Back to Basics
In this blog, I am going to talk about the 7 fundamentals of a relationship. These are essential to an effective and fulfilling life with someone. They will provide a solid foundation on which to build something that can withstand the sands of time and the winds of change. They are love, communication, understanding, trust, honesty, respect, and teamwork.
This should be a no-brainer. Love is essential to a relationship. I’ve talked a lot about love in previous posts, but let’s give it a quick rundown. When you love someone, they are always on your mind. When you wake up, you smile and can’t wait to see them, hear from them, or just tell them you love them. They’re the first thing you think of in the morning, and the last thing you think of at night. This may not last forever for everyone, but love shows itself in other ways.
Maybe you start to miss them, if they don’t live with you, or they are gone for a period of time. Maybe you miss the way they made you laugh with corny pick-up lines. Maybe it’s just the easy way you felt with your legs across their lap as you watch a movie together. Maybe it’s their kisses, their devotion, or even the way they smell as you hug them tight.
Love can manifest itself in devotion as well. Perhaps they gave you a lot of attention, noticed the little things about you, things you don’t even notice yourself. Maybe they like the way your nose crinkles when you laugh or the way your eyes roll back in your head when they tell you a silly joke.
Maybe, for you, love shows itself in the little silences as you are just together. Maybe just the act of being there and being with each other is enough for you. Maybe it’s in the way he caresses your skin absentmindedly. Maybe it’s in the way she lays her head on your chest at bed time. Maybe it’s the way she snores and steals the blankets. I don’t have all the answers, but most of the time, you know love when you feel it.
If love is first in a relationship, then communication is a close second. It’s easy to want some space and so you pull back and don’t communicate as well as you used to. This can lead to some issues if you don’t communicate your need for breathing room. Your partner is left to wonder why you suddenly don’t want to talk to them as much, and then it becomes a cycle that will bring you both down. Communicate your needs. If you need some time for yourself, just say so, but don’t just close off your communication completely. It is essential to a functioning relationship.
Communication can be disrupted for many reasons. Maybe you are stressed because a lot of things keep happening in your life and you just need some time to figure things out. Communicate this to your partner, but also allow them to be there for you. Perhaps they can be that crutch for you for a bit, so you don’t have to go through this alone.
Maybe you are upset at something your partner did. Communicate that. But don’t just eliminate your communication afterward. Trust me, they know they fucked up. You just told them. Odds are, they feel bad, too. Don’t just walk away when times get tough. Communicate your needs.
Understanding is perhaps one of the most difficult things for people, it seems. By nature, we are selfish. We look after our own needs first, and most people don’t seem to look at or try to understand other people’s needs outside of the context of their own life. The rich can’t look at someone in poverty and understand what they need to climb out of it. Someone who has always had a blessed life and doesn’t suffer with depression can’t understand the needs of someone who does. Not without effort and communication, at any rate. I digress.
Understanding goes hand-in-hand with communication and every other fundamental of this. It is the keystone to the foundation we are building here. Your boyfriend upset you. Great, we have identified the problem. You told him that he upset you and what he did and why it upset you. Good. You communicated what was wrong. You need a few days to breathe and separate yourself from the pain. Communicate that. Good, we are making progress.
But here’s the crux. You take a few days, and you decide to keep your walls up. Boyfriend starts to worry. But you needed space, so he does his best to keep giving it to you, but you are closed off. Perhaps you thing he doesn’t love you any more because he isn’t trying. But you can’t know, because you are no longer communicating, and you are not employing your ability to try to understand what he is going through. He’s hurting, too. Maybe try to understand why he did what he did. Try to show some compassion and listen to him, then work together to get past the problem.
Without trying to understand why these things happen, you can’t learn. If you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing. This is detrimental not only to your relationship, but to your personal mental health and any future relationships you may have.
Trust is important. If you can’t trust the one you love, then why are you with them? But let’s look at why you don’t trust them, if you don’t, or even if you are struggling. Maybe they have given you reason not to trust them. If this is the case, then perhaps it is best to get that out early, and move on. Perhaps something happened in your past and you are scared to trust someone completely out of fear that you will be hurt again. In this case, you need to understand that they aren’t the one that hurt you. Or perhaps you just have something in your life, whether it be anxiety or depression or whatever, and maybe you have a hard time trusting because of your own self image.
Maybe it’s a combination of these things. But it is essential that you can be with someone you trust. Someone you trust to be there for you, to not betray you, to love you unconditionally and understand your needs. If you are struggling, talk to your partner. If they are understanding, then they should be able to help you and reassure and lift you up so that you can become better at trusting and having faith in yourself, your partner, and your relationship.
If I have to tell you that honesty is important, then most likely you are a tool. I have a no bullshit policy. I will communicate my honest opinions, fears, worries, joys, loves, excitement, etc. to the one I love. I want them to know who I am.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t lie to your partner. It could be something simple, like you went out to have a beer with the boys but you told her you had to work late. Maybe you are having second thoughts about the relationship. Maybe you aren’t honest about your female friend and how you are developing feelings for her. Or maybe you don’t tell her any number of things. Or him. Or whoever. But lying is bad, mkay? This is the easy part.
But there is another side to honesty. Don’t hide things from your partner. Why are you hiding it? Are you afraid of their reaction? If they trust you and have reason to trust you, then you shouldn’t be worried about sharing this with them. And even if they are having trouble trusting you for whatever reasons, then you should still communicate with them, because hiding something can only make the situation worse. You aren’t a fortune teller. You might be surprised how someone will react.
If you’re hiding something because you are doing something wrong, and you know it would hurt the other person, then this post isn’t for you, because you don’t have love. If you’re hiding an affair or something similar, then all you have is deceit in your heart and you need to do yourself and your partner a favor and just get out of their life.
I have often heard people say, “If you want my respect, you are going to have to earn it.”
This is bullshit. It’s a cop out. If you are in a relationship with someone, then they should have your respect simply because of everything it takes to build a relationship and make it work.
Remember, your partner isn’t you. They are an individual with their own opinions, wants, needs, and fears. They aren’t always going to agree with you. They aren’t always going to be right. But you need to respect the fact that they have those opinions or worries or fears.
If your partner and you agree upon certain boundaries for different social situations, don’t just agree to them and then go out and disrespect them but crossing the line you two drew together. It’s hurtful. You need to respect their feelings, even if you don’t agree with them. If your girlfriend doesn’t like you spending Friday night at the bar with the boys, perhaps it is because she wants time with you and you aren’t respecting her need for affection or attention.
If your boyfriend is uncomfortable with you spending a lot of time alone with another guy, then you should respect his feelings. Maybe he has valid reasons to want boundaries in place. Regardless of your intent or your agreement with his concerns, you need to communicate with him and set boundaries you can both agree to, and then respect them. If you aren’t respecting these boundaries, then what is he to think?
On the other hand, if your girlfriend has a guy friend and you are uncomfortable with certain situations, you need to communicate that with her too. She should respect your boundaries. Or if she is upset because you spend Friday night with the guys, then maybe you should respect her needs for your love an affection. Find a compromise and make it work.
You can only ever give 100% to anything you do. That is the maximum. In a relationship, that 100% accounts for only 50%. That’s it. It takes the two of you. Nobody can give everything they have into the relationship all the time. We all have bad days. That is when we count on our partners the most. Because maybe you can only devote 20% to the relationship because shit keeps happening. If your partner helps pick up the slack, you can get through this. But if you shut down, whether it’s because you are tired or scared or overwhelmed or whatever, then it no longer matters what you really want in your heart, because if you stop giving anything to the relationship, you won’t grow, your relationship will fail, and you will be doomed to repeat the same mistake time and again.
Life is lonely enough. It takes the two of you to make it work. Understand that you need to communicate when you can’t carry your share. Communicate when you need help, or that you can’t be everything your partner needs for a little while. Let them help you. Let them in. They are the ones that have stuck by your side through all of this and they want to be there for you. Let them.