1. I've never been very good at relationships, of any kind. I don't even know how or where to begin.
Relationships begin with you, because you are half of any relationship you join. So start with yourself! Don't count on a relationship to "cure" a poor self-image. It won't work. But here are some measures that can:
Make an inventory ofyour best, most attractive qualities and affirm them to yourself often.
Avoid unrealistic standards and all-or-nothing thinking: "If I don't make an A on every test, I'm a total failure."
Challenge yourself to accept and absorb compliments: a simple "thank you" raises self-esteem; negations, such as, "You like this outfit? I think it makes me look dumpy," lower self-esteem.
Remember that there areno guarantees. Making gains requires taking risks. Seek out new experiences and people; then approach them with openness and curiosity. Each is an opportunity.
Don't expect overnight success. Close friendships and intimate love relationships both take time to develop.
2. I don't think I have a poor self-concept. I feel pretty good about myself. But this is a big university, and it's easy to getlost in the crowd. How do I go about meeting people?
Your question implies that you see meeting people as something which requires effort, and you're right! No matter how stunningly attractive you may be, passively waiting for others to throw themselves your way not only doesn't work very reliably, it doesn't allow you to be very choosy. Here are some common-sense approaches which you may findhelpful:
The best way to meet people is to put yourself in places where there are likely to be other people who share your interests and values: classes, ticket lines at sporting or cultural events, cashier lines at stores and restaurants, and Counseling Services workshops. And join an organization! Check with the Student Life for information on groups based on religion, athletics, academics,political/special interests, ethnicity/culture, and service or charity.
Once you're with people, initiate a conversation by: asking a question, commenting on the situation, asking for or offering an opinion, expressing some interest, showing some concern, or offering or requesting help.
Once you've engaged someone in conversation, let him or her know you're listening and interested. Make eyecontact, adopt an open posture, reflect the feelings you hear, paraphrase what he or she is saying, and ask for clarification if you don't understand.
And, again, remember: no risks, no gains. Don't be discouraged if you and the other person don`t "click" first and every time.
3.One thing that's difficult for me in relationships is "hanging on to myself." It seems that once I get close to someone --roommate, friend, or lover -- I give in and accommodate so much that there's nothing left of me.
It's hard to experience fulfillment in a relationship which is not equal and reciprocal. The best way to avoid "giving yourself up" in a relationship is to develop some assertiveness skills. Learn how to express your feelings, beliefs, opinions, and needs openly and honestly. Here are some guidelines:When stating your feelings, use "I-statements." Avoid accusatory or blaming "you-statements." They usually only result in defensiveness and counterattacks.
You have a right to have feelings and to make requests. State them directly and firmly and without apology.
Acknowledge the other person's point of view, but repeat your request as many times as necessary.
Learn to say "no" to unreasonablerequests. Offer a reason -- not an excuse -- if you choose, but your feelings are reason enough. Trust them.
4. Won't I lose my friends and lover if I always insist on getting my own way?
Assertiveness is not about always getting your way. Nor is it about coercing or manipulating. Those are acts of aggression. An assertion does not violate another's rights, and it does not preclude compromise....