Have you ever wondered why relationships stagnate so fast?
How would you rate your love life from 1-10?
If you are like most people you would probably rate it around 5 or less…either because you’re single, or because you’re in a relationship where deep down you have this nagging feeling that neither of you are truly happy.
At worst, you feel trapped, frustrated and unfulfilled, and you have one eye on the exit because you think that the only choice you have. At best you’ve convinced yourself to just accept the status quo — because the alternative is being alone.
Whichever way you look at it, changing stagnant relationships it feels like hard work, right?
What if it isn’t? What if it’s actually pretty easy to create a great relationship, and to breathe life into the one you’re in now?
All relationships have the capacity to grow into something greater — you just have to understand why they become stagnant in the first place.
Feeling trapped? Here’s why
The number one root of relationship stress is less about being disengaged from your partner and more about being disconnected from yourself.
So many guys I know (myself included, once upon a time) have this tendency to contort themselves out of shape to become what they think their girlfriend wants from them, or what they think women in general want from men.
We get so focused on meeting the wants and requirements of our partner that we forget our own. We put our interests and aspirations to one side until we forget they ever existed.
Cue: unhappiness, resentment, arguments and stagnation. Relationship feels flat.
Reader, this was me. I spent years unable to acknowledge that the relationship I was in was an unhappy one. Sure, it looked pretty good from the outside, and maybe that’s why I stayed: she ticked certain boxes, and together we ticked a lot of boxes. The problem with boxes is you have to fit into them. And to fit into my box, I practically — and willingly — cut parts of myself off.
I became an image, a pale imitation of me, rather than living as who I truly was. That made it pretty hard to like myself — and even harder for my girlfriend to like me.
Here’s the thing: in a truly great relationship, your partner doesn’t want the guy with the bits cut off either. She’d prefer the real you, the authentic you, the YOU she fell for.
It was only when I started embracing all of me: good, bad, and ugly — that I accessed the potency and power I naturally had. And that’s when I started to create joyful and intimate relationships that are only ever a contribution to my life, never a drain on it.
Your bedrock: honor yourself
The starting point in reclaiming your true power and potency comes when you make a commitment to honor yourself. Essentially, this means you choose to stop playing a role, you choose to be the whole you, and you bear no shame and no apology for who you are.
If you’ve been people-pleasing for a long time this might feel a little scary — or exciting — depending on how you look at it.
Get comfortable with vulnerability
In making the choice to be and have more of who you truly are, you’re also making the decision to lower your barriers. Chances are, you’ve been operating from behind something closer to a concrete wall for a while — you know, the one you built so that people couldn’t see or know the real you.
Choosing to step out from behind that wall is daunting and can leave you feeling vulnerable. And we can’t do vulnerability, can we, because that’s not a good look for men — right?
Guys, we’ve been sold so many lies and myths about vulnerability. It’s been mislabeled as the very antithesis of masculinity when the truth is — vulnerability is very much about strength.
Why? Because it means allowing others to see all of you — your fears, strengths, ambitions, hopes, doubts and desires. You put them all on the table and you say, “Here I am. If you choose to stay with me, awesome. If you don’t — still awesome.”
This is one of the most empowering choices you can make for your life and for your relationship, and it takes guts. In my experience, it’s also the choice that takes everything to another level.
Stop judging yourself
How many times have you judged yourself today? Judgment is a habit that’s ingrained in us; from an early age we’re conditioned to label everything as good or bad, right or wrong. As a result, we constantly compare ourselves to others and when we don’t match up to those conditioned ideals we throw a host of limiting beliefs at ourselves: I’m boring. I’m not making enough money. I’m not funny / adventurous / smart / muscly enough.
Judgment is such a toxic habit and it really, really limits us and keeps us separate from making that reconnection with who we truly are. To get back to the real, authentic you, you have to make a pact to stop judging yourself — and, be vigilant about it — because when you lower your barriers, you’re not just allowing other people to see you — you’re seeing yourself too. That familiar habit of judgment will seize the opportunity to tell you you’re not enough, encouraging you to rebuild that concrete with extra reinforcements.
Notice how you speak and think about yourself and get really good at letting go of any notion of right and wrong. Judgment can be a tough habit to break, but when you do — believe me — life gets so much easier.
Look at it this way: you can choose to enjoy you and your choices, or you can berate and criticize them — which one do you think will make you happier? Which one will create more in your life? And which will create more in your relationship?
Take action: do something you love every day
Honor yourself by taking 30 minutes each day to do something you love doing, for you and no one else. What’s nurturing to you and your body? What gets your blood pumping? For me, it’s horse riding, for you it might be going for a run, going for coffee on your own, sitting in the sun, or spending time with your energetic little nephew. The only requirement is that whatever you do, you choose it for you, not because it’s expected of you. This is how you start creating your own life.
The really awesome thing is reconnecting with yourself can be the catalyst that actually shows your other half that she can be who she is too, so-called flaws and all — and you’ll still be there.
When you both feel the freedom of that, you create your relationship together from a place of spaciousness and ease, not from a place of restriction.
Three things you can do today to enhance your relationship
1. Replace judgment with allowance
As well as making a commitment to stop judging you, extend that to include judgments you have about your partner and about your relationship together. Judgments only keep us stuck in old cycles of thinking and behavior. If you label your girlfriend as possessive, this isn’t going to make her relax. If you believe you always argue about money, you’re always going to argue about money.
Letting go of conclusive beliefs gives you the chance to create so much more. The allowance is the key to this: the place where everything is just an interesting point of view. When you stop needing to be right, arguments are defused in an instant. It’s quite amazing.
If you find this hard to believe, next time you’re butting heads with your partner, say or think these words: “Interesting point of view, I have this point of view.” The tension in the room and your world just… disappears.
2. Start each day anew
Even if you follow the suggestions in this article you’ll still clash and occasionally lock horns — it just might happen less, or it will dissipate sooner, or you’ll see why it’s happening and learn from it more quickly.
A great way to develop this is to see each day as a new start by consciously destroying and uncreating any walls of separation you might have put up the day before — knowingly or otherwise. Whatever the relationship was yesterday, it can be something else today.
3. Be grateful for your partner — and tell her!
There’s a lot of pressure to tell your other half that you love them, but, from my point of view, telling your partner you’re grateful for them allows for so much more.
There’s something conditional about love which gratitude far surpasses. When we say I love you, I believe we’re also saying, “I love you because you’re meeting my current standards, ideals, and criteria.”
Whereas I’m grateful for you also says, “I accept and appreciate all of you and I am so glad you’re in my life exactly as you are.” This is the best cure for constant arguing in a relationship.
4. Most of all: have fun together — and don’t expect perfection
They key to all of this is to never expect perfection from you, from your partner, or from the relationship. Accept that you’re learning and growing — and have fun with that. The fun part is kind of crucial: take time to be together and enjoy each other.
In essence, your relationship should enhance your life, not limit it. Let it be fun, light, and contributive. Enjoy that you’ve chosen each other and look at what you can create together for an awesome and fulfilling life.
How does it get any better than that?
Dr. Dain Heer is a bestselling author and internationally renowned speaker. He is a co-creator and leading facilitator of Access Consciousness®, a personal development modality available in more than 170 countries that has contributed to changing the lives of tens of thousands of people. Dr. Heer draws upon his personal background and unique perspective to facilitate positive change in the world, and to empower people from every culture, country, age and social strata to create the life they truly desire. For more information on his latest book, Return of the Gentleman, visit: https://returnofthegentleman.com/. You can purchase your copy on Amazon. Join the conversation here, and follow Dain.