Is he as happy as he was when you met? Is he as content, as secure emotionally? Are you?
The people around us should improve, if we are good for them. We should be enabling them to grow, to be secure and happy, to be of service to themselves and others.
When the drama builds, when the relationship doesn’t seem to be going anywhere ask “Am I getting more secure, more content, more sure of myself?” If the answer is “Yes!” then give the guy a hug, and skip this message.
So I assume there is a problem. Ideally, each day, each encounter with a significant other, should add another layer of trust, respect, of contentment. I won’t say much about ‘in a rut’ or ‘we aren’t growing’, since so many cosmetic companies, magazines, books, and professionals make a living shamelessly convincing ordinary, happy people that their lives are incomplete without *their* wonder product or advice. So being unhappy about being *just* content is a valid complaint, sometimes, but more often a problem is invented to sell a product. It gets difficult to separate the problems from the marketing debris.
The thing is, finding a ‘good’ mate is tough. The ideal prospect must be respectful, honest, honourable, and disciplined. And then we check to see if we actually *like* them! But it takes something else, too. Both we and the prospect have to be ‘trainable’. We have to be able to listen to feedback or criticism, and change our behaviour accordingly. Why? Because when we meet someone, we don’t air all our doubts and fears. As we get to know a person, we share more and more ‘ and never everything. As we learn more about a person, we need to add their concerns to ours. She is afraid of the dark? He must be aware of how many spare night light bulbs are in the kitchen drawer, and check the batteries in the flashlight in the bedroom. He has a temper? (See, she skipped the ‘disciplined’ check.) She has to adapt, if the problem is mild, or leave.
Most of our parents raised good kids. But the best parents, us, our parents, our grandparents, our great grandparents, we all have to learn parenting by what we grew up with (as we remember it), by what we learn from watching our kids, and by what we learn from books, friends, family, and media. And some of the things are dysfunctional. As we mature we have to learn to recognize the dysfunctional stuff we learned from our parents, and overcome it. We have to be trainable. And our mate has to be trainable, for that same reason. We all have to grow to be better people if we want love to last and to build a healthy life.
I don’t see love as a single emotion, reaction, or bond. There are several distinct physical parts, including (but not limited to! Lol!) the temporary attraction of sexual excitement where the pheromones and hormones are exchanged through shared breaths, kissing, and exchange of other .. well. There is a longer-term physical bonding that changes our bodies chemically to be more comfortable with a certain other person – this binds families, couples, and is a physical component of grief when we lose the person. In larger groups that interact less intimately or less often, we bond physically as groups at work, at play, at worship, or whatever other social gatherings we make a regular occurrence. There are legal bonds of marriage, rent contracts, and social obligation. And then emotional bonds that mingle and mix parts of everything. We find someone to be fond of, that we respect and come to know, and love happens.
But love happens seldom in any life. So we tend to skip essential steps, like associating with people of good character to improve the odds of being attracted to a good person. Like letting someone that isn’t appropriate, or who isn’t ready to rearrange their life, capture our attention and our affection. And we set the stage for drama.
So here are my five steps to reducing drama in relationships.
1) Pick a good prospect.
2) Be trainable, and expect him to be adaptable for important things. Know what is important, and what is insecurity speaking. Respect each other.
3) Be aware of how good he is for you, and whether you are good for him. Adapt or leave. Encourage feedback but avoid criticism and nagging. Verbal (‘I love you’) and physical (cuddling, eye contact and body language) shared endearments should be two-way (unless you are practicing the ‘three coins’ thing) but don’t expect equal numbers of expressions of emotion.
4) Don’t reward bad behaviour. Ever. Don’t let it slide, don’t overlook it, don’t accept it. Speak up and object.
5) A partner that is skilled at getting dates is seriously bad news. Whether they are only interested in new conquests, too ignorant to form or maintain a long term relationship, or are actual predators, they have developed a life skill that will work against a relationship. They will *never* stop picking up partners (i.e. ‘cheat’).
A word about rule number 2, trainable. Back when the concept of love was invented as a social expression, about 450 years ago (Italian renaissance), there came the ‘tests of love’. We still have these dangerous and manipulative practices. ‘If you love me, you would ..’ Fill in the blank ‘ ‘have sex’, ‘let me do whatever’, ‘buy me this’. This kind of thing shows a terrible lack of respect for a person, and is probably the beginning of the end of the relationship. Note the many thousands of years society developed, before we ever had ‘if you love me ..’ things. Go natural, and skip the courtly love deviations.
When you begin dating, you have some important tasks to accomplish during the date. First, is to establish the character of your mate-prospect. Next is to assure that your date enjoys the experience (we are talking fun here, on the order of petting a puppy, that kind of fun). And only then do we explore whether we feel an attraction. This order is important. If the prospect is deceitful or hurtful, doesn’t respect self or others ‘ bail quickly. If you don’t enjoy making your date comfortable and happy, then you aren’t a good prospect for them ‘ bail quickly. Some things will just never work. The attraction thing is physical. For the right person, mere time together will allow an attraction to grow.
If you skip perfumes and colognes and other strong smells, and your date does, they you can tell early on if you are attracted to the person. If you are attracted to the cosmetics, there is a risk you will be tempted (cheat, again) by anyone wearing that scent. And the same goes for your prospect, you want someone attracted to you, not the perfume you wear. Keep any scents subdued and under the radar. It is the rest of your life at risk. Making a good decision now is more important that ‘getting’ the wrong partner.
Check out Brad K’s blog – It’s About Making Babies!