How You Can Be a Better Partner – And Bring Out a Better Partner In Return
There’s knowledge and there’s the application of knowledge.
Everyone knows how to lose weight: smaller portions, fewer starches, less sugar and red meat, more vegetables, etc. Yet 40% of the US is obese and 31% more are overweight. Thus, losing weight isn’t just about knowing how to lead a healthy lifestyle; it’s about DOING it consistently. Same goes with dating.
You can scour 1000 blog posts that I’ve written to basically figure out how to become more confident, communicate effectively and make healthier long-term relationship choices, but if you’re not actually in a happy, long-term relationship right now, you can see the massive difference between knowing and doing.
Which is why I responded to this New York Times article called “How to Actually Follow Through on the Relationship Advice You Get.”
It was written by a sex therapist, Vanessa Marin, who starts with this: “The reality is that having a great relationship doesn’t need to be as hard as it often feels. There is so much smart — and actionable — relationship advice out there. We know the things that make our partner happy and keep our relationship solid. So why do we struggle to follow through?”
From my vantage point, we’re all highly attuned to the flaws of our partner.
From my vantage point, we’re all highly attuned to the flaws of our partner, the things we’re not receiving, and the myriad ways in which give and compromise; we are FAR less attuned to our own flaws, the ways in which we’re failing to give and the myriad ways our partners have to compromise to be with us. This is a central tenet of Love U that goes unacknowledged by most surface dating advice, in which the goal is to prove our partners wrong, rather than looking in the mirror at our own blind spots.
Here’s what Marin suggests:
“You just have to be intentional about maintaining a healthy relationship. It’s crucial to work on your relationship, instead of relying on your relationship to work. Eli Finkel, a professor at Northwestern University, said, “It’s tragic for an otherwise-good relationship to deteriorate badly because the partners never made the effort to address negative trends early on. This also requires viewing ourselves as works in progress. Be honest: What have you done in the last month to actively work on being the best version of yourself for your partner?”
Identify Your Values:
This is like speaking Dr. Gary Chapman’s “5 Love Languages” and knowing how to make your partner happy on his/her terms rather than your own.
“To identify the values in your relationship, try having a conversation with your partner about the following questions:
“What do you think defines a great relationship?”
“What qualities in a relationship are most important to you?”
“What would you like more of in our relationship?”
“The basic idea behind this is to “think about conflict from the perspective of a neutral third party who wants the best for everybody.” In other words, if a therapist was in the room with you, what might they say when you and your partner are arguing?”
This is pretty much all I do when I coach women from around the world. Instead of reflexively taking their side and providing validation, I try to offer a more objective point of view, like a mediator, so that the client can better understand the art of conflict resolution, as opposed to blame and misunderstanding.
There’s more but Marin gives some sound advice on being a better partner.
The question, as always, is whether you’re going to follow it.
What’s the one thing you learned most from this article and what are you going to implement moving forward?