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Healthy Relationships: A Start.

June 27, 2012

When you’re young (and by “young” I mean “younger than 30”) is the time to do crazy things, date lots of people and find out who you are, what works for you in a relationship and what does not. You can’t learn about your relationship skills and needs unless you have relationships. Some things cannot be learned from books.

Many of us are so focused on the GETTING the relationship that we don’t spend much time on learning how to have a good one. Presumably, what you want is a good marriage/relationship. If you’re still single, I highly recommend you read “Keeping the Love You Find” by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. It is written for a heterosexual audience but LGBT people will find it useful too, I think. Or at least I do. It isn’t so much about “how to get a relationship” but how to be prepared for one when it does show up.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that some things come up again and again when a single friend is upset about her lack of a relationship. I’ve learned two things that I wish that I could magically imprint into every woman’s brain:

  • Don’t settle for sex when what you want is love.
  • If you don’t love and respect yourself, no one else will either.
  • Sex is natural. Sex is fun. Not everybody does it, but everybody should. (Thanks, George Michael!)

    I’m not at all saying that you should only have sex if you’re in a relationship or if you’re in love. [*I* think sex is BETTER when you’re in love but that’s because it’s more emotional for me and I like that.] You can have very fucking good sex (no pun intended) with someone you don’t know at all.

    HOWEVER.

    If you continue to pursue women are who only interested in having sex with you, what do you think you’re going to get? Yep. Sex. Which, fabulous. If that’s what you want. I think you can’t focus on finding a possible partner if you’re ALSO, at the same time, focused on finding someone with whom to have sex. I know it happens in the lesbian world that you’ll have casual sex with someone and decide to have a relationship – it happens a lot. Still, I hear lesbians say, “If I can’t have love, I’ll settle for sex. I’m lonely.” Until you stop settling, you’re not going to get what you really want.

    That goes hand in hand with the second thing: love and respect yourself. Why would you *settle*?

    Some psychologist [I was married to a psychologist for 7+ years and she was always quoting someone or another. I mix them up. I think I also combine their quotes.] said that you teach people how to treat you. If you don’t treat yourself well, others won’t either. If you’re willing to accept less-than-good behavior from a prospective partner, then you’ll attract people who will treat you that way.

    On the other hand, if you will *only* accept being treated in a respectful manner, then you’ll attract THAT. Okay. The truth is you’ll still attract the not-respectful but they won’t affect you because you’ll say “no, thank you” and move on.

    I can hear you now “It’s not that easy, Barbara. I can’t just change that over night.” No, you can’t. I know that. But you can work toward it. You can see a therapist, read books, get to know you, learn to love who you are, to recognize what your strengths are instead of always focusing on your weaknesses.

    Yes, you’ll have lonely times. It will be difficult. It’s better to be single and focused than in a bad relationship. Trust me on this, okay? I have been single for 5 years now. I’ve dated people who weren’t right and I’ve learned something from every one of them. I have every confidence that the right woman will show up in my life. I am working on making myself a good partner, not just hoping the right relationship will “fix” me.

    What have you learned from your years of dating/relationships/ marriage?

    One Comment
    1. I’ve learned that for me, age does make a difference. That knowing myself and loving myself is the most important and that open communication and honesty from the very beginning is the only way a healthy relationship will last. Plus, I just don’t have the time or energy for the games that come with dishonesty and lack of communication.

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