If you can’t be yourself with your partner, it is not a partnership.

A shocking amount of couples resign to mere arrangements living together, finding they have fallen into a bit of a rut playing the part of a couple to the world, while silently wanting for true partnership. 

Even if you are married or in a long-term relationship you can still reinvent the relationship and create a true partnership.

If your are single, then you can start from scratch. 

Good relationships are two people being themselves, or better, together.

I have clients that are married, and single clients. I have both received and facilitated couples counselling. From the field research that is life, I have gathered some tips about love relationships that are worth considering.

1 Know what YOU want.

“Know Thyself”

The Ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself”, is one of the Delphic maxims and was inscribed in the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi according to the Greek writer Pausanias.

And why is the ancient two-word saying so relevant today?

Because people need to know themselves.

All too often people get all mucked up trying to control other people and circumstances outside of themselves to feel fulfilled or happy.

Your relationship to yourself is the foundation for every relationship in your life.

You need to know, and honour, what makes you YOU.

Start there, always, and never stop. This does not mean obsessing over your own needs more than the needs of others like a narcissist. Rather, to know where you start and others begin. So you can actually be in a relationship. 

2 Avoid Mistaking Excitement for Love

Passion.

I can’t live without you.

Feeling a void when the other is not there.

Is this romantic? Is this even Love?

Excitement is not Love. Excitement is excitement, it’s a heightened state that many people mistake for love. 

Drama and chaos can be exciting, and many people fall into a bit of a trap thinking passion and drama is love.

Love can be uplifting and have moments of excitement of course, but check yourself if you feel like things need to be “passionate” to be love.

Love is the thing in between the stuff. It’s always there and is not conditional. It is that home feeling, and not alone knowingness when you go to sleep. Love can seem boring to people addicted to the ups and downs of excitement. 

3 Know Your Non-Negotiables

How you eat, how you sleep, your preferred past times, how you take road trips, movies you watch or cannot stand, your things that make you YOU need to be a type of glue in a relationship. 

Mine are no smoking (I can’t stand it in every possible way), a decent relationship to money where they make their own living and are fulfilled or excited by their career, treating animals well and wanting pets, health and fitness, a spiritual practice, no jealousy, the desire to learn and grow, and I do not want to have kids so that is on there of course.

I would never dream to rob someone else of their dreams in the name of my own non-negotiables. I have ended several relationships that were great in so many ways, but the non-nogotiables were too big. 

We need to honour one another enough to not lie to ourselves or another person to “make things work” when really some people just are not ideal partners, and that is ok. You can love people and not be with them on your life journey.

Big Non-Negotiables are the things that you know deeply about yourself that you cannot comprimise. 

Here are some other examples:

Daily Routine

How you live each day tells you who you are. How you wake up, the activities you choose, where you live, how you eat, how you flow in life. If you clash with your partner, this will be an issue everyday.

Family

How will you parent?

The merging of 2 families or cultures- are you truly compatible?

Social Life and Hobbies

If one partner loves entertaining and filling their weekends with experiences with friends and family, and the other would much rather rest and have time alone then how will weekends be in your world? Maybe one partner is a sports fan and will always want their Sunday to watch the game? These types of lifestyle compatibility topics can really weigh a relationship down if not considered.

“Couples with very different interests can have healthy relationships – what counts is that they share common goals and values.”  – Stephanie Sarkis, PhD in Psychology Today

4 Bucket-List Goals: What Does an Ideal Life Look Like?

While these are not deal breakers, each person in the relationship should support the other’s dream life within the healthy boundaries of their relationship.

Swimming in clear water in the Bodrum Marina in Turkey?

Seeing the pyramids while riding a camel?

Race Car driving?

Seeing Jay-Z and Beyonce in Rome or Renee Fleming in Prague?

Learning a language.

Taking classes.

Having peaceful mornings reading, or jumping out of bed for a run.

Living in the climate most suited to your best self.

LIVING.

If there are genuine things that would excite, and delight you on this planet that you have the funds and tCompromisingime to access and the only thing holding you back is your partner who doesn’t want to go, or doesn’t want to spend the money…then are you really life partners? 

5 Complimenting each other without Compromising who you are

Sometimes opposites match, but not too opposite. A good relationship should have complimentary opposites but not constant compromises. This will lead to a build up in resentment from constant disappointment. I see this all the time. We were not taught how to communicate, how to make requests for our needs to be met, or to even how to value our needs in a relationship.

The only instructions people get about relationships in western society are as sophisticated as a cereal box:

  • Grow up and get married, have kids, don’t divorce. 

There’s no insert in the box with tips if you can’t even have kids or don’t want to parent kids.

If the kid is not what the definition of normal is.

If either one of you suffer a tragedy and loose yourself in the process.

And on and on…

You want an actual partner to walk this winding, unpredictable world we live in. Life will be unpredictable, but you can be supported and uplifted by your partner in order to handle challenges together.

6 No One Will Complete You

Your partner is not there to make you happy or make you whole. Return to #1 in this article if you have already forgotten it.

Let’s look at that word “compatible.” 

  • (two things) able to exist or occur together without conflict.

What does it take to find a compatible partner? Not a romantic love illusion pulled from the script of a Hollywood movie. 

It takes radical honesty with yourself and your partner.

Two whole people make a healthy relationship. 

Does whole mean perfect, no.

It means being honest, willing to grow, willing to communicate, courageous and vulnerable enough to share inner your inner truth, daily commitment, conscious choices, levity and play, and consistent forgiveness when you or they are their messy human self.

Great partnerships are not created by perfect people and perfect ideals. Leave that to the movies. A partnership is simply 2 humans deciding to pair up and enjoy life together. Not to avoid being alone, fill a void or their Saturday night plan, or to make their parents happy, but because you are better together.