(Video) The Secret To Successful Relationships (According to Grandma)

I’ve often said that I didn’t get smarter when I got married; I got married when I got smart. Nothing illustrates this more clearly than this short video.

The very qualities we spend our whole lives chasing: in my case, younger, East Coast, Jewish, financially successful, intellectual types – are not always the best long term fit. In our quest to find opposite sex clones, we often ignore what’s most important: the partner who loves you unconditionally.

Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Steve

    Dude, you got natural comedic timing and speak well. You can be the Tony Robbins of dating. Even if somebody isn’t dating they could probably enjoy watching you talk.

  2. 2
    Heather

    Evan, you’re breaking my heart. I know what’s important in a relationship … it’s a special variety of friendship with a dash of ‘family’ thrown in. We cannot truly bond with someone unless that’s there, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have had this experience a few times in my life. But without sex it’s sort of pointless to marry someone. I was with a guy for 8 1/2 years. We loved each other that way, we were best friends, we cared deeply for one another, and I was attracted to him, but I couldn’t, physically, have sex with him. I could never psych myself up enough to go through with it after the first year or so. Seven years without sex … I didn’t need a psychic to tell me that wasn’t going to lead to marriage! When he did finally leave me, it was for another woman. (No shocker there!) He married her 1 1/2 years later. I continue to be <painfully> single. The moral to the story may be that I have some issues, but I’ve been in therapy and I sincerely believe that I should never be with someone long term again unless he turns me on a certain way. Comfort, shared values, compatibility, friendship, etc. – all definite must-haves in a relationship – I’d never deny that. But without sexual passion/chemistry – what is the point?

  3. 3
    JB

    Hey Evan,love the short clips.You are working on making and releasing a DVD aren’t you? I never heard the CD’s you released but a DVD of your own would be great. You were great in De Angelo & Carter’s disc sets. Just wondering…………

  4. 4
    Angelika

    Evan, I wholeheartedly disagree.
    First of all, when I ask my grandma about love advice, she tells me how her father forbade her to marry a man she could’ve had a very good life with ( he wasn’t of the same religious background.) I’m sure glad that in this day and age I had the opportunity to say “next” many times until I found the love of my life.
    Second of all, of course people shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations such as the ones you mention (supermodel, Top Chef, etc.) or base their relationship on insignificant ones (same taste in music), but I think most people don’t.
    It seems to me most people want to feel comfortable to be themselves in a relationship; have fun, passion, chemistry, friendship, shared values; and share other areas of their lives that are important to them (like travel, for example.) And why shouldn’t they continue looking until they find someone who has all of the qualities that are important to them, including “being weak in the knees”?
    I see people everywhere settling and leading unsatisfied lives because they let go of the qualities that are important to them, passion being a big one. I’m willing to bet that if you found someone with friendship and compatibility, plus strong chemistry and passion, you’ll be together for a long, long time.

  5. 5
    Evan Marc Katz

    Angelika,

    First of all, the point of the video was to ask someone in a happy, 40-year marriage, what her secrets were – not to talk about the oppression of your grandma. Second of all, you don’t think people have unrealistic expectations? Think again. Refusal to compromise is #1 and #1A as to why most of my clients (and friends) are single. Men focusing on looks over kindness. Women focusing on money and brains over emotional availability. It’s not an either/or, of course, but looks without kindness is useless. Same with success without consistency. Yet if you look at most people’s repeated dead-end relationships, they’ll tell you the same thing, “I can’t help what I’m attracted to!” That ranks with “I can’t stop smoking” and “I can’t stop philandering” as lame excuses for consistently poor decision making.

    At least we can agree that people want to feel comfortable enough to be themselves in a relationship. However, letting go of the “weak in the knees” feeling doesn’t mean leading an unsatisfying life, I assure you. However, if YOU think it does, then, by all means, keep chasing that feeling. Just know that you might be chasing an illusion. And when you catch it, you’ll see that 99 times out of 100, it goes bad.

    Finally, I don’t know where you get the idea that giving up INTENSE chemistry is the same as giving up ALL chemistry, but, seriously, y’all, give it a rest.

    Just because I’m trying to eat healthier doesn’t mean I NEVER eat red meat or chocolate. Why is the concept of moderation so hard to integrate into dating?

    It’s pretty simple. Like the Tao, always looking for the middle ground. Go for someone smart, but not brilliant. Someone successful but not mega rich. Someone attractive, but not smokin’ hot. Go for the attainable and giving “7”, not the aloof and unavailable (and fictional) “10”.

    What’s so hard to get about this?

    Wait, don’t answer that. Really. It’s a rhetorical question.

  6. 6
    Mikko Kemppe - Relationship Coach

    I don’t think most of us today are looking to have the same type of relationship that many of our grandparents have/had.

    It used to be expected that sex and romance died after a few years into a marriage. Romance or sexual passion was not really expected to last.

    In not so distant past, relationships were often not formed based on fulfilling our emotional and personal needs, but more for survival.

    Unfortunately, the truth is that relationships that are based merely on surviving, won’t usually survive anymore. Most of us want much more from our relationships today than we did in the past.

    Times used to be much tougher financially and many other ways. As a result, many of our grandparents sacrificed a great deal. Most of them did not have the same opportunity that many of us have on spending so much time on self-discovery and exploring our different relationship wants and needs.

    My point is that while our grandparents might have great wisdom to pass on to us in many ways, I think it is always important that we understand the context in which any advice is given.

    There are many who have stayed in a miserable marriages for their entire lives for the sake of their children and family, for example.

    While these might have been noble sacrifices, many of us are simply not willing to sacrifice our personal happiness for the sake of a marriage anymore. More years together don’t necessarily equate to a more successful relationship.

    While I have great respect for my grandparents as well as my parents and the relationships that they have (all of my grandparents are still alive and married), I know that the advice that they give me on how to create a successful relationship would definitely not work for me.

  7. 7
    Steve

    I see this subject on this blog come up over and over again. I think it becomes an argument because people take each side to a nonsensical extreme.

    I don’t think Evan is advising people to marry a bowl of plain oatmeal. Just to have high standards that are rooted in planet Earth.

  8. 8
    sayanta

    Evan-

    LOL- you’re last line had me rollin’

  9. 9
    Leftos

    Very insightful approach and perspective Evan. We’ll point some of our users to this video.

  10. 10
    Angelika

    I think Mikko Kemppe explained my point better than I did.
    I’m not saying that we should only chase passion. I am saying, however, that we should chase passion, and friendship, and kindness, and looks, and shared values, and whatever else is important to us – all of it (provided that our list doesn’t only include supermodels and billionaires 🙂 )
    I strongly believe that it is entirely possible to find someone who matches all of the qualities on our realistic criteria. And I speak from experience. It took me a long time to find someone who had 10 0ut of 10 on my list, but I finally know what true happiness with a love partner feels like. I wish more people out there would not stop until they found their 10 out of 10.

  11. 11
    sayanta

    Mikko-

    I agree with what you’ve said- as for the sacrificing by staying in marriages for the ‘sake’ of the children, there are plenty of children (now adults) who wish their parents had gotten divorced. It’s hard to really know which one’s worse- watching your parents hate each other in the same house, or watching them hate each other in family court.

    Angelika-

    I ask this to everyone on this blog who’s met their ideal match- how did you meet your 10 out of 10? 🙂

  12. 12
    Evan Marc Katz

    @sayanta

    I met my 10 out of 10 by compromising, giving up intense chemistry, and resisting the urge to find someone younger, smarter, wealthier, and with the same exact interests as I do. I married the greatest woman in the world because I cherish who she is instead of focusing on what she isn’t.

    As to how we met: I was at a potluck dinner party trying to make the hostesss jealous. True. She was Italian, successful, sophisticated and sexy as all hell. We’d gone out twice and she’d blown me off but wanted to stay friends. At her house, I talked to a couple of 37-year-old divorcees all night – not because of any intense passion, but because they were pleasant company. 22 months later, I was married. Go figure.

    To everyone who thinks that compromise means unhappiness, think again. I’m the happiest married man that I know. All because I opened up to a different kind of partner than I’d been chasing for 35 years.

    You can dismiss this out of hand, but I came to this conclusion by being a dating coach and listening to thousands of picky people who felt that they were too good for everyone. Turns out that I – the know-it-all-single-dating-coach – was just like them. Once I tapped into my own humility and realized that I would be lucky to find a woman who loved me unconditionally, I was able to find one who did.

    It’s not a coincidence. All of you folks who talk about awful, passionless, dead-end relationships, you’re still not embracing what I’m actually saying. You can compromise without settling. In fact, you must.

    As stated, I made a few compromises. So did my wife. Together, we are blissfully happy and wish everyone could experience what we have. But the ONLY reason we’re able to experience this is because I changed my tune – from being the most arrogant “need to have everything on my checklist” single guy to embracing the behavior of my amazing wife, who embodies how unconditional kindness trumps all.

    The reason I talk so much about change is because I believe in it, I lived it, and it works. Want to find love in 2010? Try doing things differently than you were doing them before.

    You may just be surprised at what you find.

  13. 13
    sayanta

    Evan-

    thanks for the post- btw, I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, it’s just that I also liked Mikko’s points.

  14. 14
    Heather

    Evan, you didn’t compromise at all. You found the person who made you realize that there could be a perfect 10 who didn’t match your ideal vision – someone who made it a hell of a lot easier to change your mind about previously rigid requirements. That is called ‘falling in love’. I’m beginning to think that people who have the fortune to be able to get dates on a regular basis can’t begin to understand what life is like for those of us who cannot. Having too much choice makes things even more difficult than having none. Of course when you experience love with someone who isn’t your dream person you are amazed!

    I turned 37 today. I went to Disneyland with a friend and his girlfriend. It was both refreshing and bittersweet to be around a couple like that. I just keep thinking to myself, “Why does it happen for everyone else, but never for me?” People accuse me of being negative, but I’m simply observing the reality of my life. I’ve had sex twice in the past 2 1/2 years and neither of those encounters were with men I had any real desire for. If you want to know what compromise is – it’s sleeping with the first person who offers because you haven’t gotten any for over a year! I am currently going on 15 months of celibacy and I’ll be damned if I make that compromise again.

    Every time I complain about my situation someone finds a creative way to trace the blame back to me. It’s the Law of Attraction (I’m putting out the intention of not finding love because I believe that I never will find it.) Or, it’s my lack of confidence – how the f**k am I supposed to have confidence if I keep having the experiences I’ve had? And then there’s the ever-insightful ‘You need to change something if you want results’ – another way of saying, ‘Heather, you simply are not worthy of what it is you truly want, so you’d better start looking for something else instead.’ As if it didn’t hurt enough already that I constantly attract losers, repel the men I’m attracted to, and have lost pretty much all hope of ever getting a date, let alone finding love.

    A friend of mine tried to introduce me to one of his single male friends at a party a few weeks ago. Apparently he had shown my picture to the guy and he seemed interested. But at the party, the guy very cordially maintained a distance from me all night long. Not that I cared that much what he thought of me, but why WHY does stuff like this keep happening to me? I’m not bad looking, I don’t bite, I am a decent human being with a good job and my own apartment – why do men run away from me? I don’t like being single, it sucks!

    Sorry to always go on ranting about my problems here … but I’d rather do it here than on Facebook where it could be really embarrassing to me.

  15. 15
    Kristyn

    Happy Birthday Heather.

    It sometimes does suck to be single in a “coupled” world. Of course, sometimes it sucked to be relationship so I tend to think that life is just hard sometimes.

    But I know what you are feeling. I’ve been single for 2 years and I thought by now I would have had a relationship but I really haven’t. And sometimes I let that thought invade my head (very self defeating). But Evan didn’t find someone for a long time. It doensn’t happen overnight (except for the occasional few – Honey). But then I also realize that if a relationship were the goal – I’d be in one. I want the right one for me. And if I can find what Evan has, what Honey has, what those couples who are happy have – THAT IS WORTH WAITING FOR. I do have to do things to help that happen, be out in the dating world, meet new people, be open to possibilities, give people a chance to show me who they are really.

    Evan – my question is this: Do you think the other women you dated would have been able to love you unconditionally if given the chance? Do you think you passed up other possibilities because they didn’t meet your criteria (list) but they did have the unconditional love characteristic?

  16. 16
    Kristyn

    I hate it when I have finger seizures – doesn’t, doesn’t, doesn’t.

  17. 17
    Jessica

    To Heather post #14,

    I am sorry to hear you’re feeling so bad. You are right, being single and celibate sucks. But you are 37…may I suggest you seriously try online dating? I did, and a great picture made a difference in how many dates I had…And, did I mention that I live in a country with only 26 million people, where at least half of those are living- in- shacks poor, with awful political turmoil that is making the “best” people leave for good, where more people die here from crime than in the war in Afghanistan, with a limit on how you can unse your credit cards over the internet? And I am 40, currently dating exclusively, me, a single mother working at 3 places because my daughter’s dad is a deadbeat who lives in your country…so, take it from me! You are younger and have the benefits of not living in a third world country, oh, you have OPTIONS! Even if you live in a tiny town, the USA is a BIG country…take advantage of that! Best of luck.

  18. 18
    Joe

    If you’re not happy being single, it’s pretty obvious to others, and desperation is not attractive.

  19. 19
    Diana

    I went Christmas shopping (and I survived :)). I couldn’t help but notice that nearly everyone was shopping with someone snugly in tow; mostly couples and families. After a few hours of noticing, and my thoughts drifting with the sentimental Christmas tunes, I started to feel a tinge of loneliness creep in. And then I thought that everything is not always as it seems on the surface. Not to imply anything about your friend, and his girlfriend, but I realized that appearances can be deceiving. While surely some of the people were blissfully happy, others could be going home to empty hearts and fights over how much was spent. It’s hard to be single in what always appears to be a coupled world, especially during the holidays.

    I try to not think about the “how long have I been celibate” issue, as it makes me feel worse. I do know that I have boundaries and I will stay that way until the right time and situation presents itself, which I guess means forever [lol]. For now, I take comfort in all the blessings I do have.

    I wish there were an easy answer to all of this for you. Happy belated birthday Heather!

  20. 20
    Heather

    Joe,

    I tried being happy single. I think it is a farce. Everyone who emphasizes this as being a sign of desperation is male, you just don’t understand what being in a relationship means to a woman like me. If I was desperate I would be with someone, he wouldn’t be the guy I want to be with, but I wouldn’t be alone. Nobody ever congratulates me for making a life for myself, having a somewhat successful career, or having the strength to face life alone in a world reeking of happy couples. It’s always: “Do you have a boyfriend?”, “Are you married yet?”, “Anyone special in your life?” Not to mention I came into this world wanting to love and be loved. I am not weak, I am sick and tired and fed up and beaten down. I just write about it here (ad nauseum) because I’m venting. I don’t know what else to do at this point.

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