A romantic relationship can be stale and cold or it can fill you with warmth, energy, and a sense of fulfillment.
Humans belong in relationships but if you haven’t invested any energy into yours, it won’t feel like it.
Almost every single person strives to be in a relationship yet almost every couple in a relationship seems to complain about theirs.
This isn’t how a relationship should be. Your relationship should excite you.
I was lucky enough to celebrate a seven year anniversary with the girl of my dreams a week before writing this. Even though we are a “perfect match” on paper, our relationship is far from effortless.
We still argue about minor things and we have very different social lives and passions. We have faced setbacks and likely want to kill each other at least one day a week. At the end of the day, we always make it work.
We learn from each other daily. After seven years those arguments are far less frequent and time together is still something we treasure.
By sharing my biggest mistakes, you can avoid a few of them and save yourself some trivial arguments. By sharing my greatest successes, you can make your significant other feel as special as they should.
With a little bit of effort, a better relationship is right around the corner.
If you are currently single and looking for a relationship, keeping the following advice in mind may make that search easier. When you get something worth holding on to, it will be that much more worthwhile.
Here are nine lessons I’ve learned over the years:
#1. “I Want” Is A Slow Acting Poison
If you want a successful relationship, what you “want” doesn’t matter.
Let me elaborate.
Someone who sacrifices their own temporary gain to make someone else happy will always receive that appreciation back in return.
If that same person was to instead only focus on what they wanted, the relationship becomes a battle for power.
If you don’t give, you don’t get anything in return. When you feel you don’t get anything, you don’t give.
This is observable in so many relationships. I regularly hear people venting about how their partner never does X, Y, or Z for them. Hearing these things always leaves me curious if they do A, B, or C for their partner.
Somebody has to be the bigger person. Since you are reading this right now, that is up to you. Take the lead.
When in a relationship your focus should shift from “I” to “you”:
- What do you want to do tonight?
- Where would you like to go for dinner?
- How was your day?
- Do you want to talk about it?
I guarantee your relationship will improve tenfold when you begin to switch perspectives. Think about your partner’s “wants” and let them think about yours.
#2. The Guy Needs To Own The Gavel
Despite the woman likely being the more intelligent of the two of you, women are still emotional creatures.
At the end of the day, the guy needs to have the final say. He must own 51% of the relationship. This may seem sexist but it works out best for everyone this way.
For the ladies, this means you get to have a hissy fit or two and get away with it. Your hormones fluctuate and your emotional states vary more than a man’s. If a man throws a hissy fit, it looks childish and you can pack your bags.
While owning 51% sounds great, it actually comes with much more responsibility. A man must keep his composure and have control over his ego and anger.
When a man loses his temper, it must be obvious that a line was crossed.
I put up with many minor irritations so my girlfriend takes me seriously when I have something to say. Men don’t cry wolf.
Little arguments are about as masculine as a puppy’s bark. When a man argues it should instill fear, like the roar of a lion whose territory has been invaded. Those who entered are aware of the looming danger and should approach with caution or back off.
I will admit that, to the untrained eye, I am whipped by my girlfriend. I focus on what she wants and forgive her every time she gets emotional. At the end of the day, even she admits I wear the pants in the relationship.
As the man, owning 51% means you need to put her first 75% of the time.
If the woman has the final say, it is because the man has not earned her respect. Any girl would not have a problem taking her 49% for a man who has self-esteem, self-control, and a bright future.
#3. Learn The 5 Love Languages For A Better Relationship
Everybody has a different “love language” that makes them feel valued. The five love languages are as follows:
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Words Of Affirmations
- Personal Touch
- Acts Of Service
My girlfriend’s love language is quality time yet mine is personal touch. Not knowing this, I was always curious why we could never connect on the level I knew we were capable of.
I thought she loved the fact that I held her hand in public and cuddled her to sleep. In reality, I was the one who enjoyed the contact.
She thought that spending time together was the most important thing to make me happy. In reality, that was her love language, not mine.
If you don’t know what language your partner speaks, how could you be an effective duo? Surely there would be miscommunications and avoidable errors.
Would your partner rather you spend time with them than buy their love? Would something as simple as giving them a kiss in the morning make a huge change?
Find out their love language ASAP. If you know how to make them happy, you can get twice the results with half as much effort as you were putting in before.
A better relationship will be unavoidable.
I wish I knew about the love languages in the first five years of my relationship.
#4. Don’t ask for dessert before you are content with dinner.
Start looking for the things you love about your partner and stop fault finding. Why do we allow the 10% we don’t like about someone to overshadow the 90% we love about them?
When we allow the 10% to see the light, we are committing relationship treason. If you highlight the things you love about your partner, the rest will work itself out.
If you don’t show appreciation for the efforts they are currently making, why would they feel inclined to put more effort in? To them, it would appear as though it would be a waste of energy.
Don’t ask for more. Instead, show more appreciation for what you have and you will attract more. It is a classic example of the law of attraction.
#5. You’re Either Having Fun Or You Are Playing The Long Game
As early as possible you should establish the basis of your relationship. Are the two of you together to have fun or is this something serious?
How your relationship plays out is linked to your answer to that question.
If you plan, or hope, to marry this person one day, is that petty thing that is bothering you right now going to matter? Is it going to stand the test of time that you hope the relationship does?
If it won’t be detrimental to your future together, let it go.
Many people put their relationships on autopilot these days. If it is going good, great! If it is going bad, or becomes boring, that is just the effect time takes…right? Nobody stays “in love” for decades, do they?
Like a seed, a relationship needs watering and time. If you want a rose bush, water the seed and pluck the weeds before they become an infestation.
Every day you put a little bit of effort in, you grow closer. Every day passed without effort causes a slight drift apart. If you are playing the long game, this results in two very different destinations. Two very different rose bushes.
While one rose bush is dead or decomposed, the other stood the test of time with vibrancy.
You may have realized that I said I have been in a relationship for seven years but I never mentioned marriage.
My girlfriend and I both acknowledge that we are far from perfect. We both have weeds in our character that need removal. Until we are both confident in what we bring to the table as a spouse, why would we pull the trigger that lasts a lifetime?
We are playing the long game.
The day I put a ring on her finger, I will do so with confidence and zero worries.
You need to invest in your relationship and learn about your partner every day. How can you become a better person, how can you be a better teammate?
#6. Pick Your Battles, Own Your Mistakes
I’m glad I don’t have a record of all the petty fights me and my girlfriend have endured. If I saw the entire list, I’d either A) laugh at our immaturity or B) wonder how the hell we are still together.
Small arguments create tension which leads to more arguments and around we go.
Like we discussed above, the less you argue, the more weight each argument holds. Argue enough and nobody respects the other anymore.
I wouldn’t recommend seeing how long a relationship without mutual respect lasts. It is the metaphorical glue to a well-rounded couple.
Put your ego under the microscope and ask yourself if your argument is worth it or an act of pride. Pride is for single people and has no place in the context of a relationship. Arguments based on pride have consequences and can tear a relationship apart.
Everybody makes mistakes and we all have bad days. If your emotions get the best of you, own up. Being the bigger person creates as much respect as you would have lost by being a dipshit. Mutual respect is the foundation of a better relationship.
#7. You Are A Team
Like a strong and effective sports team, you need effective communication.
It would be foolish to carry anger or dissatisfaction without bringing it to the attention of your partner. That dissatisfaction will come out during a mature discussion or at a later time as an argument.
It would be just as foolish to withhold anything positive you feel about your partner. That compliment you are keeping to yourself could mean the world to them. When you make your partner feel good, they associate those good feelings with your companionship.
As a team, you also share your successes and struggles.
When you part ways in the morning, you are both fighting for the same future. Make sure your partner leaves ready to kick some ass.
If one of you falls down, pick them up and nurse them back to good health. A strong team leaves no individual behind.
'Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.' - Romans 12:10
#8. You Can’t Change A Person, You Can Only Lead By Example
If you think you can change your partner you are dead wrong.
If there is a fundamental flaw in the person you are with, decide if you can live with it. You can never make a person change and, honestly, it isn’t fair for you to try.
The only way to change a person is to first change yourself. When you lead by example, your partner may want a piece of what you are having.
When you respect yourself, you will have a better understanding of what actually bothers you. Sometimes we don’t like ourselves and project that discontent onto someone else.
Become the person who the person you are looking for is looking for - Andy Stanley
#9. If You Aren’t Excited…
If you aren’t excited about your relationship it is for one of two reasons:
- You are with the wrong person
- You aren’t giving 100%
Before you make any rash decisions about them being the source of your lost enthusiasm, check your own behavior.
Do you make time for this person before your friends? Do you value them and let them know by your actions not your words? Are you doing everything you can to remove yourself from the equation?
If you are, great.
Once you give 100% on your end, you can know if this person is right for you. Only when you would be ashamed of nothing in the event of a breakup can you point a finger.
Create a better relationship or find a better relationship. Don’t waste another day unhappy.
Your relationship should feel like a gift, not a chore. You have the power to bring unlimited joy into someone’s life. Make sure that person is doing the same for you and you will never be sour about a relationship again.
If you enjoyed this post be sure to subscribe to our email for three free bonuses and exclusive content.