1,500 People Give All The Relationship Advice You’ll Ever Need
Written by Mark Manson
Hey, guess what? I got married two weeks ago. And like most people, I asked some of the older and wiser folks around me for a couple quick words of relationship advice from their own marriages to make sure my wife and I didn’t shit the (same) bed. I think most newlyweds do this — ask for relationship advice, I mean, not shit the same bed part — especially after a few cocktails from the open bar they just paid way too much money for.But, of course, not being satisfied with just a few wise words, I had to take it a step further.
See, I have access to hundreds of thousands of smart, amazing people through my site. So why not consult them? Why not ask them for their best relationship/marriage advice? Why not synthesize all of their wisdom and experience into something straightforward and immediately applicable to any relationship, no matter who you are or how sick of his/her shit you are?
Why not crowdsource THE ULTIMATE RELATIONSHIP GUIDE TO END ALL RELATIONSHIP GUIDES™ from the sea of smart and savvy partners and lovers here?
So, that’s what I did. I sent out the call the week before my wedding: anyone who has been married for 10+ years and is still happy in their relationship, what lessons would you pass down to others if you could? What is working for you and your partner? And if you are divorced, what didn’t work previously?
The response was overwhelming. Almost 1,500 people replied many of whom sent in responses measured in pages, not paragraphs. It took almost two weeks to comb through them all, but I did. And what I found stunned me…
They were incredibly repetitive.
That’s not an insult or anything. Actually, it’s kind of the opposite. Not to mention, a relief. These were all smart and well-spoken people from all walks of life, from all around the world, all with their own histories, tragedies, mistakes, and triumphs…
And yet they were all saying pretty much the same dozen things.
Which means that those dozen or so things must be pretty damn important… and more importantly, they work.
Here’s what they are.
1. BE TOGETHER FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
“Don’t ever be with someone because someone else pressured you to. I got married the first time because I was raised Catholic and that’s what you were supposed to do. Wrong. I got married the second time because I was miserable and lonely and thought having a loving wife would fix everything for me. Also wrong. Took me three tries to figure out what should have been obvious from the beginning, the only reason you should ever be with the person you’re with is because you simply love being around them. It really is that simple.”
Before we even get into what you should do in your relationship, let’s start with what not to do.
When I sent out my request to readers for advice, I added a caveat that turned out to be illuminating. I asked people who were on their second or third (or fourth) marriages what they did wrong. Where did they mess up?
By far, the most common answer was “being with the person for the wrong reasons.”
Some of these wrong reasons included:
– Pressure from friends and family.
– Feeling like a “loser” because they were single and settling for the first person that came along
– Being together for image — because the relationship looked good on paper (or in photos), not because the two people actually admired each other.
– Being young and naive and hopelessly in love and thinking that love would solve everything.
As we’ll see throughout the rest of this article, everything that makes a relationship “work” (and by work, I mean that it is happy and sustainable for both people involved) requires a genuine, deep-level admiration for each other. Without that mutual admiration, everything else will unravel.
The other “wrong” reason to enter into a relationship is, like Greg said, to “fix” yourself. This desire to use the love of someone else to soothe your own emotional problems inevitably leads to codependence, an unhealthy and damaging dynamic between two people where they tacitly agree to use each other’s love as a distraction from their own self-loathing. We’ll get more into codependence later in this article, but for now, it’s useful to point out that love, itself, is neutral. It is something that can be both healthy or unhealthy, helpful or harmful, depending on why and how you love someone else and are loved by someone else. By itself, love is never enough to sustain a relationship.
2. HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS AND ROMANCE
“You are absolutely not going to be absolutely gaga over each other every single day for the rest of your lives, and all this ‘happily ever after’ bullshit is just setting people up for failure. They go into relationship with these unrealistic expectations. Then, the instant they realize they aren’t ‘gaga’ anymore, they think the relationship is broken and over, and they need to get out. No! There will be days, or weeks, or maybe even longer, when you aren’t all mushy-gushy in-love. You’re even going to wake up some morning and think, “Ugh, you’re still here….” That’s normal! And more importantly, sticking it out is totally worth it, because that, too, will change. In a day, or a week, or maybe even longer, you’ll look at that person and a giant wave of love will inundate you, and you’ll love them so much you think your heart can’t possibly hold it all and is going to burst. Because a love that’s alive is also constantly evolving. It expands and contracts and mellows and deepens. It’s not going to be the way it used to be, or the way it will be, and it shouldn’t be. I think if more couples understood that, they’d be less inclined to panic and rush to break up or divorce.”
Love is a funny thing. In ancient times, people genuinely considered love a sickness. Parents warned their children against it, and adults quickly arranged marriages before their children were old enough to do something dumb in the name of their emotions.
That’s because love while making us feel all giddy and high as if we had just snorted a shoebox full of cocaine, makes us highly irrational. We all know that guy (or girl) who dropped out of school, sold their car and spent the money to elope on the beaches of Tahiti. We all also know that that guy (or girl) ended up sulking back a few years later feeling like a moron, not to mention broke.
That’s unbridled love. It’s nature’s way of tricking us into doing insane and irrational things to procreate with another person — probably because if we stopped to think about the repercussions of having kids, and being with the same person forever and ever, no one would ever do it. As Robin Williams used to joke,