Note: This is the first of a two-part series. Click here for part two
Here are some of the things our intimate relationships—and our intimate partners—teach us:
- In an intimate relationship, our ability to be close, trusting and connected is what life is all about.
- If you lose a relationship, you must—you absolutely must—learn how to trust again.
- If we don’t learn something new or change our behaviors, we will tend to repeat the same set of issues or problems in our next relationship.
- No relationship suddenly falls apart. In every troubled partnership, there are blatant warnings—neon warning signs—that are ignored by the other person. One person communicates, typically and indirectly, that they are unhappy, and the other person doesn’t register it, take it seriously enough or attempt to resolve it. So one of the keys to keeping your relationship healthy is to recognize those warning signs as they occur—and to confront and deal with them on an ongoing basis.
- Love requires care and maintenance. Otherwise, we tend to neglect it, figuring it will take care of itself.
- Any love, when it is ignored, not given a high enough priority, or when it is treated poorly—deteriorates.
- You must be an active participant in your intimate relationship. A leader. You have an obligation to attempt to grow the love, the connection, the commitment and the happiness of the relationship—and of each of you in the relationship.
- Listen more and talk less. It’s a secret happy lovers practice.
- Act less arrogant and entitled. Be more gracious and humble. You’ll get further.
- You’ll be richly rewarded if you thank your intimate partner for all s/he has given to you—and is giving to you—and for how your life has been enriched or expanded by being with him or her. Do this every day from now on.
- In order to feel love, you must give love. If you don’t give yourself—your heart, soul, spirit, effort and energy—you just won’t feel very much—and you will be missing out on the emotion that many would claim is the sweetest feeling life offers. Learn this lesson above all others: The more love I give, the more loving I feel. The more passion I offer, the more passion I experience. The more I hold my heart back, the emptier and more superficial the experience will feel to me.
- I will feel valued by you if—and only if—you are responsive to what I say matters the most to me. Therefore, if I say something is important to me, make it important to you.
- To always be a lover in training, always be a “student” husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend—consistently willing to learn and take feedback about how you could be a better partner, friend, lover, parent—or how to be more connected, loving, responsive, romantic or caring.
- You must make your relationship a top priority in your life. The more your intimate partner feels important to you, the closer and more intimate s/he is likely to feel around you. You must give as much of your friendly time, attention and presence as you can.