Relationships

Relationships are hard. They take a lot of
dedication, focus, and work. Finding the right
person to settle down with can often feel like a
very frustrating game of chance. And even when
you do find the right one, you’ll still have your
work cut out for you as you make an effort to
maintain your relationship.
If you’re looking for a little guidance when it
comes to love, you’ve come to the right place.
The Cheat Sheet spoke with eight top
relationship experts to get some of their best
advice. So pull up a chair and read on for more.
1. Take it easy
The best relationship advice I’ve ever gotten,
and that I give, is “easy does it.” Too often we
get caught up in fear-based needs to control
our partner. This pull becomes a destructive
compulsion that corrodes the integrity of the
relationship. It replaces respect and
compassion with anger and resentment. It
destroys the quality of our lives and over time,
the relationship.
This advice impacted the way I approach
romantic relationships in that I allowed for a
lot more space, which in turn allowed for less
reactivity, more peace, happiness, and
respect. The classic struggle of all
relationships is finding the right calculus in the
togetherness-and-autonomy equation.
Typically, when a relationship is under stress,
one of the partners asks for physical space to
break the tension. This is suboptimal. The
best way to incorporate space is by being
proactive and providing emotional rather than
physical space. To do this, partners need to
allow each other the space to be themselves
and to have their experiences without trying to
control the outcome or think that you are
responsible for their lives and reaction. It’s
hard work and takes practice, but the rewards
are well worth the effort.
Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, J.D. licensed marriage and
family therapist and senior clinical adviser to
Caron Ocean Drive .
Source: Dr. Gail Saltz
2. Give 90%
My parents advised what they did in their own
marriage: “both of you always think about
giving 90% to your partner and you both will
be very happy.” They meant it’s so important
to think about how your partner is feeling, to
stand in their shoes, to be giving and
compromising, and emotionally generous. That
10% is for the understanding that sometimes
it’s also OK to be a bit selfish, to place your
needs first, or stand firm on something. They
also made clear that this only works if you are
both giving 90%.
I just celebrated my 26th wedding anniversary.
I definitely think about my spouse’s needs and
feelings the majority of the time and try to be
compromising. In return I feel he is 90%
thinking of me and how to consider my
feelings and be supportive and loving.
Sometimes this means giving something up,
but actually most times this means we both
get what we want and we both feel very loved,
supported, and that we are in each other’s
corner. I don’t feel afraid to be giving, because
he really has my best interests at heart. We
are a terrific team and often we agree on what
we want. And when we don’t, we tend to take
turns supporting the other’s wants.
Dr. Gail Saltz , clinical associate professor of
psychiatry at New York Presbyterian’s Weill-
Cornell Medical College .
Source: Thinkstock
3. You are responsible for your own
happiness
It’s not my partner’s job to make me happy.
It’s my job to make me happy. Of course it’s
easy to feel good when my partner is acting in
a way that I want —but needing them to be a
certain way in order for me to feel good —
that’s bondage. Thinking that they’re always
going to be in a good mood and directing their
affectionate attention towards me — while that
may be possible during the initial stage of a
relationship, is impossible to sustain long-
term. I’m responsible for my happiness. My
partner is responsible for her happiness. We
deliberately focus on things to feel good in our
lives and for things to appreciate in one
another.
If you’re looking for someone to complete you
—or vice versa—you’re looking in the wrong
direction for the lasting happiness, wholeness,
and fulfillment that you truly seek. Wouldn’t it
be better if you could find a way to feel how
you want to feel regardless of what you’re
partner is saying or doing?
This advice transformed every relationship in
my life – not just the romantic ones. Before I
knew these things, I was unintentionally
holding my partner responsible for my
happiness. When I learned that I’m
responsible for my own happiness and when I
learned how to consistently align with it, my
entire world transformed. I now have the
freedom to choose if and when I spend time
with someone else, and I deliberately choose
to spend time with others who get this, too.
My relationships are more meaningful, more
loving, more free, and most importantly –
more fun! And my overall happiness continues
to grow, too, regardless of whether I’m in a
relationship or not.
Jeff Bear, life coach and founder of Bear
Partners.
Source: Lisa Steadman
4. Stop waiting and live your life
When I was single and stressed about finding
love, my good friend, Scott, a confirmed
bachelor, told me this. He said, “Lisa, you
need to calm down, chill out, and stop
expecting love to be here already. Your sense
of entitlement is killing your ability to attract a
good man.” When I realized he was right, I
stopped waking up every day feeling angry
that love hadn’t found me yet. I stopped being
resentful that my friends were married and
having lives that felt out of reach to me. I
stopped feeling like my life was on hold. As
cliché as it sounds, I stopped waiting and
started living . Overnight, my outlook changed.
My results changed, too. I started meeting
men wherever I went. I went on dates, had fun,
didn’t give my heart away foolishly, and met
my husband. I knew he was The One when he
told me, “I’ve always been too nice for the
naughty girls and too naughty for the nice
ones.” That had been my experience with men.
My advice for singles who are struggling in
their search is to look within and ask
themselves what part of their own life still
needs work. When you clean up your side of
the street, you make room for a perfectly
imperfect person to see you, celebrate you,
and love you. And remember that Mr. Right [or
Ms. Right] will not be perfect, but will be
perfect for you, just as you’ll be perfectly
imperfect for him [or her].
Lisa Steadman , relationship expert and author of
It’s a Breakup Not a Breakdown .
Source: iStock
5. Love yourself
You can’t love anyone more than your
willingness to love yourself. Through this
advice I learned about the importance of
caring for my mind, body, and spirit. I liken
love to the oxygen mask on a plane. You have
to apply it to yourself before applying it to the
person next to you. This advice improved my
chances of winning my wife’s hand in
marriage. She was searching for true love. She
wanted someone to spend the rest of her life
with. Conveying to her that I loved myself
signaled that I could be a pillar of strength
and compassion.
Paul C. Brunson, matchmaker and author of It’s
Complicated (But It Doesn’t Have to Be): A
Modern Guide to Finding and Keeping Love.
Source: Thinkstock
6. Don’t put boundaries on others
You can’t put boundaries on someone else—
only yourself. If someone is treating you badly,
you can’t change their behavior. But you can
ask yourself why you accept it and how you
can put a boundary on yourself so that you
won’t accept it again. It made me take more
responsibility for my role in bad relationships.
Instead of feeling like a victim of
circumstance, I was empowered to reject bad
treatment and choose a different person. Also,
[remember that] life is a self-fulfilling
prophesy. If you believe you are undeserving of
happiness, love and prosperity, that’s what
the universe will give you.
Dr. Wendy Walsh, relationship expert and author
of The 30-Day Love Detox.
Source: Martha Swann
7. Sometimes love is where you’d
least expect it
The hottest, most fun, sexiest, interesting,
growth-stimulating, spontaneous, most
romantic, most eye-opening relationships or
experiences all were not with people that I
thought I would end up with. Just because a
relationship has a shelf life doesn’t mean you
shouldn’t enter into it. This advice allowed me
to enjoy each interaction for what it was and
not try to make it something it wasn’t. And at
the end of the day, our life is just a
conglomeration of memories and I have many
happy memories to think on. This gives me
the freedom to experience all life has to offer!
Other good advice: “Always be unexpected.”
This doesn’t have to be in grand gestures, but
predictability in a relationship = boring = death
of romance. Worst Advice? “Don’t worry, it’ll
happen.” If I wanted to learn French, if
someone told me “Don’t worry, it’ll happen,”
how stupid does that sound?! Dating is a skill
set like every other and you get out of it what
you put into it.
Hunt Ethridge , certified dating coach.
Source: Thinkstock
8. Put in some effort
First, you simply must put time and energy
into dating. A combination of online dating
and socializing (perhaps including speed
dating or singles mixers) is ideal. And second,
you must go about dating the right way—from
a positive attitude and an effective online
dating profile (I can help you with that at
http://www.ellyklein.com ) to behavior on dates and
communication with potential partners. If your
approach to finding love is waiting for it to
just come along, you’re taking a huge risk and
will probably be single for a long time.

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