Tips for a Good Relationship

Ahh! The stuff that dreams are made of.  The couple walking along the beach or playing in the ocean, always making sure to look each other in the eye.  The scenes in the commercial where they are laughing together about some joke no one has heard and only they will understand. This too can be yours if you fly to Jamaica, Brazil, Hawaii, stay at the Poconos, this B&B or that one.   There is even a book on “The Best Places to Kiss.”

Unfortunately, none of this will be yours unless you commit yourself to finding the partner of your dreams and stick with it. If you grew up in a one parent family, or one that divorced, were abused as a child, or faced some other trauma in childhood, not to mention having a parent with a mental illness or facing this yourself, finding the person of your dreams will not be easy.  Lets face it, the last sentence I wrote will pretty much cover most of us in this century. Luckily, we are in an age where going to see a psychotherapist is not considered taboo.  So the first tip I have, if you wish to find the right partner, deal with your inner struggles! If not, you will or probably already know that you will go through one horrible relationship after another.  You can’t have real love unless you feel it inside and are able to be in a relationship without being dependent on them for your satisfaction.  A partnership should be between two equals, not two very unhealthy people who lean on each other for support.

I know this sounds harsh and blunt but if you have been through a string of the wrong partners, isn’t it time to try something new?

Sex – Sure he looks cute and he has that je ne sais quoi when you look across the room.  Sex is always in French right?  Sex is a beautiful act between two consenting adults but it will have a lot more stability, trust, love and longevity when you don’t start a relationship based on sex.  The French guy is only good for one night stands, those memories of college, a rendez-vous in some swanky upscale hotel…elevator, or on the beach.  If you want to meet the right person for you, you have to take the time to get to know them.  This means sex comes later.  There is no timeline that I can give you because this will be based on your own personal clock.  How long will it take you to get a sense of whether or not this person is for real? On the contrary, I am not saying go out with someone who has no sex appeal.  You have to be interested in the person on some level.

Cocky Guy who all the girls go for – This could also apply to Hot Chick in reverse.  The person everyone else wants is not going to be your soul mate.  Not to mention, they don’t have to settle for one person because they can have anyone they want.  Now on the flip side, don’t not go out with someone, or talk to them because you think they are too cute for you.

First Date – The first time you go out with someone, make it somewhere simple like a coffee shop.  Someplace non-romantic, sterile, will everyone will be hanging out, the type of place where you don’t have to get dressed up and can just be yourself.  I am not saying go there dressed like a slob or without make-up.  I know this is a younger generation thing and it might work for you or your personality but if not, I mean dress casual smartly.  There is a way to wear jeans where you don’t look like you just came in from milking the cows!  If you have a first date in this type of atmosphere, you are more likely to get a sense of the person and determine whether or not you want to have a second.

Second Date – If by the time you finished the first date, you are interested in doing another, try something that is in both of your interests.  If you are both avid sports people, I’d say go for a long heavy-duty bike ride, climb a mountain, play tennis, take a yoga class.  This is because you will be so caught up in sportsmanship and very sweaty and dirty at the end.  Why is this important?  Because you have now seen the person at their worst.  You’ve seen how capable they are as a sports person and if they are decent as a human being.  If this sports person is ten miles ahead of you trying to be speed racer, they are probably not the relationship for you. If you fall down and they couldn’t be bothered, again…they are

Of course if you are not a sportsperson, than go for something else.  Maybe take a walk around a lake (non-demanding).  Go to a lecture or concert or museum, something where you will be sharing an interest that you both have.  If this person has the same interests but they demand you should love Picasso when you are into Degas, or expect you to tolerate a Christian Rock artist when you are Jewish, you will have a sense of their personality.  You see, the first date is a chance to see if there is more than just a cute guy across the room.  The second date is a chance to see what they are like in action.

Alcohol/Drugs – I definitely do not recommend either when you are on the first or second date because this is a red flag but it also takes away from your ability to pay attention and ask the right questions.  After the second date if you wish to take it to a more romantic level and go to a restaurant where you will have a drink this makes sense.  When you and your partner begin to engage in drink pay attention to their relationship to it.  Getting drunk is an obvious sign they are not the right person.  By now, after the two dates I set up for you, you two should be beyond concerns for appearances.  If they are touching the glass a little too much, playing with it, holding it across the table, you have to wonder.  This could mean they are dependent.  Don’t go there!  You don’t want to be a babysitter or an enabler. Trust your instincts.

Conversation – These tips are not in order, so you should have had one by now.  When you are talking to the other person, listen to what they are saying.  Really make a concerted effort to respect what they are saying, hear them and then respond.  It is so hard when a first date is one meant to impress in a fancy restaurant, that is why I say somewhere sterile and non-demanding.  If you can hear them and are caught up in the conversation you will enable your instincts to come out instead of your ego.  The instincts are that voice that comes out of nowhere, the ego is “Oh he is cute.” “I can’t wait to … him/her.”  The ego is always there but try to focus on the person.  It’s not hard if you have no expectations.  A healthy person can sit still and listen a lot longer than an unhealthy one.  Let the conversation go naturally.  I know people who think you should do lists, I’ve even offered this suggestion in the past.  Though I find that talking about whatever comes up, is more interesting.  If you have a hard time getting started, than go with something you know.  Don’t avoid religion, politics, age, any of the taboo topics, except sex.  Sex talks will take you down a path of no return – the end of the relationship and the beginning of a one night stand.  Like it or not, we still have standards about relationships and what people will and won’t do.  If you get the religion and politics out in the open, soon into a conversation, you can figure out whether this person is of interest to you or not.

Making Love – If you have made it to the stage of feeling ready to take off your clothes, you are probably so ready to do this you aren’t thinking straight.  Make sure you are practicing safe sex as well as using birth control.  Nothing kills the start of something great than finding out you are pregnant or have contracted some horrible disease.  Any adult who is having sex has no excuse for mistakes other than stupidity.  This is not the early 1900’s.  Making love is about two respecting consenting adults, that have fallen in love and who have had a talk prior to engaging.

This being said, making love will put you on the path of a wonderful relationship and it may not.  Intimacy is such an eye-opening experience and when you finally find out what the person is really, really like.  Suddenly there are pet peeves, strange behaviors, fetishes, demands and other items of interest that may (or may not) come up.  Of course you love this person and by now feel very close to them.  However, you can not change someone.  If you get to this stage and feel uncomfortable with anything that has occurred, you are not obligated to sign a lease.  Now of course if you have waited to get married, due to your religion or personal beliefs, this is an entirely different subject.  So, I am speaking of those who do not fit into this category.  I would also like to say that it is not YOUR fault if they have these oddities.  Don’t get caught up in sexual mind games.  It is sad when you have to leave a relationship after it has come to this level but it is even sadder for you when you put up with things for a long period of time – the definition of crazy (partaking in the same activity over and over again, hoping to get a different result).

I spend a lot of time on sex because let’s face it, this is a huge part of a relationship.  I spend a lot of time on the negativeness because if you were with the perfect person, you wouldn’t be reading this article (unless you are just checking to make sure you are right).

Is he/she the one? – After some time spent together examining your likes/dislikes, engaging in activities of interest, having sex and feeling so comfortable with this person that you are ready to take it to the next level.  My suggestion is that you make the offer in an intimate setting rather than going public and acting like a fool.  Yes, this is the age of reality tv and it appears to be fashionable to go sky diving over the words “Will you…” or putting it on a billboard, or taking a microphone in hand.  When you feel like doing something really annoying like this – don’t.  A marriage is a union between two people.  It is a privately held function and starting off where the most important decisions are forced in front of an audience is really a sign of what is to come.  I’d love to see the stats on how many of these marriages actually last but I will have to go with the one I know.  About half of marriages fail.  The stats from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (odd group to have this study) show 6.8/1,000 marry and 3.4/1,000 divorce.  Don’t be a statistic.  Take the time to prepare for marriage, don’t spend all your time focused on the wedding day.  In fact, spend as much time on the day after as you spend on popping the question and planning for the big day.  This is where I make my appeal for Pre-Marital Counseling.  I will assert that if more couples spent more time planning for the day after, instead of worrying only about one day, there would be less divorce. I will also assert that if you keep your marriage between the two of you, rather than turning it into a circus, you will have a longer and more private affair.  Remember the scene I described above of the couple who have that laugh that only they understand?  This won’t happen if your marriage is on television as a stand up act.

If you can begin with just these words of wisdom, than you have a good start to a healthy long-term love-affair, with the person you chose to spend your life with.  Any questions?

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