How to Pick the Right Relationship
We all want to be in a great relationship, but so often, what at first seems wonderful doesn’t pan out. Here’s how to make sure you’re in a relationship that will work in the long run.
Don’t try to control your partner. At all. Ever. You wouldn’t do it that way? So what? Maybe they like doing it that way. Maybe your way isn’t the best and only way in the world to do it. Criticism is corrosive, and removing it entirely will dramatically alter the quality of your relationship.
Imagine your partner is barefoot on a dance floor. If there are thumbtacks on the floor, they can’t dance freely; they always have to watch their step. But when they know the floor is free, they can dance, jump and soar. Your criticisms are like those thumbtacks; even a few inhibit your partner. Without them they are free to be themselves and express themselves fully. The experience of being fully accepted is radical, and creates a different quality to the relationship. You should, of course, also expect the same from your partner.
Many relationship experts accept and even encourage criticism and conflict within a relationship. A much-quoted number is that compliments should outnumber criticisms by five to one, but this is just plain wrong; diluting the poison sufficiently may not kill you, but it’s still not good for you.
What’s necessary for this full acceptance is having shared core values, whatever they are for you. They may include ethical values like lying or cheating, life goals like traveling or having children, a lifestyle like living frugally, or religious beliefs. It takes a while to know if your partner holds the same values, and this knowledge comes not from what they say but from how they behave in the world. If your partner does not hold the same values, the difference will be a constant source of conflict, but once you know these are aligned, nothing else matters. (If it does, that’s your problem. Work on it.)
Of course, once you’ve found the right relationship, you need to take care of it; this involves individuality, acceptance, being present, and how to deal with disagreements. Without conflicts, though, this becomes not work, but a joy. But the issue of control is the big one. Get that right, and the rest follows.