Together. Forever?

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You know what? Just typing that title made me sweat a little – and I’m female. I’ve been socialized to want a long-term relationship. And in terms of how I’m hardwired, there’s nothing about me that avoids commitment. So, if that subject made me uncomfortable, I can only imagine how it made you feel.

For me, the cringe-factor isn’t the idea of being with someone forever. It’s the idea of tolerating discomfort forever. Or living in an unfulfilled relationship forever. Never feeling that spark again – the one you feel in the beginning of a relationship. You know.. The one that made you obsessive.  Not having crazy, wild sex – forever.

My parents were never happily married – not to each other or to any of their other spouses. So, I did some thinking for this email…What couple do I know who’s been together for a very long time – and is still HAPPY?

I know one of these weirdo couples. They are the parents of my childhood best friend, who I’ll call Jane. Here’s what I’ll tell you about them:

  • They make it look fucking effortless.
  • She’s in her 70’s and still puts makeup on every day of her life, never has a visible grey hair, and looks like she just stepped out of a J-Crew catalog.
  • I’ve known them since I was 19 years old and I’ve never heard him say ‘no’ to her – about anything. Anything she wants, she can have. You want pasta? Great! Feel like hanging out with your brother today? Awesome – see you tonight. You want me to wear those pants? Sure. No problem.
  • I’ve never seen them fight – or even bicker.
  • They look like the two happiest people on earth – and they may very well be.

You’d think coming from parents like that, Jane would have it made in the relationship department, right?

Jane went through her divorce just as I was marrying Steph. I think the last time I saw her ex-husband was actually at our wedding. Turns out, we don’t necessarily learn good relationship skills even if we come from happily married parents. For her parents, good relationship skills are effortless, so when Jane ran into trouble in her marriage, she had no tools to use, because she’d never seen her parents struggle and come out the other side.

Jane’s parents aren’t normal.

What is normal is having to learn relationship skills.

Conflict is normal in relationships. Knowing how to handle conflict isn’t.  

Losing the spark in a relationship is normal. Knowing how to keep it going is not.

Feeling disconnected in a relationship is normal. Knowing how to reconnect isn’t.

Steph and I have a free Relationship Skills building video series. Each video teaches you how to avoid the most common relationship mistakes. No one’s born with relationship skills — not people like my friend Jane, who comes from Mr. & Mrs. Happy, and not even therapists like Steph and me. We had to learn these the hard way, but thanks to our training and the help of other experts, we figured it out and now we want to share those skills with you.

Get instant access to Video 1 by signing up here.  

xo,

Darcy

 

5 Reasons You Pick the Wrong Partners

Humans come out of the womb hardwired to love and be loved – to be in relationships. We wouldn’t survive infancy without others.

That said, you’d think we’d be better at selecting partners who we’re compatible with. But all you have to do is look at your relationship history to know how untrue that is.

As a shrink, the two most common questions I get are:

Why do I pick the wrong partners?

And…

Why do I stay in relationships with people I know aren’t right for me?

The answer to these questions requires you to take a long hard look in the mirror. So go on… walk over the mirror. And as you gaze at your gorgeous self, ask yourself which of the reasons below sounds like you – because you can only change something when you’re aware of it.

5  Reasons You Pick the Wrong Partners:

1. You see potential.

And you’re hoping your partner will change. This is also known as minimizing the red flags, hoping they’ll go away (or that they aren’t as bad as they appear). You know the fine print that’s on every car’s side view mirror – objects in mirror are closer than they appear – here’s how to apply that to a partner: Negative traits are far larger than they appear to be in the first 3 months of dating someone. Stop trying to change your partners. As you can see from the title, it never works.

2. You think all you need to do is pick better. You’re going to attract and be attracted to people who are on the same developmental level that you’re on. Which means that until you change yourself, i.e., get into therapy, learn relationship skills, or fucking grow, you’ll keep picking the same person over and over again. They may come in a different looking package (hell, mine even came in different genders), but before long you'll notice the same issues coming up. You are the common denominator. Get into therapy or a relationship skills training program. 

3. You invest, which makes you invested.

 It’s a correlation: The more time and energy you invest, the greater your desire to see a positive outcome, the more resistant you are to pulling the plug on the relationship. It seems like wasted energy and time to just walk away, so you hang in there – changing nothing – hoping for change.

4You haven’t done your own work.

This will initially sound like #2, but it runs deeper: Your last partner (or partners) may legitimately have been assholes. Maybe they were even sociopaths (which I’d argue begs the question, why are you repeatedly attracted to sociopaths?). But if everything was and is their fault, then you’re powerless to control your own destiny. I’m going to repeat that: Unless there is something for you to personally change in yourself, you’re screwed. Because it means that you have to hope that you pick better – and although that’s the name of this post, I don’t know how reasonable that is, unless you apply these concepts to yourself and learn how to pull the plug when you recognize these patterns.

5You’re not receiving the feedback you’re getting.

If you listen, your past (or current) partners provide you with very important information. Let’s call it growth opportunities. But most people are too (emotionally) armored up to hear it. Do this: Go back to your last relationship and try to remember the 3 biggest complaints that partner had. Then repeat that for the 2 partners that came before the last one. That’s the feedback that you’ve been resisting.

Most of us are so busy defending ourselves when we hear ‘feedback’ that it flies right our brains like Teflon. Often this happens because our partner’s delivery sucks and allows us to become distracted from the underlying message they’re trying to communicate.

 

 

 

5 Daily Habits to Build Relationship Muscles

Here’s the thing about relationship skills: They’re skills. We’re not born with them. We’re taught them. Most of us are taught them by people who are statistically more likely to be divorced than happily married: Our parents.

Luckily we’re never too old to learn something new. But to turn information into a habit takes practice. Daily practice. Below is a list of the 5 habits that will have the greatest positive impact on your relationships. All of them. You can practice these on everyone in your life (and you should). I suggest you pick 3 and put recurring reminders into your calendar for 30 days to practice them. Then again, I’m not a fan of information unless I take action on it.

1.     Take a walk. Literally. Ten minutes a day, walk outside with anyone (ideally, someone you like).

2.     Catch ‘em doing something right. Then tell them. Feeling stuck? Here’s a list of things that people strive to be.

 

3.     Set a daily intention. Don’t just wake up and throw yourself into your day. Take 60 seconds and decide the impact you want to have on someone’s life each day.

4.     Forgive. Then move on. Forgiveness is a choice. You haven’t truly forgiven if you hold a grudge or bring up history when you’re upset (history = something you’ve previously accepted an apology for).

5.     Take turns speaking. Don’t speak over or interrupt when someone’s speaking. I get it. I have ADHD. Impulse control is not one of my top strengths. Plus I’m Jewish and Spanish. And a New Yorker. It takes discipline to wait for your turn.  That’s why I want you to practice daily for 30 days.