“He loved her for everything she was and she decided
that was enough to let him stay for a very long time.” ~ Brian Andreas
Every relationship takes a lot of work and patience. Those who know me well know that I am not a perfect man. It took me years to find out what is needed to have a successful relationship. Unfortunately, for me, it came late in life and my chances of finding someone to share my life with have greatly diminished with age. In looking back, I see all the things I did wrong and what I would do differently if I had the chance.
I should state right up front that I am no expert on relationships, because like every other person, I am still learning. For that matter, I do not believe there can be an expert, as no one person can know everything about what will make a relationship work between two unique individuals that the so-called expert may have just met. They can only speak in generalities. I have friends, both men and women, who claim to be relationship experts, but as I know them well, I realize that they are just as lost as their clients are, when it comes to understanding any more than what their mates are telling them. None of us are mind readers that would the best bet when it comes to having a successful relationship.
Let me break that down for you with a bit of advice my late father passed on to me, "If you want to know what she knows, just ask her, and then try to figure out what she is really saying!"
This is necessary because a relationship between two individuals is very personal. Each relationship is different and even if both parties have been in a relationship before, what worked and did not work certainly will not apply to the new relationship. How could it? There is a completely new mix in the relationship. As humans, we interact with others on a personal level. We may be cold to one person and warm to the next, based on the attitude of the other person. That is not to say that we are two-faced, only that we do treat others on a slightly different scale.
Personal Readiness Level
Before we get too deep into the study of relationship, I should explain that it would prove to be quite difficult to have a successful relationship unless you are at the stage in your personal readiness to accept that change is necessary to accomplish anything. You must be ready to accept change in order to find success at any new thing.
Life itself is change, but growth is optional. We must learn to choose wisely between the two. However, life is a persistent teacher and when we fail to learn from life's lessons the first time around, life has a way of repeating these lessons to foster a better understanding. Our lives are often shaken by dramatic circumstances, which are mostly non-permanent, but have a way of taking over our entire being. We struggle with these circumstances due to our inability to accept and embrace change in our lives. When we resist the lessons that life throws at us and resist the change that is necessary, we find our life often spiraling out of control.
Life moves far to fast for most of us, and we find it overwhelming at times. When we allow ourselves to lose control over the events of life, we often find ourselves experience fear, loneliness and anxiety, even when surrounded by family and close friends. We can attempt to mask these experiences with by busying ourselves with daily tasks of cleaning, a hobby, a movie, but in the end, these are only band-aids and the depression can still set in - even becoming deeper and more intense. At moments like these, our life seems as an exquisite mirror shattering into a million pieces. The only way to stop the spiral is to deal with it before it gets out of control.
We do this by embracing the impermanency of our live and the changes that we must make. This embrace is our Personal Readiness Level - how ready we are to accept our ability to embrace change. We can do this by reducing our expectations, acknowledging that change must happen, accepting change into our life, learning from our experiences, recognizing our growth and embracing wisdom.
We each have expectations of our life’s circumstances; we often have high expectations for our family, our work, and our relationships. We expect each to remain constant and to last forever. However, we know that nothing lasts forever.
We can have reasonable expectations of how we would like something to work, but we cannot accept failure. Reducing or having no expectations about relationships, work, or a situation will certainly help us to accept whatever may come from it.
When we set reasonable expectations, and do not expect or demand a particular outcome, we are better able to manage any changes that do come our way. Unreasonable expectations of life, however, will usually be met with disappointment, loss and even pain. We must have very real expectations that can be easily met or none at all.
Many people believe that change is outside the realm of possibility. They believe that they and others are incapable of change. However, change is just as real for humans as it is for the plant that grows in your garden. If you nurture it, it may grow into a thing of beauty and if you ignore it the plant will cease to be in most instances. We must accept that change is necessary and nurture it by acknowledging that change is our personal responsibility.
While we are faced with change every day, it often moves so slowly or so quickly that we fail to realize that it happened at all. How many times have we realized that the sun has set so slowly that we suddenly find ourselves struggling to continue to read in the dark, or that the day has past so quickly that we have ran out of time to do those things that needed to be done?
Be aware that change can and does happen in your life. This means understanding that things can and will be different from how they are now. Acknowledging change is allowing it to happen when it unfolds instead of approaching change from a place of denial and resistance.
Most people spend far too much time attempting to prevent or stop change from happening at all. This is impossible of course, just as we cannot stop time from passing. We try to control our surroundings and in the end only forging blindly ahead even in the most futile situations. We often continue working on a project until we realize that we have painted ourselves in a corner with no way out. We get into and stay in relationships long after that moment of failure happens. We cannot easily accept the change that happened.
Instead of resisting change, we must allow it to unfold and try to understand what is transforming and why it is happening.
Circumstances will not turn out the way we want them to, and that is perfectly all right. Embracing the situation can help us deal with the change effectively, making the necessary shifts in our life to embrace the change, and help us move forward after the event.
Learning from experience
If we accept and embrace change, we will start looking for and finding lessons in the change that is happening.
When dramatic changes are happening in our life, we may find ourselves refused to acknowledge them at first, and the change leaves us distraught and without meaning. Once we reflect back and finally accepted the changes, the lessons we absorb will be profound.
Change becomes is greatest teacher, but only if we give ourselves permission to learn from it.
When we accept, embrace, and learn from change, we inevitably grow stronger. The ability to continuously accept change allows us to become as solid as a rock in the midst of violent storms all around us—even when we feel afraid of change.
The more we permit change and impermanence in our life, the more we grew as a person. Embracing change brings about a new found strength into our life and surprisingly, more inner peace.
When we proactively embrace change and learn to accept it as a part of life, we are filled with more calmness, peace, and courage. When life fails to shake us up with its twists and turns, we realize that changes cannot break us down.
Once we have reduce our expectations, acknowledged accepted change into our life, learned from our experiences, and became aware of our growth we will have reached a level of understanding in life that is know as wisdom. We reach a point where change is no longer feared and we are better for experiencing change in our life. We will have reached our Personal Readiness Level, where we can proceed toward a more successful relationship.
Causes of Failure
Perhaps a look at the most common reasons for the failure of a relationship will give insight into what not to do if a relationship is to be successful will help. The most recent studies show that there are five reasons that relationships fall apart.
- Infidelity; adultery, sex with others outside of relationship - 27%
- Intervention; strain from familial or close friends - 21%
- Abuse; physical and verbal abuse - 18%
- Crisis; grief, unemployment, underemployment, expectations not met - 15%
- Addictions; alcoholism, gambling, work-life balance - 12%
- Other Reasons; age, maturity, sex ratio - 7%
Infidelity is the primary source of failed relationships. While most studies have shown that both men and women are almost equally guilty of infidelity at various stages of a relationship, it is not surprising that men are naturally more forgiving and thus not only is the likelihood of women's infidelity on the rise, it is seldom reported in the statistics. Even with such a low reporting, the statistics show that 27% of relationships fail due to infidelity.
The intervention of family members and close friends is the second most common reason for failure of relationships. Statistics show that in the case of intervention being the cause of relationship failures females who allow their family members and close friends to decide whether they should stay in a relationship account for 78% of the failures, where only 22% of men listen to others. The take away would be that if you do not have the support of the other person's family and close friends, there is a strong likelihood of failure in the relationship.
Abuse comes in at third place with emotional and physical abuse being more evenly split, with females affected in 60% and males in 40% of the reported cases of abuse being responsible for the failure of the relationship. Yes, contrary to popular believe men often find themselves in a relationship where the female is abusive, especially in emotional abuse where the female is constantly complaining. No one wants to be in a relationship where the other person is not agreeable.
The inability to handle crisis is no surprise in failed relationships. Most individuals have great difficulty in dealing with crisis. The loss of work, or having to work below one's abilities all create moments of frustration that must be resolved. In addition, it should not come as a surprise that most crises arise from making poor decisions or having expectations that will be difficult to achieve. Learning to make better decisions will eliminate most of the crises that enter into our lives. Coupled with having realistic expectations, one can find happiness in life.
While addiction is at the bottom of the list, it should not be overlooked. This includes both substance dependence and behavioral addiction. Addiction is the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences. Addiction may also be caused by a neurological impairment leading to addictive behavior. Addictions may also be habits or patterns characterized by immediate gratification coupled with delayed deleterious effects - short-term rewards versus long-term costs. Potential addictions that affect relationships include drug abuse (legal and illegal), as well as addictions to gambling, sex, work, career, exercise, food, gaming, sports, social networking (texting, Facebook, etc.). Any addiction that consumes more of your life than the relationship with another may have negative effects.
The Biggest Mistake
In addition, a factor, which is seldom discussed as a reason for relationship failure is the trial relationship. It has been consistently shown that cohabitation is no guarantee of a successful relationship. In fact, in divorce rates of married couples it has been shown that cohabitation before marriage is associated with higher divorce rates. It is so common that it has been given the name of the cohabitation effect. Researchers have found that this is partly due to selection in that cohabiting couples are more likely to marry with low levels of commitment, as well as the effect of cohabitation itself on the likelihood of cohabiting couple to naturally move into marriage. There is a consensus among researchers that both of these factors explain the cohabitation effect.
The majority of social scientists that study relationship failures agree that delaying the movement through the steps of a relationship provide more opportunity for making the correct choice of a compatible partner in the relationship.
Would it not be better to first consider, with great thought, the basis for a solid foundation of a successful relationship before embarking on what may be failure? You bet it would! Slow and easy will always result in a better choice and provide more success than rushing.
Today's thought is that if you find someone that you like - you should live together and have a sexual relationship as a trial. The transformation from a single person, to being in a relationship, or being married by jumping into cohabitation with another actually works against human nature.
Let us consider the very word, "transformation" for a moment. The prefix "trans" means "beyond," "above," or in literal terms, "over." The "form" describes the physical that is you. It includes the body that you live in. When we place the prefix "form" before "form”, we get "transform," which means "beyond the physical." Now, let us add the suffix "ation" which mean "action" or "result," and we have the word "transformation." This word means the result or action of going beyond one's physical form. However, it is important that we see the true self, not just the physical self if we desire to really achieve success in our relationships.
Your physical form is not much different from any other living human. Physically you are quite similar to others in that you have same bones, skin, and component parts. Everything that is your physical form is also existent in most animals, such as a cow or a whale. Buckminster Fuller said that 99% of who you are is invisible and untouchable. The real you, the unique you, is your ability to think and go beyond your form. That is what determines the quality of your life. The major transformational difference between you and others is your ability to think and feel beyond your simple form. The ultimate in transformation is to see ourselves as unlimited by our form.
When you live exclusively in form, you live in a world of limitations that dictate the outcome of your experiences. You can only have a successful relationship when you cease to limit your opportunities and live in a dimension of transcending your form. Who you really are is beyond form. The real you, is in your mind, which has been called your higher consciousness, and is not form. The mind is affected by the five traditionally recognized senses, sight (ophthalmoception), hearing (audioception), taste (gustaoception), smell (olfacoception or olfacception), and touch (tactioception), as well as by feelings, emotions, thoughts, and intuition.
You would be very wise to move beyond your physical form in which you place value on the external, physical appearances and place more emphasis on a formless self, which contains the real, you. We are each a soul with a body, rather than a body with a soul. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Once we understand that every experience of our humanness is guided by forces that are independent of our form, we can find ourselves with the ability to live at an entirely new level and enjoy a higher awareness of life itself. Once you begin to use your mind properly, you leave behind all excuses, fatigue, fears, and anguish and are left with an energy that will flow through you unheeded and without limitations.
Do not allow yourself to attempt to conform to the world around you, but be transformed by the abilities of your mind that dismisses the limitations of physical limits and you will arrive at the dimension of thought. Once there, you find there are no limits to your ability to think. You can then have a perfect relationship in pure thought, exclusive of form. Leave behind the emphasis of your culture to place value on the external.
Common Traits of Every Relationship
Seven things are universally accepted as important in a successful relationship. The first three are necessary; Trust, Selflessness and Openness. If you cannot commit to these three, your successful will be greatly hampered. The last four will help build on and reinforce the first three.
Building a successful relationship requires trust in yourself and others, giving your time and resources to the other person instead of yourself, and being open to the other person. These three most important steps in building a relationship are perhaps the three most difficult things for many to accomplish in the beginning of a relationship. However, in a strong relationship they become habit and are quite easy to both give and receive when you care about the relationship. If these are not present in the beginning of a relationship, you will need to work hard to acquire them before progressing into a more meaningful stage of the relationship. Without them, the relationship will be weak and may fall apart.
A relationship without trust will not last very long. You have to be able to trust your partner and at the same time be trusted by your partner. Trust is the act of placing confidence in someone or something else. It is a fundamental human experience, necessary for society to function and for any person to be relatively happy. Without it, fear rules. Trust is not an either/or proposition, but a matter of degree, and certain life experiences can influence a person's ability to trust others.
Everyone has uncertainty about whom to trust, how much to trust, when not to trust, and so forth at one time or another. In fact, every day we make choices about whom and how much to trust, and sometimes we are more willing to trust than at other times. That is a good thing; a total lack of mistrust would indicate a serious psychological problem. Judgments about when and whom to trust help keep us safe and alive!
When mistrust seems to play a dominant role in a person's relationship, past disappointments or betrayals may be at the root of the issue. Mistrust is a valid and reasoned response to feeling betrayed or abandoned, but the relationship can be adversely affected when feelings of mistrust are pervasive, resulting in anxiety, anger, or self-doubt. Fortunately, a person can learn to trust with a little personal work.
Unfortunately, there are extreme instances where some are incapable of trust. This may stem from or are linked with depression, adjustment disorders, anxiety, and more severe mental health conditions like schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress. Those diagnosed with schizophrenia and related conditions may experience paranoia - the unfounded but rigid belief that others are trying to harm them; delusions - false beliefs, often with themes of mistrust; or hallucinations - usually, imagined voices that may be critical or malevolent. This serious condition is today thought best treated with a combination of medications and intensive therapy.
Signs that a person may be excessively mistrustful include:
- A slight or total lack of intimacy or friendships due to mistrust
- Mistrust that interferes with one's primary relationship
- Several intensely dramatic and stormy relationships in a row or at once
- Racing thoughts of suspicion or anxiety about friends and family
- Exhibition of fear of physical intimacy in public or private
- Belief that others are deceptive and malevolent, without real evidence
This word does not come up as much in day-to-day conversation as compared to the word selfish. If you want to build a successful relationship, you have to let go of your wants and needs and concentrate on the other person’s needs and want. You must be willing to give them what they need and want, if you expect to get what you need and want. Life, nor relationships, are never one-sided.
You will find that if you are in a successful relationship that the other person will be doing the same thing for you, so in the end it all works out.
When it is talked about that hard work is required to build a successful relationship they are not talking manual labor. What this means is that you cannot sit back and let the relationship work itself out - it never happens. If you want this relationship, you are sometimes going to have to fight for it. For example, if you and your partner are separated because of work, send emails and text messages telling them that you miss them. Think about them during the day and go out of you way to get them a special present just because you know that they will like it.
The same goes for when you do not really like each other at the moment, be the first one to accept at least partial responsibility to say I am sorry, and really mean it. It does not matter if you started the argument or problem it takes two to disagree.
Trust, selflessness, and hard work are not the only things needed for a successful relationship, but they are the most important. Accomplish these three and anything else that is needed will be easy to do.
Accepting your partner as they are
The best time to decide what kind of partner you want is before you commit to being in a relationship. If you are always trying to change your partner, the only thing you will accomplish is that your partner will resent you. It does not get much more insulting than that. However, being accepting does not mean you act like a doormat, either.
Most of us already have training in this area, especially if we have had pets. Take for instance having a dog as a pet. We never expect our pet to be anything that they are not. Our pet is completely authentic in every way. We expect them to be just as they are, drooling, barking, and of course wagging their tail when they are happy. They are perfect just they way they are and we accept them. Why should we expect more from our partner? Why do we have so much trouble in accepting them just as they are?
Being more concerned with being kind, than with being right
Everyone has a desire to be right. In addition, there are many occasions where being right will take you far; like choosing the best place to live. However, most of the time, insisting on being right will drive you and your partner apart.
We have all been in relationships where we have insisted at times on the other person seeing things our way. We can only take this so far before we end up losing sight of what we were in disagreement about in the first place. It is no longer about a point, or anything else important. It is just about being right. In the end, this just drives a wedge between you and your partner.
Which would you rather be: kind or right?
Being the best partner, you can be
If you are not in a relationship, you are probably looking for the perfect partner. Maybe the reason you are not with anyone right now has something to do with not being able to find the perfect person. Perhaps you were with someone, but the reason you are not is that you felt he or she were less than perfect. On the other hand, let us be honest, maybe the other person was just crazy.
If you are in a relationship, you probably have many expectations for your partner. You probably expect them to think as you do, and make the same type of decisions you would make. Chances are you hold it against them when they think otherwise.
We spend a lot of time searching for the perfect partner and then expecting our partner to be perfect. However, how much time do we spend trying to be the perfect partner for our partner? We have all these expectations for the other person, yet we do not hold ourselves up to this as well. Does that not seem like a double standard? I think so.
When something is not going well in you relationship with your partner, try to think of how you can be a better partner. Instead of reacting and thinking “Why cannot they just be like this?” try to think, “What can I do to be a better partner?” None of us are always perfect, but every time we do this, we will be rewarded with the feeling that our relationship is progressing a little more consciously in the directly we want it to.
Not making assumptions or taking things personally
We have a tendency to think that everything is about us. We have this thing called personal importance. The truth is, not everything is about us. Everything anyone else does is really about him or her, and that is including your partner. I know, hard to believe, but true. If we take things personally when our partner acts not so wonderfully, we are likely to feel unloved. We think it is about us, when it is really something they are personally dealing with. That does not mean we do not call them out when they are acting a fool. We just do not make it about us.
It is also important to not make assumptions. How many times have you felt hurt because you thought your partner should have known something? Most of the time when we are upset at our partner - for some reason or another - it is because we assumed that they automatically knew something. We assumed that they knew we did not want to go somewhere with them because we had a headache. They did not know and thought we were upset at them for some reason (they took it personally). Then we become upset at them because we thought they should trust us enough to know that we love them enough to go somewhere with them when we feeling up to it. Then they are upset at us because they think that there’s no reason we should be upset at them, when we are the one that did something wrong in the first place.
See the pointless cycle this creates? All of this confusion can be avoided if we simply do not make assumptions and do not take things personally.
Instead of making assumptions we can ask for what we want. It seems so simple, right? If you do not ask for what you want, how do you expect to get it? It appears that my father was right when he stated, "If you want to know what she knows, just ask her, and then try to figure out what she is really saying!"
We have a tendency to want to be understanding of the other person. We think it will make them feel inadequate if we ask for what we want. We think we will make them feel bad for not meeting our needs, so we stay quiet, hoping that some day soon our partner will develop telepathy and figure things out. That will, of course, never happen!
You should inspire your partner to be a better partner and vice versus, every moment of every day. Being a better partner makes you a better person. It is in interacting with others that we learn more about ourselves.