Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Investing in Love

Sep
30

What exactly is an investment?  An investment can be defined as the commitment of resources in order to gain a profitable return.  You may think I’m referring to investing from a financial standpoint, but in actuality, we invest different things throughout our everyday life.  We invest “items” such as energy, time, knowledge and even love and emotions.  With every investment, there come risks.  In terms of investing love and feelings, what exactly is being risked?

 By pursuing a relationship of any type, the risks include emotions, feelings, rejection and even love.  The question is whether or not your feelings and emotions are worth risking.  Is the person with whom you have this relationship worth the investment?

When entering into a relationship, a person usually has a good idea of what they are seeking from the relationship, but is probably unclear as to what he/she is willing to risk.  This lack of uncertainty may evolve from a person’s own insecurities or past experiences and may even be due to the clear realization of the return on investment (ROI).  We can define ROI as the ratio of what you’ve gained or lost against what you have invested into the relationship.

Also, when deciding whether to pursue an emotional investment, the other person’s goals must be taken into consideration.  The goals must match up to some degree with your own.  Take for example a guy and girl that have known one another for quite a while.  Over the years, the guy develops feelings for the girl whose feelings remain only platonic towards the guy.  There are two scenarios in this instance.  The guy may not know the girl does not have the same feelings (the risk) or he knows the girl has similar feelings, but he is afraid to pursue the relationship (investment).  He may choose not to explore the possibility of a relationship both because of the risk of being rejected and because of the risk of destroying the friendship.  The guy would then need to determine if a relationship with the girl is worth the investment because of the possibility of no ROI or an undesired outcome.

How does one go about determining if a relationship is worth the investment?  How do you invest in a new relationship if you’re “investment leery” due to past relationships?  The majority of the time you know when a relationship is a good investment or not within a few weeks.  You may even know sooner given you’ve asked yourself the right questions.  When contemplating an investment in a relationship, consider the following questions:

  1. What attracts me to this person?
  2. What is the sort of relationship I’m seeking with this person?
  3. Where do I want to be in five years?
  4. Why did my last relationship (investment) fail?

 The above questions can provide great insight in determining if your investment goals match up to your partner’s goals.  There are instances when a past investment has put a sour taste in your mouth and you may be gun shy to make another investment or even allow someone to invest in you.  Try to avoid this trap as each investment is a new journey and will have very different results.  Past investment strategies that did not produce a desired outcome may cause you to delay or even turn down an investment that may have a positive impact on you.  Don’t be scared to invest what you have to offer.  Resist the urge to make an investment to only gain instant satisfaction

Referencing the definition of investment above, it was stated that an investment includes the commitment of resources.  Commitment is a critical part in any relationship, but commitment in this context has nothing to do with being in a “committed” relationship.  In this case, commitment means to continuously and without hesitation commit your resources:  feelings, emotions or love.  It is simply how willing two individuals are to invest in the relationship.

If you have decided to take the risk and pursue a relationship, don’t be lazy and stop investing.  A relationship could be looked at like a 401(k).  The more you invest, the higher your return will be.  If you stopped investing in your 401(k), you wouldn’t be very surprised when you had very little money in it.  Relationships require a regular investment of:

Time – All about how much time you actually invest into the relationship.  Remember that you can’t save time, you can only invest it.

Commitment – All about how much of your resources you invest on a continuous basis (love, emotions, etc.).

Emotions – All about how you feel when you’re with your partner and how you make them feel.

Esteem – If your self-esteem has taken a hit in the past, it could take years before your investment “breaks even”.  Allow the investment to grow your self-esteem which, in turn, will grow your partner’s self-esteem.

Energy – All about how much energy the two of you invest in the relationship.  Extra energy may need to be invested when times are rough.

Loving someone is never easy due to the fact that many trials and obstacles will be encountered. The investment (relationship) is continuously at risk and sometimes these obstacles might make you feel like giving up. It will be tested as times passes. Risks will always be present.  Always remember though, to love and be loved in return, that is the best result in this kind of investment.

Love and Compromise

Sep
4

For partners to compromise in their relationship, they must first understand how to compromise. This is easier said than done. They must first agree that it is acceptable to disagree with one another as long as no resentment is held against the other. Also, lines of communication must always remain open as it is important to let your partner know how you feel. Help one another analyze the pros and cons of the situation as this will allow the two of you to be fair to one another. Feelings of resentment should never come out of a compromise so be sure the compromise is what you want when you agree to it.

We need to distinguish between a need and a want. Webster’s Dictionary defines a need as a necessity or a requirement whereas a want is defined as to desire or crave something. It is not our needs we have to abandon in a relationship but rather our wants possibly if we must compromise effectively. The basic premise is how do we love one another if we fail to love our selves through self neglect? Can we be free of needs? I really don’t think so. We need water and food at a minimum, but of course there are other needs. In my opinion, needs differ from person to person. One person may need love; another person may need compassion; and yet another person may need ongoing medical attention ;-). An abundant life can come from the fulfillment of our wants. What does all of this have to do with compromising in a relationship? It’s simple. We compromise to fulfill our needs and the wants are just icing on the cake!

Compromising is a basic skill that is for life in general and is an important skill that must be honed to be successfully used in a relationship. Knowing how and when to compromise is a key component to a healthy relationship that will stand the test of time. Without the willingness or ability to compromise, your relationship can be set up for failure. There are plenty of people that view compromise as a sign of weakness or that it makes them appear to be the passive partner in the relationship. That is not the case. First off, it takes two to compromise and secondly, you must make the correct compromise. If you don’t both compromise, then it’s not a compromise. You basically just gave in to your partner. If you suffered a loss or didn’t fulfill a need, then you made a wrong compromise.

Just like any other agreement or relationship individuals enter into, there are rules of engagement so to speak. It’s the same with compromising. Here are a few basic guidelines when compromising:

• Neither of you should experience a considerable loss during a compromise. You will be giving up a portion of what you originally “wanted” due to the nature of a compromise though.

• The compromise should be as close as possible to a “win win” situation for both of you.

• It is central to the success of the compromise that the two of you trust one another will not take advantage of each other during the compromise.

• If you or your partner does not think they will be able to live by the agreement of the compromise, then do not enter a compromise.

To reiterate, every successful relationship requires a fair amount of give and take of your wants. The key to this equation though is balance. Each partner should contribute equally and should receive an equal amount of enjoyment in return. This may seem like a simple concept, but it is one that couples struggle with everyday. Neither of you are ever going to want the same thing at the same time. But if you master the art of giving an inch, your partner is more likely to go that extra mile in return!

Feelings in Relationships

Sep
3

If you are in the beginning stages of a relationship, an established relationship or even a marriage, shouldn’t you be able to ask your partner about their feelings and emotions? I understand the desire to avoid some painful topics, but if I ask you questions about your feelings, it is only because I am attempting to get personal and make an emotional connection with you. Isn’t that what partners in a relationship do? Isn’t that what people that love one another do?

When then is it so hard for some to open up to one another? Remember, there are a number of ingredients in a relationship: trust, communication and empathy, all of which play an important role in this situation. It only benefits us then to open up possibilities for sharing emotions with one another. We have all experienced pain and suffering sometime in our lives, but being honest and open about it gives the listener or the one asking the questions the chance to understand you a little better and to make that emotional connection with you. If your partner does not respond with the compassion and empathy that you expected or deserved, then that reflects on his character and NOT on you, the person that just revealed her emotions and feelings. Yes, sharing such intimate feelings of pain and sorrow can create feelings of vulnerability and even make us feel uncomfortable, but it will also allow us to make connections with our partner that are meaningful and beneficial to the relationship.

Emotions and feelings are actually the glue that binds couples together. Emotions and feelings are the groundwork of your ability to understand yourself as well as to relate to your partner. When you can control your emotions, you can clearly communicate your emotions and feelings as well as let your guard down, trust, become vulnerable and open yourself up to your partner. You will enjoy a healthier and happier relationship.

We all have the ability to experience many emotions including joy, fear, pain, sorrow and anger. But many of us are usually disconnected from these feelings in some way or another. By attempting to avoid these feelings, our emotions have become distorted in a way and have been placed on the “back burner” so to speak. We kind of forget about them and avoid them, but avoiding them can cause serious damage to our relationship. For instance, distracting yourself with some sort of obsessive or destructive behavior in order to avoid these feelings you dislike so much. Or sticking to a single response when someone brings up something that makes you uncomfortable and you retort by making a joke to avoid feeling sad or feeling insecure. Or lastly, you may even shut down completely by totally disconnecting from those harsh feelings. This can be bad for not only you, but for you partner as well. If you shut out your emotions, you’re shutting out your emotions. By that I mean you are shutting out both the good and the bad emotions so you are unable to experience the good things like love, trust and intimacy. It also takes quite a bit of energy to keep these feelings suppressed versus sharing them with the one you love. This can eventually become quite exhausting. And finally, it will damage your relationship. The more distant you become from your feelings, the more distant you become from your partner. You break the line of communication, but you also break the trust that is the foundation of the relationship which could possibly cause some resentment from your partner.

You can change. You can trust and feel safe sharing your feelings with the one you love. Trusting your partner and allowing them into your safety zone is frightening, and if you are afraid of a breach of trust, this can be quite devastating and can damage your desire to ever be intimate again. Always remember, relationships are built on feelings. When those in a relationship are honest with one another, they experience pain at times, but they will not experience the misery of a relationship built on lies or the lack of intimacy by one partner towards the other. Feelings come and go. Only those feelings that you act upon matter in the big scheme of things as well as in love and in relationships!

Love and Acceptance

Sep
3

In the early stages of every relationship, partners are usually ecstatic when they discover they share common interests. When obvious differences arise, these same partners abandon their previous convictions with the same enthusiasm. It is at these early stages in a relationship when that “new love” propels you forward to create similarities when none exist. To go a step further, the intimacy (both physical and emotional) is also effortless. Sometimes couples feel like they can talk for hours or even experience intense passion. As the relationship progresses though, the partners may find themselves preferring television over a conversation or the intimacy could even be on the decline.

Those couples that have been together for years have probably realized that there are differences between the two of them. Since they are human, and no two humans are alike, it is inevitable that differences were eventually going to surface. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Partners can be different but still be compatible if they are compatible in the areas that matter the most such as core values, parenting techniques, etc. Certain differences can actually complement one another though. For example, if you like to cook but you don’t like to clean and your partner does like to clean, then that’s a situation where the differences complement one another. Another example could be personality traits such as one partner is serious and the other partner is playful; or one partner is shy and the other is outgoing. On the other hand, differences can also cause much conflict. For instance, the quietness you once thought was charming can someday frustrate you especially when it takes all of your energy to engage your partner in conversation.

It’s at this point when couples begin to think about change. Something or someone needs to change. Finger pointing begins and couples often seek the help of a counselor. He expects her to change and she expects him to change. How can you change the unchangeable though? The answer is YOU CAN’T. You should accept that person for whom they are and learn to work with their differences as they are to learn to work with your differences. Most of us can easily see how we are different from our partner, but we do not know what to do with these differences. We are usually threatened by them though. We use them in arguments or even in power struggles. Therefore, we destroy or damage what might otherwise be a very fulfilling relationship.

A simple change in perspective, those very same differences can become a passage to the deepest intimacy a relationship has to offer. Differences can be transformed into the catalyst for change, ongoing adventure and personal growth instead of negativity and hurt. The differences will be painful at first, but with time and a new perspective (acceptance), the soul will open and new experiences will soon begin to occur. Work toward accepting the differences that exist. The art of acceptance is essential for a healthy relationship. Acceptance should be an essential tool that is always at hand in your relationship toolbox along with your willingness to compromise and negotiate!

In closing, practicing and mastering the art of acceptance will create a stronger, more fulfilling relationship. There are a few things to remember about acceptance. (1) You should always cultivate a mindset of openness. You or your partner cannot move past your differences unless you both consciously and completely open your hearts to one another. This means even the parts that you wish did not exist. (2) There are many roads to intimacy. The differences exist in how you and your partner get there. Notice I said differences? They do not imply a right or wrong method so you should suspend all judgments. (3) Acceptance is definitely not defined as submissive complacency. Basically, you are allowing yourself to co-exist with your partner peacefully given those circumstances that are beyond your control. (4) The road to acceptance does not entail lying down and accepting everything that your partner says or does whether you agree or not and never challenge your partner to improve. Relationships are built on compromise and change as time goes on. There may be something that your partner can change that would benefit the relationship and this should be encouraged. (5) Once you begin to accept the differences in your partner, you have taken the vital step toward appreciating your partner’s uniqueness. With practice, you will embrace the differences in your partner. It is these differences that make both you and your partner unique. And it is these differences that will make your relationship change over time and become stronger each day. Accept the differences and allow the change!