“There’s plenty of fish in the sea” “you deserve better” “you’ll find someone else better” “you were never right for each other” Who has not heard these quotes, while they’re well intentioned, why do they not make anything actually better? I’m not sure if this is the season for it, or why, but I keep seeing posts about people going through heart break. While I’m currently not in a relationship, and it’s been several years since my last one, there are a few things that I’ve noticed that seem to help people around me get over their loss. “Get Over” their break-up isn’t the best way to phrase it either, deal with it in a healthy way is probably a better way to look at it. The truth is a break-up will always hurt, even years after, we learn how to not let it affect us the same way. I don’t claim to be a relationship expert, or even a novice for that matter, these are just a few tools that I’d like for you to consider.
Love yourself first
A friend of my told me this a few months back and it has stuck with me since. “You want to understand yourself, not know yourself.” Meaning that knowing something is more as if you’re accomplished all that you can, while understanding is more of a evolutionary process. Loving yourself first is important because of the EGO. When I say your ego, I don’t mean the small voice that convinces you that you can lift that large obstacle, or that you can overcome anything that get’s put in your way, or that you’re more beautiful than others think you are. I’m talking about that voice that tells you “you’re not good enough” “you’re not beautiful enough” “you will NEVER accomplish that goal you set out to do.” This life as we know it is filled with both positive and negative, and when it comes to the EGO, people generally think of the positive side and forget the negative. If you’re constantly having negative self-talk, there isn’t a person in the world that will make this magically stop. Additionally if you’re looking for someone to “complete you” or “make you better” you typically aren’t confident about yourself. Loving yourself first means that you don’t let negative self-talk dictate your day. We all have those negative feelings, some people learn how not to take it seriously. Loving yourself first means that you put your well-being first, by putting yourself first you ensure that your needs are also met. What I’m not saying is to not be loving and kind to others, but imagine a scale if you will. If helping someone is going to come at a far greater negative impact to you, perhaps you should reconsider helping them. Loving yourself first means that you set realistic boundaries, that you are open and honest about your well-being, and that you don’t let others take advantage of you.
What’s your Compass
“I believe in honesty, even when no one is looking”
“I want to have 2 kids, a boy and a girl”
“I believe that my wife should have a choice whether she wants to work or not”
“I want a partner that shares my faith”
“I want a partner that will help me be a better version of MYSELF, and me HER”
My list is much longer, but those are some of the things that are important to me, and I’m looking for someone who has a similar list. Then together we can help each other accomplish our life goals, being together is mutually beneficial. I’m well aware that some couples might not have the same exact goals, but lets’ look at an example for comparison. Lets say the husband wants to be a Doctor, and he wants to help impoverished people, his wife in turn wants to be a Lawyer, who also helps impoverished people. While they don’t have the same career goals, can you see how they can still accomplish their overall goal together? He can provide medical services, while she helps with legal and equality issues for the same group of people. The two of them together can form an organization that helps people. While this is a hypothetical couple, it illustrates the point well, they don’t have the same specific career goals, but by partnering they can help actualize their full potentials. Simply put, that person helps you accomplish YOUR goals, without diverting you from your path. By knowing where it is you want to go, you can help identify the person that will be the right co-pilot for you, given your goals.
WHY matters more than WHO
You meet someone, they’re attractive, you share a few things in common, and you also feel sexual chemistry. “Wow we have so much in common, would you like to go on a date?” While this is ok for a first date, having a long term relationship should be way more complicated than that. What are their life goals, what are their core values? Do they want to have children, how many do they want to have? How are they going to help me accomplish the things I’ve already set for my life? Have you ever broken up with someone, and then think to yourself “Wow they were totally wrong for me!” If that was the case, why were you together for months, why together for 5 years; worse yet why were you about to marry that person? Psychologist have coined the term “limerence” or “the honeymoon phase.” They both refer to the stage where you’re infatuated with someone, and it’s partly because of the chemical reactions taking place in your body. You find them highly attractive, even though you don’t share everything in common, you feel as though you do. While somethings should be red-flags, you’re willing to overlook their flaws. Scientists have said that this could last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years of a new relationship. While I’m not saying that those feelings aren’t real, what I am saying is that your body is having a chemical reaction, one in which you don’t have much control over. Forming a life together isn’t a small step, but if it’s based on only your physical attraction and sexual chemistry, you’re in for a huge surprise! At some point in your relationship, that insatiable attraction you felt in the beginning will fade, your animalistic sex drive will also fade. That is why it’s important to base you decisions on “the why” you’re with that person, that’s why your compass and life goals matter. That way your relationship won’t be based on just physical attraction and sexual chemistry.
Golden Rule of Relationships
I’m sure everyone is familiar with “Do unto others as you would like them do to you!” For simplicity, lets say that you like your coffee black, with no sugar or cream. Let’s say that your friend likes their’s with some honey, 2 sugars, and 5 creamers. If you’re getting your friend coffee, would you get it the way you like, or the way they like? If you bring them a straight black coffee with nothing in it, they’d probably spit it out in disgust. So why is it that when you’re doing something “nice” for someone you are more likely to bring them a black coffee, after-all that’s the way YOU like it, why can’t they be more thankful. While that’s a very basic example, it’s the way we tend to view our relationships. When you give someone something , you tend to give them something you’d like, and then you wonder why they never used your gift again. When it comes to relationships, I think the Platinum rule should apply, “Do unto others as they would like done to them.” Should you treat everyone with honesty, respect and love, of course you should. At the same time there are times where you have to consider their preference before you do something. This is why I believe that open and honest communication goes a long way, and why we should spend time actually getting to KNOW people. This is especially important if we’re going to be in a committed long-term relationship with them. A great resource I’ve found is learning about The 5 Love Languages, if you find that you don’t agree with anything I’ve said so far, I hope you’ll at least consider this resource. This is probably one of the biggest obstacles facing most everyday relationship, those that aren’t somehow dysfunctional.
While these are just a few snapshots of things to consider, realistically your list will be much longer. You have to consider aside from your physical attraction and a few things in common, why are they in your life? How is this person helping or deterring you from YOUR goals. If you’re planning to be in it for the Long-haul, there are soo many things to consider. The point is that you have to base your decisions on some intangible goals also. By loving yourself first you will have room and energy to devote to loving someone else, rather than learning to love two people at the same time. By looking at what’s below the surface, their values, beliefs, and life goals, you can make a better choice of who will be best for YOU. Why that person specifically, what do you have to gain by having them in YOUR life? Finally having open and honest communication about the things that matter most to you is essential, how will you communicate what’s important to you? It’s a scary thought, but do you have the courage to walk away if that is not the wisest relationship choice for you. Better yet, what if you can know this relatively soon in the relationship, so that you don’t have to experience more pain and heart break after a life together for years.
Just a few thing to consider, I’d love to hear some feedback. What’s on your list, what will you do differently to ensure that your next relationship lasts for the long-haul? Do you have the courage to ask the tough questions? Are you heading into your relationships with all your wits about you?