1 DO + 1 DON’T of Romantic Relationships

If you’re looking for love or would like to improve the romantic relationship you’re already in, Valentine’s Day can be the best time of year…or the worst! It seems like everyone is talking (and frequently giving advice) about love and romance. And while much of this is wonderful — a celebration of love — a lot of it is negative, self-defeating, and untrue (or at least not necessarily true).

Everyone’s experience of love (and everything else) is different, so I’d never want to dismiss or downplay what someone else has been through. But over the last 16 years of being in a loving relationship with my amazing wife, Jodi, I’ve learned a few things that I think are universal. While I could go on for hours about this topic, for now I’ll focus on just 1 DO and 1 DON’T of romantic relationships.

The 1 DO of Romantic Relationships

I’ve said it before, but it certainly bears repeating. If I had only one piece of advice to give to anyone interested in a healthy, loving, long-lasting romantic relationship, it would be this:

Be deeply in love, and be on the same team.

(OK, that’s a bit of a cheat because it’s a two-part compound sentence, but the first part — be deeply in love — is more of a prerequisite. After all, if you’re not deeply in love with someone, why would you want to be in a relationship with them in the first place?)

So, assuming you are deeply in love and you do want to be in a loving, romantic relationship, the key really is to be on the same team. This means that, as with teammates in sports, you don’t try to sabotage or tear each other down — you try to support and bring out the best in each other. And, just like sports teammates, it’s impossible for one of you to win while the other loses. (I always find it bizarre to hear couples talk about who “won” an argument. The very notion of a “winner” and a “loser” stems from a zero-sum-game mindset of opposition rather than cooperation and LOVE!)

Being on the same team doesn’t mean you’ll never disagree, hurt one another (unintentionally!), or face hardship and adversity. But if you always nurture, support, and root for each other (and for your two-person “team”), you’ll be able to make it through hard times together and celebrate mutual victories!

The 1 DON’T of Romantic Relationships

But to be on the same team, you’ve got to have a willing teammate. So, what prevents many people from finding a loving partner (or feeling a healthy love from their current partner)? I believe it comes down to this one “DON’T” of romantic relationships:

Don’t harbor self-defeating beliefs about love and relationships.

To say that your experiences reflect your beliefs would be a major understatement. To a very large extent, your beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies that determine the quality of your life! And in no area is this more evident than in romantic relationships.

Lately I’ve felt inundated by limiting beliefs about relationships, often spouted like self-evident truths by well-meaning people who are, nonetheless, preventing themselves and others from experiencing the love we all deserve. One recent example came from a woman (on the wonderful TV show This Time Next Year) who set the intention to attract a loving partner within a year. When they followed up a year later, she hadn’t found love, which she justified with one of the most self-defeating beliefs out there:

Men don’t want to commit.

As Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers used to say: Really!?! Tell that to the millions (perhaps billions) of men in committed relationships (including me)! Clearly, this woman’s belief reflects her experiences — and, therefore, her experiences reflect this belief!

Another self-defeating (or at least self-hindering) belief about relationships that often gets bandied about like a romantic axiom is:

Relationships are hard work.

Statements like this always make me respond (usually just in my mind but sometimes out loud) with two of the most powerful words in the English language: Says you! No doubt they’re true for the person saying them (and for many other people), but the real question is: Do they HAVE to be? (Or, more to the point: Do you WANT them to be?)

What if someone told you that friendships are hard work? What if they said, “To have a true friendship is really tough — you have to struggle to make it work.” Would you believe them? Aren’t most of your best friendships ones where you enjoy being together, sharing common interests and activities? Where you look forward to seeing them, and the connection just flows naturally? Where you can lean on them in hard times and celebrate the good times together?

So why does it have to be different with a “friend with benefits” — with someone who’s your best friend in the world? In my opinion — and experience — it doesn’t! Relationships don’t have to be hard work! They can flow just as easily as the most natural and loving friendships!

You may have heard the saying “If you argue for your limiting beliefs, you get to keep them.” Well, this is certainly true for limiting beliefs about love and relationships. And the more deeply ingrained these beliefs become, the less likely it is that you’ll experience anything contrary to what you believe (at least not without overcoming some serious cognitive dissonance). But if you loosen the reins on your limiting beliefs — even just a bit, opening yourself to even consider an alternative — you’ll find that you can have the best of both worlds.

Do You Want to Be Right, or Do You Want Love (or BOTH)?

Again, my point here is not to dismiss anyone’s beliefs or experiences (or to say that mine are better…or even “right”). I just hate to see people depriving themselves of the love they desire, especially when that love might be just a slight shift in perception away!

And, time and again, I’ve seen that once you get locked into a self-defeating habit (such as seeing your partner as an opponent rather than a teammate) or a limiting belief (such as “relationships are hard”), your experiences will most likely reinforce these attitudes, making it feel like you’re right. Remember, though, that the important question isn’t Am I right? — it’s Am I experiencing the loving romantic relationship that I desire and deserve?

If you’re experiencing anything less, maybe the time has come to ask yourself another set of questions:

  • Are my beliefs and actions serving me?
  • Are they leading me closer to my ideal romantic relationship or away from it?
  • Are they opening or shutting the door to more love?
  • Are they self-fulfilling prophecies that I WANT to fulfill?

(Note: As you may have noticed, these questions are just as relevant in other areas of your life as they are in love and romance. But for now, we’ll stay on the topic of the month.)

Keep in mind that while your beliefs may be true for you, they probably don’t HAVE to be true. You could just as easily adopt positive beliefs and actions that DO serve you and lead you closer to the love you want.

So if you find yourself thinking something like “I’m too old for love,” “No one wants to marry a single mother,” or “Marriage is hard work and struggle,” your experiences will most likely bear out these beliefs. But the same goes for positive beliefs such as “Marriage is a joyous flow of loving energy” or “My partner always has my back…just like a good teammate.” And when you adopt beliefs like this — and the actions that support them — you’ll find that you can be right AND find love!

P.S. If you’d like to watch an interview where I elaborate on these ideas and many other thoughts/experiences about love, you can do so by signing up for the FREE Soulful Love Summit! You’ll get access to access to 20 interviews (+ many free gifts, including a 4-week “Soulful Love” ecourse from me and Jodi) to help you experience a loving romantic relationship. Click here to see the details and sign up.


A Timeless Message of Hope

I wasn’t planning on writing a timely post for Martin Luther King day this year, but I saw something yesterday that inspired me to do so: I watched David Letterman’s recent interview with Barack Obama, and when the far-ranging conversation turned to civil rights, Letterman recalled walking with John Lewis across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, 50 years after the Selma-to-Montgomery marches of 1965.

As you may already know, during the first march (a legal, nonviolent protest against discriminatory voting regulations), state troopers attacked the unarmed marchers with nightsticks and tear gas, and even beat Amelia Boynton (one of […] Continue Reading…

David Cassidy’s Last Words

Last month, former teen idol David Cassidy died at the age of 67.

The world has lost some pretty big rock stars recently — including Tom Petty, Walter Becker of Steely Dan, Malcolm Young of AC/DC, and Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens (not as well known as the others, but one of my all-time favorites) — but none of their deaths haunt me as much as Cassidy’s.

This might seem odd since I wasn’t even a fan of his. I never watched The Partridge Family, and I don’t really know his music. (I only vaguely remember hearing “I Think I Love You” as a kid, but that’s […] Continue Reading…

Inspiration from a Young Mother

The stories in our new book, Goodness Abounds, follow two basic guidelines:

They have to be true stories about goodness.
The “good-doer” has to be someone other than the author.

Because of guideline #2, these stories aren’t about authors “tooting their own horn” (which is fine in many contexts — but that simply isn’t the focus of this book). Sometimes, though, even while they were shining a spotlight on other people’s goodness, I couldn’t help but admire the authors themselves. This was definitely the case with Jerri Eddington’s story, “The Baby and the Bus Driver.”

In this piece, Jerri pays tribute to a bus driver who […] Continue Reading…

The Empowering Alternative to Nature vs. Nurture

Where do you stand on the “Nature vs. Nurture” debate?

What do you think makes us who we are: Is it the genes we inherit from our biological parents? Is it our environment and the way we’re raised? Or is it some combination of these factors — and, if so, which factor has the  biggest influence?

You could make a convincing argument for either position: On the Nature side, you’ve probably heard stories of twins raised separately who went on to live remarkably similar lives. On the Nurture side, you can clearly see the effect of environment and upbringing by observing how frequently people […] Continue Reading…

4 Kinds of Dreams

There are four kinds of dreams. You’re probably already familiar with the first three:

Literal Dreams – the kind you have when you’re sleeping. (A fascinating topic, but not the focus of this post.)
Emerging Realities – the goals and visions that you’re actively working toward manifesting. (These are the “dreams that you dare to dream” that really do come true – works-in-progress where there’s actual progress!)
Pipe Dreams – far-fetched fantasies, unrealistic flights of fancy, or downright impossible dreams. (This is the kind of dream that, I believe, gives dreamers a bad name!)

But there’s a fourth kind of dream that’s rarely discussed…but often experienced: velleities.

Merriam-Webster defines […] Continue Reading…

Ego and Soul: Opponents or Partners?

I love to read for so many reasons: for inspiration, for education, and just for the fun of it! I read because it expands my world and introduces me to new people and new perspectives. I read, as C. S. Lewis said, “to know we are not alone.” And I read because, every now and then, an author takes a thought that I’d had, but hadn’t been able to put into words, and articulates it far more eloquently than I could’ve done. I recently had this experience (again and again and again) while reading Jodi Chapman’s new book, Soul Bursts.

I love so […] Continue Reading…

Goes to Show, You Don’t Ever Know

I recently experienced a frustrating — but ultimately eye-opening and heart-opening — situation with a company I’d contracted to do some work around my house. The situation was that they never showed up and never returned my calls…even after they’d been paid for the work.

Because they’re a reputable company, I wasn’t worried that they’d split the country with the money I’d already paid (a relatively small amount, fortunately); I was more just confused. I couldn’t help wondering: Didn’t they want the work?  Didn’t they want the rest of the money I would’ve paid them (if they would actually show up and do the […] Continue Reading…

I’ll Have What She’s Having

If you’ve ever seen the movie When Harry Met Sally, you undoubtedly remember the famous scene of Meg Ryan, um, “faking it” in the deli. (Even if you haven’t seen the movie, chances are you’ve seen this clip in one of the countless montages it’s featured in.) And, in either case, you also probably remember the “topper” line that closes the scene (delivered by the director’s mother, Estelle Reiner): “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Aside from its raunchy comedic value, this line offers great advice about relationships, business, and just about every other area of life: Rather than trying to […] Continue Reading…

What’s Next?

Have you ever experienced (or witnessed) any of these scenarios?:

You just got married, and people immediately start asking you when you’re going to have kids.
You just experienced a loss or setback, and people immediately start trying to “help” you move forward.
You just finished a major project, and people immediately start asking you what you’re going to do next.
You watch a sports team celebrate winning the championship, and a reporter asks about their plans for next season.

In these situations (or any similar ones), the questions all boil down to the same essence: What’s next?

What’s next on the agenda? What are you going […] Continue Reading…