Relationship School

1348 Relax and Succeed - Relationship School

This fall I will be starting the latest round of my course, The Principles of Healthy Relationships. I won’t pretend to know who or what is right or wrong for someone else. But I do know that by learning how to clear our heads and change our perspectives, we can learn to more clearly see what defines a healthy relationship for us.

Each of us comes to our relationships with unique histories, unique circumstances and a unique personality. Those factors in turn lead us to date in unique ways and to create unique relationships. We even have unique breakups. And yet within us there is a certain consistency that we see emerge as patterns.

The differences between us derive from small differences in how we weight our values and our preferences, and our patterns emerge because those rarely change. But what is helpful is that we all share a set of helpful principles that we process our values and preferences with, and we can become conscious of that process.

We all know it’s possible for us to be attracted to certain kinds of unhealthy situations, and we often have the same conflicts with multiple partners, both of which are indications of the invisible set of rules we have been using in our relationships. Yet, we cannot function wisely within them if we’re not even sure what those rules and boundaries are, where they came from, or if they’re helpful.

It is possible for us to be more conscious of what we bring to a relationship, both in terms of how we foster them in healthy ways and how we unwittingly undermine them. Because we not only need to know how to find joy, we also need good strategies for how to manage our particular brands of trouble.

Every good relationship runs into problems –even serious ones. But the healthiest relationships succeed precisely because they have calmly thought out good strategies for dealing effectively with the patterns we create with our lives.

If we understand our Selves and how we truly operate, we are then able to tell the difference between when our ego is over-reacting, and when we have an issue that truly needs a healthy resolution.

By slowing our dating, relationship and breakup processes down, and by seeing them in new and insightful ways, it is much easier for us to find healthy new routes into better quality relationships.

1348 Relax and Succeed - Being single dating being in a relationship

If we’re single we can benefit from gaining a better understanding of the differences between solitude and loneliness. That way we can avoid both hiding from relationships, as well as being pushed into unhealthy ones. (It’s no surprise that we often make better choices when we’re feeling healthy and not under stress.)

If we’re dating, that’s often through websites which match qualities and interests, and yet people in good relationships will sometimes share those and other times not, so clearly those are not the secret. Qualities and interests are important, but in the end what we are with in a relationship is someone’s true character. Knowing how to recognize it early helps us to figure out much sooner if someone is destined to cross one of our relationship limits.

And if we’re in a relationship, or if we’re thinking about leaving one, we gain by establishing much more clearly what our personal needs really are, and why we are with the person we are with. This can can facilitate very helpful dialogue and can just as often lead to a beautiful relationship renewal as it can lead to a compassionate and healthy break-up.

Whether we avoid someone, unite with someone, sacrifice to stay with someone or decide leave someone, in any case our actions should be motivated by the same underlying principle: because that choice will lead to a greater quality of life.

We can share our lives with others and we do not have to surrender ourselves completely to do it. At least not all the time. But we do need to know where our own balance points are, and how those correspond to our partners or potential partners. Without that we can easily see things tumble.

No one is ever wrong or right for everyone, but finding who we’re right for is certainly much easier when we have a clearer and more principled idea of what it is we’re really looking for.

peace. s

Scott’s Top Other Perspectives 2014 #1

721 OPY Relax and Succeed - Be happy now

Because of the number of weeks involved I only have two top picks for favourite Other Perspectives or Friday Dose’s, and that was tricky because I really felt that last week’s winner (#41), and this week’s (#37) were no more deserving than #40, so I’ll include that link to it here in case you’d like to check it out too. In the end I chose #37 simply because it reflects one of the most common things I’m contacted about by 30 and 40 year old people—loneliness.


Winner: Scott’s Top
Other Perspectives of 2014 #1

peace. s

The Relationship Trap

Two things are happening simultaneously. We’re all getting more needy about individual relationships while we’re also feeling increasingly isolated and alone. This is largely because we live in a culture of “I” and that culture isn’t about creating a rewarding life, it was formed by capitalism to create wealth.

526 Relax and Succeed - Go have a good dayYou have taken in a fantastic amount of advertising in your lifetime and all of it has centered on you. It’s told you that your car is important, that your clothing and your phone are important, and that your life choices are important, including your romantic partner. Everything connected to you is important and advertising made a lot of promises about how great your life was going to be by honouring yourself with these worthy purchases. It would be the car and the phone and the beer and vacation choices that would lead you to your perfect mate. Right?

First off, that’s putting way too much pressure on the mate. You will never be anyone’s everything and they won’t ever be yours. That’s for posters for 14 year old girls walls. Relationships aren’t cosmic glue. Healthy ones are more like two fish choosing to swim alongside each other. In the real world we’re all just individual personalities cooperating to form a groups. Sometimes those groups are very large, and sometimes they are only two people. We named those two-person groups marriages, and because they have that name we expected them to last forever when in fact that may not be the healthiest choice for either individual. This is one of the many ways that we trap our humanity with words. Marriage becomes a corral that can variably be a safe haven or a hell hole depending on what’s happening.

526 Relax and Succeed - Dear heart fall in loveBecause we’re so individualistic, less and less do we see our groups as defining us. Cultures fade and change as people move around the globe and intermarriages happen. Instead we are defined by our partner. For many men it will be the woman’s beauty, and for many women it will be the man’s wealth or power or even beauty. So having no partner is a complete failure, and the better the partner is in advertising terms, the better you think your whole life will look. We can see this illustrated by the fact that people will say about a friend that they “could have done better.”

By what margin do we think we can judge a thing by just looking at it? What percentage of that relationship is visible? And so the value the individual sees in their own partner is seen as less important than the value their partner expresses to other people. So you’re not supposed to pick someone that brings happiness into your life, you’re supposed to pick someone that your friends will anoint as a “good catch.” It’s not about being happy. It’s about being seen to be successful.

Relationships do not define us. You can still have an important social life, sexual life and even be a parent and still not necessarily be in a relationship. Too many people have been convinced that there is a hole in their life that must be filled and that hole is singledom. There is nothing wrong with being single. You are not incomplete without a relationship but it will feel that way if you think that way. Whether it’s finances or housework or raising kids, if every time you do something you tell yourself how much easier it would be if you were with someone else, then that’s not an expression of a missing romantic relationship, it’s an expression that we’re tribal creatures that our lives that are too isolated from one another. You don’t need a person but you do need people.

526 Relax and Succeed - It does not do to dwellYour joy comes from inside of you. A relationship doesn’t turn on some faucet of happiness. If you weren’t happy without a relationship then the odds are overwhelming that you won’t be happy in one either. Because that’s where the pressure comes from; we think the happiness comes from the circumstances and not our attitude about those circumstances. So we change the external details and then we blame others when we don’t get magical results.

Stop thinking that your joy is a job away, a city away, relationship away. Happiness is an inside job and as long as you think that there is something missing there will always be a sense that something is missing. Fortunately, the same goes for feeling complete. So why don’t we all just do that instead? Because it’s the exact same motion we’re already doing, just in the opposite direction.

If you’re sad the great news is that you had a ton to do with you being sad. So all you have to do is understand how you did that, and then use the same skill to make yourself happy instead. And you definitely don’t need a relationship to accomplish that.

Now go have yourself an awesome day.

peace. s