving that strong bond with two-way communication. Constructing a frame-of-reference helps see things clearly when something occurs that confuses you.
How to Determine a Frame-of-Reference
Reflect on your thoughts and feelings. Write notes about the following, so you don’t ever forget your conclusions:
- Think about why your partner is important to you.
- Consider specific things for which you are grateful.
- Be aware of your partner’s good qualities.
- Distinguish common interests, goals, values, and beliefs.
- Remember the incredible moments you both had shared.
A quote by Sam Keen, an admired American author, professor, and philosopher, says it best:
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.”
— Sam Keen
What Is Emotional Availability?
To better understand this concept, let's consider the opposite, as described in the Urban Dictionary:
"An emotionally unavailable partner creates barriers to intimacy and can make you feel unloved or unwanted. Emotionally Unavailable people find it hard to make time for friends and loved ones."
You can see that this attitude does not encourage a meaningful relationship.
On the positive side, when one is emotionally available, they notice what's important for their partner and their own needs. It leads to communication between partners to share likes and dislikes.
It's constructive to let your partner know what's important to you. It's also vital to understand your partner's needs and to be aware of their happiness or sadness.
Emotional availability leads to knowing what one another wants from the relationship. It helps express emotions constructively.
You'll have the ability to work through difficult times as a team player in the relationship.
Emotional availability makes one conscious of their partner's good qualities and to appreciate them more. That's important because once we recognize we are with someone special, then we'll know that they are the right person for a long-term relationship. We'll appreciate our partner, and we won't look for faults.
You may find yourself desiring your partner more than ever.
Being Emotionally Unavailable in an Undesirable Relationship
Those who are emotionally unavailable may miss essential considerations that would help them decide to stay in a good relationship or to leave a bad one.
When you are unavailable emotionally, you might let time go by without moving forward with a decision. You might end up staying in an undesirable relationship with one who has a personality flaw that you consider to be a deal-breaker.
When you're not available emotionally you might lack the desire to communicate and discuss significant issues. Feelings may be held within and never shared. The result is that things drag on until something happens that either ends the relationship or forces the parties to sit down and talk.
What ends up happening is a matter of how well both partners communicate. Being emotionally unavailable can hinder any attempt to share thoughts and feelings.
What are the Characteristics of Emotional Availability?
When one is available on an emotional level, they are aware of both good and bad qualities of the relationship. More importantly, they are willing to talk about those issues that may stand in the way of moving forward.
A lack of emotion can cause one to stay in a bad relationship or one with the wrong partner. I know many friends who never dealt with the issues and ended up getting married to someone with whom they were unhappy. Each one of them ended up getting divorced in later years.
Exercising complete emotional availability involves being attentive to one's partner, and being aware of what is going on when things seem upsetting.
Awareness of How We Feel Is Crucial to Emotional Availability
Being available also means being aware of our choices—either staying in a relationship or moving on with our lives if it’s an undesirable relationship.
We might have a happy life with the wrong person as long as it's not a toxic situation and as long as we recognize why we are choosing to hold on.
I notice friends in this situation ignore the fact that they are involved with a good person, and they are in a good relationship. They end up focusing on the negatives and complaining about their partner. They are fooling themselves and missing out on enjoying life with a wonderful person.
Pay Attention to Your Partner's Positive Traits
Many people often ignore the good things about their mate. They forget the lovely things that happen in their relationship, and they tend to remember the bad experiences more readily:
- Every relationship will have painful periods from time to time.
- Everyone has different views of the world and events.
- We each have different habits and beliefs.
These differences can cause insecurity, which can confuse our thinking when dealing with relationships.
Bad feelings have a stronger effect on decision making. We may even become judgmental based on bad memories.
Communication and Trust Develops Emotional Intimacy
For the sake of building a better relationship with love and respect, we need to have communication and trust. We need to share all our feelings, both the good and the bad. When feeling discouraged about our mate, we need to try to remember the marvelous things about them.
If we only remember the negative issues, we'll have resistance to acceptance. If we genuinely are emotionally available, we will keep both sides of the equation in our conscious mind.
Discussing all our thoughts and feelings is essential to have a clear understanding of one another. Focusing on your partner by making yourself emotionally available will help you recognize the love, joy, and caring that exists in the relationship. That will leave you with a deep appreciation of the closeness that you both share.
It's terrific when you can be yourself with someone, one you can relate to, understand, and appreciate.
Emotional availability will help you understand how you truly feel about your partner, and a frame-of-reference will help stay focused on his or her good qualities.
When you know you’re involved with someone you can trust, someone who will always be there for you and understands your needs, your fears, and your feelings, never let them go!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Glenn Stok
What are your thoughts about this?
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on December 16, 2017:
LaTrice - You did the right thing breaking up with him. It sure sounds like he didn’t have the ability to be there for you, especially in your time of need.
I have a saying: Two people in a relationship should consider themselves as team players. He definitely was not on your team. Sorry for the loss of your Mom.
LaTrice from Las Vegas, NV on December 16, 2017:
Reading this article has given me encouragement and inspiration on how to move on from my failed relationship with my ex-boyfriend. I realized that I was wasting time staying with a person who wasn't emotionally available, and missed out on amazing opportunities to find someone better than him. It was his loss, not mine.
I chose to stay by giving my ex-boyfriend the benefit of a doubt. Despite addressing the issues between us, such as not going out on dates on a regular basis, not showing any support after my mom's tragic death, the lack of communication (he wouldn't call or text me for over one month. According to his excuses, he was "busy"), and ignoring my needs, he swept everything under the rug. His attitude infuriated me. I was supposed to be his girlfriend, someone who was a priority instead of an option. I'm disgusted with myself for allowing his disrespectful behavior to happen.
I don't regret ending the relationship because it wasn't meant to be. I refuse to be involved with a person who's selfish and not available. I'm not obligated to lower standards for any man. For now, I'm going to mourn the loss of my mom and enjoy being a single woman.
Thank you for sharing this incredible article, Glenn.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on November 10, 2016:
[Updated Nov 2016] I added a quick poll question at the end of each section of this article, for readers to compare their answers.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on November 28, 2009:
Thank you kyttykatty for your comments. You are very "in tune" with this concept.
kyttykatty from Dallas, TX on November 28, 2009:
This is very true and although this knowledge is inside my mind, the hopes that maybe things will change keeps me where I am even if it's bad or if I know better. Being available is definitely necessary and one cannot be so unless we let them go.