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Without meaning to sound too much like a fortune cookie, it is certainly true that our relationships are what give colour and purpose to life in most cases. A moment is only ever improved by being able to share it with someone else, and most of us would rate having a range of close and deep relationships as being among the most important factors for creating a meaningful life.
If you’ve ever known what it is to be truly lonely, then you’ll recognize the importance of these relationships no doubt.
And if you want more proof that relationships are really where it’s all at, then try thinking back to the happiest and best memories of your life. Isn’t it the case that every single one of those involves other people?
It is perhaps odd then, that relationships are something we never really learn all that much about. There is no lesson we study at school that is dedicated to relationships. And when it comes to reading self-help books or engaging in selfimprovement generally, all the advice seems to be aimed squarely at building muscle, confidence, or success.
Wouldn’t it make more sense for us to focus on developing the skills that fill life with meaning? And with happy memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives?
Perhaps the reason that we do not like talking about improving relationships is that we do not want to admit that we could use the help. We all like to think of ourselves as these outgoing, gregarious, confident people. Surely, learning how to make better friends is just for the socially inept?
It does not have to be. Of course, you do not need to struggle at something to realize that you could be even better. In fact, it takes a certain maturity and insight to recognize this.
You might be perfectly happy right now with a bunch of friends that you love and who you have shared many happy memories with. Maybe you have got a romantic partner who you are very close to and maybe you get on well with all your co-workers.
But that does not mean things could not be better!
That does not mean that you couldn’t have a wider selection of friends. It does not mean that you are necessarily perfectly happy with all those friendships. Maybe you get teased more than you would like. Or maybe you feel as though your connections could be deeper. Maybe you do not have as much sex as you would like. Maybe your work colleagues trample on you.
Whatever the case, relationships are incredibly complex and dynamic and the better you become at navigating them, the happier you will become and the more you will be able to achieve.
With all that in mind then, read on and in this book, you will learn to master your relationships with others. You’ll discover how to build longer, lasting friendships, how to have a more romantic and more sexy love life and how to generally have better relationships across the board. You will see that there is an art and a science to this, and you will learn to master it!
Chapter 1: It Starts With You
When talking about relationships, the tendency is to think first of other people. Your relationships are defined by your interactions with others after all. But this is a mistaken approach. Focusing on others first will leave you effectively neutered and far less able to build those crucial relationships. Why? Because all relationships involve two people. And while your friends, partners and colleagues will come and go, the one constant across all your relationships is you.
If you do not have a good grasp on yourself and if you do not first strengthen yourself, then you won’t be able to enjoy the best relationships possible – you’ll always end up sabotaging yourself.
If you find yourself repeating the same arguments with people, then ask whether you might be the problem. Something as simple as being too clingy, being insecure, or having a short temper can all result in repeated arguments or pushing people away.
On the other hand, someone who is confident, happy with who they are and interested and interesting will end up having more positive relationships more of the time.
Confidence and Independence
The happiest and most stable relationships are boomerang relationships. These are relationships between two people who will often go their separate ways, who will often do things independently and will then come back to each other with much more to share and to talk about.
Or another way to put it is that the couples who are happy apart, will be happy together. The same goes for friendships.
On the other hand, if you are someone who needs to be around your friends or around your partner to be happy, then you will likely be ‘clingy’. This can lead to you stealing that person’s space.
And even if they are the same way and they don’t mind spending all that time with you, you will likely find that it eventually leads to you running out of things to say to each other. You can start to become somewhat tired of each other’s company and end up sitting in silence.
Likewise, if you are not confident in yourself, then this can lead to you projecting your insecurities onto others. Low self-esteem is something that is highly contagious and if you aren’t happy with yourself and you don’t believe in your own abilities, then you will likely end up unintentionally bringing down your friends, relatives and romantic partners.
You might, for example, tell your partner that they should not try to start their own business because they will not succeed. This ultimately comes down to your own lack of self-belief – if you do not think you can do it, then chances are you won’t think they can do it either!
Worse, some people do not understand why their partners are with them. They have such low esteem that they think they do not deserve love and because of this, they can end up feeling insecure in the relationship.
They think their partner will leave them because… well why wouldn’t they? And as such they become jealous, clingy, and possessive. As you can see, hear their problem has become a larger problem for the relationship.
Therefore, it is such a mistake for people to jump from one romantic relationship to another one without having any time in between. This is almost certain to result in problems, as you won’t have had time to define yourself properly in between.
You’ll therefore risk changing too much in order to be like each of your partners, you’ll risk being overly dependent on your partners and therefore a little clingy and you might be overly passive, such that your own voice isn’t heard enough.
Instead, you should spend time between relationships building your independence. And the same goes for your friendships: spend time on your own, pursue hobbies and make sure that you are as well rounded, independent, and interesting as you can be.
If you are one of those people who just isn’t happy on their own, then know that this is something you can unlearn. The best way to do this is simply through practice and through perseverance.
Spend more time on your own, go travelling on your own, attend classes, develop hobbies and have ‘you days’ that involve being comfortable in front of the TV with a nice glass of wine or bottle of beer.
In short, spend time learning the skill of being alone and get to the point where you can quite happily spend evenings on your own without being highly stressed or upset.