Most of us recognize successful relationships when we see them but we often don’t know what it is that we see that makes us conclude that they are successful. What sets a relationship apart so that it moves from the mundane to the extraordinary? I will look at the main types of ‘normal’ relationships and their characteristics.
- Comfort zone relationships. Couples in this type of union do the minimal work required to keep the bond going. They tend to be selfish with each partner looking out mainly for them self. If you are in this type of relationship, you do not do much for your partner unless this will in some way benefit you. You do only what’s expected of you as a partner and only that (and no more)! You do not pay much attention to your partner and whether or not they are tired, unhappy, discouraged etc. is of little consequence to your own agenda. You tend to do what you want, when you want; with little thought or consideration for your partner. You have no ability or interest in anticipating your partner’s needs. It’s really all about you. You both have pretty separate lives and each of you guards your turf like an angry bulldog. When you fight you do so with no consideration for your partner, you let them have it using cruel and cutting words. As you can see from all that is going on between the two of you, this is a non-successful relationship.
Fully engaged in meeting needs. In this relationship the couple are fully engaged with each other. Our natural tendency is toward selfishness but these are people who have trained themselves to look out for their partner’s needs and to fulfill those needs if they can. They will not act unselfishly every second of the day but you will notice how they care for their partner, how they anticipate their partner’s needs, how they seem to be better together. If you are in this type of relationship you tend to do nice things for your partner and you derive great joy from it. The saying ‘it is better to give than receive’ is your experience. True it makes no sense but you feel great being deliberately kind deeded to your partner.
Mismatched. This tends to be the most frustrating type of relationship where one of you has a comfort relationship tendency of selfishness while the other is fully engaged in meeting their partner’s need. The giver keeps giving and the taker keeps receiving, with the giver getting increasingly frustrated that their partner just doesn’t do anything for them even when they are unwell or under the weather. They seem oblivious to the fact that their partner has needs that they could try and meet. The just seem to be clueless in their self-centered hole. The selfish partner is in self-centered heaven where all their needs are being anticipated and met while they do nothing while the giver is in giving hell where their needs are not even acknowledged. One partner is in heaven but the other is in hell. One feels like the relationship is a great success while the other knows they are in a non-successful relationship.
Of the 3 relationships, which one are you in? Do you want to change anything? If you do then you know which attitudes and deeds you can work on.