– A Description (Not A Prescription!)
So many relationships, so little time. So many ways to ‘get it wrong’, to listen to fear not love, to not trust in the moment… Yes, I know a lot about how to do relationships – or rather, how not do do them!…
How to DO Relationships – Introduction
Okay, I’d like to share some thoughts with you about relationships – how to do relationships – as I see it now, some thirty years in to (mostly!) monogamous romantic relationships!
But I don’t want to make it personal to you, dear reader – who could be married, single, divorced, happy, sad, or whatever when it comes to relationships – so I’ll talk about the adventures of me instead, and let you notice whatever fits for you!
And when I talk about relationships, below, I could just so easily be talking about life or work or being a parent – all of these are done so much better with what I shall call ‘unconditional commitment’.
Please note: I don’t know everything about relationships, but I do know something.
So. Imagine I’m writing a letter to my younger self will you. Imagine I’m speaking with a paternal, loving and gentle voice. And imagine this is the wisdom I share with that younger Steve…
“How To Do Relationships, Steve!”
Okay, first thing to do is to lose the negative ‘self-talk’, mate.
Telling yourself “you’re so clumsy” (when you occasionally drop something) or “you’re so indecisive” (when you occasionally can’t make a decision) or “you’re so rubbish” (when you occasionally make a foolish mistake) does NOT help you.
Being kind and understanding to yourself, acknowledging that you’re a real life human being that’s allowed to be clumsy, sometimes, and indecisive is a much better, much more compassionate way to be (with everyone, including YOU). It means that when you do something foolish your immediate response is to laugh at yourself rather than to scold yourself!
This same kind of kindness is required whenever you talk about relationships.
So the expression “failed relationships” is unnecessary. And this isn’t some kind of daft political correctness, just a way to be kind to yourself. Okay, mate?
How To Do Relationships (We Continue)…
Now, now some more practical relationship-specific solutions:
1. Ask yourself why you want to be in a relationship!
And be honest here, because chances are some of your answers may well look like this…
– I don’t want to be lonely,
– I like sex,
– I want to be in a successful relationship, finally (like my friends or my siblings or my work colleagues)
A better answer might look like this
– I want to have fun with someone I love
Now ask yourself this question. And let the answers come to you, in the silence that follows…
2. When you know what you want you make better choices
Now when you really know what you want, and why you want it, you’re much more likely to make better choices.
Are you with me, Steve, here?
Which means, as a matter of interest, that you wouldn’t have had some of the relationships you had in the past. Not because the women you partnered with were ‘bad people’, just that they were not what you really wanted. You just thought they were.
But that’s okay, remember – you did what you knew how to do then. Now you know better…
Making better choices, now, makes the resulting relationships more fun, however long those relationship lasts!
3. Take your relationships less seriously
Stop wanting to control how things turn out. Stop thinking that something ‘bad’ might happen, if it all feels too good! Just stop thinking so much, period, and start experiencing and enjoying and being in the relationship.
Ups and downs are okay.
I mean that. Do you think lifetime partnerships don’t have ups and downs? Big ones, too? Nope. They just don’t take them as seriously as you, Steve, that’s all.
So stop being so precious about what happens in your relationship.
And definitely stop listening to “the voices” – either from inside your head, or from inside the heads of ‘friends who know better’. Relationships are not meant to be ‘thought about’, and ‘steered’, they’re meant to be experienced. A bit like life. Yes, always, always take life less seriously too!
4. Trust yourself more
Who can trust anyone, if they can’t trust themselves! (Steve, are you still listening, Steve? Steve?…)
Trust! Trust the relationship. Trust yourself. This doesn’t mean that everything will work out how you want all the time. It just means a) it’s more likely to (when you take the ‘pressure’ off) and b) you’ll be okay if it doesn’t.
And a great way to trust yourself is to fully commit to whatever it is that you’re doing. Especially relationships. Just go for it. Fully. With open heart, and open mind, and – just like in life – see what happens…
5. You are okay. So is she.
You are always okay. And so is your partner. You’re both doing the best you can, in the moment.
Now it just so happens if you follow steps 1. to 4. above then you are far more likely to encourage your (well-chosen) partner to do the same. Because, naturally, they’ve been getting into relationships for the wrong reasons, too, and they’ve been trying to control how things go the best way they know how, also.
That’s why relationships get messy sometimes. Jeez!
But once you relax, they relax. And two relaxed people – boy that makes for a fun relationship. And, then, it lasts as long as it lasts. Just like life.
Ain’t that cool, Steve, huh! Ain’t that cool…
How To Do Relationships: The Video Edition