Let’s Start at the Beginning
Want to know how can you be a good partner and find success in love?
Here’s a hint: it might be simpler than you think.
The truth is, there’s really no secret formula to being a good partner or being good in a relationship. All are capable of being such, and all probably have been at one time or another. It’s just the consistency that’s hard.
But, if you want to be better partner, or to be better in a relationship, take my advice: go back to the beginning.
Many things in my life have been enhanced from that simple concept: to go back to the beginning.
I was exposed to this idea when I was getting my Master’s in Teaching. It was presented to us one day in class when we were learning about how to get our students to be active and attentive in class. Our instructor informed us that students generally come into class with preconceived notions – about what they may learn or about what they think they may already know – and this prohibits them from actually learning new things. It prevents them from learning new things, because they walk into class presuming they won’t learn anything new, and thus, don’t. So if we really wanted them to learn anything new in our classes, we would have to show them how to have a ‘beginner’s mind first.
So, basically, before we could really teach anyone anything new, we had to help our students forget that they knew anything just about. To go back to a mindset pre-assumptions. A mindset like they had in their first class ever, on their first day of school ever. To be filled with curiosity and questions, and to listen actively and openly as if they could learn something new and wonderful at any moment. As if they knew nothing. To put themselves in a mindset, in a class, filled with endless possibilities. Where there’s so much to do and learn, where they can’t wait to hear what’s next, and where they don’t assume to know what’s coming up.
The point being, that in the beginning, our mindsets are often the purest and most productive they ever will be. We are always trying to learn new things and be better versions of ourselves when we’re young. It’s not until we grow up, that we shut ourselves off from the many new and exciting opportunities around us.
That same thing can be said for relationships.
I don’t mean you should’t know anything about relationships or being a good partner going into them, but you should approach each one like it was your first time. With an open heart and an open mind.
So without further ado…
How To Be Good By Being A Beginner
Why is it that all we seem to give in relationships is what we have left to give, or what we’ve justified as enough to give, or what we feel like giving today, or nothing at all?
Why aren’t we giving the same thing we did in the beginning: our all?
It should go without saying, but you should still try like you did the first time you met that special someone. Like you did when you were first trying to get them to notice you. Like when you were first trying to get them to say yes to you. Like when you wanted nothing more and would have done anything to have them be with you.
I know they’ve said yes now, or I do, or gave up and settled for you, but that doesn’t mean they deserve any less effort from you.
You should still try. A lot.
They’re worth it. You’re capable of more.
You shouldn’t just try with whatever leftover energy you have, or try just enough to appease them, or try just for the sake of trying. You should try like your (and their) goddamn life depends on it. Because your life, your shared life, does. It isn’t guaranteed.
Trust me, a relationship won’t work if you’re barely doing your part. As my grandfather once said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “A relationship can’t be 50/50. It’ll never work that way. Someone is always going to do less than their part at times. For it to work, it has to be more like 90/90, so that when one of you falls short the other can be there to pick up the slack.”
Try because you want to be the person who does more than your share. Try because everyday you can still get them to take notice of you and say yes to you like they did in the beginning. Try because they shouldn’t have to try to be in love with you. Try because you can. Try because love does.
Also, try because in doing so you might be able to recreate that magic you all had when you first met. The magic you made. The magic that probably doesn’t exist now.
Try and redo that first date, or your first anniversary, or your honeymoon, and see what happens next.
But just try.
Then try harder.
(PS: That also means to continue to try to take care of yourself, look nice, be well groomed, etc., etc.)
2. Remember the First Time You Saw Them
I don’t mean try and remember what bar you were in or what friend introduced you two, I mean remember what it felt like when you gazed upon them for the first time. When you ‘saw them’ saw them for the first time. When you took them all in. All the little quirks and imperfections that made them them. That made them irresistibly unique and attractive to you. That made you want them to notice you too.
Think about that for a moment.
Do you remember that moment? Do you remember what they looked like? Do you remember how bad you wanted them to notice you? How it felt to be affected by what you saw? How you wanted their affection? How awkward and exciting it all was?
Well, take notice, that same person who made you feel all those things is still before you.
You just might need to pull your head out of your ass to see it.
Granted, they may not look the same as they did back then, but neither do you. And that’s not the point. You’re both going to age and change A LOT, so get over it. Underneath it all though will still be those same two people who fell in love with each other in the beginning . The same two people who saw something in each other in the beginning. Who saw something worth holding onto. Something you wanted to keep all to yourself.
And don’t think that other people didn’t/don’t see those things too. That they didn’t want to be with them as well, but that they saw something in you instead. Something you probably haven’t lived up to.
So stop taking them for granted just because they’re with you.
If you want to keep that person, and keep that excitement going after the first date, you need to find a way to see them like you did the first time again. Because I guarantee others still do.
You need to find a way to fall in love with them again; with what you saw in them again. Find a way to be the person they hoped you would be. Not again (because you probably never were), but for the first time and for the rest of time.
It’s all there.
They’re still there.
You’re just out of focus.
How many times have you been told that shit?
Well, guess what? You should.
But not just for the sake of trying or to keep up appearances (or under the assumption you already know what they’re going to say). Listen like you did when you were first trying to get to know everything about them. Like when you were trying to use every little piece of information about them to input yourself into their future. Listen like you did when you actually cared.
Remember that? Remember actually caring about what they had to say?
Remember how what they had to say mattered to you? Remember how you asked them questions and shit? Remember trying to find out their family members names so you could recite them back and impress them? Remember learning their likes and dislikes so you could plan a date they’d really enjoy? Remember trying to find out what they wanted to do with their life so you could aline yours with theirs? Remember how listening enabled you to love them?
(By the way, if you didn’t do any of those things you probably shouldn’t be in a relationship [with anyone].)
And now what? Now that you’ve ‘got them’ you can’t even turn off the fucking T.V. and listen to how their day went, let alone ask about it?
Oh wait, that’s right, the game is on. Fuck me what an asshole.
Shut up and listen.
Because by doing so you just might learn something new. You just might find out how to make them (and you) happy again. You might even be shocked to find out that what made them happy when they were 18 or 21 or 35 or whatever, may not be the same thing as it is now. You might just realize you need new notes. You might even decide to do something with those notes.
Because it’s honestly the least you can do.
4. Drop Your (Unfair) Expectations
Ooo, I’m not sure
some most of you are ready for this one.
Who can even remember a time when they didn’t expect things from their significant other?
What’s so unfair about expecting someone that loves you to know everything about you, and do everything for you, right?
You know, like your expectations of them to do the dishes that you dirtied, or to know what you want to eat at every meal, or to put your stuff up where you like it to be put up, or to know what your favorite team’s best player is, or to just be your personal fucking secretary and slave all the time.
I mean if they love you, they should do these things, right?
I mean, someone that loves you should be able to read your mind and do everything you want exactly how you want it to be done, right?
That sounds rational.
That sounds like love.
Well, guess what Capt. Didn’t Fucking Pick Up On My Sarcasm, it isn’t.
Love doesn’t expect, so stop expecting.
And love sure as hell doesn’t blame someone else for not knowing, or doing, something that only you yourself could completely know, or do, in the manner you envision. (Not that all those things you expect from them are things you’d ever do for them in return.)
Love just appreciates. Period.
That means love accepts things as they are, not as you want them to be.
Which means loving them for them, not whatever you’ve decided to expect them to be.
And that’s what makes new love so great; in that, you can’t really expect someone new to do but so much, because they’ve only just met you and haven’t been subjected to your unfair expectations and behaviors long enough to be responsible for them. You simply just enjoy them as they are and live in the moment with them. Not in some unsatisfiable, unfair world you’ve created.
And how awesome is that? To just love someone without expecting anything from them?
Isn’t that what love is supposed to be all about?
So why do we stop doing that after the beginning?
Why do we place the stress of all those unfair expectations upon each other?
Not to say you should never expect anything of anyone, but creating expectations of someone which only serve to benefit yourself isn’t healthy for anyone.
In other words, if you’re disappointed in a relationship, chances are it’s because you expected something from someone that they couldn’t deliver. More than likely something that the other person didn’t choose for themselves. Now, maybe that’s on them, and maybe that’s on you. But all I know is if you appreciate someone for who they are, you’ll never be disappointed, because they can’t be anything else.
At the same time, if you don’t like someone for who they are, don’t expect them to be someone else either.
Long Story Short
If you couldn’t tell, I didn’t write all these things just to call out the guys. These same rules can be applied to either sex or any type of relationship. And I didn’t just say them to point a finger either. I’ve done all these things and more (and all at once), and this serves just as much of a reminder to myself as the next person.
I wrote it because want everyone to be that kid again in the first class ever, on the first day of school ever, on their first date ever.
To go back to the beginning.
To see, love, and do like it was your first time.