for a Successful Relationship
by Andrew Williams
Maintaining a good, wholesome relationship can be difficult. The question of
how to best understand something as complex as human relationships has long
occupied the minds of our greatest poets and philosophers and until now, this
quandary has largely gone unanswered. However, like most deep questions, the
answer can be described in a simple analogy -- psychology has now determined
that the secret to forming a lasting relationship is like baking the perfect
loaf of bread.
If you find this comparison odd you have probably never enjoyed the sensual
pleasure of baking -- of mixing the ingredients and kneading the dough, of
forming the loaf, of seeing the bread rise slowly with the yeast, of the warm
smell as it bakes to perfection.
Sadly, too many people settle for store bought, mass produced bread.
Tragically, even more settle for equally unappetizing relationships. You
deserve better on both counts! Bread requires flour, yeast, salt, etc. What
does your lasting relationship require?
First and foremost a healthy relationship requires enthusiasm. Relationships
are about growing and exploring. Your partner should be someone who embraces
life and you enthusiastically! A thriving relationship is one in which both
partners continue to explore the world -- and each other. No one is interested
in a stale loaf.
Attractiveness -- yes, it is shallow. No, you don't have to look like a model
to be loved. However, your partner must see something special in you. Would
you want to bake bread with flour contaminated with dirt and bits of bugs? Of
course not. Don't underestimate the natural beauty of a clean face and good
grooming. By all means, highlight your qualities but remember, your true
partner will want to know you.
Successful relationships also rely on the ability to speak and listen. No
relationship can succeed over time without first-rate communication skills.
Good, bad or indifferent, feelings and concerns have to be shared in an open
and accepting way. If you feel that you and your partner can discuss anything
-- your needs, hopes, desires, opinions then you are well on your way to
What does it really mean to have good communication skills? The key here is
honesty. Without honesty, what are you communicating? Nothing of lasting
worth, that's certain. And don't just speak. Listen. Listen actively to your
partner, hear what he or she has to say! Partners have to trust what you tell
them and they have to know you believe what they say. Lying can foul a
relationship faster than a rotten egg.
The difference between a successful, loving relationship and a successful
business partnership often comes down to one essential ingredient --
affection. Business partners need not show affection for the partnership to be
successful but loving partners sure better! In a successful loving
relationship, each partner must care for one another, physically and
emotionally. You must put your partner's needs first.
While there are often things that partners respectfully disagree about, a
healthy relationship relies on compatibility. Your long-term partner must be
compatible with you. It does not matter how strong you are with the seven
other ingredients, you and your partner must be well-suited for each other.
This does not mean you have to be two peas in a pod. You can have very
different views and hobbies, but you needs must mesh.
The largest portion of compatibility is intelligence. We all want to be
challenged from time to time. We want to be the best person we can be. It
takes intelligence to revel in the intelligence of your partner. There is no
"window dressing" in successful relationships -- both partners are wholly
engaged and needed.
The final ingredient tends to grow with age and experience. It is a biggie --
Acceptance. Acceptance does not necessarily mean agreement, compliance, or
submission Often it is very different. Anyone can accept someone they agree
with. Only a loving partner can accept the views of someone they disagree
with. Acceptance requires respect and consideration. Now, your partner may
hold one or two views that you will never agree with them upon, but if you can
recognize and tolerate some differences your relationship will mature.
Without all of these eight ingredients a relationship will become flat and
tasteless. If you sense that you or your partner is running a little low on
one or another of these ingredients, talk about it sooner rather than later.
These differences do not go away by ignoring them. Like making bread, a
relationship also takes thoughtfulness, timing, and hard work. Consider the
ideas presented in this recipe and enjoy the earthy delight of needing -- and
kneading -- a wonderful relationship, and having one!
Copyright © 2004 Andrew N. Williams
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Andrew N. Williams is a nationally known experimental psychologist with more
than twenty years of experience conducting research studies for academic,
government, and private research firms, and has overseen the administration of
interviews to over half a million people. He has written dozens of technical
reports, authored journal articles, edited a newsletter, and regularly
presents papers at international conferences. He is also the author of How Do
You Compare? Perigee; March 2004;0-399-52951-9
For more information, please visit
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