Finding Your Perfect Lover and Long-Term Partner

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i was reading poetry
to my girlfriend
last night

What Really Matters in Relationships

  1. Trust
  2. Availability
  3. Joy
  4. Affection
  5. Laughter
  6. Time
  7. Bonus Feature

Let’s walk through these one at a time.

Trust In a Loving Relationship

Trust is the mother of all needs. Once trust breaks, even once, it is hard to reconnect with all of your heart. For example, the word “divorce” is a deal killer. Once the specter of divorce is brought into a relationship (“I met with an attorney, for example) the proverbial gun is loaded. And we all know, when you see a loaded gun in a play or movie, it’s going to go off at some point.

The best way to build trust is to be trustworthy and communicate well and often. I trust that you are telling me the truth. I trust that you are not having lunches with other potential partners. I trust that what you say you will do is how it’s going to be.

There’s a funny thing about trust: when a partner is not being 100% honest, they will often project that lack of trust onto their partners. The best way to keep the trust is to stay in the 100% honest zone with your partner. Keep your word. Be reliable.

Dating Unavailable Partners

I have a habit of going after women who are for various reasons unavailable. They don’t have time due to their overinvolvement with their kids. They don’t have time because they are too focused on other things. They don’t have time because the chaos of their lives is running the show.

The first woman that showed up in the last 12 years since my divorce and announced she had the time and intention to build a lasting relationship scared the crap out of me. She no longer scares me. Her availability is absolute. While we have other interests and our own kids to manage and dote on, she makes it clear ALL THE DAMN TIME that she loves me, she wants to be with me, and she misses me. It’s not in an overly demanding way, more of an ongoing repartee of encouragement that flows between us.

Finding someone who is available is a dating goal. Finding someone who continues to make time for you is a lifetime goal.

Joy Is Essential

I believe I was married to a woman who has a different set point for joy than I do. She was often worried, stressed, depressed, and struggling with some inner demons I could neither soothe nor fix. And, of course, it wasn’t my job to fix her, though I tried during our 9 years of marriage.

When you find a person who shares a similar joie d vivre you will never settle for a “meh” connection again.

Showing Affection

In my first relationship post-divorce, I was blown away by this woman’s ability to casually say, “I love you.” (Please Read: Single Dad Seeks) Sharon had a way of expressing her affection in so many simple ways. She taught me two amazing lessons:

  1. I had not experienced much affection in the 9 years of my marriage
  2. I would never settle for someone who could not express affection easily

Laughter Releases Endorphins

Laughing with someone is one of the best ways to release the feel-good chemistry in your bodies. (Of course, there is another more visceral way.) You want to be with someone who gets your sense of humor. You should both make each other laugh. If their set point is different than yours, laughter and witty banter may not be in sync.

Time is the Currency of Love

Spend time together. That’s all you’ve got. “The love you make, well, that’s all there is.” Sure, sex can be fantastic, but you can’t spend more than 1% of your time in bed, so what are you going to do the rest of the time? Can you find activities you both love? Can you add an interest together? If you find the time to be together you’re going to begin feeling how good you can be together during the average, normal, boring part of the story. Life is not all Teslas and rockets for most of us. How you spend your time with your partner will give you all the information you need.

Bonus Feature: Naps

In reading my earlier love poems to my girlfriend (1 year anniversary coming up in October) we both laughed at how much “napping” there was in my visions of love. And make no mistake: I love naps. And in my marriage, my ex-wife hated when I took naps. She rarely gave herself permission to rest. “There’s too much that needs to be done.”

The dishes will wait. Take a nap.

Your energy and your vibrancy depend on you being rested and well nourished. Don’t burn your candle in the middle and on both ends by pushing yourself with more coffee, more adderall, more stress. Take a break from it all. And, in my opinion, when you find a partner who can nap WITH YOU, well, you may have unlocked the final level in loving and lasting with a lifetime partner.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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