What makes a good relationship?

Having been in a few long term relationships in my time  –  all of which have  failed, some more dramatically so than others –  I reckon I know a thing or two about what works and definitely something about what doesn’t. I’m not in a relationship now, nor am I looking for one but based on where I went wrong in the past, I’m in a great position to share some key lessons that I’ve learned the hard way. When I look honestly at my past loves, I can see that they weren’t all ‘psycho bitches.’ The fact that now all of them are in long term relationships lets me know what the problem (and their common factor) was – me.

Here’s what I know about making relationships good:

Being kind, not cruel. Honesty is good and I’m all for freedom of expression. It’s okay to speak your truth and to feel safe enough to say what’s on your mind.  In exercising that freedom though it’s worth considering the impact  your words can have on another person. It’s very easy to criticise your partner but there’s a difference between honestly expressing your disapproval and  leaving someone feeling deflated. For everything bad you could say, you can also choose to say something good. Whoever said words can never hurt lied, give me sticks and stones anytime. When you have something negative to say, balance it with something positive and by choosing kind words.

Being open, not closed. If you’re comfortable enough to take a dump and wipe your ass in front of your partner whilst having a discussion about politics or whether to have sweetcorn or cabbage for dinner, then you are totally free being yourself in that shared space – warts and all. We spend a hell of a lot of time with our other half and many of us only find the time to be ourselves when we are actually by ourselves.

It’s easier than you might think to fall into the trap of playing at being in the relationship but not really enjoying true intimacy. Many of us enter a relationship not knowing how to actually do the relationship thing and find ourselves being what we think we are supposed to be. We go into it with wounds still fresh from the past and end up having petty arguments or overreacting to seemingly unimportant things in the present.

Being open in a relationship gives the partnership something special  and it creates a scared space made up of a little bit of each of you. It’s kind of like drawing two circles that overlap, making three distinct areas – you, your partner and that scared space known as ‘us’.  Your  relationship lives in that overlap. Without openness you lose touch with your partner and could even find yourself waking up to discover your wife of ten years has been secretly fuckin’ the pizza guy (because of her penchant for scooter sex!) or that the father of your four children is leaving you to set up home with his personal trainer, Barry, as he approaches mid life, no longer able to conceal his love of spandex!

Being vocal, not silent. Last but definitely not least – communicate. I don’t mean talking for the sake of it, this is about taking the kindness from my first point, combining it with openness and letting your partner know how you feel. It could be about her going to dinner with an ex – you can choose to get pissed off and storm out of the house, you could go and fuck one of your exes (not a good idea, it will catch up with you), you could beat the shit out of her (never acceptable but that’s another post), or you could simply tell her how you feel.

We assume our partner knows what they should or should not do and expect them to just know how we feel. An ex girlfriend of mine didn’t mind me sleeping with other girls, the only caveat was that I tell her. So I had spent years sneaking around behind her back for no reason!  The value of talking about your feelings cannot be underestimated – it’s only when we talk to each other that we know what is really going on with the relationship.

A good conversation can be intelligent, sensual, pornographic, humorous, interesting and much more because when we communicate with someone and really feel as if we are on the same wavelength, something intangible but powerful happens – you feel really connected. I don’t know about you but in my experience a good, kind, open conversation can lead to toe-curlingly great sex, why? Great sex comes through having a strong relationship and without communication you don’t get that. Believe me, it is good to talk.

Join the conversation, leave a comment.

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