By Elyane Youssef. August 18, 2015
Eleditor’s note: Elephant is a diverse community. We are reader-created. Many blogs here are experience and not fact or “The One Right Point of View.” We welcome all points of view, especially when offered with more sources and less invective, more frankness, and less PR.
Relationships are like jobs—we should be qualified to start one.
Sadly, most of us enter relationships with the intention of finding our other half or to put an end to the loneliness we are feeling.
The thing is, many of us change partners as often as we change our underwear. We jump from one relationship to another, without really examining our thoughts and emotions.
I truly believe that the most successful relationships are the ones where both partners have authentically worked on their own self-development. No games, no blaming, and no drama whatsoever. Just a genuine partnership where both parties know who they are and what they want.
In order to stop the cycle of failed relationships, we need to start working on ourselves.
Based on my own experience, I consider the principles below to be crucial in starting a successful, long-term relationship:
1. Love ourselves.
For years I heard the notion “to love others, you should love yourself first.” Frankly, I never really understood it, until recently. Loving ourselves signifies taking care of our own happiness. Relationships can be tough to maintain, and they often have a great deal of suffering included with them. Every relationship experiences some form of argument, which in return will unleash negativity. If we love ourselves, we try not to allow our negativity to affect us in a nonconstructive way. When we do this, we are indirectly reflecting our own light to our partner. We love ourselves, and we love our partners.
2. Understand ourselves and our emotions.
Entering a relationship and expecting the other person to offer us a better comprehension of ourselves is a false perception. No one will ever understand what we want better than ourselves.
Thus, before engaging in any sort of partnership, we should be able to figure out our needs and emotions. If we do, the relationship will be much easier for both parties. Our partner won’t have to guess the food we like, the position we prefer in sex, or the movies we like to watch.
Moreover, if we have a good awareness of our emotions, we guarantee stability in all sorts of situations. Whether after a fight or during intimacy, we will be emotionally stable.
3. Unlearn what we “know” about love.
The greatest mistake we make when entering a relationship is having a pre-existing mental list of what we know about love. Throughout the years, we unconsciously try to put this list into action, and this is when clashing between partners occurs.
This mental list is collected from love songs we listened to, movies we watched, and experiences we heard about. Some of them are engraved in our memory from our home or childhood. The mental list needn’t be positive. The things we know about love might be negative enough to throw our relationship right out the window.
Unlearn what you know about love before entering any relationship. Love is unpredictable and every love experience differs from the other.
4. Have no expectations.
In relationships, especially at the beginning, we draw a certain image in our heads of how the relationship will take course.
We have great expectations about how our partner will be as well. We expect certain behaviors and specific attitudes. However, when those expectations aren’t met, we may start fighting.
I truly believe that having expectations in a relationship—even after 20 years—is the unhealthiest form of loving. The fact is, we are beings who change by the second. Every day we are waking up a different person. In order to enter a healthy relationship, we must understand this perception. Our love for our partner shouldn’t be conditioned according to what we expect from them.
We should erase any image we have in our minds of our partner and solely live in the moment with them.
5. Give space.
It’s sad to see how relationships these days are developing. Partners are becoming so dependent they aren’t giving each other room to breathe. What they call love, I call habit and attachment.
If I were to give genuine advice to couples nowadays, I would ask them to remember how their attitude was at the beginning of the relationship, and strive to keep that in mind throughout the years.
At the start of every relationship, we are likely to be detached. This is why relationships that end after three or four months often don’t leave any emotional bruises in partners.
We should never fail to value ourselves—enjoying our own hobbies and our alone time. When we do this, the space we need to give will fall into place.
6. Be good.
Everyone’s good at the core of their being. But sadly, our basic goodness is obscured by our conditioning—especially when it comes to relationships.
We are good as long as our partner is good to us. But if the other cheats, does something wrong, or gets mad at us, we can turn into a monster in a flick of a switch. This is why some relationships involve so much fighting these days. When one partner goes mad, the other goes madder.
However, if we remember to strive to “be good,” we will succeed in decreasing fights and reflecting the goodness in our partner.
One thing is guaranteed in every relationship—something will go wrong.
The ability to forgive in our relationships is pivotal. If we can’t forgive the other, understand, and offer another chance, we will never be able to build a strong foundation.
We are humans and humans make mistakes. Forgiveness takes giving up on our beliefs and opinions and opens up to a sea of possibilities. Forgiveness means optimism and we must always be optimistic to succeed in our relationships.
8. Learn from past relationships.
No past relationship we were in was perfect—if we are not with that person today, then there was a reason that caused the ending of that partnership. Whatever reasons that existed back at that time, we should learn from them, but never carry them to the next relationship. Every person and experience is different.
Most of us fail to proceed with our partner because of delusions that we have created in our own heads. We subconsciously compare them to our past partner. When we do this, we are not allowing for the real being in our present partner to appear.
Relationships need hard work, and if we are not willing enough to work on them, we should not engage in a partnership.
If we do, however, we should also keep on focusing on our own self-improvement. It’s also helpful to write down principles we would like to keep throughout our relationship. Whenever we feel like drifting away, we can always read them again.
Most importantly, always remember that nobody’s perfect. Let’s just share our imperfections together in order to enjoy a healthy and long-term relationship.