Sometimes we plan relationships — like dating, friendships or the professionals in our life, and sometimes they’re thrust upon us — like family, work colleagues and life situations. Relationships are inevitable, everyone we meet or connect with in some way, is a relationship — and how we interact, respond and react has a great deal to say about our well-being in life.
If we go through life mostly irritated by people, or feeling we’re always walked on or taken advantage of, (“I’m such a giver, people are always taking advantage of me”) then the chances of being happy, with ourselves and our life is pretty slim. Over the more than 20 years of working with clients in the clinic I have developed an understanding of where the relationship process can break down. And it all starts with us. Me. You. The us in the equation. Our relationship with ourself is the key to our relationship with others. If you feel truly comfortable in your skin, the good/bad/ugly then there’s a good chance you’ll be comfortable in relationships with most other people. Once you know truly who and how you are, being in any relationship with another person becomes simpler. I explain it here:
Step 1 — Know and live your values
Step 2 — Know and live your priorities
Step 3 — What are the key 4 or 5 needs for you in all relationships
Step 4 — What would you like to have in all your relationships?
Step 5 — What are you prepared to give to your relationships?
For today, let’s talk about these 5 steps in a dating relationship.
Dating should be fun. Easy, no angst, getting to know one another, fun. It’s an experiment, and like all experiments we can celebrate successes and we can learn from failures. What went wrong? What did we learn from the last three dates that we can learn from? Either to move forward or to move away. Dating can be a bit like learning to run a marathon. First you walk, then you jog, then you run 5k, then 10k and then maybe the marathon. Or if you prefer, we can think of it like wine tasting. Different flavors, different vintages, all good, but not everyone to your taste.
If you’re one of the people who wonders why your dates turn out to be losers, you may want to consider the five foundation steps to thriving relationships. You’re an adult, right? A grown-up who knows that game-playing or mind reading doesn’t bode well for healthy relationships. Dating successfully is about finding out who you are and who the other person is. Then deciding if it’s a fit.
So, who are you? What are your life values? (list the 5 or 6 key values you hold in life) Do you actually live your values? If kindness is one of your values, are you kind to yourself? And do the same thing with the others on your list… are you really living your values? What are your priorities over the next 6–12 months? Are they clear? Are you working towards them or do they get lost in the dust and noise of every day life?
What do you need in your dating relationships? List the five or six things in your dating relationships that are not negotiable.
What do you want in your dating relationships? What are the nice-to-have’s?
What are you prepared to give to keep your dating relationships healthy and balanced?
And finally, what are five things that make you feel you want to keep going with this person?
Dating is a rehearsal for the real job of sharing your life with someone. So be real, be clear about your needs and wants, first to yourself and then to the other person. And have fun!
Originally published at medium.com