(NEW BOOK ALERT: This post is a direct excerpt from the Boundaries & Expectations section of our forthcoming book, “1000 Little Habits of Happy, Successful Relationships“.)
It’s not always where you are in life, but who you have by your side that matters.
“How do I know if I’m in the right relationship or not?”
This is one of the most common questions our coaching clients ask us. And after Marc and I listen to the specifics of their situation, we often toss a question back at them to further clarify their thoughts and expectations. For instance:
“What do you think a “right relationship” should provide for the people in it?”
Although the answer here is obviously subjective, in all relationships, romantic and platonic alike, there are some clear signs that things are going well. So today, let’s take a look at some signs you’re in the “right relationship,” along with corresponding tips that could potentially help you make a “wrong relationship” right:
1. No games are being played.
Far too often, we make our relationships harder than they have to be. The difficulties started when… conversations became texting, feelings became subliminal, sex became a game, the word “love” fell out of context, trust faded as honesty waned, insecurities became a way of living, jealously became a habit, being hurt started to feel natural, and running away from it all became our solution. Stop running! Face these issues, fix the problems, communicate, appreciate, forgive and LOVE the people in your life who deserve it. And of course, if you feel like someone is playing games with you, speak up and establish some boundaries.
2. Everyone is on the same page.
If a woman starts out all casual with a man and she doesn’t tell him that she wants a committed relationship, it will likely never become a committed relationship. If you give someone the impression that casual, or whatever, is okay with you, that’s what will be assumed going forward. The bottom line is that you have to be straight from the start, or at least as soon as you know what you want. Don’t beat around the bush. If someone gets scared and runs away because you were honest and set boundaries, that person wasn’t right for you anyway.
3. The line of communication is open, honest, and clear.
It’s better to talk and find out the truth, than to keep going and get nowhere. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t expect the important people in your life to read your mind, and don’t play foolish games with their heads and hearts. Don’t tell half-truths and expect them to trust you when the full truth comes out – half-truths are no better than lies.
Listen without defending and speak without offending. Communication isn’t just an important part of a relationship, it is the relationship. Relationships often fail because of trust issues, commitment issues, and above all, communication issues. So be honest, commit, be clear about your expectations, and COMMUNICATE always.
4. Loving deeds consistently reinforce loving words.
Nurture your important relationships so that when you tell the people you love that you love them, it’s merely a ritualistic validation of what you have already shown them by how you treat them on a daily basis. Do little things every day to show your loved ones you care. Knowing that the person you’re thinking of has you on their mind, too, means a lot.
Truth be told, you can say “sorry” a thousand times, or say “I love you” as much as you want, but if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, they aren’t. If you can’t show it, your words are not sincere. It’s as simple as that. And there’s no such thing as a “right” relationship that isn’t sincere at both ends.
5. Expectations of perfection are strictly forbidden.
Any relationship that’s real will not be perfect, but if you’re willing to work at it and open up, it could be everything you’ve ever dreamed of.
Your best friends and your soul mate may be far from perfect, but they are a perfect fit for you. Give them a chance to show you. When you stop expecting the people you love to be a certain way, you can start to enjoy and appreciate them for who they are. It’s important to remember that every relationship has its problems, but what makes it perfect in the end is when you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, even when times are tough.
6. Honesty, vulnerability, and presence are held sacred.
Although it may sound risky, the strongest type of love is the one that makes you the most vulnerable. It’s about daring to reveal yourself honestly, and daring to be open and transparent over the long term. It’s about sticking by each other’s side through thick and thin, and truly being there in the flesh and spirit when you’re needed most.
So open yourself up. Truly be with the person you love. Allow yourself to experience them authentically. Tear down any emotional brick walls you have built around yourself and feel every exquisite emotion, both good and bad. This is real life. This is how you welcome a sincere connection with another human being.
7. There is a healthy blend of freedom and teamwork.
Keep in mind that we can’t force anyone to be with us or love us. We shouldn’t beg someone to stay when they want to leave. And likewise, we should never feel trapped in a relationship. In fact, if either person feels trapped, the relationship doesn’t really exist. Because that’s what relationships are all about: freedom.
Relationships are also built on a solid foundation of teamwork. And since relationships are one of the greatest vehicles of personal growth and happiness, the most important trip you will ever take in life is meeting someone else halfway. You will achieve far more by working with them, rather than by working alone or against them. It really is a full circle. The strength of a relationship depends on the strength of its two members, and the strength of each member in the long run depends on the quality of the relationship.
And remember, relationships are rarely fifty-fifty at any given instant in time. You can’t always feel 100%, or a full 50% of a relationship’s whole – life is simply too unpredictable for that. So on the days when you can give only 20 percent, the other person must give 80 percent, and vice versa. It’s never been about balancing steady in the middle; healthy relationships are about two people who are willing to make adjustments for each other in real time as needed, and give more when the other person can’t help but give a little less.
8. Personal growth is embraced, celebrated, and shared.
It’s not about finding someone to lose yourself in; it’s about meeting someone to find yourself in. When you connect with someone special, a best friend or a lifelong partner, this person helps you find the best in yourself. In this way, neither of you actually meet the best in each other; you both grow into your best selves by spending time together and nurturing each other’s growth.
When you honestly think about what you and your closest confidants add to each other’s lives, you will often find that instead of giving or taking things from each other (advice, answers, material gifts, etc.), you have chosen rather to share in each other’s joy and pain, and experience life together through good times and bad. No matter what, you two are there for each other, growing and learning as one.
9. Outsiders aren’t calling the shots.
Relationships don’t always make sense, especially from the outside. So don’t let outsiders run your relationships for you. If you’re having a relationship issue with someone, work it out with THEM and no one else.
You have to live your own life your own way; that’s all there is to it. Each of us has a unique fire in our heart for certain people. It’s your duty, and yours alone, to decide if a relationship is right for you. You’ve got to stop caring so much about what everyone else wants for you, and start actually living and deciding for yourself.
Continue Reading 1,000 Little Habits
If you appreciated the above excerpt from “1,000 Little Habits of Happy, Successful Relationships“, I guarantee you will appreciate the rest of the book…
Sometimes we need to be reminded to actually practice the little habits that allow us to better understand and nurture the bonds that make our lives whole. We need to be reminded to be selective in our battles, too. Oftentimes peace and love in our relationships are both better than being right. We simply don’t need to attend every argument we’re invited to.
Yes, we can do better! Take this to heart. Because as you age, you’ll learn to value your time, genuine relationships and peace of mind, much more. Little else will matter from one day to the next.
And that’s why Marc and I are publishing “1,000 Little Habits of Happy, Successful Relationships” – to be that daily reminder for anyone who’s struggling to change their relationship situation for the better. It’s an inspiring touchstone filled with our best advice on overcoming relationship setbacks, letting go of anger, fostering intimacy and trust, expressing our needs, showing gratitude, and more. Pre-order “1,000 Little Habits” now and read it with a partner, with a friend, or solo.
Now, the floor is yours…
In your experience, what are some good signs you’re in the right relationship?
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.