“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
“You’re not in love with me, you’re in love with the idea of being in love.”
Kate (not her real name) and I had met online before Internet dating websites—let alone apps—were even a thing, and ours was a long-distance relationship.
She was only twenty-four and I was 24.
Initially bonding over our favorite musical artists, we soon found ourselves sharing all kinds of personal stuff with each other—first over AOL Instant Messenger, and then via countless hours on the telephone.
When I heard a familiar voice, I felt confused and startled. I only had a handful of photos of the face when I finally met her in person. It was shocking.
Nevertheless, we embarked upon a “real” relationship, in the flesh.
However, our incompatibilities became more apparent with each visit. Yet, it was impossible to deny our deep emotional intimacy.
Her declaration to me—“You’re not in love with me, you’re in love with the idea of being in love”—seemed harsh and unfair. Was she supposed to judge how I felt?
But, it had a certain ring of truth.
It was clear that I projected my deepest desires for love onto her and my dream of it becoming a reality. It wasn’t the first time I had done such a thing, nor would it be the last.
Intense as the relationship was, it ended abruptly with Kate. Although it became obvious that we were not meant to be together, the painful end result was one of disillusionment. It can be very painful to feel disillusioned.
As I learned to love myself better and became more aware of the importance of a healthy relationship, I was subject to more heartache over my relationship and dating life.
Eventually, at the age of thirty-three, I met the woman whom—seven years later, to the day—I would marry. It turns out that a loving, supportive, harmonious, long-lasting, compatible relationship can be achieved. Our happy marriage has been going strong for sixteen years. The last nine were as spouses.
My observation is that when it comes to relationships, there are “no rules”—meaning, almost anything and everything can happen within the dynamics of two human beings relating to each other.
There are absolutely no guarantees.
Many factors influence how and when we communicate with other people.
Since we have no control over another person’s feelings and choices, nor over what may happen to our beloved, relationships entail inherent risk and vulnerability. That’s the price of admission.
All of the above notwithstanding, here are seven key things I’ve learned, with experience as my teacher, that may help increase the chances of finding and maintaining a satisfying relationship with a partner long-term, if this is something you are seeking:
1. Be kind to yourself.
Loving and accepting yourself—flaws and imperfections as they are—is paramount. This is the best way for you to love and accept another person.
You can always grow and that is something to admire. However, everyone is still a work in progress. And that’s okay!
If we wait until we are “perfect” before we are willing to love and accept ourselves, we never will.
Sometimes it is normal to feel frustrated about yourself. However, you can choose to still love yourself. You can recognize and value the goodness in yourself and help others by doing what you can.
You don’t have to be perfect to be worthy of a loving relationship. Be the best “you” you can be and love yourself all along the way—not in a narcissistic sense, but rather in a self-compassionate one.
2. Find a partner who is “compatibly neurotic.”
You will get along best with someone who is what I like to call “compatibly neurotic.” By this I mean not necessarily someone who is neurotic in exactly the ways that you are (this might be a disaster!But, not someone with neuroses. CompatibleYours.
In other words: the aspects of them that may drive people crazy are something you find charming, and vice-versa. You appreciate each other’s quirks and can more or less gladly live with them because they are part of the whole person whom you treasure and adore.
3. It is vital to show mutual respect.
Although this is obvious, it should be noted. This is a key ingredient to a healthy relationship. This is a must for any healthy relationship. You have to show your admiration and respect for each other.
You are responsible for communicating to your partner your feelings of disrespect if they do not understand them. Own your feelings and express them as such—your feelings—without attacking the other person, passively or otherwise.
Your partner may feel disrespected by you. They must also communicate it to you. To end potential resentment, you want to do everything possible.
Don’t assume the other person is aware of how you are feeling. You should be able express your emotions and request what you need.
As far as I’m concerned, putting the other person down, especially in front of others, is a serious violation of respect that should be avoided at all costs.
My experience shows that mutual respect leads to a naturally occurring give-and-take. This happens with little effort.
4. Mutual interests are non-negotiable.
It should be obvious that you should both want the same things from a relationship. With each other only.
You might find the object of your desire to be attractive and kind. They might also share many similar values and interests as you. However, if the object of your interest is not interested or not available to you for the relationship you seek, then all other characteristics are lost. Not relevant. Although it is painful, this truth can be 100 percent.
Find someone who will help you move on. It isWho are you interested in? It isYou are appreciated and available. Don’t settle for anything less. It is better to be single than in a committed relationship that lacks this crucial component.
Mutual interest is non-negotiable, meaning it’s a must. It also means that it’s not something that can be negotiated into existence; it’s either there, or it’s not.
5. Get inspired by your relationships.
Your best teacher is your past relationships.
They help you clarify what you do and don’t want in a long-term partner. These sessions also help you to practice how to relate with other people. It is in the context of relationships that we often develop and refine important parts of ourselves.
All relationships are beneficial in this way.
Look back at your past relationships as part of the journey to finding the satisfying relationship that you desire.
Keep in mind that we tend to have far greater appreciation for that which doesn’t come easily, so if you have struggled in this realm, the potential reward awaiting you may be that much greater.
6. You are responsible for your happiness.
Realize that you—and only you—are responsible for your own happiness.
Partner or not? Do what you love, and make it meaningful. Yes, having a wonderful relationship can be one of life’s greatest joys and blessings. You are the only one who can and should make you happy. This is your job.
You can also cultivate strong friendships. These are all the things that I have already said.
Self-care is essential to your happiness. This includes setting boundaries that are healthy for you. Self-care, which includes self-respecting and loving yourself, is more likely to help you be a desirable and attractive partner to someone else.
7. Explorations are better than expectations.
Get out there and be yourself. You must meet new people if you hope to find a partner. Participate. Do your part. Make an effort. Keep your expectations low as possible.
Although every connection can be a chance to make a connection, you will never know where that connection might lead.
When things don’t work out with someone the way you had hoped, the healthiest thing to do is to presume that it is for the best. It is possible that you will be spared from any miseries. NotThis person is the one for you!
The best approach to looking for a partner in life is exploration, not expectation.
This can be a lot easier said than done –we are human, after all. However, the more you are able to approach all interactions with people as explorations (The person I am interested in seems very interesting. Do you think there might be a chance to connect?You will feel better if you are able to let go of your expectations regarding the value of a connection.
You must also take care of other areas in your life. Give yourself something to look forward too.
I had to struggle to master these seven lessons. Some of them were difficult to remember, others required repetition, while some are still things that I need to learn in a new setting. These lessons are essential for me to be able to relate well with my partner and other people.
“Kate” was part of my journey toward eventually finding the lasting and loving long-term relationship I craved, a mutually nourishing and highly compatible one in which both of us could grow and thrive.
It could be said that she was a teacher who helped me see this. I hope that I ultimately played the same “facilitator” role for her.
Eric Teplitz, a musician, writer, teacher and coach, is Eric Teplitz. Open to Greater Possibilities is his online course. Visit his website www.ericteplitz.com for more details and free videos.
Join the discussion To leave a comment, click here
Tiny Buddha published 7 lessons that may help you find a fulfilling long-term relationship.