How brash, right?
To self-identify as in a successful relationship.
We don’t know the intricacies and intimacies of other people’s love. So you’ll just have trust me on this one.
Below is an imperfect list of suggestions from two imperfect people in a successful relationship.
1. Have confidence in your relationship.
Think of your relationship like the start of a new company. Limit the transactional lens one needs, but amplify the call for confidence in the company’s movement toward success. Embody that. Your relationship is its own working, breathing entity. It is beyond just you and another person, but a form in its own right. Believe in that form.
2. Read and practice relationship skills.
Some of you might gloss over this. The irony is that when people build a website, they consult the experts, but when they build a life with someone, they rely on their past experiences with past relationships that didn’t work.
There is a body of evidence-based approaches, testimonials, and techniques that relationship therapists get paid thousands to teach, all found in books and online lectures. Dr. Colwell’s The Relationship Skills Workbook is a great resource.
As a person in a successful relationship, I can tell you we have not gotten here alone. In arguments (yes, successful relationships have those), we practice S.E.W.—sensations, emotions, and wants (from Dr. Cowell and Katie Hendrix). We practice talking in T-group format—“I feel…blank,” “In hearing that, I feel…blank.”
We’ve even used eye gazing in times of distress, working to engage our regulatory system. Before you think this is too much or too new agey, ask yourself what you’re wiling to do to argue less or better—to connect on a deeper level with the person you most deeply want to connect with. Leaders of successful companies read books on how to be successful, and people who have built successful relationships do the same.
3. Be intimate for the sake of intimacy.
One day, my partner held me close, we made love for a few minutes, and then we stopped for no particular reason. We just held each other. Afterward, we discussed what it felt like to be intimate without the expectation of climaxing. We both felt a feeling of relief as we expressed to each other our deep desire to be intimate for the sake of intimacy.
True intimacy has no expectations or goals. You can be intimate fully clothed. In fact, I suggest it.
Hold each other with no distractions in the background. Make out like teenagers in the back seat of a car without the intention to go anywhere else.
If I could cement one idea in your mind about intimacy, it would be that it nearly never looks like what some adult sites show. It’s messy, it’s imperfect, there are blemishes on the body, and smells and tastes and buildups that go nowhere, and releases that feel blissful—and intimacy is being there for the other person through it all.
4. Honest investments.
I told my spouse the truth. I have a bit of trauma. I explained how it shows up and ways I act because of it.
He told me his. And we’re still invested.
My boyfriend is sober, so sometimes he gets triggered when I drink a bit too much. But he told me this, and when I see him pull away from me or get a bit quiet, I move closer toward him.
It’s not easy to expose yourself. But you have to tell your partner about some of your perceived weaknesses. Because even if it’s hard to tell them, it’s harder to hide it once you’ve been together awhile.
My partner and I say what we are grateful for before each meal, like a prayer. Find your way and your time to say thank you. Say it often.
This person is the person you chose out of seven billion humans to call your special someone. There are probably so many aspects of them that you are grateful for, so let them know.