Top 10 Brilliant Things I Totally Get about Relationships & am Happy to Share with You.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jun 12, 2011
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Update: This note goes out to all you married or lonely folk who miss the dating life!

So get this—last week, the love of my heart told me it was all over because of an awkward skype call where she didn’t appreciate my bored, passive-aggressive, I heard you and I get it and am not and don’t want to rush things either, what else reaction to being told things were moving too fast (for the fifth time, by her admission)—so that ended five months of bliss in one 10 minute chat.

Then, one of the most amazing women I’ve ever known (never dated, one or both of us is always in a relationship) visited, we had a wonderful hike and romantic non-date (she’s dating someone) dinner…but the possibility of any future profound love between us may have ended at around 930 when I got tired (my back and health has been out since the flood, a bit) and my charm kinda ran out of juice. So, possibility of lifetime of love canceled due to not feeling well for half an hour? Nailed it.

And then, tonight, a new low, I got a thoughtful “Dear John” letter on Facebook…from a girl who had asked me out…who I’ve never dated.

Still miss dating? (smiley-face emoticon)

From 2010.


Top 10 Things I (Don’t) Understand About Relationships.

Love is Heaven, War is Hell, and Dating is a bit of Both.

I’m 36 years old.

I’ve dated a few women in this short, precious human life, so far. I’ve dated some amazing women, some okay ones, and one or two…”wonderful women with whom it didn’t quite work out with.” I’ve spent some time on my own, nursing a few wounds. And I’m proud to be friends, if not out of touch, with just about every ex who’s ever been a VIP in my life for however long.

All along the way, I’ve learned plenty of lessons (and had to relearn a few, too). A few years back 5280, Denver’s main magazine, named me as a top eligble bachelor. Sexy Single, they called it. So you might say I’m a real authority on the subject (you might be wrong).

So lend me your ear and I’ll blog you a list of everything I’ve learned, in precise detail.

Enjoy. You owe me, as you’ll see.

10 Things I Definitively Know, Understand & Get about Relationships.











Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” ~ Winston Churchill

Here’s 10 Tips from someone who might just know something, unlike yours truly.


All jokes aside, at the ripe old age of 36, I feel like I know and get and understand less than ever. I’m backsliding, if anything. But that’s okay: in Zen they call it Don’t Know Mind: the less you think you understand, the more open we are, the more we rest in Beginner’s Mind.

For now, being alone seems increasingly attractive: I can work obsessively, which I need to do right now; I have time to exercise; and I don’t have anyone trying to fix me except me—and my first therapist, and my meditation instructor—and they both realize I’m fundamentally blue sky, as are we all.

So if I dared to proffer any advice from the trenches (as opposed from on high), I’d keep it simple: be brave. Have confidence to go beyond hesitation. When you feel all alone, depressed, sad, like everyone out there is happy and picnicing and smooching and going out for brunch except you, stop thinking about them. Work on yourself. Get outside, enjoy the sun. Do something kind for someone: never fails to make you, somehow, feel richer. Get out and do things: BBQs, sports, crafts, cycling…get offline (except to check elephant, y’hear). Don’t look for someone who makes your heart go pitter-patter. Look for someone who’s willing to be half-wrong, all the time—to meet you halfway. As a Buddhist teacher friend of mine said, who’s in a deliciously long and happy marriage, he said…be willing to be the first one to give an inch. Even if it’s not your fault, be willing to be the first one to give an inch. I’ve never forgotten that, and practice it constantly (it takes constant practice: it’s hard).

Here’s 10 tips from my Grandma, who actually knows something about real love.

Good luck out there: Love is Heaven, War is Hell, and Dating is a bit of Both.

PS: in comments, share one hard-earned tip for me and the others on being alone or dating with minimal drama, maximal sanity?


Bonus: Say, Kay, bowling or bike trip or weenie roast? Yes, Nick, it’s a date:


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


56 Responses to “Top 10 Brilliant Things I Totally Get about Relationships & am Happy to Share with You.”

  1. Leslie says:

    "As a Buddhist teacher friend of mine said, who’s in a deliciously long and happy marriage, he said…be willing to be the first one to give an inch. Even if it’s not your fault, be willing to be the first one to give an inch. I’ve never forgotten that, and practice it constantly (it takes constant practice: it’s hard)." Honestly, this is still the best advice. My husband and I have been married for 23 years (together for 32) and truly….being willing to do more than what you think is your share, sometimes WAY more, and to admit that you are wrong, or at least very, VERY sorry about whatever disagreement you're having is crucial. Once, a long time ago, when we were young, my friend got married, and at her bridal shower we did this thing where everyone wrote down their advice for a happy marriage. As a wise old married person (of all of 2 years, I think) I said, "Don't let the little things become big things….and always make sure you see the little things as big things." Looking back….that was wiser than I knew.

  2. When you're angry with your partner, take at least one moment to remember that this same person who may well have dropped the ball in whatever particular situation has you pissed at that moment, is the very same person who has done so many cool things for you, had your back so many times and help provide you with all of those delightful orgasms.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Amen on Trust your Gut!

  4. erin says:

    will you marry me?

  5. sarah e. says:

    If you can recognize when you are just grumpy or tired or sad and ask for a hug, you can avoid a lot of fighting. That’s my advice!

  6. Tim D says:

    Hug it out!! Forgiveness & safe respectful communication..I’ve learned the hard way .. Xoxo to ya all

  7. The best thing I've taken from relationship failures is that, although relationships take effort, for the most part – they should feel relatively easy. They should feel natural. No struggle, no resistance.

  8. elephantjournal says:

    I picked up a mentor of mine, Wily, at the airport yesterday. He just got remarried at age of 64. He said, it's about finding your best friend, not love.

    So simple.

  9. elephantjournal says:

    Love that!

  10. elephantjournal says:

    I've had a few like that—friendships, really.

  11. I felt like I had more to say on this subject, so I did. Thanks for the inspiration, Waylon!

  12. […] I don’t understand relationships, I loved Waylon Lewis’ article today, and it got me thinking that although I don’t understand relationships, I’ve certainly […]

  13. Katherine says:

    *Sounds* simple, but it's not. ;o)

  14. yogi tobye says:

    The only Woman you'll ever completely know where you stand with, is your Mother.

  15. […] only seeing a healthy relationship between both my parents but my dad has given me insight into all my relationships. Even into the man I would want in my life. Like my mother, I could never be with a man that […]

  16. Eric says:

    Relationships are not to make you happy. They are to make you conscious. Every button that gets pushed, everytime you are frustrated – that just points out where you need to work on yourself.

  17. elissa says:

    Love that too

  18. catnipkiss says:

    "The secret to having it all is believing you already do" – this could be especially true of being single. I struggle with thinking of the rest of my life alone, no partner (NO SEX?!?!?!??!) but if I look at only TODAY, I can be happy, I can be productive, I can connect with others in my life. That's pretty Buddhist, isn't it?? 😉

  19. Alexis says:

    Never underestimate the power of an apology!
    Also, as a single, someone told me once to fill my sails with wind, chart my own course and everyone will want to cruise with me. Live for yourself first and become who YOU are. Once you find yourself, you can start looking for someone else to sail with! For me, it's been a slow process, but I think it may be working? Weird right?

    I've read this before and I do love these thoughts. Good luck to all us singles especially to you darling Waylon!

  20. Beka says:

    It's an old cliche but picking your battles is the best way to go. Do I care that my husband leaves his used coffee mug and cereal bowl ON TOP of the dishwasher, every day? Yes, yes I do. But it will take way longer for me to try to reason with him about it than just putting in the dishwasher myself. Besides, he does make the coffee every morning. 😉

  21. elephantjournal says:

    Angie O Your Grandma is a smart Lady. A date? jeez louise, what is that?

    Ana R AHAH great introduction to the article xD

    Stacey V Awe very sweet! I've been around a bit but not as long as grandma.I don't think I could fill in the 10 lines but one thing I do know is the dating part should be up there with "as good as it gets"! So if someone isn't feeling that way about the person they are dating I often wonder what they are in for! If what you are getting then isn't great most of time then run for it!

  22. just found this and loved it. advice? you want a tip from one who is married but loves being alone so much she often forgets said marriage until he mentions food? 🙂 I'd say enjoy it, and only deign to share it with one who also loves to be alone sometimes. Or most times. 🙂

  23. karlsaliter says:

    1) Remain fundamentally blue sky.
    2) Give as if you are as a couple a single entity, and giving to them is giving to you.
    3) If I can quote Andrea Balt here, and I can, "Eat your ego like a candy bar."

  24. Alexis says:

    With any relationship that I've ever been through, my father constantly (& wisely) reminds me:
    "Be with someone who gives you energy, not takes it away from you."

  25. !. Find someone with psychological/relationship savvy and a spiritual discipline to partner with.

    2. Be willing to be vulnerable and to admit your own challenges in life and in relationship.

    3. Be willing to work on your own hang-ups, preferably with a good body/mind therapist.

    4. Tell the truth.

  26. Alyssa says:

    1. Never date or marry anyone crazier than yourself.
    2. The picture of the overweight little boy (above) is very sad. He will never live down the photo, only be taunted the rest of his life for it. He's smiling on the outside, but on the inside, he probably hurts… a lot.

  27. Kathy says:

    Every relationship is a chance to learn something about yourself, since the person you searched out is a mere reflection of a part of you that may be hidden. After each break up, 1 divorce and many heart aches, I also say "Thank You" to that person, regardless of the outcome. One more thing… always give it your all in each relationship. If you're not, you are not only missing an opportunity of really meeting your true love, but you're cheating yourself out of not sharing the best & worst parts of our own humanity with another. Isn't that what we are here for? True connection?

  28. Natalie Baginski says:

    i just want a t-shirt that says "i fuck on the first date"

  29. nledonna says:

    Only put out there who you really are, how you feel and what you want… in the moment. Be honest with yourself first.
    If you are going to partner, and especially live together, make sure there is high compatibility, things you like to do together in the same ways and if not, agree to live lots of your lives separately.
    Be clear, in yourself first, if you are okay with settling, or you are going to hold out for the real, total experience.
    Good luck my friend.

  30. Ashe says:

    Using past arguments as ammunition for present or future arguments usually hurts everyone, it rarely to never helps. This is actually quite difficult to do, especially in the heat of the moment, but I've found that by trying to keep the current issues current helps quite a bit in lessening potential anger, resentment, and hurt.

  31. Andrew says:

    I'm with you brother!

  32. Jennifer White says:

    Love this. My tip, as per the end request, to never forget that our positive and negative qualities are the flip side of the same coin. What you love about someone (and what was part of that initial spark) might eventually wind up annoying you. Look at that other side (and hope he or she is doing the same).

  33. Janis says:

    After keeping a marriage alive for 21 years, it's not relationship advice I look for. Being 40, I now look for tips on being alone, single, and dating (or at least attempts at dating). The hardest thing I've learned is to overcome fears, of all kinds. And the most fun thing I've learned is to get out of my comfort zones, of all kinds. So, for now, I'm having fun, enjoying, learning, and growing. Then one day I will find a connection with someone who wants to share our journeys together.

  34. Amanda says:

    Coming from a lady who is separated from a 3 yr marriage/ 5 yr relationship. All I can say at 38 is get on the mat and when you go out for fun be open to making new friends.

  35. Monkey says:

    Being alone and somewhat introverted I have just discovered that what I have interpreted as depression for so long is actually the little boy voice inside me telling me to go home curl up and read a book like I used to love doing when younger.

    And the critical adult voice is saying I should be out there being social with huge amounts of friends and have my calendar full to the brim of events and friends and… stuff.

    When actually I like curling up with my books and I feel depressed when I "should" all over myself.

    Love you tender little me.

  36. Tracy says:

    I second "Pick Your Battle", but balanced with saying what needs to be said calmly and with respect, when it needs to be said.

  37. Robin says:

    Recognize if relationships aren’t something you’re made for, and that’s ok.

    I’m 36. Intense, uptight, & tempermental—and that’s on meds. And other people often confuse the hell out of me. A few isolated dips in the dating pool taught me nothing, except how much I dislike dating. Oh well. I have my interests and activities; no one ever approaches or shows interest, so that’s just the way it is.

  38. Rebecca says:

    Even though I’m in the first happy healthy relationship of my adult life, the greatest lesson I learned from my single hood is that you have to be your own best friend. Love who you are, make yourself laugh, spoil yourself. If you don’t pour love into yourself, you’ll never be able to love another fully. Enjoy your “you” time while you have it!

  39. redthread21 says:

    i'm sorry… no tips. just wanted to say the video was hilarious!

  40. prinnysprims says:

    Hi wanna chat? 😀

  41. Doris says:

    After an emotionally abusive first marriage, and some epic dating fails, I found my soul mate after starting to think such an idea was absurd. My advice is you will know when you meet the right one. If you have to convince yourself at all or weigh pros and cons, move on. My husband and I knew very early we were right for each other. We were both at a point where we were happy with ourselves and authentic, no masks, no trying to be what we thought we should be. How does this marriage work so much better than the first? Gratitude. We are both so grateful to be with someone who gets us and appreciates us, that being loving and focusing on the positive is the priority. You can disagree without name calling or taking jabs. Another major tip is to throw away the scorecard mentality. We do things for each other out of love, not to win points. Keeping score leads to contempt and that kills love. Oh, and touch is important and of course, as much great sex as possible:) If sex is a chore, you are either doing it wrong or not with the right person.

  42. Natalie says:

    stop looking and stop waiting for someone to "complete" you. be happy and "complete" being you (know who you are or figure it out single), don't give yourself a timeline for finding "the one", there may be several and you may find him / her where you least expect it – keep an open mind.

  43. Liz Coleman says:

    The best advice i learned is to ask ‘do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?’ That reminds me to express from my heart rather than my ego. At the most difficult times I can at least get curious and stop talking 🙂

  44. Betty says:

    Lasting relationships take 110% effort on both sides. Be willing to forgive, be willing to admit you are wrong. Listen and think before you speak.

  45. becky says:

    I'm recently married after dating lots of men over the years. What I have learnt is:
    1. Don't go to sleep on an argument
    2.Recognise that your partner isn't perfect but then neither are you
    3. Forgive your partner the way you would forgive a friend. If a friend doesn't call when they say etc you don't go crazy, do the same for your partner
    4. Always say thank you for the small things
    5.Don't nag. When people nag the other person just hears noise. If you don't nag/moan in general your partner is more likely to know when something has really upset you.
    6. Compromise. Sometimes the feeling you get just for doing something that the other person wants to do is worth it, even it does mean going for dinner with their friends you don't particularly like or watching a sport you don't particularly want to.
    7. Touch, even if it is a small rub of the back or peck on the cheek as you pass.
    8. Don't rehash old arguments. Resolve it and then move on.
    9. After a row do something fun, even if you don't feel like it.
    10. Have time apart e.g seeing friends on your own, doing a sport whatever it is it gives you things to talk about and the lovely feeling of seeing them again after time apart is lovely.
    11. Love yourself. Once you're happy and confident in yourself you can truly let somebody else love you.

  46. Carla says:

    that's beautiful.

  47. Dee says:

    This helps so much to read. Thanks Doris. I am in the "emotionally abusive first marriage ended and epic dating fails" stage right now, and so it gives me hope and reminds me that there is something more out there that exists and I will find eventually if I spend time loving myself, building my own life, getting myself emotionally healthy, and stop trying too hard to make relationships work that are not the right ones for me. I am happy for you you have found a loving relationship and shared your wisdom.

  48. Erin Goodman says:

    To others give compliments. From others appreciate compliments. And its okay to have crushes on every single person you meet, doesn’t mean you have to act on it. Just means you appreciate beauty. Follow your gut and forgive those who don’t understand your point of view. Is this relationship advise? Idk.

  49. Erin says:

    Hey Robin, how you doin'? 😉

  50. Erin says:

    Either be a good cook or be a good cleaner.