How can you create a committed, loving relationship? Start with these five steps:
1. Start working on your best self already when you’re single. While you’re single, you have the ability to see yourself more clearly without the confusion and clutter of a relationship. It’s important to focus on your own interests, because the more interesting you are to yourself, the more you have to bring to the table in your relationships.
2. Think about the relationships within your immediate family first and work on improving them. “You will only succeed in future relationships in ways you have already succeeded with your parents, siblings, and/or extended families.” (Bowen Family Systems)
3. Shift from a feeling-centric position to a balance of thinking and feeling when choosing a mate. This approach will give you clarity about what you’re looking for and let you make the best use of online dating sites and in-person opportunities when you do meet somebody.
4. Don’t rely on communication and compromise as the keys to creating a healthy relationship. Marriages break down because partners lack the maturity to stand on their own two feet, soothe their own sensitivities, and give themselves and their partners the space for healthy differences of opinion. Compromise feels good (in the moment), but ultimately stunts maturity and growth.
5. Practice differentiation, the ability to separate your own thinking and feeling from other people’s, particularly individuals in your own family. It allows you to function as a separate thinking being.
Avrum Nadigel is a relationship therapist and author of Learning to Commit, a guide on how to prepare for a successful life-partnership. He is currently collaborating with Dr. Aliza Israel on Learning to Commit: The Workbook. Becoming Your Best Self to Find Your Best Match – coming Fall 2016 from Self-Counsel Press.