Love has no rules. But there are some fundamental guidelines that can help you to navigate through the complexities of a relationship and help you live a happier romantic life with your partner.
In this increasingly confusing and insecure dating world, many of my patients are asking me for simple guidelines to help them better navigate the turbulent relationship sea. Relentlessly battered by media-overwhelm, online dating challenges, and a plethora of books and articles, they no longer know what or who to believe.
I was initially reluctant to reduce the many crucial aspects of each individual’s situation into a one-size-fits-all manual. I resisted minimizing the significant efforts, disappointing outcomes, and anguishing disillusionments that so many of my patients have experienced, each in his or her unique way. I didn’t want a set of rules to ignore the significant differences that differentiate one person’s journey from another’s.
I knew that what my people were asking for would not work if generic guidelines just echoed what already existed in abundance in most advice compilation data. In order to make a real difference, they needed to reach more deeply into the true psyche of long-lasting love. What had I learned from the literally thousands of hours I’d spent with sincere and committed daters over the years? I decided to try.
What follows is the result of my inquiry, the “Ten Rules of Love.” Hopefully, they will tap into a different kind of quality relationship assessment that will actually help.
Some will be more meaningful than others to those of you reading, but they may help you to better define what your own love manifesto means to you and how you can use it to better choose your next partner or to revitalize your current partnership.
The 10 Fundamental Rules of Love
Rule Number One
Never invalidate or erase the personal reality of someone you love.
Every one of us counts on our partner supporting and validating the way we see the world, even if he or she doesn’t see it the same way. Though we are hopefully open to expanding or transforming our views by comparing them with our partners, our emotional sanity depends on trusting the world as we see it. If our partner tries to undo that reality, we feel unseen and erased.
All of us have been on the other end of statements like, “You’re crazy to think that way,” “That’s bull s**t,” or “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” They are examples of what one partner may say who is invalidating the world view of another.
Rule Number Two
True compromise can only happen when each partner begins an interaction by first supporting the other’s point of view.
When intimate partners have conflicting opinions, they too often flare into justification and defense. Very soon, instead of talking to each other, they rapidly begin talking at each other. From those disparate vantage points, there is no possibility of achieving a resolution that can cradle the views of both partners. The barrier to that kind of regeneration lies in each partner’s fear that if he or she temporarily gives up that personal view, it will be impossible to get it back. If that ensues, one partner will win the battle, but both will lose the war.
Rule Number Three
Quality relationships are made up of two partners who treasure and uphold a set of mutual beliefs and ethics.
I cannot underscore enough how important it is for intimate partners to be authentic and open about what they hold sacred as well as what they expect of each other when they begin a relationship. Though thoughts, feelings, and attitudes can and do change over time. The partners in successful relationships are always up-to-date in revising and recommitting to the beliefs they share. Trust can only hold when each partner willingly supports those agreements whether they are in each other’s presence or not.
Rule Number Four
Bids for connection are always honored.
When either partner needs the attention or support of the other, that request must be responded to in some way. That doesn’t mean that what is being asked for can always be granted but the interest and support is there. Sometimes bids for connection can be presented in a demanding or self-serving manner, or at an inopportune time. But intimate partners who love each other are highly tuned to the other’s moods, needs, reflections, hopes, dreams, worries, hungers, frustrations, or sorrows. They are joined in their hearts and one cannot feel okay staying separate if the other needs to connect.