How To Make Relationships Simple And Build Them To Last
When a relationship breaks up, there’s always a reason why. And often it’s not the reason the people in the relationship thought it broke.
This is why more second marriages end in divorce than first. It’s why more third marriages break than second. Because we aren’t getting better, with time, at our relationships…. We’re getting worse.
We don’t learn from our relationship mistakes because we don’t have an open and honest culture so we can understand what happened and why.
Instead we feel bad about the relationship ending, we put it down to our partner being an arsehole, cheating, incompatibility or growing apart and go off looking for our mythical one.
We lick our wounds and pick up the pieces find another, cross our fingers and hope it will all work out this time.
Mostly, it doesn’t. Mostly, we repeat our mistakes. Or we make the complete opposite. Or a very different set of mistakes.
Don’t worry. It’s not you. It’s the story we’ve been told about relationships that sets us up for failure. In the next few minutes I’m going to unravel the problem and explain how you can break free of it.
Now of course every relationship is unique. Each relationship you have is different because the relationship is the bond between two unique people.
However, while every person is unique, we all need oxygen, water, food, love and attention. In the same way every relationship needs certain nutrients. Every individual has to deal with challenges with finances, friendships and health. In the same way, every relationship has challenges with differences over sex, money, and boundaries.
The relationship is unique, but the dynamics underlying the relationship are universal. So when I was working with people who wanted to talk about their relationships, I kept seeing the same problems over and over again.
The Search for an answer
Over the last three decades I have seen the same few problems showing up in various forms. And yet everyone thought they were the only person who had ever struggled with these issues. So two or three years ago, I dedicated myself to solving the problem of relationships.
So two years ago I began working with groups of people where they could open up and talk honestly about their relationship issues and we’d work to help find them solutions.
It wasn’t like everyone had a particular problem. Often people would have entirely different problems across different relationships. I realised sitting in one of these groups that I needed to build a pathway that anyone could follow that would give innoculations against these problems.
Over the next few months I pieced together the building blocks that determine the strength or weakness of a relationship. And now I have a complete system that almost guarantees a quality relationship that lasts.
I say almost because of course there is never 100% certainty in anything in life. You can’t control all of the variables and so you cannot have certainty. Childhood vaccinations are effective 85 – 95% of the time. But that’s enough to drastically impact child mortality. In the same way, having these building blocks in place dramatically increases the odds of your next relationship being the most satisfying and lasting relationship.
More than this, you’re developing the skills to know that you can follow the process and build a relationship that lasts again. This is important. I have seen many people who were devastated after a breakup or after the death of their partner and they have no idea of how to pick up the pieces.
This is why it is so important to know that all the parts of a relationship from a breakup to picking up the pieces to preparing for a relationship to dating to building a relationship to deepening and maintaining a relationship are skills.
No-one is born with these. Some people from luck or skill happen to make it work early on. Most of us don’t. Here’s the knowledge you need so you don’t have to rely on luck…
The Two Keys To Lasting love
Relationships seem overwhelming because there’s so many factors to try and keep a grip on.
Often people are chasing the relationship and trying to make it work because they’re so attracted to the person. Sometimes people feel so anxious that they can’t find another partner, or that no relationship is going to work for them, that they cling to whatever they have and settle for less.
Both of these are starting the process handicapped because they haven’t done the foundational work that is going to prepare them for a successful relationship.
The key factor that’s going to determine your success in relationships is quality. Quality means it meets your needs. We get into a relationship because we have certain needs. To love and be loved. Connection. Support. Companionship. Sex and intimacy.
Of course, that seems obvious. But the bit that trips many people up is that some of the most toxic and damaging relationships seemed to meet all those needs. The Narcissist hooks their victim by going overboard on meeting their needs.
The problem is that, they’re doing it as a short term ploy to get a lifetime return. And so when they want their payback it leads to manipulation, control and abuse.
In the same way people who are trying to force a relationship to work give so much to make it better. Sooner or later though, they run out of steam and the relationship crashes.
So the critical measure to add to quality is enduring. Anyone can have a short term relationship that is bliss during the honeymoon stage. The test is when lust fades and when what was sweet and endearing becomes annoying. Is the relationship still amazing then?
That is how you judge quality. How it meets your needs and how sustainable it is.
Most of us want to find our right one that we can build a relationship that lasts with. This is the roadmap to that.
Great Relationships Are Built - Step By Step. Here's How...
People often act as if relationships just happen. But the truth is that relationships need certain ingredients in order to last. And if those reserves aren’t available when needed, the relationship is vulnerable to collapsing.
If you want a happy, healthy and lasting relationship this is the pathway to making it work. This isn’t my theory of how relationships should be. It is a long analysis of how do you eliminate all the minefields and pitfalls. How do you build on the research and understandings of what works.
This pathway is just the simplest and most effective route to a relationship that works – and lasts.
Not every successful relationship has been built in this exact sequence, but this pathway is the best insurance that your relationship will work and last.
The Seven Levels of Relationship Quality
The path to a happy and lasting relationship is a journey of acquiring certain skills.
First, there’s the skill of being happy in yourself so that you’re not launching into relationships from neediness or to avoid your own issues. Which is a ticking timebomb for the relationship.
Second, there’s the skill of understanding how relationships work so you are not constantly wondering is this right, a red flag or understandable. Not knowing these dynamics means you drift into relationships that end up unsatisfying.
Next is the skill of knowing you can find and choose a quality partner. Not being able to attract a partner will make you desperate or overanxious in the relationship. Choosing bad ones means the relationship is never going to work out well.
The next couple of skills are in building the relationship. In the same way as you build the structure of a house and then decorate to create the climate you have to do the same with a relationship.
When you do all these to a high level, the natural result is a relationship that works for both parties without either having to work excessively hard. And so it’s sustainable.
Your Key To Relationship Success
The key to success in anything is focus.
As the proverb tells us, if you chase two rabbits you’ll lose both. And that’s what happens in relationships, we try to balance too many spinning plates.
We achieve success by making it simple. One task to complete at a time.
You just have to know where you are on the pathway and what task you have to achieve.
The Built to last relationship Pathway
There are 12 building blocks to a relationship. When one or more of these are weak or lacking, the foundation of the relationship is compromised. Like a weak spot in a building it may lie dormant and unnoticed for years. But over time wear and tear will erode it’s support. Or when a storm comes that puts enough pressure on the structure it will give way. And the relationship may collapse under the stress.
The way to ensure a relationship is built to last is to build it with a strong foundation. Because over a lifetime, every relationship has storms and enough wear and tear to test the foundations. You have to make sure that the relationship is prepared for them.
The alternative is to do what everyone else does. Fall in love with the person during the honeymoon period. Believe that things will never change. Ignore the little problems and hope that they’ll go away.
I’ve seen how that ends again and again.
It ends with bitterness and acrimony. It ends with one partner pulling the rug from the other. It ends with one partner cheating. It ends with you sitting next to your partner one day wondering how someone you loved and was so close to could now feel so distant.
If you want your next relationship to last… or at least drastically increase the odds that it will. These are the 12 building blocks you have to put in place.
Dump The Baggage And Start With A Clean Slate
Relationships get smothered because people haven’t healed from their past. They don’t trust because of the sins of their Ex. Because they jumped into a relationship for the wrong reasons. Because they were scared to be alone. To show their Ex.
You have to heal your wounds and be emotionally ready for the relationship. Relationships are difficult. They have a tide that can pull us out of our depth and you have to be strong enough to be ready for that. The relationship has to be the right relationship for you and not just the next bus that came along.
Know Yourself and Accept Yourself As You Are
Relationships implode because one of the partners is insecure or emotionally volatile. Relationships crumble because one partner wants to please the other… until they wake up one day resentful and bitter. A relationship has to meet both partner’s needs otherwise it is unsustainable.
Your relationship with yourself is the template for all other relationships. You will never feel more loved by another than you can accept you deserve. You have to feel worthy before you demand to be treated in the way that you want to be.
Be Happy Alone
This sounds like a platitude we say to appease people feeling lonely, but it is at the foundation of a healthy relationship. The most basic desire is to feel good. When we don’t feel good, everything we do is to change that feeling. We buy stuff we don’t need to try to change that feeling. We eat what we don’t need to feel comfort. We drink, have sex, post on social media to fill a gap. And when we’re in a relationship we take from the relationship to change how we feel. We create unneccessary dramas. We feel insecure. We demand more of our partner. Or we feel unhappy with our partner and look outside of the relationship. And eventually this breaks the relationship.
Accepting that you need to be the source of your happiness doesn’t mean you have to swear off relationships until you’ve spent years meditating and found the long lost secret to eternal bliss. It just means you have to take responsibility for your own happiness. Then your happiness gives to the relationship and strengthens it.
Clear Communication and Expectations
The biggest single breaker of relationships is the universal framework we have been given by our culture. It leads to unrealistic expectations and a complete lack of awareness of how to make a relationship work. Over time this creates friction between the couple and erodes the connection so they become distant. Resentments creep in and love turns into bitterness. Eventually, they lose interest in the relationship, blame each other or look for solace outside of the relationship.
We have to recognise that the model we have been given of relationships doesn’t work. We have to work from a new framework and build relationships on truth. We have to make relationships simple. Relationships are only complex because we are not clear. We aren’t clear because we are not emotionally ready to speak our truth. Once we develop our personal foundations, have a clear understanding of relationship dynamics and build from the truth, the rest is simple.
Understand Sex and Gender Differences
As a generalisation, men and women have very different attitudes and approaches to relationships and sex. Much as we would like the world to be fair and equal and however many politically correct laws we put in, there are dramatic differences. Because it doesn’t matter if everyone changed tomorrow. We have still grown up twenty, thirty or more years in a patriachal system. There are millenias of conditioning that is deeply embedded in our language and structures that isn’t going to change most people in our lifetime. Men typically treat women and men and women treat men as women. This leads to conflict and partners feeling unloved.
The 5 love languages was a good start to understanding individual differences. However there are many more we need to understand. Knowing gender differences can help us overcome the frustrations of working from different motivations and goals in a relationship. Sex is one of the big issues in relationships, but problems arise at a much deeper level than just differing libidos. The most successful relationship strategy is to make your partner feel the best they can. But to do that you have to know how.
One of the biggest side effects of our cultural framework of relationships is that we feel relationships should just happen. We believe that fate will deliver our partner while we’re going about our business. The birds will sing and the gods will make it happen. When we do try to meet someone or to change our relationship it is half-hearted or without a clear workable strategy.
Relationships are something we achieve, not a matter of chance. Anyone can have a relationship, but it takes skill and character to make it work. Understanding the skills and qualities you need mean you have a recipe you can recreate. Then like a cake you bake, the outcome is down to how diligently you follow the recipe.
Begin With The End In Mind
Most relationships begin with a flurry of hormones and excitement. The relationship is passionate, fun and exciting. You feel butterflies and crave to be together. Ten years later though, all the magic has gone and the same things you once loved are now ‘incompatibilities’. The reality was that you let the excitement carry you along. Nothing wrong with enjoying the moment and the romance. The problem is that when it fizzles out, you can end up stranded somewhere lost.
It’s great to enjoy the early passion and romance of a new relationship. But you have to know what you want from a relationship. Otherwise you are going to wake up in a few years and find the relationship doesn’t work for you – or your partner. Many relationships with fun, passionate and exciting people end up being disasters because what’s fun in the first six months may be reckless or childish ten years later. When you are clear what you want from a longer term relationship you can distinguish between a fun fling and a potential partner.
Choose Your Partner
Dating is a set of skills many people never take the time to acquire. So they jump into a relationship too soon because they haven’t dated enough or because they just want to get off the dating treadmill. They convince themselves that their partner will grow on them or is going to be a good partner. But then years later they’re unhappy because they weren’t right for them. And if they’ve never gained the confidence that they can always build another relationship they will be tempted to stay in an unsatisfying relationship because they’re scared the alternative is worse. I’ve seen people staying in an abusive relationship because they thought the alternative was to be alone. This is at the time when there has never been more access to single people of all ages.
Filter To The One
People choose their partners because they were tall, good looking, had a good job, weren’t like their Ex or are good with kids. There’s lots of random reasons that lead us to who we get into a relationship with. But if we don’t map the qualities of the one we choose to the relationship we need, then we end up in a relationship with someone that lacks the ability to give us the feelings we crave. This is a recipe for a breakup.
What matters in developing a long term relationship are the qualities that will bring us the relationship we want. If you crave someone physically that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a short romance with them. But don’t fool yourself that their looks or figure are going to make you happy in 20 years time. Romance and enjoying the excitement of a fresh relationship are great, but you have to distinguish between short term and long term gratification. Otherwise you’re going to have lots of exciting shorter relationships and lots of heartache.