Updated: Oct 4
As a younger man, I really wanted to find “The One”. I was much too private to tell anyone, but I dreamed of a happy-ever-after ending to my own love story. I wanted to find my perfect mate, get married, have some kids, a decent house, good work, and get to navigate the ups and downs of life with a true companion and confidante.
A common dream
There was nothing unique about this dream; it's shared by billions of people across the globe. Since this dream is so common, it never occurred to me that it might be difficult to achieve. During my 20's and early 30's, I met a lot of potential partners and I started a lot of relationships. But most of them ended up being very short lived. The few long-term relationships had a good deal of strife between me and my partner.
It often went something like this: I thought she wanted too much. She thought I wasn't available. I thought she was unreasonable and making a big deal of everything. She thought I was cold and indifferent. I thought she couldn't have a calm conversation about stuff. She thought I didn't communicate at all! She wanted more time together. I wanted more space. We couldn't communicate about anything involving feelings. We couldn't carry a difficult conversation to a productive end.
I will never forget one memorable incident. My girlfriend and I had met up after some days apart (we didn’t live together). I was super excited to see her again, and it didn’t take us long before we were kissing and getting sexually riled up. And then, right in the middle of a passionate make-out session, she stops cold and says, “Wait, I forgot to water my plants!”. She broke off from me and went to get her watering can!
“What the hell just happened!?”I wanted to scream. I was livid, insulted, and totally hurt. But in keeping with our unspoken don’t-talk-about-thorny-issues policy, I didn’t say a word about it, and neither did she. I did, however, shut down hard, and doubled down on my conviction that it probably wasn’t going to work between us. Not surprisingly, we didn’t make it very far past that point.
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This was just one example of a recurring experience I had in intimate relationships. In retrospect, it’s easy to recognize the total lack of relationship skill and communication tools that was the hallmark of my every relationship, but at the time, I just didn’t get why it was so hard.
I was set up to fail by my own fantastical expectations about great relationships happening on their own, as if by magic. Now that I have heard similar relationship stories from thousands of couples in our coaching and workshops, it’s clear I wasn’t alone.
But I’m also living proof that not all relationships are doomed to be issue-riddled with a breakup at the end. Not at all. I’ve been actively living the happy-ever-after dream for over 15 years with Sonika. That would have never happened without me finally getting real with myself about needing to learn better skills and tools.
Great relationships aren't accidents
Great relationships don’t happen by accident or magic. They require learning and practice and the patient perfection of relating skills over time.
Think about it ... you take two individuals with different family backgrounds, perhaps cultural backgrounds, too; different desires, needs, and preferences; different psychological profiles; different levels of historical baggage or trauma, etc. etc. You then put them together and say, “Now get along, love each other, figure out how to make complicated decisions with life-long consequences while being pressured from all sides to survive, make a living, and generally keep your shit together. Oh, and have great sex and be each other’s best friends while you do it!”
No wonder relationships can be challenging!
Sometimes it's hard to tell what is harder, the issues you have in your relationship, or the expectation that you shouldn't have them?
There are a lot of expectations that set us for trouble, probably too many to list here. If I were to make a Top 3, it'd be these:
Relationships should stay hot and happy with no effort of mine, just like in the beginning.
Relationships shouldn't require work and effort, they should be easy.
My partner should provide what I need; he/she should want to without me having to ask for it.
What are your (unfounded, unconcious) expectations about your relationships?
Of course, I'll end up a more encouraging note. You can learn a new way, just like I did. It's a time-honed truth that anything worthwhile you want to master requires your time and attention and ongoing practice. Communication skills, conflict resolution, vibrant sex and deep intimacy, love, acceptance, and appreciation are all essential skills you can learn. Once you do, whether single or coupled, happy or on the verge of divorce, you too can get closer to your relationship dream.
To that end, we have a timely opportunity for you:
Our first in-person workshop since Covid is happening Nov 5 in Auburn, California. It’s a one-day class where we teach you some of the best tools of our positive approach to relationship.
At Give Yourself To Love, you’ll learn how to …
Turn complaints and criticism around.
See and connect with the best of yourself and each other.
Identify the source of your triggers so you can change how you feel and respond.
Connect deeply, quickly.
See each other with fresh eyes.
All while having a good, affordable time (we make it very light-hearted).
Interested? More here …
PS. Speaking of having to put forth effort what we value, I saw this poster on the side of a building in San Francisco. It says, "Diligence is the path / Up the mountain of knowledge / Hard work is the boat / Across the endless sea of learning"
LoveWorks: We believe relationships are meant to be an empowering, fun, passionate, safe place to grow, love, and learn. Where we get to be more of who we are, not less. We know it’s not always easy, but it can definitely be easier! With our unique and practical approach to relationship, you learn how to resolve conflicts quickly and enjoy fulfilling intimacy for the rest of your life. To learn more or contact us, visit www.loveworkssolution.com.