1. Be kind to one another
As a general rule, your partners will tend to treat you as well as you treat them. After all, the better you treat them the more reason they’ll have to admire you and care about you. The less often you reciprocate kindness the less lovable you’ll be and the less motivation your partner will have to be kind to you. If your relationship is having trouble the first step you should always take is to be extra kind to your partner every day. If you think belittling, harassing, snapping or yelling at your partner will ever accomplish anything other than destroy your relationship you’re ignorant and should be alone.
If you’re never kind to your partner and they always go out of their way to be kind to you then over time they’ll empty out all of their passion, and when they run out they’ll turn as cold and passionless as you. Then the coldness will turn to bitterness and the person who was once your lover will become your enemy. At that point you might be able to turn your relationship around by being nice to each other again, but you’ll probably break up and resent each other.
This is very simple. If you’re not going to be kind to one another then there’s no point being together.
2. Communicate intimately and regularly
Human beings grow and change as they learn more, have new experiences, change jobs, move and meet new people. As we age we change, and when we change our expectations and goals change. Two people may be perfect for one another one year and then hold each other back the next year not because either of them did anything wrong but because they grew into themselves and outgrew their current relationship. This is the nature of relationships, and the only way to manage this risk by communicating intimately and regularly.
You can’t have a healthy, functional relationship with a stranger. You can’t resolve interpersonal problems between yourself and a stranger. In order to nurture and monitor your relationship you and your partner need to tell each other everything that’s going on in your head all the time (within reason). The point is the only way to see eye to eye is to see mind to mind.
If you can’t talk to your partner, or your partner won’t open up to you, then one of you needs to walk away because a silent relationship is like driving with your headlights off; you’re going to run into problems.You should want to open up to your lover anyway. If you don’t have the motivation to open up to your partner or they don’t have the motivation to let you in then you’re not really in love, and you should strongly consider separating because neither of you are going to get the emotional nourishment you need from your relationship.
If you’re missing something in your relationship the only way you’re ever going to get it is by telling the other person about it. You need to encourage your partner to tell you if they’re missing anything so you’ll know what you need to do to improve your relationship and give the person you love a chance at happiness.
3. Don’t accept being treated poorly; stand up for yourself, and don’t be afraid to leave.
The promises you made to your partner and the contracts you’ve signed aren’t more important than your happiness. Staying in a relationship that makes you unhappy is throwing your life away for nothing. You’re not upholding a virtuous moral ideal by staying in an unfulfilling relationship. All you’re doing is hurting yourself.
Nobody deserves to be made unhappy. You can’t screw up in any way that would justify being treated poorly. If your partner can’t treat you with the dignity, respect and empathy you deserve then they don’t deserve you. Stand up for yourself. Communicate your expectations, and if they’re not met then the mature, wise thing to do is leave. That’s not being unfaithful. That’s not giving up. That’s self-preservation. That’s making the most out of life.
4. Do things you enjoy together regularly (hobbies not events), and get away from each other regularly.
In order to be happy you need to do things you enjoy. If you can do things that make you happiest with the person who makes you happiest then you’re winning at life. You’re also building great memories of one another. So at the end of your life you’ll look back and see that the best times of your life were with that person instead of the best times of your life being when they weren’t there.
Going to movies with another person doesn’t count. If you’re just going to be sitting somewhere staring ahead you could have anyone next to you. It’s not enough for you to go somewhere with your partner. You need to do meaningful, enjoyable things that involve you working together somehow.
As important as it is to do meaningful activities together it’s equally important to get away from each other on a regular basis. No matter how wonderful another person is, if you spend 24 hours per day with them every day you’re going to get bored of each other, and you’re going to get on each other’s nerves. So if you want to stay together for the long haul you need to get away from each other on a regular basis.
5. Maintain an active, dynamic sex life
Humans are sexual creatures. We need to have sex, and if we don’t we suffer physically and psychologically. Every time you and your partner’s sex life suffers your relationship will suffer. So both of you need to be proactive about initiating sex and spicing up your sex life.
There’s no one right way to structure your sex life. It depends on the individuals involved. So you need to regularly communicate with your partner about your sex life. Let them know your needs, expectations, fantasies and disappointments. Help them help you and visa versa.
Even though everyone is different I would still give everyone one piece of advice: oral sex is the magic bullet. It’s hard to be unhappy when you’re getting great oral sex all the time. If your relationship is suffering, give each other more oral sex. You’ll see immediate improvements. And everybody wants oral sex anyway. So you should be giving each other great oral sex already because you care about each other and want to fulfill each other’s wants.
6. Proactively try to grow and articulate yourself
Your relationship is only as strong as its weakest member. If you don’t proactively teach yourself new knowledge and seek out edifying experiences your mind will atrophy. You’ll forget what you already know. You’ll get stuck in your ways, and regress into a boring old idiot. In that state you won’t be able to fulfil your own potential much less help your partner through their personal saga of life. If your life only has a vague direction you’ll bumble through life semi-lucidly never really getting anywhere, and you’ll keep your partner in life from getting anywhere either.
Learn. Think. Grow.
7. Learn about the differences between men and women.
If you’re going to be proactively studying important subjects anyway you may as well start with learning the differences between how men and women think. After all, if you’re going to spend the rest of your life with a member of the opposite sex it’s important that you understand them. Even if you’re going to spend the rest of your life with a member of your own sex, half the world’s population is still made up of the opposite sex. So it would serve you well to understand them.
There have been dozens, possibly hundreds of books written on the psychology of the sexes. There are even university courses on the subject. Read those text books before you buy self-help books written by self-proclaimed gurus with dubious credentials… such as myself. But if you think I make good points, here’s some more:
8. Don’t date stupid or crazy people
Crazy, stupid people do crazy stupid things. If you let a cloud of bats live in your bedroom then your life is going to be hell. Learn how to spot crazy and stupid and stay far, far away from them.
9. Your happiness is your own responsibility.
This last rule is a combination of rule #3 and rule #9. Your partner should want you to be happy. After all, if they don’t, then why are they there? Yet at the same time, your happiness is ultimately your responsibility. If you can’t be happy without someone else constantly checking up on you and tending to your every need then you’re behaving like a parasite, and you’re going to consume your partner. Once you’ve nibbled away your partner’s soul your relationship is going to crumble and your own chances of happiness will crumble right along with it.
Do what you need to do to keep yourself happy. Give what you expect to get back and more. Don’t rely on someone else to keep you happy. If you can’t keep yourself happy then they won’t be able to either. Then nobody will get to be happy and it would have been better for both of you if you’d never met.
10. A lover who doesn’t let you be yourself doesn’t love you for who you are.
If you lover constantly harasses you for going out with your friends or doing the things you want to do until you break down and behave the way they want you to behave then they must dislike who you are and what you want out of life. You’re never going to share and celebrate your life with one another. You’re just going to fight until you either leave or become their willing slave. No matter how many positive traits your partner may have, if they don’t respect you for who you are and give you space to do the things you enjoy then you don’t have a healthy relationship. You’re just being taken advantage of by someone who cares more about themself than you.
11. Don’t confuse co-dependency with love.
If you base your perception of love on Disney movies and pop music then what you call love is actually co-dependency. I’m not saying you’re codependent if your partner still takes your breath away even after ten years. I’m saying you’re codependent if you can’t breathe without them being right next to you worshiping you every moment of every day. If you can’t live without your partner’s love and affection you’re going to smother and cripple them, and when they’re too worn down and stressed out to live up to your unrealistic expectations you’re going to hate them, yourself and life itself because your life will be meaningless without a host to feed on.
Don’t confuse co-dependency with love. Couples should be able to stand alone as individuals. Two individuals who are complete alone will make a greater whole when they’re together than two people who need someone else to use as a crutch. So base your philosophy on relationships on reason, not oversimplified commercial children’s stories.
12. Learn how to argue for truth as opposed to winning.
Inevitably you’re going to have a disagreement with your partner, and often times little disagreements can escalate into big ones, especially when couples are already stressed out. Disagreements aren’t inherently a bad thing. They’re an opportunity to bridge a gap that’s come between you and your lover, but immature people don’t see it that way. Immature people see a disagreement a challenge to be won, but that means there has to be a loser. That means in order for you to win your lover has to lose. When you beat or shout your lover into submission you might win the battle, but you lose the war. It doesn’t matter who “wins” an argument. All that matters is your relationship.
When you argue, listen to your partner’s entire argument before uttering a word. When you do speak, ask for clarifications and elaborations. Find out everything on their mind and then think about that. Bend over backwards to look at the situation from their point of view, and assume (for the sake of argument) that you’re wrong. Even if you’re right you’re probably wrong about something. In order to win the war you need to find out what that is and correct it. If you’d proactively analyzed yourself for flaws before hand you wouldn’t have to wait for them to drive your partner to the breaking point where they feel the need to confront you about your flaws.
13. Don’t hold back.
There are two parts to this piece of advice. First, don’t be afraid to love. Holding back and waiting to let yourself love someone or to tell them you love them until after you have ten tons of proof to justify your emotions doesn’t defend the integrity of love. It merely postpones your connection with the most important person in your life. Granted, there’s a limit. You don’t want to tell someone you love them on the first date; that’s just codependency. Having said that, there’s also a line where withholding your emotions is just being cold, and the consequences of holding back a little too long are worse than jumping the gun a little bit.
The other way you don’t want to hold back is by not letting the other person in. It’s understandable that you don’t want to be hurt. It’s understandable that you don’t want to share your deepest secrets with a complete stranger. However, if you’re in a committed relationship with someone and you keep holding them at arm’s length and never letting them swim through your soul then you’re just torturing the most important person in your life, and you’ll never be able to build a deeper relationship if they can’t dive into you.
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