This old English cricket expression means to behave honestly and decently. It occurred to me that this expression of good English sportsmanship holds a lot of value in how we successfully conduct and manage all our relationships.
Close intimate relationships are emotionally risky. We could get hurt. However, another bottom line is that human beings need closeness with others to feel happy, psychologically healthy and fulfilled. What a dilemma?
At what point when we make a new friend or lover do we play it with a straight bat and share what we really and truly think, want and feel. When do we risk the strange look that says “what?” “Err…I don’t think so” or the rolled eyes that can leave us feel rejected and hurt.
There is no simple answer but one thing is for sure. Healthy and happy relationships for us are with people who don’t do that to us. When we play it with a straight bat and the other person gives us a felt sense of being met emotionally, cognitively and perhaps spiritually, we feel a sense of connection and closeness making us feel happy and fulfilled.
When we are playing our own needs with a straight bat in relationships it can be easy to lose sight of the impact we are having on the other person. They have the same dilemma as us in that they need closeness but know they could get hurt.
When we feel hurt by another we can hurt back. We in effect drive our tank onto the other person’s lawn and start firing. We either chose a specific target or fire randomly. We will in all likelihood need to face this person at a future date and explain and justify our actions. An uncomfortable conversation perhaps?
So playing relationships with a straight bat not only involves honesty, it involves respect for the other person and a way of communicating that does not hurt or shame but is decent and respectful. Avoid the uncomfortable conversation or “Be a good sport” if you prefer to see it that way.
Getting closer……and what the fairy tales don’t tell us!
We all like fairy tales but there is a catch. They seduce us into fantasies about perfect relationships where people live in perpetual love, bliss and happiness where the birds never stop tweeting. Reality is that even though we can visit this place together at times we can’t stay there all the time.
Sometimes we need to work at it a bit. Playing it with a straight bat means checking it out? We need to ask for clarification and not pretend we understand when we don’t. We need to ask ourselves if we are buying what the other person is really selling or are they in fact trying to sell us something else!
We need to feel safe enough to explore these turbulent moments and for the other person to share the rocky road with us. Cricket has its rules and so do relationships. We need to write our own Rules of engagement together and play fair and stick to them. Ultimately we need to enjoy relaxing in the calm waters and learn to swim through the waves. We can grow together and deepen our relationship, get closer and be happier and more fulfilled. What we need is the courage to take and trust the journey.