Jim Rohn has a fantastic quote that I live by. It is about why personal development in relationships is so important. It is central in my philosophy on relationships:
Think about the fairytale movie script about what happens when two people fall in love. Two lost souls whose lives are incomplete are wandering through life. They heart aches because they can't be happy until they find their soulmate. Then they find their true love and their purpose is complete. They fall in love, get married, take care of each other and live happily ever after to a ripe old age.
The problem is that this is a completely false representation of real relationships.
Are you a single person who meanders through life thinking your life is incomplete until you find your soulmate? Unfortunately you are going to stay single for a long time with that mentality.
We all know that tragic person who puts all their problems in life down to the fact that they haven't found a partner. They long for love and every day lived without that special someone is a great burden to their spirit.
Sometimes they will meet someone equally as tragic, and they will fall way too fast into an unhealthy relationship. While they think they have found their soulmate, they just ride an emotional roller coaster for a little while. Then the whole thing goes boom and bust. Neither person was happy with themselves as an individual, so they couldn't be happy in a relationship.
They thought the relationship was going to solve all their problems. When they finally realized that it couldn't it ended in a spectacular ball of flame.
If you want to meet someone for a healthy and grounded relationship you have to be happy in your own skin first. You have to be in the right positive headspace. You can't just tell yourself you are ready for love, you actually have to be ready for love. It requires you to be able to take care of yourself emotionally and spiritually as someone single. Only then can you enter into a healthy partnership with someone else.
When you meet someone with a similar view on the importance of personal development and self responsibility, then you have the ingredients for an excellent relationship. You know you are both responsible for your own happiness and you don't expect the relationship to solve all your problems.
You each are walking your own path through life. Being in a relationship is awesome, but it isn't your life purpose or the sole reason for your existence. You know that if it ended it would hurt, but that you would go on just fine.
So instead of thinking that you are tragically incomplete and expecting your partner to fix you, you take care of yourself while your partner does the same for you. This doesn't follow the romantic movie script but it is a much better model for a real life relationship.
If you each take care of yourself then the space between you is happy and healthy. You can enjoy the time you spend together, enriching each other's lives. You can show love, support and compassion to your partner to help them on their journey, but you know you cannot do it all for them. In return you get their love, support and compassion.
If you each can't take care of yourself and look to the relationship for strength you will be disappointed. Instead of both of you pushing positive energy into the space between you, you will both be poisoning it with negativity and sucking the good vibes away. This is a recipe for bitterness and discontent.
My Experience With This Relationship Philosophy
In my first serious relationship at high school I was the complete opposite of this philosophy. After my parent's recent divorce I thought I was being the man by sticking with my relationship. What an idiot.
I wasn't happy with myself, I didn't even know who I was. I thought that because I had a girlfriend everything in life would be awesome. It wasn't.
At college I got a little bit better. I was more of my own man and knew in theory that I shouldn't rely on a girl for my own happiness. But when my college girlfriend and I went on a break for a few months I felt so empty. I was pining for her and I was so needy. It all ended badly.
It's only post college relationships where I have really mastered this attitude. My first post college relationship struggled because I followed this philosophy, but my girlfriend didn't. She wanted to dive head over heels into the relationship and surrender everything to it. I couldn't live like that so it ended.
My current relationship is perfect in this regard. We both take charge of our own happiness. We see ourselves as two individuals walking along our own paths in life. These paths just happen to travel closely together in the same direction. We try hard not to cannibalize the relationship by sucking the positive energy out of it,
This way we keep some of that carefree joy we had when we were first dating. Because when you are dating there is no pressure. You are living your own lives and spend time together because it is fun. Despite the fact that we live together and own assets together we try and keep that carefree attitude. We live our own lives but spend time together because it is fun, rewarding and comforting. We don't think it is callous to expect each other to take care of ourselves. We think that's the recipe for a healthy long lasting relationship.
To have a successful relationship you have to be growing in other areas and taking care of yourself. You can't be stagnant in life and expect the relationship to nourish your soul.
If you do push the boundaries in other personal development areas it makes you a better person and a better man. If you girl does this too it makes both ingredients in the relationship better. So by default your relationship is going to become better as well.
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