I’m getting very frustrated with the dating scene and how people approach the process of building relationships with one another. I realize that there are a lot of extra, unnecessary influences that are mixing up what is important in your mind instead of what should matter. And this is why I put pen to paper – ok sorta – my fingers to my keys on my laptop to vent my frustrations and more importantly help people refocus on what creates a happy and compatible relationship.
I’m sharing my insights and experience to save you some time so you can focus on what should matter most to you in your relationship. Also, I’m sharing observations of others I have coached and are in happy and authentic relationships because I think it’s attainable for you too! More importantly, it’s time to get back to basics. You deserve a happy and healthy relationship, but it’s crucial you understand the roadmap that will get you there. Let’s get started.
Opposites Attract, But Are They Sustainable?
Opposites attract, but like-minded people stay together longer. I get it. We like people who have different personalities than us. The person with a difficult disposition can seem kind of appealing. Someone who is rebellious and a little over the top can also be attractive, at least initially. But this is what I have observed in successful couples.
There can and should be some differences, but they should be complementary differences. If you are a little shy, someone who is more outgoing could be a good match for you because they may introduce you to new experiences. If someone you’re interested in is more adventurous then you are, and you’re open to new experiences, they could be a great partner in helping you see the world differently.
But, this is when couples with entirely different opposite personalities can create some problematic dynamics. Say you are very financially responsible, but the person you are dating doesn’t care much about paying bills on time or maintaining good credit. If this is one of your core values and not one of theirs, this dynamic can prove to be difficult and frustrating to overcome over time. Or say you are very tidy and neat and the person you are seeing is very sloppy or even exhibits hoarding tendencies. You might be able to work through it, but if again, this is one of your core needs in your relationship, it will create some ongoing contention and unrest between the two of you.
Sexual compatibility is important. But, here’s the misnomer. Sex matters as much as it does based on the two individuals who are in the relationship. In coaching couples, I strongly advise them to understand their love language because in doing so, it can completely change the dynamics of your relationship.
But, when it comes to sex, sometimes sex (lots or less) matters! Some couples don’t look or need this level of intimacy frequently. But, for others couples, it may be required with more frequency. And this is where the rub happens, no pun intended.
If you are someone who is sexually expressive and enjoys sex a great deal, your partner or SO should mirror this too. Some people like to have sex because it is their way of expressing how they feel about their significant other, how they connect to them or it’s their way of showing affection for someone they love. But, for others sex may not be their primary love language, so they are ok with once a week, once every couple of weeks, etc. The key to compatibility is finding someone who can meet you in the middle and understanding how you can meet one another’s needs.
But again, if you are on two ends of the spectrum, rethink if you can bear it out with this person. There are exceptions to the rule because sometimes when someone meets your other core needs, the emphasis on the physical aspect of the relationship may diminish somewhat or not be as important to you.
Authenticity = Increased Attraction
Authenticity is one of the most important attributes I see between two people who are in a healthy and loving relationship. Let me explain. Have you ever looked at a couple in a room and wondered what in the heck the two shared in common? I’m betting authenticity, realness, and an understanding of one another.
While what makes you attractive to someone initially can be what is visually apparent, what keeps their attention and ongoing engagement with you is who you are on a deeper level, who they are as a person, and how these two things tie together.
Attraction matters. I get that, but if you want a healthy relationship with longevity, you have to delve deeper. You will get older. Things will change. I like the analogy of if this person was to change physically because most of the time people will, would you still be as interested and engaged with who they are as a person?
Here are some questions which will help you along the way. Are they genuine? Do they make you laugh? Are they honest and authentic with you? Show me an authentic couple, and I know that off the bat that relationship has real depth and staying power.
Know Thyself First
Knowing thyself is the key to bringing your best self to a relationship. If you don’t know yourself and you are not attuned to who you are first, then the people you will attract will reflect that as well.
I’ll use myself as an example. I got married pretty young and ended up getting divorced. Following my divorce, I was so protective of my heart because I didn’t want to get hurt. I was scared, and I wasn’t open to honestly having a relationship. During this time, which I called my dating dark ages, I dated people that in reflecting back, I wouldn’t have dated knowing who I am today. They were emotionally unavailable, completely different than who I felt I was as a person, and not a good fit.
But, when I took the needed time to heal from my break-up, get more in tune with who I was, and develop self-love for myself, my dating experience dramatically changed. As you look to build a relationship with someone, it’s ok to pause, step back and take time to be introspective and figure out who you are first.
You will save yourself lots of time of being in relationships in which you aren’t compatible. Being true to you means that you will more likely find the connection with someone who is right for you.
Trust Is a Necessary Foundation
Couples with long-lasting and healthy relationships trust one another. It is because they both recognize that the other person with whom they entered the relationship is trustworthy. If a couple lacks trust with and for one another, I can assure you that their path will be incredibly difficult and trying. Why? Trust is a foundation which is a necessary component to a healthy relationship.
It’s not to say relationships can’t weather this storm. Some do, but trust always catches up with you in one form or another when it’s not there or consistent. Lack of trust with someone you care about is time-consuming, mentally exhausting, and creates additional layers of complication in your relationship. If you are seeing or thinking of seeing someone who isn’t trustworthy, determine if this is something you can overcome or not. Without the trust factor, your relationship is doomed from the start.
Stimulation = Steady Attraction to One Another
Stimulation matters. Get your mind out of the gutter; I’m not talking about that type of stimulation. We covered that topic already. I’m talking about mental stimulation.
If you crave intellectual stimulation and you are curious about the world and want to share this with your partner, and your partner doesn’t share this attribute, this can cause problems in your relationship in the long-term.
Intellectual curiosity levels needed to make a relationship thrive depend on the two people in the relationship. Everyone has different levels of interests and need varying degrees of mental stimulation. The key is finding someone in which you can merge your interests.
Here are some ways to know if you two have enough stimulation to keep your relationship going. Can the two of you hold a conversation that you both enjoy? Do you enjoy the time you spend with your SO? Does your partner make you think or see the world differently? Do you need your SO to challenge you mentally because it makes you better and they do so? Do you want someone who can understand your world of art, business, science, technology, etc.?
If these things matter to you, make sure who you pick gives you the mental stimulation you need. If they don’t, then determine if this is a dealbreaker or something you can manage not having in your relationship and still be happy.
Notice I didn’t write anything in here relating to someone’s dating or social media profile. I think it’s vital that we get back to the basics of getting to know someone in ‘real time’ and in ‘day-to-day interactions with them.’ You will not be living with someone and how they exist in the social media world, but in the real world, so it’s important to get real with who they are as a person. Hope these tips prove helpful to determine what should matter most in YOUR relationship!