1. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks.
No, that doesn’t mean cheating. By “mistakes” I mean doing things within the boundaries of the relationship with good intention to grow and learn, and then taking responsibility for them if they were not healthy. Sometimes we’re so obsessed with being “perfect”, we forget that mistakes are how we learn. Even in relationships. Without mistakes, we don’t move forward. We flatline. Plateau. Mistakes simulate change, shakes shit up for revelations to be formed. The glue comes in taking risks and making mistakes as a couple, then learning from them and becoming stronger as a team.
2. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.
Many people believe relationships should come naturally, like the rush of dopamine that shot into your brain when you first met. Actually, to be in a monogamous relationship in which you are constantly challenged to look at yourself and compromise your wants or needs is unnatural. It goes against our natural human instincts. To adapt and embrace this takes time — a long time. That’s why I tell my clients relationships are built. They just don’t happen because it feels good. So be patient.
3. Work very, very hard.
What of value comes easy? Many people underestimate how much work it takes to make a relationship work. They tap out after the first “very.” So what does very, very hard work look like? It’s different for everyone, but you will know because of that giant mountain you see in front of you, the one you’ve always avoided climbing. The second “very” means self-examination. The longer we are in a relationship, the more comfortable we get. Then it becomes easy to blame instead of take responsiblity. Think about how much more flexiable and inward looking you were when you guys first met. Now, all you guys do is point fingers. Looking inward first is what very very hard looks like.
4. Ask for opportunities.
Since we think we know our partner so well, we stop asking. Instead, we assume. The thing is, people change. If you want something, ask for it. Your partner’s answer may be different today than it would have been yesterday. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know, but more importantly, you’ll never get. And now you’re angry and resentful and drifting. It’s a basic rule of life, and it applies in relationships. Know what your needs are and ask for them. Don’t be a dick about it. But no one can read your mind, even your partner. The process of asking or communicating creates opportunities to get to understand each other better.
5. Finish what you start.
I’m referring to arguments. I mean, I guess sex too. But many people start an argument and don’t finish it because it gets too heated. Or it’s too triggering. Or ego gets in the way. Or they don’t want to take responsibility. So they walk away and never come back to it — and issues don’t get resolved. Instead, people are not heard, and when people are not heard, they disconnect and start emotionally going separate ways. This is when you do shit you will regret.
If you walk away from a fight without consent or getting things resolved, you’re leaving the relationship for that period — and one day, there will be no one to come back to.
6. Say yes to almost everything.
Assuming it’s healthy and the intention is good, what’s the worst that could happen? You get pushed out of your comfort zone? That’s called an opportunity. I think we say No way too much in relationships. We don’t like feeling uncomfortable. We fall into routines. Things get boring. If you want more yeses in your life, this is where to start.
Say Yes to adventure, different ways to explore sex, new activities, watching films you wouldn’t normally watch, reading books you don’t normally read, coming home early, role playing, different date nights, different foods,restuarants, different perspectives, different music, new hobbies, more eye contact, basically switch shit up!
7. Busy is a decision.
Just because you’re in love doesn’t mean it’s time to stop life. Each partner should have his or her own life. This means making a choice to be busy and working on your own container. I think many people get into a relationship and stop or slow down their own personal “busyness.” The relationship becomes their life. This is not called a relationship. This is called codependency and it’s sticky and unhealthy. Your relationship should enhance your life, not cause you to put it on the back burner.
8. Don’t censor your dreams before you actually dream.
Whatever dreams you had when you were single shouldn’t change because you are now in a relationship, unless it happens organically and honestly. Many give up their dreams because the relationship doesn’t allow them. Your dreams may in fact change, but don’t censor them for anyone.
9. To strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide you want one.
The key word there is you, not you both. I think many people lose themselves in their relationship because they forget about their own wants, needs, and paths. Remarkable can still happen when you’re in a committed relationship. But you have to decide that you want remarkable, and that you’re not willing to negotiate over it.
10. It is only a failure if you accept defeat.
We should fight for our relationship. Always. There’s you. There’s your partner. And then there’s the relationship. And if you accept defeat, you are not fighting for the relationship. But admitting that you are wrong is not accepting defeat — admitting that you are wrong is actually fighting for the relationship. Read that sentence again.
Many get so caught up fighting each other in relationships that they forget they’re on the same team. Instead, if both people fought for the relationship instead of in the relationship, there would be very different outcomes.
Here the thing about relationships. They can be amazing and magical, the nectar in your life, make you want to come home early. But they can also be destructive and send you down a very slippery well. Make sure you digest these truths, but more importantly play them out in action because that’s what loving hard looks like.
Hey, I know you love to read. But I have a weekly ten minute podcast if you want to be less angry in traffic.