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Having written extensively about healthy relationships, I believe seven simple steps will make it possible for you to have the best possible relationship. These are:
- There’s no substitute for good communication. Expecting your partner to read your mind and know your needs and feelings without you having to tell them is a recipe for disaster. Assuming that you know what’s in your partner’s head without them telling you is equally problematic. Both people should be clear about what they want, how they feel, and what doesn’t work for them. This is the only way to know if you’re compatible.
- You can’t change the other person. It’s hard to change, and people won’t do it unless they’re highly motivated. That being said, it takes a lot of time and effort to make significant changes. Assuming that you can get your partner to quickly and permanently alter some fundamental belief or ingrained behavior just because you want them to is setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment.
- You won’t be happy if you’re not genuine. Trying to be a different person to please your partner will result in resentment toward your partner and dissatisfaction with the relationship. If you put on a false front, you’ll exhaust yourself. If your partner doesn’t know the real you, you’ll never feel truly loved.
- Tolerating the unacceptable or settling for less doesn’t work. When you continually put up with behavior that upsets you or constantly settle for less than what you need, you’ll be miserable. You’ll never know if your partner is capable of giving you what you want unless you ask for it.
- A relationship can’t thrive without mutual respect. You can’t take your problems out on each-other. Being together is not an excuse for dumping on one-another. Treating your partner with respect will deepen the trust and the love between you, whereas disrespect will undermine these bonds.
- When you value yourself, you’re more likely to be valued. You can’t expect to be loved and respected if you don’t love and respect yourself. If you walk around with low self-esteem, you’re far more likely to attract losers who’ll want to exploit or mistreat you. When you’re confident and have good self-worth, you’ll attract happy, successful people who admire you and care about your well-being.
- A relationship can’t fix your emotional wounds or compensate for childhood losses. Your partner can’t heal you or complete you. You need to deal with the baggage from your past, or forever be doomed to re-enact painful scenes from your childhood and adolescence in your present relationship. Dealing with your past hurts and putting them behind you will free you to have an adult, empowered relationship in which two intact people come together to share their full lives with each-other.
If you follow these seven simple steps, you’ll increase your chances of having the most fulfilling, successful relationship possible.