When you adopt a puppy, you quickly learn that you have to train them. They could be chewing up your pillows or making a mess on the carpet. In order to stop that behavior, you scold them and let them know you dislike what they are doing. On the other hand, if they are behaving well, you reward them by giving them praise and treats. They start to learn what they must do to receive a positive reaction.

I’m not relating people to dogs, but we aren’t that different. If we spend an entire week studying for an exam, we hope to get a good grade on it. If we don’t then we begin to shut down and feel as though we can’t achieve our goal. But if we do get the grade we expect, we celebrate and continue to push ourselves since we know we are on the right track.

We should be treating our relationships and friendships similarly. By communicating to your friend or significant other that you appreciate how they treat you, they will know they’re doing something right. In contrast, when someone you care about treats you poorly and/or you dislike how they are acting, please communicate that to them. If you want someone in your life, you should show them the respect they deserve. Give them the opportunity to change their ways.

In any case, keeping someone in the dark is never the answer. Even though it would be a cool superpower, no one can read your mind. Bottling it all up will just cause you to eventually blow up in their face. Don’t delay the inevitable. Especially if you are upset, ignoring someone does not solve anything. Meet up with them in person. Texting a serious discussion is difficult since you can’t hear or see their sincerity which then leaves everything up for interpretation. Indeed, people feel more comfortable hiding behind a screen. That just allows them to lash out and not know the immediate repercussions of what they have said. I bet I’m not the only one who has sat on their bed, crying about a text that I had just received.

Nevertheless, there are cases where communication may not solve the problem. My sorority had a “healthy relationships” workshop this past week. We said communication was one attribute that would define a healthy relationship (platonic or romantic). One thing that stuck out to me was a term I hadn’t heard before – gaslighting. “Gaslight” is a verb meaning to “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.” Some warning signs include: they tell blatant lies, their actions do not match their words, and they tell you or others that you are crazy. If any of these happen when you confront them, consider talking to your support system and see if they have noticed any of these signs. You deserve so much better than someone who does that to you.

All in all, talking to someone and telling them how you feel will benefit both of you. You can learn a lot about someone by having a heart-to-heart with them.