You probably wish to develop and maintain a successful intimate relationship. Unfortunately you, like many others, might find yourself failing time and again, without knowing why. The seven tips listed in this article explain the ways in which you might be harming your relationships, show you how to stop this from happening and how to develop and maintain a successful intimacy.
1. Get in touch with and understand the needs which affect your reactions and behaviors in a relationship.
Needs you are not aware of might be driving your reactions and behaviors. Are you, for example, driven by the need for love (which might drive you to be too submissive within a relationship?); the need for independence (which might drive you always to keep distance from your partner?), and so on. These needs often affect the way we react and behave in our relationships.
When you become aware of your needs and become able to free yourself from the impact they have over your reactions and behaviors, you will be able to behave with your partner in a healthy and mature way.
2. Understand the fears that drive your reactions and behaviors.
It is certain that you – like almost everybody else – have fears you are unaware of which harm your relationships, such as: the fear of commitment (which might drive you to escape from each and every relationship you begin to develop); the fear of being alone (which might drive you to jump into a relationship with whoever blinks at you); the fear of losing your independence (which drives you to be controlling with your partners); the fear of being hurt (which might drive you to be cautious with your partners, causing you never to dare to open up), and so on. Becoming aware of the fears that control you enables you to combat them and not let them interfere with your relationships.
3. Check whether your expectations are realistic.
It is great to have expectations! It is also natural to expect your partner to be there for you all the time; to love you unconditionally; to always understand you; to always remember your birthday. It is great to expect that you and your partner will always be in a good mood; will always be sexually attracted to one another, and so on.
If you find out that your expectations are not fulfilled, rather than getting angry at your partner, ask yourself whether your expectations are realistic and attainable. Often we set unrealistic expectations which cause us to become frustrated, disillusioned, angry and disappointed.
4. Ensure that your fantasies are realistic.
Fantasies are part of life. They give you something to dream about, something to look forward to. You might fantasize that your love will be just like in the movies; that your partner will supply all your needs; that the two of you will do everything together and never fight; that you will always agree on everything.
But if your fantasies are unrealistic and you hang on to them you are likely to harm your relationship. Therefore, think over your fantasies and determine whether they are realistic and attainable, or tend to verge on dream-like reality. The last thing you want is to ruin your relationship due to unrealistic fantasies. At the same time, for the sake of the relationship, you want to entertain fantasies which can materialize. The result is an important and attainable one.
5. Understand the messages which drive your interactions with your partner.
Messages you internalized while growing up affect your attitudes, reactions and behaviors without your being aware of it. For example, you might have been exposed in your family or the society in which you grew up to messages such as: “A woman should do everything for her partner” (driving you, as a woman, not to demand a mutual give and take with your partner); “Men don’t do housework” (driving you, as a man, never to participate in household chores); “Compromises are most important in life” (driving you never to insist on what’s important to you); “Self-fulfilment comes before relationships and family” (driving you always to take care of what’s good for you first), and so on.
Becoming aware of the messages that drive you and realizing how they affect your relationships enables you to consciously decide how to react and behave with your partner in ways vital to a healthy and satisfying bond.
6. Be willing to take responsibility for your part in the problems and difficulties which arise between you and your partner.
There are many who never admit they might be wrong. They fight with their partner to prove they’re right. This only escalates the problems. However, wherever there are two people there are often two opinions and two perceptions of “how things should be.”
When you become aware of what drives you to react and behave in your relationship the way you do, and of the ways in which you might harm your relationship, you become more willing to take responsibility for your part in the problems and difficulties which arise between you and your partner. Taking responsibility shows that you too might be wrong. Place the relationship in front of “justice,” and be willing to compromise.
7. Develop Self-Awareness.
Developing self-awareness means getting to know and understand what drives you to react and behave the ways you do in your relationship. It means understanding the needs and fears, messages, unrealistic expectations and fantasies which drive you to react and behave the way you do and the price you pay for it. It means realizing the ways in which you might harm your relationship, learning how to stop it from happening and becoming empowered to cultivate a successful intimacy.
Those who have developed self-awareness will tell you that:
- Developing self-awareness is a worthwhile experience which enabled them to get to know and understand themselves better;
- They are amazed by the personal and professional growth they’ve attained;
- By developing their Self-Awareness they have gained a sense of empowerment which helps them to be authentic and true to themselves;
- They are now capable of freeing themselves from needs and fears, messages, unrealistic expectations and fantasies which exerted power over them and are able to make conscious choices about the ways they react and behave in their relationships;
- They feel empowered to develop a successful intimacy.
Give Self-Awareness a chance – it really can make a difference in your relationship!
Gil, D. (2011). 7 Tips on Developing and Maintaining a Successful Intimate Relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/7-tips-on-developing-and-maintaining-a-successful-intimate-relationship/
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.