Lucy's Top 5 Tips
• Love and intimacy require work and effort
• Respect yourself and you'll be treated respectfully in love
• Communicate, communicate, communicate
• Understand your unconscious fit
• Don't criticise
Love isn't just something we 'fall' into and stay in permanently. We can't just expect that our intimate relationship will just tick over without us doing anything about it. Instead, love relationships are the classic case of 'effort in, reward out.'
Work It A Little Bit
In the beginning, when passions are running high, we feel invigorated by a new love relationship. When this stage melts away, we can get stuck in a holding pattern which is more about demanding that certain needs are met by our partner. We can become resentful and can even start to look elsewhere to experience again the intoxicating high of passion. Instead of drifting away, talk sensitively to each other about what you originally liked about each other, and about your sex life. In a couple, trust grows when we start to accept and share our fears and vulnerabilities. Never take anyone for granted and don't forget to take time to ask them about their worries and their dreams.
Setting boundaries is vital in intimate relationships. If you feel diminished by a lover or partner, it's important to recognise that in order to receive respect in relationships, we have to learn to respect ourselves. And if for some reason you adore someone who doesn't love you back, have the courage to hold out for a love from someone who does adore you. If the relationship has ended, avoid begging your lover to stay or come back. This means respecting their position, which is gracious, but it's also far less demeaning for you. This way, you respect yourself enough to aim to be in a relationship with someone where the feelings are mutual.
Communication is mainly about listening. It's about hearing what the other person has said, and also what they haven't quite managed to say. It's about asking questions to make sure you've understood what they want to say, and it's about respecting their point of view, even if you completely disagree with it. This is what often causes rows - especially where two people have a completely opposite view of a situation. Above all, re-hashing the same lines, the 'you always do this' or 'you never do that' is not communicating: it's child-like point-scoring.
Also, remember that sex is a form of communication, so think about maintaining a sexual journey in your relationship, which fulfils and nourishes you and your partner. It isn't all about swinging from the chandeliers or getting your partner to dress up as Daniel Craig or Angelina Jolie (although both activities, I'm reliably informed, are fun...) but about celebrating the fact that your lover is in your life.
In our intimate relationships we're often looking for someone who 'fits' and replicates an early template, such as a distant father or a smothering mother. By hooking up with a lover with characteristics which are familiar to us (or at least to our unconscious) from childhood, we are hoping without realising it to 'repair the damage' of those earlier relationships, or to get the love and affirmation we believe we missed out on as a child, a longing we carry with us into our adult relationships.
So identify what it is you're trying to repair from your past in your present relationships and examine whether you have unmet needs (for love, attention, freedom, compassion, or respect) left over from childhood. With this insight about yourself, you will be able to stop blaming The ther for not meeting your needs. This will defuse a lot of unhealthy drama from your relationships.
Criticism corrodes relationships. I read once that for every critical thing you say to someone, you need to say nine positive things to them to repair the damage of your negativity or hostility. Praise your lover when they do something kind or gentle for you (even if it's just picking up their dirty underwear from the floor...) and pay them compliments so that they know you're committed to them as a person.
Another technique is simply to not say that harsh word or provocative/nagging/angry comment you were about to make. If you can do that for two thirds of what you were about to say, you'll find that your relationship can be sweeter. This doesn't mean suppressing your feelings (and a talk with a good friend or therapist can work wonders for getting things of your chest) but about making a conscious effort to put good energy into your relationship rather than bad.