Relationships are complex beasts and there is no one recipe to creating the perfect union, as we are all so different and unique. Mastering the art of a relationship is no easy task so I have researched five ways to assess whether you’re with the right partner or the right relationship.
1. The Friendship Factor
Whether you’re dating, entering into a new relationship or in a long-term partnership or marriage with someone, the first question to ask yourself is ‘Can I be best friends with this person?’ Do you actually like this person for who they are, do you enjoy their company and spending time with them, do you trust and respect them as an individual etc.?
Compatibility, communication, connectedness and good solid company are all important foundations in every relationship, and without them it would get very boring very quickly. Being able to openly converse with your partner is absolutely paramount. Feeling comfortable enough to talk to them about anything is what will keep your relationship strong, since when you are 80 years old and sitting together on the back porch you will not be thinking ‘Am I still attracted to him?’ or ‘I don’t really like his style’. When your good looks fade and your sexual prowess lowers, you will want to have friendship!
At the end of the day, a partner who loves you will be your best friend, your equal, your companion and more importantly someone you can talk to.
2. Maintaining your Identity and Independence
I know of many women and men who, once in a relationship and seeing stars, fall off the face of the planet and go missing in action for months. At the beginning of any relationship because you are so in love with the other person your body is full of oxytocin, aphrodisiacs, pheromones and serotonin, making you feel damn good hence you want to spend as much time with them as possible.
However, despite these initial stages of the romance it’s key to retain your identity of who you are within the relationship, as it’s when you lose your identity that the relationship becomes oppressive and you don’t feel enhanced, equal or free to grow. Keeping in touch with your own friends, having quality alone time, cultivating your own hobbies and interests, even keeping your own bank account or apartment are important things to do to maintain your own identity, while simultaneously maintaining a content union with your partner.
It’s essential not to lose your individualism, identity and independence when entering into a relationship as it is usually this uniqueness that the person fell in love with to begin with. Obviously you don’t want to be living separate lives and want to be too independent that the other person feels under-valued, however you also don’t want to feel like you’re 100% relying on this person or giving them full control and power in the relationship. Suffocation and co-dependence is the biggest relationship killer, so remember to find the balance.
3. Small, Random Acts of Intimacy
Life can really get ahead of you sometimes with work, family, domestic duties, and social life often taking the forefront and intimacy gradually sneaking into the back seat. Most would agree that intimacy is one of the hardest things to maintain and balance in a long term relationship or marriage. Dr Rosie King mentions in her book Good Loving, Great Sex, how it is very common for couples to experience desire discrepancies due to differing or mismatched sex drives. She says the key to keeping the spark alive and avoiding complacency in the bedroom is to restore the intimacy on a daily basis…and not just with sex.
Sexuality guru Jacqueline Hellyer calls it the ‘Mmm-Factor’ – maintaining the passion and desire for each other. She says there are many ways and opportunities in the day to be intimate. Rubbing your partners shoulders while they are cooking dinner, cheekily squeezing their butt when walking past, eating dinner together, surprise presents or romantic getaways, whispering flirty comments, cuddling your partner on the couch while watching the telly, running her a bath, giving him a head message after a hard day, kissing hello and goodbye before and after work, and expressing and actually saying ‘I love you’. Small demonstrations of affection and making your partner feel sexy and desirable goes a long way and can show enormous amounts of appreciation. Flirting, playing and bringing out each other’s inner child is the best way to have fun and keep the relationship alive in the long run.
4. Accepting the Good and the Bad
Acceptance is a monumental part of every relationship. Accepting your partner with their positives is easy; it’s non-judgementally accepting them with all their negatives, baggage, scars, faults, past mistakes, and flaws which may take some effort. Aspects such as their morals and values, family situation (children, divorced etc) , friendship circles, religious stance and even how many sexual partners’ they have had in the past are all areas which will require not only acceptance but also forgiveness and compassion. Of course there are deal breakers for a lot of people, such as smoking and drug use, occupation or line of work, relationship values such as cheating, promiscuity or open relationships as well as family and religious traditions.
The key is to pay attention to any red flags in the initial stages of the relationship or dating period to assess whether it aligns with your inner compass. Did he/she reschedule the date a few times? Was he/she always on his/her phone during the date? Did he/she talk about their ex a lot? Were they aggressive or rude to the waitress? Did you feel unsafe with them? Use your own truths, integrity and intuition to figure out if your partner, date, husband/wife is on the same page as you and be careful not to always give the benefit of the doubt – listen to your gut instinct. Clearly differences and diverse opinions are great in a relationship to add a challenging dynamic (opposite attract), however if you are compromising your own core values, morals and beliefs the chances are you will begin to resent your partner. Be honest with yourself and accept and forgive without passing judgement. The past is just that: past. If something does not resonates or feels right in your heart of hearts then communicate your concerns to your partner so they know how you feel. Compromise and sacrifice is vital in every relationship so sometimes you might have to meet half way to make it work.
5. Do they Enhance your Life?
Ask yourself this question: Does your partner enhance your life? I.e. if your partner was not in your life would your life be better or worse? If the answer is yes and worse, great! If you feel that your partner brings out the best in you, encourages your growth (spiritually, success/career-wise, physically, or emotionally), makes you laugh, is open-minded to your opinions, wants the best for you and cares for your health and wellbeing then you’ve got yourself a keeper!
As Tony Robbins bangs on about, everyone needs to feel in a constant state of growth and progression; if we’re not then we will inevitably feel bored, under-challenged and not reaching our full potential – no worse feeling! A relationship shouldn’t stifle you or make you feel trapped or stunted. Your partner should be an aid in bringing out your beautiful true colours, making you grow and glow, encouraging other friendships, challenging you, bringing quality conversation to the table, building a bright future together, making plans etc. If you find yourself constantly fighting, making mountains out of mole hills, living separate lives, not socialising with other people, jealous of each other’s success, judgemental about the past or not planning anything together, then you might need to reassess why you are with this person and how they are making your life better.
Remember to communicate honestly with your partner how you feel and if you can’t do this then that is a big enough sign! Another thing to take note of is whether you are both growing in same direction. In some instances, you both may be enhancing each other’s life and growing or progressing in your career however you are going down completely different paths (e.g. he wants to move to LA to chase his acting dreams, you want to stay in your amazing job in Sydney and start a family). It’s important to be growing, but it is also important that you are growing in a similar direction to each other. Often two people develop at different levels or wave lengths, it’s inevitable, however as long as you feel in congruency with each other and you are both enhancing one another’s lives, the rest will blissfulling flow.
What are your tips to a successful relationship?
Would you add any to this list?
What’s most important to you?
Keen to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below!
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