A loving relationship with someone can be one of the most fulfilling things in life. Our relationships give us a purpose, give us meaning, help us fulfill our needs and desires, and help us feel supported, accepted, and loved.
This type of fulfilling relationship can sometimes be more difficult to find, in comparison to the many acquaintances and more shallow interactions we all have with humanity on a day to day basis, and when something like this is found between two people, whether its romantic or just a genuine friendship, it is cherished by both people as something very special.
However, relationships are not always a walk in the park. And more often than not, the benefits of having a real, genuine relationship do not come by luck.
They come through how the relationship is handled, what regard is shared between two people, how vulnerable and accepted one can feel in the relationship, and how able two parties are able to communicate their needs and desires with each other and manage to have those met.
Relationships can be work; even hard work. When I was younger I used to have a very uninformed belief that a relationship with the “right” person should happen easily, that both people should be able to naturally get along, have fun, be close to each other, and move through life as a team.
Related article: How to tell if your relationships are strong.
This does happen sometimes for certain lucky people, but I couldn’t have found this belief of mine to be more wrong (and not to mention detrimental to my potentially beautiful and priceless relationships with others).
- A close, truly loving relationship is priceless.
- It is one of those things that we all want, that we all crave at a very deep level.
- And it is worth hard work.
- It is my hope that you find these tips to be very helpful in building, sustaining, or even healing a relationship that means the world to you , whether it’s with an old friend, a new friend, a family member, or the one you are madly in love with.
. Realize the Full Potential of a Relationship.
Yes, there are many purposes for two people to meet together and spend time with each other.
- It could be because each person simply has something that the other person wants, and it could be because both people are attracted to each other.
- It could also be because of shared interests or goals, or even because of certain societal obligations (ie: because you’re family, or coworkers).
But ultimately our deepest desire is to be intimately close to someone. We desire to be accepted exactly as we are at a very deep level.
Paradoxically, even though we as humans fall very short of the bar in being able to be unconditionally loving, we still seem to know and crave unconditional love at our core.
We want to be accepted in all ways, in all states of mind, through all emotions, through our choices in life, our mistakes, strengths, and weaknesses.
It’s a tall order! Knowing that what we crave so deeply within ourselves is not always something that another human being can simply serve up because we want it from them is important to understand, especially in very intimate relationships.
It’s also very helpful and important for us to understand that in all this love we are craving, in our deepest heart of heart, what we are looking for is HEALING.
In the deep love that we seek for, we are craving that one thing that can truly heal all the hurts, pains, and frustrations of living as a human, from birth, through childhood, to now.
We even desire to be healed beyond the human level, to not only be with someone who loves, forgives, and accepts all the baggage we’ve accumulated in our life, but to even be so close to someone that we can safely become one with them, to merge so closely that the edges between “you and me” blur.
Yet, again paradoxically, we also desperately crave to be able to do this without losing our own individual identity. Again, not the easiest thing to do!
But understanding this helps a lot! Also understanding that neither ourselves nor anyone else is really able to perfectly do this is very important as well.
Really, how crazy is it to want to be at one with someone, and to also very distinctly not be at one with them at the same time?
- It’s about as crazy as a spiritual being that is at one with everything perceiving that they are separate from everything.
- It is the hand we are dealt in this experience of life as it is right now.
Though it is not always possible to completely fulfill these deep desires, it is possible, through communication, and understanding, to very deeply fulfill these desires, and to establish the purpose of a relationship as that of healing.
It is really quite an honor when you think about it, and it’s very amazing to realize that to be in a relationship with someone puts you in a place where you can help the person you love so much to heal in a way that almost nobody else can.
This is the highest, most conscious function of a close relationship.
As you learn to practice this type of intention with someone else, you begin to find that there are some wounds that both of you carry that can be healed much more effectively with the help of someone else than alone.
A very intimate type of dependence grows and both strengthens trust and deepens compassion.
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2. Learn How to Make Your Loved One Feel Understood.
We all want to be understood. In struggling and failed relationships, one of the biggest things that people will complain about is that they don’t feel understood. I think most of us can relate to this feeling.
How understood we feel designates a lot of how close we are able to be with another person.
Being unable to be understood is also a leading cause of emotional pain, frustration, and disharmony in a relationship. It’s the root of all arguments, bitterness, and disagreement.
In a close relationship sometimes listening is not enough. Sometimes even active listening is not enough. And sometimes even if you think you understand, your partner still does not feel understood, or doesn’t have any way of knowing that you understand.
When it comes to important, emotionally charged issues, it is crucial that two people are able to bridge the gap and genuinely be on the same page of understanding.
This basic technique can be used to have important conversations, to handle arguments or disagreements, to find out exactly what your partner needs, or to even heal deep-seated problems of pain from the past:
Commit to letting your loved one tell you how they feel and why they feel the way they feel. Assure them that you are not going to interject, argue, or jump to any conclusions before they are completely done telling you what’s on their mind.
Even if you have the strongest desire to correct them, disagree with them, let them talk from start to finish.
Repeat it Back to Them.
After they are completely done talking, ask them to help you clarify your own understanding. You can say “So from what I’m hearing, and how I understand it, you feel _________, because of ________. Am I correct?"
If you do not get their agreement that you get it, ask them to continue to explain, and keep asking until both of you have agreed that you understand. If you feel that something is still missing, you can always ask another question “Is there anything else that I am missing?” or “Is there anything else that I should know, that I’m still not quite understanding?”
This is one of the missing gold nuggets in important conversations, especially in intimate relationships. Even two people who are spending their lives together, that have similar world viewpoints have intricately unique and individual ways of perceiving things. People do not emotionally or intellectually process everything the same, and it is so easy for us to assume that others (especially those we are close to) see things the same way as we do.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth, and this is a big reason why people who care a lot about each other can have such difficulty resolving disagreements.
By asking, and making sure that you both feel like their perception is understood, you are throwing out the arrogant assumption that you know what your friend/partner is thinking, how they feel, or why they are acting the way they are acting.
This cuts through the crap and gets you both on the same page.
Validate Their Perception.
The person talking to you has just shared a very deep part of themselves, and has agreed to be vulnerable and honest with you. Now it is very important that their perception and their feelings are validated.
This does NOT mean that you have to agree with them!
This is where we must remember that each individual perceives things differently, and that we don’t have to see things the same for us to get along, find solutions, and love each other.
You can still validate that they are not crazy, or stupid, or wrong for seeing things they way they do, or feeling the way they do.
You can say, “I can see how you would feel that way”, or “That makes sense for you to come to that conclusion, even though I didn’t come to the same”.
Hint: Even if it REALLY doesn’t make sense to you, and you are struggling not to scream how wrong you think they are, doing this is going to save a great deal of pain.
Do your best to let their perception be valid, and if you can’t, verbally acknowledge it anyways, and as you continue to hold this relationship in this way, their perception and the way they see life will reveal itself to you. If you shut it down by not letting someone else’s experience be valid, they are unable to be vulnerable and honest with you, and the full potential of the relationship is inevitably going to be damaged.
Now it is time to acknowledge their feelings, and to open up to feeling their pain. Some people are more naturally empathetic than others, and some struggle with it.
Even if empathizing doesn’t come naturally, you can learn how to give someone empathy through practice, and through the sincere desire to try to put yourself in their shoes.
An example of how to empathize with someone is to possibly reach out and touch them in a loving way, and to make a statement like, “I can only imagine how that must have felt.” or “I can see that that hurt you, and I’m very sorry if I have caused you pain.”
Acknowledge the emotion, and do your best to let them know that you can see how they feel, and that it matters to you.
Allow Yourself to Do the Same.
Once you have fully completed all of these steps, now you have opened up a channel for communication and your partner/friend will be much more receptive to doing the same for you.
They may not have learned this way of communicating, but you can gently teach them how to communicate in the same way, and ask them if they are willing to do the same for you.
This way of communicating is very powerful in deep relationships, and can work miracles in times of conflict or deeply-rooted misunderstanding. Relationship therapists have used this successfully for several decades to help repair marriages estranged relationships.
3. The “Little” Things are Actually the Big Things.
Relationships are definitely a choice, but it is good to remember that the feelings and events that transpire in close relationships are also influenced highly by association.
When we first meet someone that we like, or fall in love with, our interactions and time spent with them is usually very pleasant.
We are putting our best faces forward, we are so excited to meet them, be with them, and show them our world.
In this time generosity is at a high point, and people naturally go out of their way to do things that make the other feel good. And we grow a positive association with this in our mind that becomes very powerful.
This goes very deep into the subconscious and links to the already existing chains we have of life, memories, and relationships. We begin to see this person as a source of nurturing, intimacy, of safety and pleasure.
But often times as relationships mature, we move past the phase of excitement, and move into a more mellow phase where we get comfortable, we show more of our imperfections, and we begin to really learn of the realities, both positive and negative of the person we are spending time with.
This phase is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact, in this phase a deeper level of comfort can be built that provides a sense of pleasure much deeper than the first phase.
At this point we can begin to feel truly safe and open up to more vulnerable support and communication.
Once this phase is reached it is crucial that we still continue to do those little things that we did when we were first getting to know each other.
Even if they don’t feel as spontaneous as they used to, we can still do them as a means of expressing our love or appreciation. Though these things are not necessarily the reason you and your relationship hit it off, they have become an association.
Your partner now sees you as someone who nurtures and pleases them, and this association helps to maintain emotional intimacy in the relationship. It’s worth maintaining!
It is especially important to keep this in mind while relationships face issues or conflict, or as they grow over long periods of time.
You can certainly begin to associate other things with someone you’re in a relationship with.
Things like regular arguing, stress, disagreement, nagging, complaining, or criticizing can quickly replace the positive associations, and leave you or your partner associating the other as a source of emotional pain or stress instead.
This is often times one of the leading causes of strained or failed relationships. Commit yourself to doing at least one thing per day (or every time you see them if it’s just a friend) solely for the other’s benefit. It could be giving them a little gift, or just a well-thought out compliment.
Acknowledgment of something small or big is always a winner. In intimate relationships a loving touch, massage, or sexual favor can go a long, long way.
It is not mature or realistic to expect that a relationship maintains itself. It is these little things that help keep a relationship alive, fun, romantic, and loving.
If you really want to use this to your relationship’s advantage, or to help to heal strain or problems, you can sit down with your partner and each write a list of things you’d love the other to do, then both commit to doing at least 1-3 of these daily for the next 3 months.
You’d be amazed how fast you can reverse negative associations with positive ones this way!
Again, when it really comes down to it, our relationships are what really define our lives and bring happiness. When we lie in our death beds and review our lives, they will still matter, and will matter much more than money, possessions, status, or day to day routines.
This is worth remembering as often as possible.
Related article: 12 Habits of happy couples.
I’d encourage you, whoever you are, to commit to using your relationships to help heal both yourself and others, and to strive for complete vulnerability and acceptance, no matter how hard it is, or how much work it takes. There are worlds of happiness and satisfaction from doing this!
Note: Though much of this is much more relevant to intimate relationships, I have done my best to make it clear that these can also be used in certain context with lasting friendships as well. They do not have to apply only to your significant other.
I do sincerely hope that these tips help you to live a happier life, with joyful and meaningful relationships. Spread the Love!
Ashton Aiden is a certified life coach, a brainwave entrainment geek, a lover of dogs, and a passionate advocate of the human potential. He spends most of his time working through his website, brainwavelove.com, to educate the public on the powerful benefits of brainwave entrainment technology. When not doing this, he enjoys coaching people on the art of manifestation, providing spiritual commentary, and exploring the outdoors in his home state with his dog, Biff, and his girlfriend Dechen. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on facebook.com/brainwavelove