We human beings are dynamic creatures and our relationships are vibrant expressions of that dynamism. But problems can often arise, especially in long term relationships, when we fall into the habit of thinking we know – thinking we know what our partner thinks, will say, or will do in a given situation. We turn our mates and even ourselves into static, one-dimensional images instead of allowing the full range of our potential to be expressed in each moment.

It’s easy, in our current culture especially, to fall into this trap of substituting the part we think we know for the whole that is there. We are constantly inundated with information we often don’t need and barely have time to process. It can be comforting to feel we have one person we really know, even if that person is ourself.

However, we can also suffocate under that “knowing.” We can feel imprisoned by our own assessment of our personality and potential and we can make anyone with whom we are in relationship feel trapped by what they are “supposed” to be. Have you ever surprised yourself or someone else and heard the words “you don’t do that”?

Staying curious about the people in your life – yourself, your partner, your parents, your children and your friends – allows them to express every aspect of who and what they are as they change and grow. It gives them (and you!) the freedom to explore themselves and explore their relationship to you.

In general most of us want to keep an active curiosity. We’ve heard it’s good for our brains to learn something new every once in a while. But it can be a little frightening to dismantle the images and ideas we have of one another and it can produce anxiety in some people to have those images dismantled.

The best ways that I have found to keep a long term relationship alive and thriving is to wed active curiosity about myself and the other person with an active awareness – compassionate awareness that takes practices the wisdom from Vasistha’s Yoga in my conversations. This means remembering the Four Gatekeepers of Speech and asking myself before I speak: is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? And is this the right moment to say it?

But what happens when only one partner becomes interested in something? How do you respond? It can feel distancing to be “left out” of a piece of your partner’s life. My choice is to become interested because they are. This means paying attention and asking questions, staying curious rather than assuming that I know.

How do you stay curious in your relationships? How do you respond when it feels a partner or friend could be moving beyond what you share together? How do you keep your relationship to yourself open and dynamic?

Author's Bio: 

Melanie McGhee, L.C.S.W offers spiritually integrated services that make your heart SING through her site www.peacefruit.com! For more than 25 years she's been helping people cultivate sustainable peace of mind, greater confidence and better relationships. Her clients learn leading edge skills to help clear self-limiting beliefs, emotions and habits so they can leap into their FULL potential.