When we begin a relationship, it’s called the honeymoon phase.
Everything is new, fresh, fun and full of energy. We are on our best behaviour so that we make the best possible impression and limit how much of our negative or dysfunctional sides surface.
But then reality kicks in. Our weaknesses emerge. We expose our true selves. Dysfunctional traits that we hid from our partner suddenly become obvious.
This is normal. In fact…it’s the honeymoon phase which isn’t. We behave abnormally at the start because of our desire to develop love in our lives. It’s also instinctual because the establishment of a relationship potentially ensures the survival of our genes.
Yet how we behave at the start of a relationship is a template for developing our ideal selves and an ideal relationship. If we can be more forgiving, patient and understanding, as well as less angry, authoritative and argumentative, then we should. That sounds like a more developed and therefore more desirable way to live, no matter who we ask.
So why do we eventually revert back to less developed aspects of ourselves?
Well, that’s who we are. When we’re put under pressure in life, which for some is a daily experience, our response is what we’re made of. In addition, how we think, feel and behave in our normal experiences is simply a reflection of our genuine selves.
What sets apart a good relationship from a great one is in many respects the capacity for each partner to maintain how they behave in the honeymoon phase. It is not just a developed partnership, but the developed qualities which are brought to the relationship by each partner.
What follows is a reflection on eight tips for developing a great relationship.
Tip Number 1
Every relationship has a power struggle (evidenced by arguments) which may be very subtle or very explicit. Those in great relationships understand that both parties each have their own strengths and weaknesses, which means each person is more powerful in different ways.
Not only does each person accept this, they admire, respect and support it. They certainly don’t fight it. They also equally share the power in the relationship and make the necessary sacrifices to do so.
Tip Number 2
Unfortunately, sometimes this power struggle can escalate into abusive behaviors, such as verbal, emotional and physical abuse. People who have great relationships on the other hand rarely abuse each other and they certainly don’t employ blackmail as a tactic either.
Communication is key in any relationship, however sometimes things can get quite heated. People in great relationships, therefore, learn to improve their argument, not raise their voice.
Tip Number 3
As stated above, communication is integral in any relationship. In great relationships, the communications are so clear and direct that there cannot be any confusion around how each partner thinks and feels. They stick to the point and don’t dwell on matters of the distant past.
The issues that each person has with their partner or the relationship in general are always open for discussion. Not only are the problems discussed, but they are validated, accepted, embraced and resolved. They are certainly not hidden in the background where they breed resentment and disgust.
Tip Number 4
Problems that great relationships do have are sometimes due to the mistakes and incompetence of either companion. Do you know what they do about it? They own it. They apologize. They make amends.
They rarely act stubbornly, nor do they deny their own shortcomings. If they do, they rectify it immediately. They take it as an opportunity to learn and grow, not fight and win.
Tip Number 5
We all have our own weaknesses, or areas that we could develop ourselves in. Nobody is immune, nobody is perfect. A great relationship is characterized by parties’ who understand their partner’s flaws and support them to become their new developed selves.
They are patient. They are empathetic. They are compassionate. They are assertively truthful to help guide the growth of each other. They learn and grow together.
Tip Number 6
It’s hard for anybody to accept their own weaknesses; however it is an inherent aspect to a great relationship, especially those traits which negatively impact each other. That means that each partner needs to listen, very carefully, to what each other says, otherwise they wont know how their behaviors are affecting their lover.
Active listening is therefore ultra important, because it implies that a validation process has occurred and that their views were accepted. Then they can go about the developmental process they need.
Tip Number 7
I can’t make this list without saying this: great relationships have great sex. Making love can be a divine and tantric experience, whilst making lust can be an animalistic art piece. Therefore, embracing both our love and lust capacities is integral to a great active relationship, because it captures the dynamics of our basic instincts.
Having sex is shared experience where you explore, expand and excite, but having it daily is not practical. At times you need a break but at others it’s a marathon. It should however balance out.
Note: if you feel tired or don’t feel up for it more than often, do whatever you need to do to ignite the fire and spark the fuck out of each other. That ignition is personal and changes with experience.
Tip Number 8
Good relationships are characterized by many beautiful and essential qualities such as honesty, trust, acceptance, responsibility, humor, laughter, forgiveness, love and respect, so of course they are part of great ones too. I discuss this more in the article ‘5 Hallmarks of a Healthy Relationship.’
Together, these virtues and the previous tips are a blueprint for a great relationship. To achieve all this, it takes significant focus, commitment and sacrifice by each individual, usually in interim relationships as we mature through our life experience. However, if you’re already with the love of your life, it is achievable, but it is a team effort.
After all, it takes two to tango.
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Author: Phil Watt
Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: via Howcheng at Wiki Commons
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