- Prior to beginning a new relationship, make sure that you have taken the time to heal from a previous one that has ended. If you are still hurting, you will not be emotionally available to the new person, and the unresolved pain will cloud your decision-making process. People who are in pain are usually attracted to other people who are in pain, and vice versa.
- Before deciding to date someone, have a conversation with them about your dating goals, and theirs. If there is a big difference—for example, one of you is looking to get married and the other is dating for fun—you are likely to save a lot of time and grief on both your parts by not even getting started. Having similar long term dating objectives will contribute significantly to the ultimate success of the relationship.
- Take your time. Going slowly and creating the opportunity to really get to know the other person well will optimize your chances of making good decisions and creating the kind of relationship you both want to have. It takes even the most educated and experienced experts on human behavior at least six months to a year to determine another’s true character. Delaying gratification for the long haul is not always easy, but the payoff can be life changing.
- Communicate openly and honestly. Masking your feelings or hiding who you really are will not result in a good relationship. In fact, it can destroy a relationship. Give up the need to be right. You can be right or you can have a relationship. You can each have your own points of view without making one right and the other wrong.
- Take responsibility for your own happiness. Do not expect your partner to take care of you. Happiness (as well as unhappiness) is an inside job.
- Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, financially, socially, and spiritually. Two people who are individually successful in these areas have the best chances of co-creating a good relationship.
- Be flexible. Compromise is essential to a healthy relationship. Give up the need to be in control. Relationships flourish when you can “hold” each other with wide open arms.
- Do not expect your partner to change. Falling in love with someone’s potential is bound to disappoint you.
- Do not avoid disagreements. Healthy conflict resolution is part of a successful relationship. You may need to take a break for an hour or two to calm down and think things through, but make a commitment to come back and talk about it, always. And when you do, listen to your partner, and ask them if they feel heard. Keep listening and asking until they do, and then reverse roles. If you seek to understand prior to being understood, you are much more likely to have an open-minded and attentive listener when it’s your turn.
- If you find yourself repeating the same relationship patterns over and over again with different people, individual counseling can help you to break that cycle and replace it with a new, healthier way of relating that will yield more of the results you are looking for.
This material is provided for informational and educational purposes only. For further information or help with related issues, please download one of my free reports or call me at or 805-375-5860 so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
Linda K. Laffey, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Valencia and Westlake Village, California