Countdown to 30 – Life Lesson #21 – The Keys to a Successful Relationship

I will say that after 29yrs of dating, I have really grown to know what I want in a relationship. I’m one of those people who loves to learn about other relationships, learn about people, what makes them tick, and how each one of us loves. All of us love differently, we give love in our own special ways, and sometimes it’s hard to accept how someone else gives love. Can we receive the love that someone else is giving? Is the way they express their love, enough for you to feel loved? Are you willing to make an extra effort and learn about what someone needs in order to feel loved, and give that to them? We all have our own way of expressing it, and when someone expresses their love to us, is it what we need to feel loved?

I’m all about giving love. I LOVE to give love. But, am I great at receiving love? Am I great at creating space for someone to have the opportunity to show me their love? It’s interesting to think about our strengths, but what are our weaknesses? If someone were to ask me, I’d say, I’m terrible at allowing space for someone to show me their cards. And it’s something I’m working on, but sometimes it’s scary to allow someone to love you, and let them in. Sometimes, I feel more secure in just showing and telling someone else how much I care and asking them what they need to feel loved, whether that’s gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, etc., than allowing them to show me what I mean to them. But, it’s something I’m learning I need in a relationship. Because there comes a breaking point, when we have given all we have, but in order for us to keep giving, we need some of what we have given to be filled with someone else’s own gifts.

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I recently read this article that offered up some key relationship advice. The high level is the following:

The keys to a successful relationship

Self Love – The happiest couples consisted of emotionally healthy and independent individuals.

Commitment – The happiest couples knew that if shit got real, their significant other wasn’t going to walk out on them.

Trust – happy couples trust each other….and have earned each other’s trust.

Intentionality – There’s a difference between the couple who drives through the rainstorm, and the couple who pulls their car to the side of the road to make out in the rain. The couples who try on a daily basis to experience some sort of meaningful connection or create a fun memory are the couples who shattered the perception of what was possible in a loving relationship. 

What’s interesting about this is we can each believe we have “self love”, “commitment”, “trust”, and “intentionality”, but if we don’t feel like the other person is “self loved”, “committed”, “trusting”, and gives “intentionality” into the relationship, then the point is moot. I often find that the conflict in a relationship is when someone isn’t trying to understand how the other person feels, and what they need to feel that their significant other is “committed”, “trusting”, and is giving “intentionality” in the relationship. In order for any relationship to be successful, each partner needs to feel equal in these things. Which is why, I also think the key to a successful relationship is communication. Recently, I read another article about relationships, and “how to pick a life partner”. Really, really good read. Read it here. This article touches on communication. And how the person you pick to marry is going to be the person who you are picking to parent your children (if you choose to have children), to eat 20,000 meals with, your travel companion for 100 vacations, your primary leisure and retirement friend, your career therapist, and someone who’s day you’ll hear about 18,000 times. If you don’t like talking to each other, or your communication sucks, most likely so will all of the previously mentioned experiences.

There is simple enjoyment communication, like enjoying how someone tells a story, or having the same sense of humor, or similar interests that the two of you can discuss, but there’s also the tough communication, the open honest communication about what your needs are, or when someone bothers someone, etc. No matter what phase of the relationship you are in, whether it’s you’re on date 3, you have been married for 30yrs, you are long distance, etc. it is important to communicate what you need, what you want, what you are looking for, and no one should take it as “you suck”, it’s just that we all have different needs. And if a partner feels like they are doing the best they can, then that’s okay, but I think both people in a relationship, need to feel like each person is giving themselves 100%. If you aren’t, then get out. Or communicate that you want to date other people, or communicate that you can’t give 100%, and maybe explain why. Don’t be afraid of communication. Just letting things “be”, I think is the worst way to go about things, because then no one can try to improve or be better. We all need to understand where someone is coming from, and if you are like me, you want someone else to be happy, and I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to make them feel loved, appreciated, happy, accepted, etc. And I want to be with someone who wants to do the same for me, and sometimes that means talking to each other about what each person needs in a relationship, so that both parties can feel secure in the relationship, and where it’s going.

One other key to a successful relationship that wasn’t touched on is laughing together. I think it is soooo important that two people can laugh, play, and have fun together. “Those who laugh together, stay together”. Try not to take things so seriously ALL the time, and laugh, poke fun, play, and just enjoy that you have someone to share your life with. Life after all is supposed to be fun (if you ask me).

Passion is big time important, too. The one thing that most obviously separates friendships from a romantic relationship is sex. If you aren’t having fun in the bedroom, it’s going to be a long, possibly boring relationship. Don’t ever let the passion fade. Figure out ways to keep it hot and spicy. Focus on keeping yourself attractive, that doesn’t just mean taking care of yourself, eating healthy, not gaining 20lbs, etc. But, the other aspects of you that make you attractive, like self-confidence, being artistic, writing music, being athletic, just continuing to invest in your interests and passions outside of the relationship. This keeps you interesting and attractive to your significant other. 🙂

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I loved this quote, “Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most”. What I love about this, is sometimes it’s extremely vulnerable to put yourself out there, and give it all you have, but I think this will shift back and forth, and if both people in the relationship are trying to love the most, then neither party will ever feel like they aren’t loved. I think for me, I often put myself in someone else’s shoes, or how would I feel if I were doing “x” to someone? An example would be, I know it doesn’t feel good to be ignored, so I never want someone else to feel ignored. So, if someone calls me or texts me, even if I’m busy, I might say, I’m busy right now, but let’s talk later. Or, if I didn’t get their text until after a few hours, I might say, sorry I was busy, and then respond. Even if it’s something I don’t want to talk about or answer, I always provide an answer, because who likes being ignored? This goes the same with, if something reminds me of that person, then I share it with them, because I know when they share stuff with me that reminds them of me, it feels good, and I want to make that person feel good. I would rather love the most, and know that I’m always making that person feel good, then to not give all my love, and have that person wonder about how I’m feeling.

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All couples are going to have disagreements, and it’s important to resolve those. Here is the advice from the first article I mentioned:

Don’t fight to win – If you are a couple in love, then you should be on the same team. Right?

Seek to Understand – If you’re having a hard time playing on the same team, stop fighting and try to understand why you’re partner is upset. Always reassure the other person that your relationship, and the other person are a priority for you.

Just be nice to each other seriously – Don’t be a jerk. Don’t call names. Don’t take jabs. Don’t try to hurt the other person.

I love these. Disagreements are going to happen. But, I think for me, it’s always about talking it out. Don’t ignore the problem and think it’s going to go away. Talk through it, and try to understand where the other person is coming from, and be nice.

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And the guy’s favorite quote from all the interviews he did:

“At the end of Ty’s life, I want him to be able to say, ‘Terri was the greatest earthly blessing in my life — the best thing that ever happened to me — and that I’m a better man because of how she loved me.’ And that’s the goal that I live with every day. That’s how I want to love this man.”

I absolutely always feel this way. I want more than anything for my significant other to feel loved, and to be thankful that I’m in their life, and that they are better because I’m in their life. At the same time, I want the other person to want this too.

It’s impossible to be with someone, or to trust in the relationship, if at any point, the equilibrium is out of whack. It shifts, and we all have to accept and understand that, but as long as it naturally goes back to it’s balanced point, and both people are intentionally showing the other person that they love them, that they want the best for the other person, they are supportive, and tell the other person on a daily basis a compliment, or why you love them, etc. Then even when the going gets tough, you can trust that that person is always going to be there.

The question is, what is your intention in your current relationship, whether you are dating, married, etc? Are you doing everything you can to make the other person feel loved and appreciated? If you aren’t, or you aren’t ready to give 100%, then maybe let that person go for now, or figure out how to get to a point where you feel comfortable giving love 100%. Talk about it. It’s not being needy when you ask for things. It’s being an adult. It’s not strange to ask what someone else wants or needs, and trying to understand them. Relationships of all levels take work. You have to want it. And if something changes, or maybe you have to focus on work more or yourself more for awhile, that’s okay, but communicate that to your significant other. Communicate that you care about them, and say or do what you can everyday to assure them that you are there, and that you love them, and appreciate them. We all deserve to be loved and appreciated. We all deserve happy and healthy relationships. We all deserve the best. And if you can’t give your best, then you don’t deserve being given the best. You have to want to make the relationship successful in order for it to be successful. You have to want to put the work in. You have to want this person, this relationship more than anything. And if you aren’t giving someone all that they deserve then let them go. And if you feel like you aren’t being given all you deserve, then let the other person know what you need, and talk about it. And if things don’t get better, then maybe it’s best to let that person go. It’s hard, but again, life is too short to be in a mediocre relationship. Nothing in life should be mediocre, most of all love.

Today’s childhood pic…Junior year of college…the year of turning 21! We spent New Year’s in Chicago. It was a partaaaaayyyyy!

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Today’s workout…3hrs of dancing!

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I will catch up! Yesterday got busy…go figure. Life Lesson #22 and #23 coming today 🙂

xoxo!

Katie