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I haven’t been in many relationships in my 33 years of living.
And, to make things even more unique, I spent 12 of those years inside a monastery living as a celibate monk. So, what the hell do I know about relationships?
During my monastic journey, I became a philosopher, a priest, a counselor, mentor, writer, expert meditator, farmer, construction worker, baker, brewer, and fitness enthusiast—I did a lot by myself.
The training was designed to make a complete type of soldier-monk-philosopher—and it worked. I became a “complete person” and after several years living that way, I was able to start helping others live together, even without being in an actual relationship. I mentored hundreds of people, from young men needing to find their masculinity and purpose, to couples, husbands, wives, and depressed, suicidal teens. All the while never knowing the actual feeling of love with another person.
I had a lot of time to observe, research, and grow as an individual. And I began to understand and experience the love of a philosopher: love absolute. I was basically in a university for 12 years, and my master’s would be in The Art of Living, and as Aristotle would say, living well. My rigorous training allowed me to take a break from the world and enter into a system of high standards and controlled variables. The monastery was basically a “perfect world” and I got a chance to stay there for 144 months!
But would my training also work here in the real world? Absolutely.
In a few weeks, I am celebrating my first year as a civilian, entrepreneur, lecturer, mentor, teacher…and I’ve spent half of the time in a thrilling and passionate relationship with someone who I’m ready to spend the rest of my life with—and I wasn’t even looking for the love of my life.
How do we get the fairy tale love story? How do we find that someone who takes over our every thought and makes us question our own sanity? There’s an ocean of wisdom in the subject that only comes to us in handfuls of sand as we live our short lives. I’m attempting to put a few grains here for you and learn a little about the whole thing myself, too.
These are my top five rules; may they be of benefit:
1. Never stop developing yourself.
Obvious right? Wrong. This rule is one of the most forgotten aspects of the human pattern. We leave school, get a job, and just get caught in the flurry of life all the while forgetting that our schooling should never really end. Our mind is like a well-seasoned cast-iron pot and, over time, it gets washed and washed and washed with the influences of life: social media, technology, relationships, family, friends, yadda, yadda, yadda. And the fine coating of education, personality, and individuality slowly gets lost in the wash. Over time we become dull and just try to go off of what we learned 10 years ago.
When was the last time you finished a good book? A book should offer value in the form of morals, ethics, and history, and it should express characteristics of influential figures throughout history. Ever read the autobiography of Frederick Douglass? Do you know who that is? He helped end slavery in the United States and he spent the first nine years of his life naked and sleeping in a potato sack. Is that knowledge going to get the fairy-tale love of your life? No, but it will give you a foundation of what you know you can endure, and that will make you more of a developed person who knows right from wrong and toad from prince.
Spend more time taking care of you, your health, your family connections, resolve as much past trauma as you can, and view the contents of your mind in meditation. Be selfish about it. You can’t give someone else oxygen on a plane if you don’t have any for yourself.
2. Stop looking.
I know this sounds risky. “If I don’t put myself out there how will I ever meet someone?” goes through your head.
I’m not a fan of dating apps and speed dating events wrapped up as social gatherings put on by your athletic club. Why? They put you in a forced position of connection, and true love—most of the time—is not forced and it sure as hell is never planned.
You want to live your life, be at your spots, and do your thing as a complete, whole person. Then, when you are in the middle of doing your thing, that person will be there. That’s where you want to meet them, not at some event where everyone is saying, “Nothing else worked.”
A true connection between two people means having similar interests and doing things together and, most importantly, evolving together beyond what each one could have done alone. When you see other people doing the same things you like to do, or even love to do, then it’s easy to check off some of the boxes and you know there’s an invitation to have someone with you who also likes what you do because they do it, too.
Live your life and have trust that the person you’re supposed to meet will be there. But that means you are also responsible for creating the meeting to see if there’s something there, which leads to the next rule.
3. Ladies: You need to go get him/her.
Yup. My woman came right up to me and said, “Let me buy you lunch.” And you know what, in my head, I said, “Hell yes.” She knew what she wanted and she wasn’t afraid to put herself out there and take it, and that’s exactly the kind of woman I wanted in my life. And sure enough, she took me out. When I tried to repay the favor and buy her lunch a few days later she said, “No, let me buy you lunch again.” I then moved to make her dinner and the rest is history.
Women have a much better chance if they go out there and get front and center. That lets us guys know you’re interested and we are then allowed to gracefully and eloquently take the next step. Guys, I’m not saying this is all you have to do or wait for it, I’m saying you now have permission to be a gentleman and take her out dancing without feeling like a creeper.
Of course, there was a lead up to her asking me to lunch, I was her personal trainer. But the same rule applies: make small talk in a setting you both are already at naturally and read the other person quickly. If you’re well-developed on your own path, this shouldn’t be too difficult, just see if they are on a similar level or higher. If they are, go for it. Ask to continue the conversation over coffee or lunch. The days of waiting for him to ask you are over, but guys that means the next rule is even more important.
4. Guys: You need to be more prepared.
With rule number three asking women to make the first move, it implies men are worth having a move made on them. So, this one is for men:
Men, you should spend more time getting in decent shape. I’m tired of seeing beer guts on everyone just because craft beer is in. Grow up, do some push-ups and stop looking married when you are single. Soft, hairy guys who spend too much time inside are not giving off much “worth pheromones.” And the guys who are sexy and gym certified are often dumb as a sack of hammers. Men have to be more balanced than ever before since we don’t get the chance to chop wood and hunt anymore.
Prepare yourself for your love by developing your body and mind in order to handle a creature who needs protection, whether she says it or not…she wants that. She wants to know that in a fight you would do something, in a competition you could win, and with a child, you could provide and keep them both safe. And for God’s sake learn how to cook, dress well, and speak with a little bit of intellect so she doesn’t quite understand what the hell you just said but it sounded good.
Stop trying to be on her level, be better—so she can relax under your masculine wing of protection. But, never forget the last rule!
5. She’s always right…even when she’s wrong.
A woman will win an argument under any situation if she wants to. She can remember the little shit you did months ago and will hide it away in a special part of her brain and she’ll use it when you least expect it. She may even use it when she loses the upper hand.
“Yes, ma’am” and “yes, honey” are your new mantras. Clean up like you were never there, let her have the last word, and stop being so cheap. You’re still masculine, you’re still a powerful male in the world of humans but with her, you are in her home and under her domain. She may not keep the same standards but that’s none of your business. We don’t change other people, we simply act with high standards and that will attract someone with a similar nature.
It’s okay to be wrong, it’s okay to be a “dumb dumb” and put the wrong things down the sink, but don’t try to defend yourself when she calls you out. Just say sorry and admit you’re a bit of a goof.
Know when to push back a little to make it fun, but don’t try and end the situation as the victor. When you end up being right, she ends up being wrong and no one wants to live with a defeated partner. Deep down (sometimes not so deep down), women are fierce and control the very substance of creation itself, so be careful, tread lightly, and make it known that she is the queen of all that ever was and will ever be.
One of the burdens of being a man is the amount of stress we must absorb and process. Once the man gets just as stressed as her it won’t work. Men, be calm in the face of her wrath and she will inwardly know you are the one and safe to be around, but on the outside, she will know she can never be wrong.
I’ll be as clear and honest as I can here: You’ve never watched a movie until you watch one wrapped up in the arms of someone you’re crazy about, under the covers and safe from any and all potential danger. You’ve never quite slept a decent sleep until you share your bed with someone you can’t imagine being without. Love is a real thing, and it is worth the pain of being apart to figure that out.
The challenges and burdens of a relationship are the cost of the love received from another person, and for me, that is the same as any type of divine love. Humans are the expression of whatever divinity wants us to be in motion, and human love can transcend this world and make us lose ourselves as we merge into another being creating a oneness. Our energy becomes useful once someone is there to receive and reciprocate. Yin and yang can finally come together and create a true balance when two self-developed humans meet.
These five rules aren’t all there is to a successful relationship, and I’m still learning so much every day (especially rule number five). But the key is I’m open to change, open to a new perspective.
We each have our strengths and weaknesses, and a complete pair know that their other half has developed what they haven’t, and vice versa. To not see that means you are not yet ready to learn more and you may become like a cup filled to the brim with no room for more growth.
The greatest rule of all could possibly be that we should never really fill but remain an empty cup, ready for whatever the universe has for us today, and whatever new experience needs to get poured in, as we continue our journey on this great planet of yins and yangs.