I’m going to start this article by just telling it like it is… People suck at relationships. Not that I blame most people for this. Relationships are the central part of life and also the hardest part of life and yet our schools teach us a minimum of 13 years of math and science and geography and history, but nothing about relationships and how to make them work.
The level of miscommunication that takes place in relationships is so extreme that it is a wonder we can manage relationships at all. So often we feel like we’re caught in a losing guessing game in relationships about what we need to do in order to make the other person happy. Today I’m going to end a big chunk of that guessing game for you.
I want you to consider that the minute you enter into a relationship, there are now 3 entities, you, the other person and the relationship. The relationship is the third entity. At any given time, your energy (which feeds whatever it is given to) can be given to yourself, your partner or the relationship. At any given time, their energy could be focused on themselves, you, or the relationship.
Sometimes, energy focused towards the relationship bleeds over and feeds one of the people in the relationship. This is especially true if energy focused at the relationship takes pressure off of one person. But more often than not, it doesn’t. For example, when we go to relationship therapy or to a couple’s workshop, this strengthens the relationship but it does not feed energy to either person. Instead, both people are feeding their energy into the third entity of the relationship.
One of the biggest problems in relationships is that one person isn’t getting fed with enough loving energy. This happens for one of three reasons.
- We are putting lots of energy into the relationship but not into the other person we are in a relationship with.
- We are putting lots of energy towards things we think are for the other person, but they don’t feel loved that way. Essentially there is a miscommunication about what feeds the other person with love.
- One person in the relationship is genuinely uninterested in giving, and is only interested in taking from the relationship and from the other person. This is a parasitic relationship, not a symbiotic one.
It is rare that we are with someone who is genuinely only interested in taking in a relationship. More often than not, if someone seems self-centered or a relationship seems like a one-way relationship, it is because they are either feeding the relationship and not the other person in the relationship or because they are feeding the other person in ways that don’t feed the other person.
What needs to happen in your relationship is a 2-part process.
The first part is that each person needs to write a list of the things that make them feel loved and fed with energy from the other person. Make this list as long as possible and then score them from 1-10, with 10 being the most important and the things that make me feel the most loved and emotionally/energetically fed by the other person. And arrange them in order of most important to least, so that your partner has a reference for the things that will make the most impact. But write it in third person.
Here are some examples…
10 Buy her gifts that say “I care” for no reason other than that you love her.
10 Take her on a date that you plan by surprise
10 Put effort into Holidays/Family days/ Community Gatherings and creating Tradition (This is mostly for the family/relationship… but it would mean so much to her to have the pressure taken off of her by you driving the ‘togetherness’ ship.
10 Help her through her anxiety in the morning/ help her process issues she has with other people.
10 Help her set up and devise ways to create passive income
10 Be a gentleman (opening doors, carrying things, walking on the street side of a walkway, help her on with her jacket, lead her with your hand and being attuned to her ‘state’ and needs as if she were a prized possession).
10 Make sure she is protected. Shield her from unnecessary problems, lock up the house at night. Make sure she’s safe wherever she goes and defend her.
10 Become a Teal Swan expert. REALLY put effort into understanding her and her inner world.
9 Take her to Ballet or Opera
9 Act excited/enthusiastic about things she creates or does or is passionate about. Mean it when you do it. Give her an “I really care” reaction.
7 Hold her tummy
8 Take her to a restaurant… but specifically for her (not just let’s go get food)
8 Tell her she’s beautiful and go into detail.
8 Keep your beard shaved so the stubble doesn’t hurt her face
8 If you know she is struggling with something or is wanting to get into something, put the initiative forward to make it happen for her to get help with it or to do it.
7 Foot rubs
7 Take her to the movies, but a movie you know she would like
7 Make her food you think she’d like or make her tea or some other drink that she’d like or even just get stuff at whole foods for dinner and bring it home for her.
7 Rub her shoulders and neck
7 Post something nice about her on your Facebook account for everyone to see.
7 Hug her from behind
6 Plan a romantic get away where the things that are done on that getaway are FOR her.
6 Do something to make the house even more beautiful for her… like a project you know she would love.
5 Take her shopping using his money wherever she wants or to a place you know she’ll like
5 Love notes
5 Take her to dance class
4 Take her to do art somewhere
3 Make her a rose petal bath
3 Pack a picnic and take her somewhere to eat it.
3 Send her sweet texts during the day
3 Drive her places that she needs to go so she feels ‘supported’ and not on her own.
2 Read books and watch programs on being a better husband/spouse… Take those type of self improvement actions that benefit her and the relationship
- The second thing is to give this list to your partner and to have your partner give you his or her list. And to have a conversation about each item on the list so that you can both arrive at clarity about it. From there, you need to talk about the ways that you feel each of you gives to the other person. What do you do that you think you are doing for the other person? Pretend the other person isn’t even there and you’re telling a neutral third party the things you do for them. And with each item, you get to tell each other whether you actually feel like that is giving to you or not.
Here is an example, for most women, sex is a transaction. It is a way that women get relationship security. So they give a guy sex, which feeds him so that they can get relationship security. So, pretend a man says “I give to you by making love to you”. This would not make a woman feel nourished because it is transactional. She is in fact giving first in order to get. We can debate the health of that state of being later. But for the sake of this episode, a man could feel like he’s giving to her when in fact she feels like she is giving to him.
So much of the time when partners feel like the other is self centered it is because they are both doing something they think is for the other partner at the same time. For example, I worked with a couple that went running in the morning together. The husband listed going running with her as something that he did for her and the wife listed it as something she does or him. On that same list, the husband listed going to art fairs as something he does for her and she listed it as something she does for him. By the end of the day, each person felt depleted by the other and it was because they were spending energy towards the other person in ways that the other person didn’t actually want it. When they figured this out, they stopped running together and they agreed that if they went to art fairs, they would go with the mentality that is was mutually interesting, not giving to the other on either of their parts. Their focus then turned towards what things they could do specifically FOR each other that would have maximum impact. What you find when you do this is lots of time and effort spent running up against a brick wall and instead, by stopping that losing strategy, the space is actually there to put energy into things that actually work. Often they require much less effort as well.
Sometimes, we can do things for the other person or for the relationship that we like as well so it can be something that feeds them and feeds us too. But I’m going to teach you a trick, doing something for the other person specifically in a relationship, always feeds the relationship in the same way that feeding a mother, always feeds the baby in her womb. People who are being nourished by someone else, feel good about the relationship. It makes the relationship secure. So the best way to create a good relationship is to feed them with energy and do loving things for them specifically and in a direct way, not an indirect way.
An example of an indirect way of loving someone is commonly seen in men and their families. A man may focus all of his energy on his work, saying that he is earning money for his family specifically. But they do not feel loved in this way. After all, his financial success is something that means a lot to him. So it seems more self-serving than other-serving to his family. Perhaps a better way of showing love to his family is to set up at least one day a week where his attention is entirely on them without the cell phone.
We must consider that the way we are giving to someone is not the way they receive. We have to strategize different ways to do things for the other person and organize our lives so that what we are giving to our partner is something that they value and receive. Sometimes this changes day to day. We have to be tuned in enough to feel this shift. For example, I may have ‘being taken to the movie theatre’ listed as a way I feel the most loved. But if I get sick, I will feel more loved if my partner brings me hot soup and watches a movie on the couch with me than if he takes me to the move theatre. In fact, in this scenario, taking me to the movie theatre would make me feel unloved because it would mean he isn’t connected with me enough to feel how bad I feel. For more information about developing the capacity to attune to people, watch my video titled: Attunement (The Key To A Good Relationship).
Become crystal clear with your partner or friend about what you are doing for yourself, what they are doing for themselves, what you are doing for them, what they are doing for you and what you are both doing for the third entity of the relationship. Don’t make it a tit for tat type of relationship. That isn’t what this is about. But a relationship is made good by mutual nourishment. You can and will do things for yourself throughout the day. But if you wake up with the attitude of “what can I do to make my partner or friend feel loved and nourished today” and they wake up with the “what can I do to make my partner feel loved and nourished today”, you will both be feeding each other. Some days more of the focus and nourishment will go towards one of you, another day, more of the focus and nourishment will go towards the other. But no one will be starving and both will feel good about the relationship.
From there, every time we go to do something, we become clear as a couple who we are doing the thing for. Is the thing we are about to be doing for ourselves, for both of us, for the relationship, or for the other person? And based off of that information, do we need to make any changes before we go do it? Do we want to go do it at all? Do we want to do it together? Either way, we can consciously see where our energy is flowing so as to create the most harmonious and mutually nourishing relationship possible.