Do's and Don'ts of Relationships
Happiness: The bottom line that determines whether relationships work is if people are happier when they are in the relationship than when they're not. Fundamental to making one's partner happier is making one's partner feel good about herself.
It's not always easy to make one's partner feel good about herself, especially when she is doing something hurtful. If she is doing something hurtful it is important to tell her immediately. Otherwise what can happen is that she'll forget she did it and deny doing it or you forget what it was but just have a bad feeling toward her and take it out on her later. It's better to deal with the problem immediately and make it go away then to let it simmer.
It's difficult to criticize someone and make them feel good about themselves at the same time but if you can you are more likely to persuade them to change and more likely to be happy together. They key to such criticism is making it in a loving way. I discuss this further in the section on persuasion.
Fights: All relationships have fights. There will always be times when one person does something that hurts the other person and the other person will have to say that he or she is being hurt. Whether that leads to a fight or not depends on the maturity and wisdom of the partners in the relationship. Whether a relationship survives or not depends on how the couple fights. A good book about this is called Fighting for your Marriage. If you fight well you will fight less. Peace is very important in relationships and is destroyed by fights. In addition during fights people tend to make the other person feel bad about themselves and that violates one of the key principles to making a relationship work which is making one's partner feel good about him or herself. Fights often arise from one partner criticizing the other partner. To avoid fights it's important to make constructive criticisms in as an affectionate way as possible. This is discussed in the section on persuasion. Often in fights the partner pours fuel on the fire and increases the anger of the person who simply wanted to make a constructive criticism. This can enrage the original person to the point that he strikes his partner. If you strike your partner you break the law and can wind up in prison, in addition if you get divorced that can be used against you. In addition even if you make up your partner is unlikely to forget that.
Guilt: Manipulation of your partner with guilt will lose your partner. No one likes to be around someone who makes them feel guilty. Your much better off showing appreciation to your partner. I have a girlfriend who makes me feel guilty about the way I feel or things that I do. Sometimes she makes me feel guilty for things that I am not guilty of. She would have a happier relationship with me if she made me feel appreciated.
Unfaithfulness: My ex-fiancee broke off our engagement but remained my girlfriend. Than she went to singles events to meet other men. My immediate reaction to my ex-girlfriends going to single events was to make her feel guilty about it. I would tell her she was betraying me. I'm not going to say that I shouldn't have done that. Sometimes you have to call a stone a stone. On the other hand by doing that I violated all the principles I have discussed on this page. My accusations of treachery made her feel
My accusations led to fights and may have driven her further away from me. I might have been better off telling her that I didn't want our relationship to end, that I loved her very much and so on. That way I would have made her feel good about herself. It would still have made her feel guilty but I don't see anyway around that. Telling her I didn't want our relationship to end would have been a way of making her realize that our relationship was precious and also reminding her that her flirting around could cause her to lose something precious.
There is a lesson here to those who wish to hold on to their partners but also flirt around with other people. The result is likely to be fights and unhappiness. I had a girlfriend who said I was free to date other people but when I did she constantly took it out on me in different ways and the result was fights and anger a lot of unhappiness.
Time: A friend of mine told me how her partner would only spend the night to have sex and then would then spend his weekends elsewhere so that she felt she was just being used for sex and that she planned to break up with him for that reason. If you date someone you need to give them friendship time outside of sex.
On the other hand people need to understand the time demands on others and understand when they can't give them as much time and attention as they want. Many people are pressed for time. In my case my time is very valuable to me. My career my future everything depends on my having time to do the projects I want to do. If I'm involved in a relationship and I find all my time disappearing in coping with relationship problems that in itself becomes a problem and a source of stress in the relationship.
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