Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Key to Every Successful Long-Term Relationship

The first step in any great relationship of any kind is being well-matched. If you are not well-matched, you may be able to survive together, but the odds of being happy together are slim to none. This is one of those “must read” issues, so dig in…

I hope this day is going as well for you today as it is for me. I usually force days into being productive, but today I’m not having to force it at all; things are falling into place like clockwork, mostly because my own thorough preparation is not being nullified by the lack of preparation or tardiness of others, and I truly live for days like this one. There is nothing that can get a man feeling like he rules the world like spending a whole day accomplishing task after task and having all plans come together!

Today I want to talk about something that seems to be so logical that it would be self-evident to all, but obviously is not practiced by many at all, the first and most important step in having a great relationship. That first step is in being well-matched to your partner. If you can’t say with authority that you and your partner are well-matched, you’re sitting on a time bomb.

Yes, some of you are right now saying, “Duh!” but others are saying, “but can’t you learn to love someone?” Here’s the real deal:

When you first meet someone, the emotion that pulls you together is either attraction or need (or in rare cases lust, but lust is seldom responsible for keeping two people together long enough to get married, unless they’re incredibly stupid), which are both independent of love; indeed, need is in fact mutually exclusive of love – you cannot love someone that you need, because need actually makes you resent them as the object of your dependence.

This in itself is a complex and difficult concept for most to embrace, and if you find yourself wanting to argue with it, read this article on Love, Attraction, Need, and Lust in this blog: http://makingherhappy.blogspot.com/2006/04/break-up-busting-101-love-attraction.html or skip to the similarly-titled section of “How to Be Attractive to the Woman You Love” and gain an effective understanding, because it is crucial. We’ll address need first because it’s easier to see, then we’ll get into attraction and love.

Need never develops into love, and sooner or later, the other person (unless they are hopelessly codependent) gets tired of neediness and moves on. There is nothing you can do about this, especially telling them that you need them and can’t live without them. That is the very thing that they are trying to get away from, and your fight for independence is going to take too long for them to wait around for you to complete it, if you can.

Most truly needy people, those who would be called parasites because they take from their partners without giving anything significant in return, spend their life moving from host to host because it’s just easier for them to find a new host than to evolve into a non-needy person of achievement and independence. Such a shame, when we are each born with everything that it takes to achieve. Yes, there are a few rare and genuine exceptions, but I’m going to digress for just a second to show you something…

The last time I bought tires for one of my vehicles, I went to the local wholesale club because they had excellent tires at a very good price and had always done a good job of mounting, balancing, etc. When I got there, I noticed a new face in the shop, a middle-aged man who only had one arm. I watched him in awe for over half an hour, because he was outpacing everyone else in the shop. He mounted and balanced four tires on each of two cars while a younger and seemingly more physically fit man took care of only my car. I don’t ever want to hear another person say that they can’t find a job, because if a one-armed man can get a job in a tire shop and run rings around men half his age doing a better job, achievement and gainful employment are an option for pretty much anybody.

I apologize for the digression, but that needed to be said, both for the sake of achievers who wonder if they are alone in the world and for non-achievers who think that they don’t have it in them; you do, so get to it.

Getting back on topic, in short, if the person you are with is telling you it’s over because you are too needy, take the hint and grow up, become self-supporting and self-sufficient, and you’ll find that people enjoy being around you for the long term. And no, if you’re needy and wussy, people don’t like having you around. You’re depressing at best and both annoying and draining at worst. People are just being polite as they tolerate you. Get a clue, pick yourself up, and get with the program. Somebody will throw a party in your honor.

But I digress again. Make no mistake, fighting this break-up is only going to make things worse, because you are severely mismatched; a chronically needy person cannot coexist with an independent person who resents neediness. You got away with it for awhile because you were somehow charming, physically attractive, wealthy, funny, or something, but now that the cat is out of the bag and it’s known that you’re a needy wuss, you have two options: find another host or evolve so that you can enjoy another’s company instead of needing it. It’s harsh, but it’s really just that simple.

Now, on to the more complex case, where attraction was the reason for you to come together. Once attraction has brought you together and you’ve had your initial episode of “carnal exploration and gratification,” there should be a period where you get to know each other, find that you have common interests, philosophies, values, etc., and come to value each other – love develops. This is the source of the friendship, respect, loyalty and commitment required for long-term relationships to survive, while attraction is where all the fun, excitement, and energy originates. There are several possible scenarios that arise from the various permutations of these two emotions between two people.

The most obvious two are having both love and attraction, in which case you can be together happily and feel like you’re in a never-ending honeymoon (the ideal situation, right? and it can be sustained for a lifetime if you are aware of its requirements and constituents, and we’ll get back to this in a few minutes), and having neither love nor attraction, after events have eliminated them both, in which case the relationship must end, because even though lost attraction can usually be easily rekindled, lost love just doesn’t happen. Peoples’ values and personalities just don’t naturally move radically away from some baseline and then go back there.

Now, the other two are a bit trickier to deal with. We’ll talk about the harder of the two first, the case in which love is lost but attraction survives. This is common when someone comes under tremendous pressure that they ultimately cannot handle, and they degrade themself somehow, becoming a loser, maybe a criminal or spouse abuser, and/or possibly a substance abuser, but they still project the personality traits that trip attraction triggers.

This would typically be a marriage that started out like a story book romance, but currently one spouse is drunk or high all the time after losing a loved one, a business, or career, etc. They have lost their self-love, self-esteem, and self-respect, but have still managed to somehow remain fun, funny, sexy, or something that holds the other spouse’s attention.

You can’t base a great relationship on nothing but sex, jokes, and parties, and you can’t “fix” somebody else. You’re only choices with such a relationship are to either get this person some professional help so that they can redeem themself or move on. Again, it sounds harsh, but statistically and historically, this is reality, and if they won’t get help, moving on is your only option; having once loved someone is no reason to go down with a sinking ship.

The last possibility is the one I like dealing with the most, where love is still alive and healthy, but attraction has failed. In the dating world, lost attraction nearly always means that you blew it and you just move on immediately, because the other person already has; the window for creating attraction opens once, and very briefly, period. However, when you’ve been together for long enough for attraction to fade, you develop a vested interest in keeping the relationship alive. You acquire memories, security, a mortgage and property, and usually children, which motivate you to try to work things out.

Hence, the window that closes in seconds in the dating world can be open for months or even years when you're committed. Write that down and commit it to memory, because it’s one of the most important things you have going for you in a troubled relationship. It can relieve some of the stress and anxiety and let you calm down a little and set to the business of problem-solving and effecting relationship repairs.

Men are generally pretty easy when it comes to attraction. We’re attracted mostly to physical appearance and seductive talk and actions, and if attraction is lost and must be recreated, women seldom have to do any more than correct whatever major issues have developed with their appearance, if any, and act like a woman.

Women aren’t so easy though. Physical appearance (except the projection of self-respect, which is VERY important) barely makes them curious, and that curiosity can be destroyed in an instant by any non-alpha male behavior, such as approval-seeking or trying to impress them, being lazy or boring, etc.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible, or even difficult, to rekindle it. Indeed, if you have the right information to work from, it has been proven to happen in less than a week to a sufficient degree to halt the signing of divorce papers already prepared and move an estranged spouse back into the house.

This is the failing relationship that you fight for, even if there has been an affair, because love is hard to find and to earn, and a physical affair – which virtually always happens out of boredom and means absolutely nothing unless you choose to assign meaning to it – is no reason whatsoever to abandon a proven love.

Yes, I said that, and I’m about to say it another way: a one-time physical “fling” that happened out of boredom is not proof of lost love, nor a sign of disloyalty or disrespect. It’s an unfortunate and very STUPID thing that happens when two people can’t or just don’t effectively communicate with each other and allow their attraction to fade, nothing more, and nothing less.

If you’re sitting on the couch with a beer and the TV remote every night while your partner is doing something else, and you’re part of that statistic that says that the average mature couple (mature meaning having been together, married or not, for two years or more) has sex six times per year (yes, that’s once every two months on average), trouble’s not just coming, it’s HERE!

The same thing goes for not coming home from the office until bed time five nights a week and then spending the weekend our with your friends instead of paying attention to your wife. And, there’s no sense waiting for it to get that bad before taking action; a good relationship is far easier to maintain than it is to fix if it gets broken, right?

What you need is a plan for evaluating and then fixing and/or maintaining it and the knowledge required to empower you to do that. Luckily for you, it’s already been figured out, tested, proven, and published, and it can be yours in the next few minutes.

It’s called “How to Be Attractive to the Woman You Love,” and it’s waiting for you at http://www.makingherhappy.com, fully guaranteed for less than the price of a good meal for two. Don’t make things rougher on yourself than they have to be by waiting. Do it now, and do it for keeps, because life is too short to do it any other way.

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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