Relationships are hard. Finding somebody you want to spend time with can be difficult enough, but once that happens, you’ve got to deal with the task of maintenance: keeping things fresh, finding time for each other, and generally just coming up ways to navigate the tricky ups and downs every partnership faces.
1. Use relationships to teach you how to be whole within.
Relationships aren’t about having another person complete you, but coming to the relationship whole and sharing your life interdependently. By letting go of the romantic ideal of merging and becoming “one,” you learn to love the distances in relationship as much as the togetherness. Relying on each other is good, but not to the extent that you need them all the time. If this exists, then you probably feel a sense of suffocation in your relationship. And, if that’s the case, then you really do need to do something about it.
2. Accept your partner for who he or she really is.
The romantic tragedy occurs when you view the person you are in love with as a symbol of what they have come to represent, the idea of them. When you realize that more often than not you don’t really know your partner, you begin to discover who they are and how they change and evolve.
3. Be willing to learn from each other.
The key is to see the other as a mirror and learn from the reflection how you can be a better person. When you feel upset, rather than blame your partner and point fingers, remain awake to what has yet to be healed in yourself.
4. Get comfortable being alone.
In order to accept that love can’t rescue you from being alone, learn to spend time being with yourself. By feeling safe and secure to be on your own within the framework of relationship, you will feel more complete, happy, and whole. Don’t sit together when you’re going to have dinner. Instead, sit next to different people so that you can make conversation with them instead of just being involved with each other. This way, you’ll even have something to talk about later on. And this is a great opportunity for you to make new friends too. Win-win, eh?
5. Look closely at why a fight may begin.
Some couples create separateness by fighting and then making up over and over again. This allows you to continue the romantic trance, creating drama and avoiding real intimacy. If you become aware of what you fear about intimacy, you’ll have a better sense of why you’re fighting—and likely will fight far less.
6. Own who you are.
We generally grasp at romantic love because we’re yearning for something that is out of reach, something in another person that we don’t think we possess in ourselves. Unfortunately, when we finally get love, we discover that we didn’t get what we were looking for. Spend time reading or take up a dance class or a cooking class so that you have at least some set time for yourself. Tell your partner to do the same, in case they don’t know where to start either. If not a class, you can even volunteer somewhere. Whatever works best for you, just go for it. No time like the present!
True love only exists by loving yourself first. You can only get from another person what you’re willing to give yourself.
7. Embrace ordinariness.
After the fairy-dust start of a relationship ends, we discover ordinariness, and we often do everything we can to avoid it. The trick is to see that ordinariness can become the real “juice” of intimacy. The day-to-day loveliness of sharing life with a partner can, and does, become extraordinary.
8. Expand your heart.
One thing that unites us is that we all long to be happy. This happiness usually includes the desire to be close to someone in a loving way. To create real intimacy, get in touch with the spaciousness of your heart and bring awareness to what is good within you. Sometimes bad days and bad moods happen. Don’t go crazy trying to make everything better. Just be supportive and loving, because just being there at the end of a bad day can make it better for both of you.
It’s easier to recognize the good in your partner when you’re connected to the good in yourself.
9. Focus on giving love.
Genuine happiness is not about feeling good about ourselves because other people love us; it’s more about how well we have loved ourselves and others. The unintentional outcome of loving others more deeply is that we are loved more deeply.
10. Let go of expectations.
You may look to things such as romance and constant togetherness to fill a void in yourself. This will immediately cause suffering. If you unconsciously expect to receive love in certain ways to avoid giving that love to yourself, you will put your sense of security in someone else.
Draw upon your own inner-resources to offer love, attention, and nurture to yourself when you need it. Then you can let love come to you instead of putting expectations on what it needs to look like. You’re dating a human, not a magical psychic.
11. Create mini-traditions.
Creating small rituals can really help hold up a couple because they become “your thing.” Whether it’s a fancy night out during the holiday season, or watching a certain show every week, these are things that’ll give you both something to look forward to, and it’ll bring you closer together.
12. Compliment, and often.
You’re there to make each other feel like your best selves, so let the genuine praise flow freely. Like his outfit? Tell him! Like her hair today? Let her know!