Elements of a Successful Relationship, part 1
Romantic relationships are in full failure mode these days. Almost everybody, except for me, is divorced. On a personal note, I really can’t think of any of my male friends, except for one, that isn’t divorced and at the time of writing this, he’s engaged and I truly hope that his marriage lasts him until he dies. Going back to the point at hand, men are noping out of marriage and I even just saw a meme where a man is holding a wedding ring and asking “how much for the torture device?” More and more men are seeing marriage as a prison sentence and a burden. Data all across the western world is showing that less and less men are wanting to get married. Honestly, I think more men would get married if they didn’t have the consequences of divorce hovering around. The threat is real, guys, family court is a roll of the dice and in the worst cases, they will not give you mercy so you have to be smart.
Why are so many relationships falling apart? Why is there so much divorce? Relationships in 2019 are a disaster. Frankly, people have become more codependent and tend to take responsibility for how their partner acts and feels, which results in a lot of blaming going around. There are lots of patterns that people fall into that will cause the relationship to fall apart, which is why it’s extremely important for you to be deliberate and purposeful in your approach in your relationship. There are winning strategies and there are losing strategies. You should definitely push the winning strategies. If your partner resists them, then perhaps you’re with the wrong partner.
The Wrong Partner
I tell young people all of the time that everybody goes through bad relationships. I even argue that we have to go through the bad relationships if we expect to find really good ones. Just like everything else, there is a relationship learning curve and you have to fall on your face a few times before you learn your valuable lessons. It’s quite common, however, for people to never learn from their mistakes and for them to stay with the wrong partners. This goes both ways, by the way. Men pick bad women to stay with and vice versa and I contend that when people stay with the wrong partner, it reinforces bad behavior in people. Why would they change if they can still find people willing to be with them?
Different people have different attitudes and approaches when it comes to relationships. I believe that there are two main types of dispositions – fear-based and courage based. What kind of disposition does your partner have? Are they defensive? Do they see you as someone that’s trying to take advantage of them or exploit them? Do they treat it like something that they have to win? Do they treat relationships like a power struggle? Do they treat their relationship like they always need to keep the upper hand? Do they put unrealistic expectations on their relationship? Do they do a whole lot of taking and not a lot of giving? Are they hyper-focused on blaming instead of seeking solutions? Do they always default to worst-case scenarios? All of this describes someone who has a fear-based disposition.
I could keep listing things but I hope that I have already painted a fairly accurate picture. There are just certain people in the world that treat relationships and partners with hostility and mistrust. It’s really pretty easy to see all of this. The hard part is having the courage and self-respect to walk away. So what are some of the elements of successful relationships? Let’s talk about some of the elements for a courage based disposition though there are going to be multiple installments to courage based relationship traits.
Good partners seek mutual and equal benefit. They see a relationship as a partnership and treat you like an ally instead of an enemy. Lopsided relationships fail most of the time and when people remain together the relationship isn’t a successful one. Staying together is not necessarily the definition of successful. There are plenty of people out there that stay in relationships that are full of resentment and mistrust.
One of my basic principles in life and relationships is mutual respect. As a basic relationship screening method, I treat everybody with respect and some people are disrespectful in return. If you treat anybody, especially a potential partner with respect and they are disrespectful back to you, the red flag couldn’t be any more obvious. But it goes way beyond this simple exchange of respect. Good partners seek to give respect first knowing that they will get it back. Mutual respect, in my book, means that in order to have trust, you must be trustworthy. If you want generosity, you have to give it. If you want your partner to be patient with you, you must be patient. And so on. There are a lot of people that treat relationships in such a way that they need to take what they can get out of the situation while the getting is good. Avoid these people as much as you can. Look for someone that seeks mutual respect and benefit in relationships.
Successful couples have good sex. Unsuccessful couples don’t. But what is the definition of “good sex?” This is honestly going to vary from couple to couple but some of the elements include the couple feeling closeness, a sense of bonding and love from the experience. It’s exciting for both of them, it feels adventurous and exhilarating. Sex is a highly vulnerable experience and it can breed resentment and mistrust if people feel manipulated into doing it. Bad sex is when people engage because of manipulation or they use sex as a way to gain leverage. I couldn’t possibly begin to count the number of guys that have reported that their partner withholds sex as a way to gain some kind of control in the relationship or as some kind of form of punishment. Successful couples just have good sex without all of the extra baggage and power struggling that comes from it. If your partner uses sex as a leveraging tool against you, you might be with the wrong partner.
There are wrong reasons to have sex but the right reasons are to connect, love, bond and be close. Good sex is the super glue that holds relationships together. Women want good sex and if they tell you that they don’t, you are definitely with the wrong partner as we have seen, many times, women telling their partner that they don’t like sex but are being promiscuous with other men. If you have a bad sex life with your partner, I’m sorry to say that your chances of having long term success are slim. If she’s not willing to recognize the importance of good sex in a relationship and isn’t willing to work on improving it, it may be time to rip the band-aid off and stop prolonging the agony. Life is short, don’t waste your precious years with someone who doesn’t want to touch you.
Successful couples communicate effectively. Don’t get me wrong, every couple fights and it’s really important to know what kind of fighter your partner is. More importantly, how well are you able to resolve conflicts? Do arguments and fights result in a stronger relationship and really awesome makeup sex or is this a completely foreign concept? When arguments happen is it a time to fire all missiles and carpet bombing? Have you learned to resolve conflict and does your partner seek to do the same thing?
Conflicts can make relationships stronger. Much stronger. Successful couples are able to ride through the hard parts together and come out stronger on the other side. Couples that fail are the ones in which people throw each other under the bus out of a sense of self-preservation. Successful couples exercise mutual respect even when they are fighting. They don’t fight dirty, they don’t go for the low blows and they don’t seek retaliation.
The Most Effective and Underrated Relationship Skill
Take a moment and ask yourself what you think the most effective and important relationship skill is? What is the most vital and the most useful thing that couples can do to help ensure relationship success? I think a lot of people would say communication but I don’t believe that it is communication itself. I believe that there is one relationship skill that will tear down the walls and build bridges. I’m going to write a different and more comprehensive article on it so make sure that you subscribe to our newsletter so that you don’t miss it. For the time being, I will just give a teaser. It’s personal accountability.