It is very likely that you are in a relationship or have been in the past. It is also very likely that at some point you looked back and thought to yourself, what did I learn? How can I do better? You feel great when you’re in a great relationship and awful when you’re in a toxic one.
It is possible to measure relationships. If I was to ask you from 1 to 10 how would you rate your relationship you could give me a number that connects directly with how happy you are in that relationship.
And if it’s possible to measure them, it’s possible to improve them.
We measure, we taste, we improve.
If we’re familiar with a pasta dish we’re cooking, we feel comfortable changing the amount and nature of ingredients. In relationships we first need to understand what those ingredients are. The good news is that there are far fewer ingredients in a relationship than in pasta dishes.
The bad news: you get any of these wrong and you’ll be eating by yourself.
We exchange touch, stories, bacteria and viruses, light bouncing in each other’s gaze.
We exchange silence, hugs, hand shakes, fist bumps, salty sweat, gestures, breath, genetic code, saliva…
There is so much going back and forth between us that it almost feels like we evolved with the single purpose of communicating. We think we are individual organisms but we are not.
The smallest social unit is not one but two and we go from there.
Healthy relationships need healthy communication. Practice active listening. Learn how to give and take feedback. Be mindful of your words. Be abundant with your touch.
What you are really doing in a relationship is sharing space and time. In that process, you are creating memories.
Your relationship will be built on top of memories. If you don’t have quality time it will be harder to build the trust that you will need for rainy days. Make sure you are abundant with this ingredient.
It comes in all sorts of flavours. It can be dinner in a special place, but it can also be a moment you make special because you start singing, making love, sharing a video or farting. Whatever floats your boat (or your relation ship!).
Remember, create good memories as often as possible.
Are you having fun?
If you’re not, stop and correct the course.
A bit of a loaded word these days. To put it simply, if you don’t share a common mission or set of goals, it will be harder to build something together.
If the relationship you are after is lighthearted, fleeting, a hook up… then and even then you should ensure your purpose is clear to all parties involved.
Purpose can be short term and long term: I’m just here to have fun. I’m here to have fun but I would like to have seven kids. I’m not sure what I want, let’s take it one day at a time, are you ok with that?
Be clear about it. Once you align on purpose, you will gain peace of mind. Purpose leads to clarity and clarity leads to trust.
If you follow the pasta dish analogy, trust is the pasta. It sustains the relationship.
Like with any construction it takes time to build but can be easily lost in a single moment. Once you lose it it is really hard to get it back. That’s why whenever you measure trust it’s usually very high or very low. Sometimes (actually quite often in the beginning of relationships) you aren’t sure.
A leap of faith is necessary, otherwise you’re always on the back foot, setting yourself up for failure. I sort of trust doesn’t really work. And if it does work for you, it does not carry longevity. Words and actions need to go together, intimacy helps build it, consistency helps cement it but the easiest (and most efficient) way to build trust is to as often as possible put the other before yourself.
Ask yourself, from 1 to 10, how is our communication? How much quality time do you have (may include sex, depending on your relationship)? Shared purpose? How much do I trust the other in this relationship?
Once you are aware of the ingredients, the formula is quite simple: Communication, Quality time, Purpose and Trust, all divided by distance. Understanding that, you will be able to see where you need to invest more energy in order to find your sweet spot, your balance.
Don’t worry too much about distance though: that’s why we are here.