Relationship advice… Where do you even begin?
I want to start off by saying that for me, this is one of the most meaningful and exposing posts I’ve ever written. It’s long, but I share a lot of myself, my mistakes, and the ways in which I was able to transform my relational life and reach indifference to so many anchors that weighed me down. If even one sentence resonates with you, I’m happy.
I usually write blog posts on my phone in under 2 hours. For the past 6 days on my laptop, I’ve been working on this post and another one that I’m posting after this (which for a long while, I’ve been really scared to write, let alone publish). I’m also in book writing mode. It’s been nonstop writing for me (sorry for being a little MIA).
I wanted to give you guys something different. Something that made too much sense for your fears to complicate or your ego to write-off and ignore.
So, I took some time to look in my rearview and examine mistakes I’ve made. I revisited stuff that brought up really intense feelings of shame, embarrassment, guilt, insecurity and pain, which surprised me. I took breaks in between and just felt my way through it. There was no way I could write this all in one sitting.
For the past 6 days, I’ve been an emotional chemist.
I made it my mission to pinpoint (and then simplify + make assessable), the common denominator of the close/long-standing relationships in my life currently, and in the lives of couples who were kind enough to allow me to interview them.
I’ve also spoken to a lot of men over the last few weeks as research for this post and my book. I spoke to men of all ages and stages about what it takes/would take for them to want to commit and remain committed.
DISCLOSURE: this relationship advice will only illuminate a diamond that ALREADY is (aka an emotionally available partner). It won’t turn a pebble into a diamond that’s magically illuminated just because it accepts you tirelessly shining it, in hope of some immaculate transformation.
A few questions that clients and readers have asked:
“What would it take for the person I’m with to feel like the grass is always greenest underneath my feet?”
“What does it take for emotional commitment to occur?”
This isn’t about putting a ring on it, proving everyone wrong and “settling down.” A baboon could literally get down on one knee, put on a tux and repeat vows. Marriage is neutral. In chemistry, a neutral solution is neither acidic nor basic – it’s the product of whatever is put into it.
It can either be something really uplifting and amazing or really suffocating and sh*tty, depending on what it’s made of. Marriage, in and of itself, will not fix a damn thing. If you go into it for the wrong reasons, it will only end up highlighting and taking on the identity of the bullsh*t that it’s made up of.
Same goes with relationships, friendships, business & dating – they are all a direct byproduct of their ingredients.
The problem is, we tend to ignore the fact that we ONLY have control over:
- Our own ingredients that we put in.
- Making the decision to act upon the fact that the other person’s lack of/missing ingredients have nothing to do with us or our value. It has to do with THEM. Their kitchen was empty long before you came into the picture. It’s not your job or within your abilities, to keep your kitchen stocked while restocking anyone else’s. You’re not Costco.
- Getting turned on by the fact that the other person needs our ingredients to feed off of for narcissistic survival (and enthusiastically consumes until you have nothing left but a codependent nightmare – they are dependent on wiping their emotional shoes on the doormat you’ve become and you are dependent on them using you + the crumbs of mud they leave on your mat, just to feel significant).
For me, this post was about identifying an X Factor that would make the thought of deviating induce a “No thanks, I’m good” yawn, instead of a “Yes-!!!-I’m-finally-free-from-the-ball-and-chain,” excitement.
What, if anything, would silence and shut down the “Could I do ever do better?” wonderings ?? Even in the most connected and empathetic partners.
Relationship advice is interesting. There’s such an abundance of it, but the living, breathing results of its application are few and far between.
I examined the few and far between – both in the long-standing relationships in my personal life and with the couples I interviewed that have been together for decades.
And the conclusion I came to, the “secret,” to long lasting relationships… Just like every solution to life’s complexities, is so simple.
This relationship advice will give you a sense of peace. The kind of peace that can only come from realizing the keys to your jail cell have been in your back pocket all along.
Take it from someone who finally escaped and got out… Your cell is self-imposed.
You are right now, voluntarily serving a sentence that was never meant for you.
It’s time to reclaim your keys and get the f*ck out.
As far as relationship advice goes, I want to share with you the #1 thing that makes relationships last.
But before I get into that, I want to first discuss some common mistakes (I’ve made them all), when it comes to getting into a relationship with a Happily Ever After dream, and consistently waking up in relationsh*t hell.
Take some time to get real with yourself and reflect when reading the following.
Here are some examples of what’s guaranteed to directly cockblock your relational riches & destiny if you don’t take note and apply…
Relationship Advice: What to keep in mind #1:
Would you ever date someone who…
Was living with their parents out of pure comfort and laziness (while Mom did everything but wipe their ass for them)? Someone who didn’t care about their health and walked around in their underwear farting, itching, burping and playing Madden all day? What if this person also had 11 credit cards that were all maxed out and kept applying for more lines of credit, jobless and void of any ambition or motivation?
If you aren’t ovulating right now, chances are you wouldn’t. This isn’t about being materialistic or gold digging. This is a serious question that I’m asking you right now. Would you date this person?
If the answer is no, you need to ask yourself something that I asked myself years ago. This question single-handedly changed my life: “If I wouldn’t date someone who was a physical deadbeat, why am I dating an emotional one?”
You are not an emotional debt consolidation center. You would never tie your value to someone still being the literal, unmotivated loser that they were when they met you, so why are you tying your value to them being an emotional loser just because they were able to act with decency for a hot minute in the beginning BEFORE they got their needs met?
Relationships are meant for love, sex, intimacy, best friendship, travel, joy, etc. NOT for an opportunity to perform emotional exorcisms. That’s not sexy. The whole point of dating an adult is reaping the benefits of them actually being one. Speak with your actions and just say no to emotional bed sh*tters.
Relationship Advice: What to keep in mind #2:
Majors, Minors, College, High School & Little League.
This is some of the best relationship advice I’ve ever learned and I learned it very recently. It’s not about who’s better or worse. We are all created equal. Sometimes it’s just about the level at which you’re pitching. I touched upon this a few posts ago, but recently, I was lied to. It hurt and honestly, it was insulting because I felt like my lack of knowledge about the subject matter was exploited. This lead me to a profound realization which has brought me the kind of peace that can only come from acceptance and indifference.
Let’s just say that what this person told me was 100% untrue or even as little as 2% untrue. If that’s the case, I can’t tolerate the deception, no matter how small of a percentage the deception is. I don’t have any room for it in my life. Now, let’s just say that the unbelievable story/excuse they told me was 1000% true. If that’s the case, I still can’t accept it because to me, it’s amateur hour.
I know what I bring to the table. I know the kind of person, friend, sister, daughter, lover, partner, companion and confidante I am. That’s not being cocky, it’s acknowledging what my actions (and life in general), back up. I’m consistently pitching 100 mph in the majors. It wouldn’t make any sense for me to go back to little league.
There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG with little league. In fact, some people would prefer to go to a little league game – see the kids play, eat a hot dog, sit back with the neighbors and enjoy. It’s a whole different experience and ambiance. Others may prefer to go to a major league game. What will never make sense is a player from one league, being expected to play in another. Someone will end up hurt.
This isn’t personal, it’s just getting real about the level that you’re pitching at and understanding that ONLY YOU can control that level. Your skill, or lack there of, will not make your partner combust into a player at your level. NOR WILL YOUR PARTNER’S SKILL “save”/promote you from the level that YOU are pitching at. Only you have that power. Have an honest conversation with yourself and remember this relationship advice: No matter what level you’re playing emotional ball at, every player in the team/tribe is dependent on each other to perform at a certain level to stay in the game. The level that’s indicative of their league. Which one are you in?
Relationship Advice: What to keep in mind #3:
How were you parented?
If you were provisionally parented (in other words, if your parents showed their love by exclusively providing material necessities for you), and you didn’t receive emotional provision… Chances are you’ll either give the emotional provisions that were withheld from you or you’ll seek them in hope of reciprocation that never comes. This is a recipe for relationsh*t disaster. Your relational results will always a direct result of your belief system, a system that was shaped by well-intentioned parents who had their own shortcomings, flaws, baggage and beliefs. Undo the damage by being the adult you needed when you were younger and didn’t have.
Relationship Advice: What to keep in mind #4:
Get your reasons right.
Make sure that you’re with someone for the right reasons. I’ve been in relationships because it looked good on paper, because the other person was my physical “type,” because it gave me an identity, because I felt cool by association, because my desperation to not be single outweighed logic, etc. I’ve also allowed oxytocin to take over to such an extent, I believed our love would solve everything. And because no one else agreed with the relationsh*t, I’d get off to “proving the haters wrong” and start ovulating over this whole “us against the world,” melodrama.
I’ve also gotten into relationships in an attempt to “fix” myself. I’d use my partner to soothe my own emotional trauma by trying to get them to see in me what I was unable to see in myself. This allowed my reverse narcissism and codependence to take over and paralyze me. I was dependent on someone else for emotional survival. I’d also use relationships as a way to compensate for what I knew I lacked, what I was insecure about and what I despised within myself. This made the level to which I’d allow myself to be doormatted unconditional, but it made true love impossible because our “love” was always based upon conditions.
Relationship Advice: What to keep in mind #5:
I used to define passion as the fleeting gratification I’d get from having ungratifying (emotional and/or physical) sex with an emotionally unavailable, disconnected, hot-cold/unsure/reluctant partner. Today, passion is being with my best friend. Period. It’s about being with someone who you can communicate with, without any fear of judgement or abandonment. It’s about 2 individuals who are too healthy, happy and satisfied to play games and mix signals. It’s about not having to ask everyone you know for relationship advice because you’re too happy IN a relationship, with open communication and trust.
It’s about not having to give up the evolving person you are for the evolving person you are with.
Passion is about supporting one another. It’s about the kind of raw vulnerability that comes with knowing you’re with a mate to your soul. It’s about not having to rely on the auditioning/performance because of the raw intimacy that you have between you.
Romanticized love often involves triangulation and drama, true love is linear and drama free. True love is a choice, it’s a everyday commitment. It is not always glamorous, but it’s the most rewarding, medicinal, satisfying, connected and meaningful choice you’ll ever make. I say “choice,” because until you make the decision to love yourself, you’ll never find it in another’s arms. I know that sounds cliché and douchey, but I can’t tell you how true it is. This is the only way to crack the code of unconditional, deep, long lasting and committed love.
For years, because I didn’t love myself, I was addicted to the hot-cold/ups-downs of romanticized, Carrie and Mr. Big love. The triangulation and conditions around what was supposed to be linear and unconditional, prevented me from ever feeling like it was worth loving myself, let alone anyone else loving me.
You’ve got infinite choices but only 1 life and 1 gut – listen to it. It never lies.
The ultimate relationship advice: What’s the #1 thing that makes relationships last?
After speaking with countless couples who’ve been together for 20+ years and men of all cultures, ages, looks, occupations and positions, here’s the conclusion that I’ve come to:
I was wrong.
Genuine communication, empathy and trust cannot exist without… Respect.
Communication, empathy and trust are the blood, respect is the vein. Without the vein, all you have is a bloody mess.
As far as communication goes, what if you get into a horrible accident or are diagnosed with a disease that makes your ability to vocalize impossible?
Or even without going to that extreme, logic and life dictate that at some point, communication will be compromised. Things get misinterpreted, people get triggered, tempers shorten, patience can dwindle, words get lost in translation and assumptions are made.
The ONLY saving grace that you’ll EVER have is an undying and unwavering respect for ONE ANOTHER.
RESPECT = Telling the truth, even when it hurts. You both view each other in a high regard, the playing field is even, you believe in one another and because of this, you can trust that you are both doing your best at every given moment. Bullsh*t games bore you both. There’s no emotional distance. You can thus empathize by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Your actions seamlessly and without concerted effort, match your words. You don’t ever talk crap about one another to anyone because you’ve collectively constructed an environment in which you both feel safe to communicate insecurities, anxieties and concerns. You respect that you have equal say and equal relational rights. You hold each other to a standard as high as what you’re consistently providing because you both pitch in the same league. You motivate each other to be your best selves by being your best selves and remaining open to evolution, making mistakes that you learn from and being wrong. You both have an allergy to stagnation and bullsh*t.
If you don’t respect one another, you’ll never fully trust each other’s intentions or need for independence. You’ll then feel like you have to hide things from one another and present an edited version of yourself because you are no longer with your soulmate, you’re with a carbon copy of what you’ve become: a relational handicap; a liability, hungry for validation.
And because of this, you’ll be threatened by any and everyone outside of your relational cocoon. Soon, the foundation of Jello beneath you will turn into quicksand.
Every man that I spoke with agreed – looks will get you in the door, but they don’t keep you in the house.
The ONE thing they all said that would get them to WANT to commit?
The ability to know yourself, know your value, respect yourself, make your own emotional money and thus, command their respect. This was the sexiest thing to every man I spoke with.
Never feel bad or guilty for having your own back (boundaries) – The right man will appreciate it. The wrong ones will just try to vilify you and make your feel immature/guilty while they victimize their narcissistic selves.
If you command a man’s respect, he won’t want you to have any other options but him because he knows how hot and rare of a commodity you truly are.
You have now separated yourself from the pack and are no longer another pretty face that needs anyone to tell her who she is or what she’s worth.
F*cktard people think that the more abusive they are, the more turned on, desperate, easy and available the opposite sex will be.
Divorce the frat boy mentality and marry the FACT that the right partner will honor the white horse that YOU are riding on. No rescuing/validation seeking needed.
How do you command respect?
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: As long as your self esteem is low, you will never respect anyone that respects you. You’ll only “respect,” those that make you work for their crumbs.
The only way to build self resect is through boundaries – acknowledging that you are the CEO of Y.O.U. It’s about having the ability to accept and reject other people’s words, actions and behavior in light of having your own back. You don’t get all worked up; you’re super chill and always maintain grace under pressure.
You also don’t hold grudges and you don’t hold grown adults to a low standard – you allow them to own their own behavior, decisions, words and actions.
The only way that you’ll ever have a long standing, connected and mutual relationship is by first respecting yourself. Your partner also has to respect himself for it to ever work. If they don’t respect themselves, they’ll never accept your respect for them – they’ll only exploit it by doormating and devaluing you, hoping that you’ll continue to hang onto the threads of future faking promises.
And if you hang around long enough… you will lose your dignity.
If you don’t have any self respect, you’ll never feel like you are worthy of anyone else’s, especially your partner’s (hello crumb diet). This sounds insane, but you’ll actually demote and lose respect for anyone that shows you respect. You’ll view them as dumb because they are trying to respect the worthlessness that you deep down, feel you are.
And because you’re unable to accept respect, you’ll sabotage and undermine it when given. You will always feel like you have to compensate, seek validation and prove yourself to be worthy of the love, respect, gratitude, appreciation, trust and value that you deserve.
Getting out of that jail cell is one decision away. And you’ll never have to make it alone. We are all behind you, 1000%.
Thanks for being a part of this tribe.
Love, respect and peace to you all- x Natasha
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