I believe that there are very few relationships that could be defined as GREAT. These types of relationships are few and far between, and so many people are either married or involved in a romantic relationship, that the laws of probability just show that the majority of people in this world are either in a bad, okay, or a “good enough” relationship.
But very few are in a GREAT relationship. Simple truth.
When you think of great relationships, you think about those couples that you define as “couple goals”. They’re the types of couples that you watch how they are together and can’t help but have renewed hope for true love. They’re the types of couples where you can feel their love. Even when they’re on opposite sides of a crowded room—you feel their love in a little look or smile they give one another in the middle of a conversation.
Being in their presence even makes you feel better because you feel that love force binding them together at all times. This is a really nice change of pace to being around the types of couples who always come carrying fart energy that makes you feel tense and uncomfortable.
Okay or good relationships aren’t necessarily bad enough to lead to a breakup, but they’re where two people are not as happy as they’re capable of being in a romantic relationship. Whether that means their relationship has lots of room for improvement (which, of course, it does!), or they found each other and became happy enough, and eventually, over time, surrendered to that relationship and threw away the idea of leaving in search of something better.
So what sets a GREAT relationship apart? What do GREAT couples do that good enough and okay couples do not? Or at least don’t do as effectively?
The truth is, every relationship requires different things to succeed. Every person needs and requires different things to feel satisfied, secure, and content within a relationship. So the formula for what makes a GREAT relationship will change from couple to couple.
Yet, there is one unanimous trait that you will see in every single great relationship. One quality that doesn’t waver and is absolutely necessary and essential to achieve a great relationship. No matter the make-up of the two people involved in the relationship, you cannot achieve a beautifully satisfying and epic relationship without this one trait that both people in the relationship must commit and resign themselves to.
Courage is the one unanimous trait you will find in every great relationship. Two people constantly overcoming their own fears and having the courage to communicate their brutal truth with their partners.
This is also not a one-time deal. You don’t work up the courage one time and say how you feel and be done with it. This needs to happen on an on-going basis. Every day.
Or else what happens?
Distance comes between you. You build up walls around your hearts and your emotions. And you get stuck.
Courage is what sets ourselves and our relationships free. Great couples have built an arena in their relationship where being courageous with their truth is something they both feel comfortable doing, because they developed that pattern early on in the relationship.
Over the course of our relationships, we change, our partners change, and our environment around us is constantly in motion. This means that communicating to one another and talking honestly and openly about what we’re thinking, feeling, and where we stand at any given time, is the life force that connects us and binds us together as a couple.
Great couples understand this. They also understand that the greatest rewards in a relationship are on the other side of the hardest conversations.
For example, say there is a couple that has major issues. It gets to the point where one person is having an affair behind the other person’s back. They have all these issues going on between them that they’ve ignored. This creates distance and walls between them physically and emotionally. It gets to be so disconnected that someone actually had to start sleeping with someone else because they were so disconnected from their partner that they needed to feel intimacy. Needed to feel fucking something!
Eventually, the other person finds out their partner is cheating. This leads to a huge blowout fight where they all air their dirty laundry and everything they’re unhappy about in the relationship (things that should have come to a head much earlier). While that person cheated, it became the catalyst for the most honest argument and conversation they’d had in years. That honesty instantly connects them. And eventually, they decide that they still love each other and want to make it work and work past the infidelity.
And you catch up with that couple a year later and they’re more connected and having the most passionate and wildest sex of their relationship. That’s because they got confronted with the possibility of losing each other, which showed them how much they actually cared about each other. They didn’t want out—not even the person who cheated—but they just didn’t know what else to do because they’d lost their voice in the relationship and the ability to communicate with their partner.
In this particular example, their situation gets so out-of-hand that they required an external catalyst (cheating) to force them to come to terms with an issue that was happening between them. The idea is that you will build a relationship that relies on internal forces (yourself and your own emotional courage and fortitude) to speak your truth to your partner early on, before distance and walls can form between you.
The best payoffs and rewards in intimacy are when you show emotional courage and stand up for what you feel and what you need in a relationship. When you show courage and communicate your truth—being prepared to lose your partner by risking the chance that they might not be able to give you what you need—you actually open up the possibility to find an emotional breakthrough as a couple that will actually make your relationship so much better in the end.
Not just in relationships, but in life, the greatest rewards come from overcoming fear and showing courage. When we do things, even in spite of our fear, we grow, discover, and break through to new layers of ourselves. Relationships grow when we show this emotional courage. This courage brings you closer to each other. It connects you deeper. It puts you on the same page at all times because there are no secrets or hidden agendas.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Communicating your truth through emotional courage is one of those things that seems easy to understand, but actually putting it into practice can be extremely difficult. Take it from me…I’m someone that has had to learn this lesson the hard way. In fact, my most debilitating pattern in past relationships has been a “lack of courage”.
You know…that situation where you really like (love) someone but your head tells you that they’re not good for you and it’s going to end badly? That situation where you can see the end before you begin, but you begin anyway. If you’re anything like me in the past, you not only begin, but you allow yourself to fall head-over-heels for them knowing that your future with them is filled with landmines that are going to blow your shit up.
I’ve had an innate tendency to be passive with my truth so that I could get the emotional reward (love), even at the expense of it being unhealthy or dysfunctional. I’ve experienced first-hand the disaster and trauma that can strike a relationship when you lack courage and hide your most honest truth.
Truth is, we can fall in love with the wrong people. What that means is that we can fall in love with people that come from a place of fulfilling an emotional need. So, we continue to allow ourselves to fall, going against our best judgment and intuition.
Usually, we put ourselves in this position because we allow ourselves to fall for someone who isn’t properly aligned with us. We sabotage ourselves, our truest selves, for the sake of love. But we should never have to lose ourselves to gain love. In fact, it’s when we continue to grow deeper in finding ourselves that we find the greatest love, both with ourselves and with others.
This pattern of sabotaging yourself to gain love is something we either do consciously or unconsciously. If we do so consciously, it means that we know what we need, but still have a tendency to cling to an emotional need (wound) and love against our intuition. And if we do so unconsciously, it means what we need in a relationship and partner is not clearly defined enough to ourselves that we keep investing our hearts into the wrong people.
If you’re like me, someone who has allowed themselves to do so consciously, it means you need to be more assertive and show more emotional courage. And if you’ve done so unconsciously, dating way too many of the wrong people for way too long like a hurricane without a direction, then that is a sign you should probably be Single-As-Fuck for a while and stare at a wall until you figure out who you are, what you need, and what your bad patterns are, so you can show up more authentically and assertively to people you date in the future.
The better we understand ourselves and what need out of a partner and a relationship, the more likely we are to be forthright with new romantic prospects. The less clear we’re in ourselves, the more likely our dating life becomes a scene like we’re wasted at a birthday party with a blindfold on, dizzy and blindly swinging a baseball bat around as we try to hit the shit out of some Mexican piñata.
In other words, you can’t have courage about your truth until you know what your truth is.
Now. How do GREAT couples continue to show this type of emotional courage?
The thing that great couples do that good and okay couples don’t, is build an arena of trust and respect within the relationship. Great couples feel comfortable being that honest with their partner because they don’t fear that their honesty will threaten their overall relationship, since they’ve created a relationship environment that allows this level of communication to be supported.
Merely okay or good couples worry that their truth will hurt or anger their partner, as well as threaten their overall relationship, so they don’t communicate as honestly and openly. Instead, they opt to conform to their partner however they have to in order to keep the peace.
The reason they do this is because they never developed that pattern in the first place, or they feel that their brutal truth will reveal flaws in their compatibility. And if they’ve been with this person for years, and built some kind of life together, that honesty may threaten the emotional and physical security this person provides them. So they shut the fuck up and cowardly hold onto their truth like a little mouse holding onto a little piece of cheese.
But, over time, this leads to suffocation and fucking kills the soul. The soul of the relationship and the life force that binds you as a couple.
This, in a nutshell, is what happens when people settle in a relationship.
They either remain in a good relationship that could become a great relationship if both partners were more committed to being courageous with their feelings. Or they remain in an okay or bad relationship because they fear that their courage and honesty may tell them that they’re actually in the wrong relationship and would be better suited to other people.
Great relationships come when you have the courage to communicate your emotional truth. And you realize that, even with that level of honesty, you’re still aligned and right for each other. And not just that, but you have strategies as a couple that help you facilitate this pattern more effectively.
Great relationships have great energy that surrounds them. This great energy is rooted in mutual respect. This mutual respect is facilitated through listening and hearing what your partner says and respecting what they have to say. Both people feel seen and heard.
On the other end of the spectrum, couples with a negative energy surrounding them are continuously in what you call “fight or flight” mode in each other’s presence. Like, you know those couples who you hardly ever see together at large social functions? Yeah, it’s because there is tension in that relationship. They don’t feel completely at ease in one another’s presence, which is only heightened when they feel their relationship is on display. As if other people will pick up on what they already feel. But this tension between them is created by space, distance, and an overall disconnect between them as a couple that is produced and perpetuated by a lack of courage, connection, and overall disrespect in the relationship.
When there is disrespect in a relationship then you don’t feel like your truth will be accepted, taken seriously, or that you will get the reaction you want. You worry that your honesty will be taken as a personal attack against them. Or they will just put you down with some sort of insult if you open up to them.
So now this person sees that their honesty is not accepted. Their honesty is met with a wall. This leads to more walls and stonewalling in the relationship. These walls create distance and more underlying disrespect between the couple.
Building a great relationship begins with yourself. The better you understand yourself, your patterns, and what you need out of a partner and relationship, the better you will be at filtering out romantic prospects. The better you know yourself and the clearer and more assertive you become with these new prospects, the less time you waste on people who can’t give you what you need.
At this point, you’re starting a relationship on the right foot. You know yourself and have met someone that is truly aligned with you, and you’ve established a pattern early on, that tells one another that you will not love and lose yourself in the process. This gives both of you high value, inherently increasing your respect for each other. This pattern, established early, allows you to form and continue to build that arena of trust between you two that says speaking your truth will be heard, seen, and respected.
Now that you’ve shown courage early on and often, you have gotten yourself involved in the right relationship, a relationship where your heart tells you that you’re crazy about one another and your head tells you that you’re good for each other. But also, a relationship that has created strong communication habits that give you both enough trust in each other that you can be courageous with yourself, with your truth, and know that it’s not going to damage or threaten the love between you—only make it deeper and stronger.
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