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3 Types of Relationships

Did you ever notice how some couples or co-workers seem to be in sync?

There’s very little friction. There are few disagreements? And there’s almost no tension? Yet, other relationships are laden with drama? Well, I was thinking about that and realized why that was. It occurred to me that there are three kinds of relationships and that pretty much explained the difference.

Here they are:

  1. Satin
  2. Sandpaper
  3. Velvet

If you’re in a satin relationship, everything glides along seamlessly. What one person wants so does the other. One makes a suggestion and the other one agrees. One has an idea and other one supports it. They seem to be working in unison, like two sides to the same person. Like satin, there’s not friction. Problems just slide right off.

If you’re in a sandpaper relationship, there’s lots of friction. You just rub each other the wrong way. Whatever one person does irritates the other. What one person says annoys the other. There seems to be no truce, just tension.

However, if you’re in a velvet relationship, there’s a little rub, but it feels good. Sometimes you disagree, but making up is a lot of fun. Sometimes one person plays the devil’s advocate and points out a problem; yet the other person appreciates the insight.

Consider your relationships.

Which ones are satin? Do they feel like a comfy blanket, safe and snuggly? Which one is sandpaper? Are they vexation to your very core, prickly and irritating? And, which one is velvet? Are they a little challenging, but also invigorating and inspiring?

Satin relationships are like little blessings. They’re full of joy and wonder. Kindness and thoughtfulness. Even velvet relationships offer some emotional respite, emotional growth and rewarding exchanges. But sandpaper relationships are painful. They just grate on your nerves.

So why are they in our lives? Sometimes they’re family members from whom we cannot easily separate. Others are tyrannical bosses whom we must tolerate for the time being until a better job beckons. And sometimes, we feel stuck, like quicksand. The harder we try to escape, the more we’re pulled in.

I’m sure you’ve heard that difficult relationships teach you something.

Maybe it’s patience, or tolerance, or compassion. That’s usually a lot easier to hear than it is to deal with. The truth is some people just unnerve you. Even if you’ve been told whenever someone “pushes your buttons,” you allowed them to. It’s often very difficult to tune them out and gain your emotional equilibrium. When you’re in this kind of a relationship, seek out some satin and think about this quote from Hans Christian Anderson:

“Just living is not enough, said the butterfly. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”  

How simple, yet how true. You must enjoy yourself. Find what relieves stress and gravitate towards that. Drink in a little sunshine, a moment of blissful freedom and treat yourself to the lovely aroma of fresh flowers. In other words, take time for you, especially when you feel emotionally scraped by some sandpaper.

Invite in more satin and velvet into your life. Minimize your exposure to as much sandpaper in your relationships as possible. Give yourself permission to be joyful. Why? Because it’s infectious and undefeatable. Remember, no one owns your happiness, only you. The happier you are, the less vulnerable you are. You become a mirror and everyone who sees you becomes more peaceful, more joyful, more hopeful. As Scottish writer, James M. Barrie said:

“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”

Decide right now that you’ll handle the sandpaper less often and accept less discord into your surroundings. Promise yourself that you can feel bruised without retaliating. Look for the lesson you’re supposed to learn each time you feel chafed. Try to be the satin even when you’re facing the sandpaper. Commit to this type of response and draw strength from this quote by American poet, Edwin Markham:

“All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.”

Send out joy and even when you’re receiving hate. Then wait and see what happens. You may be surprised that you’re not as irritated by sandpaper any more. Now you can change your reaction and replace as many of those sandpaper relationships as possible with satin ones.

Margo Berman is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.