I’m not sure when I had this revelation, but I know when I finally realized it, my outlook on dating completely changed.
Let me paint a picture for you…
You meet someone and the two of you hit it off. Things are going well and you decide to make things official. The relationship is great and progressing nicely. Then after about a year or two, things seem to have stalled. Starting to sound familiar? Even though you feel that something’s… off, you stay in it. Why? Because you can’t quite put your finger on what’s wrong. Time goes by and that little nagging feeling has grown into a full-on problem. Now the relationship has deteriorated. The two of you fight over the smallest things and neither of you is sure what’s really wrong. Eventually, one of you decides, this isn’t going anywhere and the relationship has run its course. You part ways and you’re both bewildered wondering what the fuck went wrong.
I’ve experienced this at least twice in my life. And each time, it was unsettling because it made me feel like nothing would last. As time passed, wisdom allowed me to open my eyes to the truth… that “hindsight is 20/20” thing.
The truth is, those relationships were doomed from the start. I didn’t know it, they didn’t know it, but yeah, they weren’t going to last. The men I chose in these past relationships were wonderful men. There was absolutely nothing wrong with them and everything about the relationship just flowed. It was pretty low stress for the most part (before it fell apart of course). I chose these individuals because we got along well and I enjoyed being around them. And yet, the relationships still failed.
The reason is simple:
We couldn’t grow from each other.
As I look back on these relationships, I realized that we lacked certain goals: goals for the relationship, goals for each other, goals for ourselves. Without goals in place, there is no progress to be made. There is no “moving forward” and thus, after the honeymoon phase, the relationship stalled.
Relationship goals encompasses the other two aforementioned, but there are some overarching themes. For example, sharing a sacred and unique bond with your partner. Truly supporting and feeling supported by your partner. They are your confidant, your cheerleader, and your advisor. You can trust them with your most vulnerable moments and they share your joy at your greatest triumphs. That’s the kind of stuff I mean when I say “relationship goals”, the ethereal shit… not the “house with a picket fence and 2.5 kids”.
But in order to achieve those goals, the other two need to be worked on. Let’s say your partner really has a hard time expressing that they’re hurt. A goal for your partner would be to help them develop the strength and courage they need to overcome that hurdle; and you do this by making it safe for them to express themselves and then applaud them for doing it (regardless of how it made you feel)… you know, that positive reinforcement. Another example… perhaps your partner becomes passive aggressive when things aren’t right. You could help them by being patient and understanding while encouraging them to move away from such behavior and acknowledging and rewarding their progress.
For the personal goals, let’s just flip the previous examples. If you know you have a hard time expressing yourself, make that a personal goal of yours to improve upon. Same for being passive aggressive.
When the two of you are working on all of these things together as a team, the bond I spoke about in “relationship goals” will begin to form and strengthen. This is how long term love is formed. When you support, uplift, build, and be the catalyst for each other’s growth, that’s when you develop a love and bond that will last. Why will it last? Because you’ll always have something to work towards and as time goes by, you’ll both look to each other to help evolve to your highest self.
So when you’re dating someone, ask yourself (and your partner), what are the goals for us? If you don’t have any, make some!
Single, No Kids, Never Married