Lessons Learned, Relationships

Lesson 10: Follow through with your words and actions

Finish what you initiate or start.  A little teasing may seem fun and innocent, and in some cases it is.  To a certain, and agreed-upon extent.  Like everything in life, there are limits you need to be aware of.  Too much teasing for too long and failing to follow through on enough occasions can bring you into dangerous territory.

This one semi falls under the mistake of getting stuck in your own world.  When it comes to teasing too often without following through, you are basically being a sensual bully.  It is one thing to do it with a more casual encounter, it is quite another to continuously do it to someone you claim to love.  Your significant other is not one of your pets.  They are worth so much more than that and you need to treat them that way.  Don’t tease without the intention to finish.  It is selfish and just plain rude.

Failure to follow through can also have many other negative effects on the relationship as well.  Your word is the most important and most valuable asset you have.  Communication can be both verbal and nonverbal so your actions speak a lot for you as well.  If you say you are going to do something and then fail to do it, your words lose value.  The same goes for your actions.  When you touch or behave in a sensual way towards your significant other but continuously fail to follow through, it can have the same effect.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing they will always put up with it or that, because they love you, it is OK, or that because they put up with it on a few occasions, they will always put up with it.  A slight tease here and there is one thing, but doing it long or often enough will serve only to reinforce the idea that you are deceptive and misleading.  Just because it doesn’t feel like lying to you, doesn’t mean you are not convincing them that you are a liar.  Know and understand the person you are with.  If you don’t see or know the boundaries, then ask.  Better to ask and understand, then assume and lose.


Lesson 9: Don’t get stuck in your own world

Take a look around from time to time.  Try and see or feel things as you think someone else might.  Empathize with those around you.  It is so easy to make mistakes and get things wrong if your point of view is nothing more than tunnel vision.  This is where a lot of relationships end.  This is where communication can easily deteriorate.  You are not the only one with a problem and there are few problems in existence that you need to or are required to face alone.  Ask for help.  Let others in.  

The greatest people in history believed in themselves.  They believed in something beyond the scope of their own petty needs.  They committed to actions that they believed were in the best interest of the people that trusted them, but they never believed they were great or that they did not need the help of others.  At least, not outwardly.  Humility is a tool.  People value those who can be humble.  It is OK to ask for help.  It is OK to admit from time to time that you don’t know everything.  Closing yourself off from input cuts you off from everything that can make you better. 

Great men and women throughout history knew they were smart, knew they were capable of great things, and did the best they could with what was available.  They also learned to listen to and accept input from others.  They knew that there is no idea that is so great that it could not be made greater with help from others.  The ones that thought they were better than the ideas they had, that no one else could possibly come up with something better, typically ended up not being all that wonderful.  

Any time you feel like you are the top of the world, that you are the one that makes the winds blow and the skies filled with water whenever it rains, is the time for a reality check.  Karma exists.  It is real.  You get what you deserve.  It might be too late to change what has already transpired, but there is always hope that you can be a better person just by making others feel better.  


Lesson 8: Reciprocation

It is so wonderful to receive things.  Love, affection, thoughtful gifts, dinner when you get home from work, sensual touching, the list goes on.  It is OK to like these things.  It is OK to accept them.  Even rude not to in many cases.  Just make sure you are paying attention and that you are equally giving back.

It is unreasonable to expect and accept without giving back.  Like communication, reciprocation goes both ways.  This one should be among the most obvious.  It makes sense, doesn’t it?  So many actions require reciprocation in order for there to be any value.  Hugs are pleasant, but it is the return hug that turns it into a shared experience.  A kiss is good, but it is so much better when the kiss is returned.  

The bedroom.  The place where reciprocation can be the most crucial.  They deserve to be happy and enjoy the experience too.  No one should ever walk out of the bedroom upset or disappointed.  To allow the other to leave the room without shared satisfaction is to demonstrate that their feelings and happiness are not nearly as important as yours.

This rule is all about balance.  Like any scientific or mathematical equation, love requires balance.  Without balance, it is impossible for the structure to last.  Sure, maybe it will be able to stand longer than you or others might expect, but without balance, without reciprocation of generosity and love, compassion and truth, failure is inevitable.

I would love to sit here and tell you it is never too late, but that would be a lie.  The longer you wait, the more likely it is the structure will fail.  I am a firm believer that anything is possible.  Unfortunately, that also includes the possibility that you wait too long and a point of no return is reached.  Receiving is a great feeling, but giving is too.  Maintain the balance.  Reciprocate, and the structure of love will remain standing and strong.


Lesson 7: Not showing how you really feel

Words are not enough.  Similar to showing more affection, but not quite the same.  Words and actions are quite the duo.  A lot of the time, one doesn’t mean a thing without the other.  You can say something, the words are heard and understood, but your actions can completely negate them.  The opposite is also true.  You can show all the love and affection you possess and then completely undo it by saying the wrong thing.  

This is all about tying words and actions together.  If you want your message to be truly received by the other party as it was intended, it is important to ensure that everything about the sentiment makes sense to the person receiving it.  The actions and the words need to match.  Telling someone you love them loses value when your first action after coming home from a long day of work is to sit on the couch and turn on the TV.

It is difficult for anyone to believe they are loved if you say something, public or private, that they interpret in a manner that you did not intend.  These contradictions and negative feelings can build up over time.  You also need to remember that when it comes to these things, everyone has different levels of tolerance.  If the hugs, kisses, hand-holding, and public displays are not as loving as the dialogue you use, there is a good chance you will be watching them someday leave.

Some might believe that these kinds of thoughts and actions don’t or shouldn’t require any extra effort.  If you truly love the person, they should always come naturally right?  Wrong!  We are all human and humans are not infallible.  All the proof you need can be found in any YouTube or Google search imaginable.  It is easy to make a mistake and overlook something seemingly minuscule, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t important.  Pay attention.  The small things matter.    


Lesson 6: Take vacations from work

Use your vacation time.  It is given to you for a reason, and it is a good reason.  One of the worst mistakes you can make, and I know that I made, is to allow too much stress to build up without knowing when and how to take a break and decompress.  Work ethic is great and commitment to your career is fantastic.  It stops being so amazing when it is allowed to consume your life and negatively impact your relationships.  

This is one of those times where being selfish can benefit not just yourself, but others as well.  Taking time to disconnect from the everyday grind is not just important, it is essential.  I haven’t done this correctly in years and even then, it was only because I was invited on trips, not typically resulting from my own initiative.  

The mind and body, like most things in life, need time to rest and recover.  The weekends are good.  The holidays are even better.  Neither of these is anywhere near the same as taking an extended period of time to do something, anything, that is not related to your work.  Even if you absolutely love what you do, an extended break allows for multiple things to take place.  

Exposure to some new experiences.  More uninterrupted time for your mind and body to properly rest and recover.  A chance to get excited about doing something fun and exciting.  Even if it is just sitting around the house and catching up on books or shows.  

Like any machine, the body and mind need time to rest to prevent early wear down from actually causing damage.  It also makes you a more pleasant person to be around.  Trust me.  The anger and frustrations can only be bottled up for so long before they start to spill out.  Inevitably, your relationships will start to suffer for it.  It won’t just improve your relationships.  A decent vacation is also a great way to regain your focus and make you better and more effective at your work.


Lesson 5: Taking things for granted

No one owes you their heart and love.  No one.  You can’t remind them enough of how much they mean to you.  You are not better than them, or anyone for that matter.  To think you are better than anyone automatically makes you worse.  It was never about who is better for who or what changes you can make to their life.  If you think you are better than someone, you have already proven you are not.  

You can be better without thinking you are better.  Have you ever thought that you were the best thing ever to happen to someone?  You look at their past and think, “Oh my aren’t they lucky I came into their life,” or “I am clearly an improvement over everything I can see in their past.”  Guess what.  You might have been, but that train of thought just demonstrated that all you are is different, not better.  

Just because someone tells you that you are the best thing that ever happened to them doesn’t mean that you don’t have to continue to prove it.  Continue being the best thing that ever happened to them.  Just because you are the best thing in their life today, doesn’t mean that will be the case tomorrow.  Like most things in life, it is an ongoing, never-ending process.  

You have to continually show that you are the person they love.  The person they want to be with.  The person that makes them feel like there is nothing in the world that is more special than the love that you share.  You have to be all those things every day.  Never let it get to your head.  You are allowed to be comfortable, but try to avoid getting complacent.  Things are continually changing and you have to constantly adapt.

Lessons Learned, Relationships

Lesson 4: Focusing on the wrong times

I had so many plans.  So many dreams.  They were supposed to be a crucial part of all of them.  Without them, the plans will so easily fade away.  These plans were all well and good, but they lacked the most critical component, timing.  In the rare instances where hopes and dreams are gifted by luck and happenstance, then I say embrace the blessing.

Have you ever been told not to celebrate too early?  Envision the finish line, but don’t get too far ahead of yourself.  Planning the rest of your lives together is advisable, but losing sight of the present could completely negate even the most well-laid plans.  The love may very well be there, and the potential for a bright and wonderful future might seem inevitable, but just like constructing a building, plans require day to day attention.

What good is it to have the wedding, honeymoon, and a 20-year plan in place, if you neglect the day to day issues that will most likely come up.  You can spend all of your time fantasizing about the future, but what is the point if you stop paying attention to the present.  There is nothing wrong with a fantasy unless you let it overtake the reality.  You end up falling in love with what hasn’t happened yet, and the reality tends to suffer.

There is no set time on this.  Everyone has their limits.  These limits are based on whatever it is they want to base them on.  This isn’t a law or even a rule.  It is a guide.  Plan for the future, but don’t let that get in the way of living in the present.  Don’t allow yourself to be blinded to what is, by what isn’t.  Open your eyes and don’t let the wrong time and place distract you.

Lessons Learned, Relationships

Lesson 3: Communication

From the deepest, and most heartfelt argument, to the easiest of texts to show consideration and respect, communication is critical.  That doesn’t just go for romantic relationships.  That goes for any relationship.  Communication is just especially important in romantic relationships. 

Communication is how understandings are reached and expectations established and shared.  Understanding the importance, not just of what was said, but what was intended, or meant.  It is so easy to misunderstand or misinterpret messages and it is a quick way to an argument.  Arguments are so easy to avoid, in theory, but in the heat of the moment, poor communication, misunderstood and misinterpreted messages are the fastest way to a disagreement that can get verbally or even physically violent.  

Ask as many questions as you can or need, but be tactful.  Get clarification and ensure you actually understand what was said or intended.  When they ask you where you were, that isn’t just about where you physically were.  It is also about why you weren’t where they thought or were under the impression you would be.

Pay close attention to tone and body language as well.  Any seemingly innocent or inconsequential question could have the type of underlying meanings that are not so innocent or inconsequential at all.  The same statement or questions, spoken in different tones, can have two entirely different meanings.

Think about times when you were asked “How was work?”  Sometimes, you are actually being asked how your day was at the office, store, etc.  Pay close attention to how it was asked.  You of all people should be able to tell by a certain point when there is some distress in their voice.  Perhaps they are asking this question as a hint that you should ask them how their day was because it was miserable and they need to talk about it.

Treat communication as a pleasure rather than responsibility and things will go so much better.  Disagreements will happen no matter what.  No matter what, you are different people with different experiences and clashes are inevitable.  How you communicate will always determine the outcome of these clashes.

Lessons Learned, Relationships

Lesson 2: Not showing enough affection and love

You could say “I love you” a thousand times.  They are some of the most powerful words you can speak.  They possess the greatest meaning of any phrase ever spoken.  They are magical for the ears and medicinal to the soul.  Remember, at the end of the day, they are only words.  The meaning and value can only be defined by the actions that accompany them.  

Small actions like holding hands a little more tightly and a little more often.  Maintaining those hugs and kisses a few seconds longer than you normally might.  Looking into each others’ eyes with passion.  Holding that gaze long enough to realize that you are both seeing more than just each other’s eyes.  Caressing their face gently with your hand, reinforced with all the love you possess.  

In most cases, all of these are so much more desirable than a meaningless butt grab.  While fun at times, these serve no further purpose than demonstrating childishness and disrespect.  Don’t get me wrong, in the right setting, the right context, a consensual grope in certain areas can have a good, loving, and desirable effect.  Knowing when, where, and how these gestures are appropriate should be communicated with the other person.

They deserve to be shown every day and every night how much love you have for them.  All of the little gestures of love and affection add up.  Love isn’t any one individual moment.  It is all the moments.  All of the moments added up over time.  Like a beautiful plant, it needs to be continuously tended to.  Without constant effort and attention, it will wither and die.

 Grand gestures are the best, but they are not the only way.  Instead of buying them a bouquet of flowers, go out and pick one.  Instead of taking them to a restaurant, cook something.  Cooking together is nice, but having something ready when they get home is nice too.  Instead of going to a bar or club, put something nice on the radio and dance around your home.

Lessons Learned, Relationships

Lesson 1: Learn to actively listen

There is a big difference between hearing what was said and actually listening.  It is so easy to confuse the two.  It is also easy to get distracted.  Maybe it is even just by the sound of her beautiful voice.  News flash.  The words coming out are important too.  You might want to consider hanging on to them.  Especially over time.  As time goes on, it becomes easy to lose track of things.  Something that is said and doesn’t come up again for a long time.  The message can get lost because not enough importance was placed on it.  Things you didn’t know you were expected to remember.  Even if the importance of it was never emphasized.  

In a relationship, in love, everything is important.  It doesn’t matter if it is a deep conversation or a quick statement while out in public.  A quick little, “Oh my gosh I love that shirt,” or “I have always wanted to go see my sports team play against their biggest rival in our stadium,” may not seem like much at face value.  Maybe you assume it is just something the opposite sex always says.  It is easy to overlook these or brush them aside.  

Take notice.  These are opportunities.  No matter how small.  Opportunities to show that you were listening.  Showing up with that exact shirt on Valentine’s Day, their birthday, or Christmas.  Randomly whipping out a pair of game tickets and surprising them before dinner.  It doesn’t matter.  The message they receive is clear and of immense value.  You love them.  You care.  You care about what they want and what they have to say.  Most importantly, you are listening to them and they matter.  What they say matters.

Listen.  Learn.  Remember.  No matter how big or small.  There are few things in a relationship that matter more than listening.  No matter how many times you say “I love you.”  No matter how much you think or know you mean it.  The words don’t possess nearly as much value unless they are accompanied by the actions that demonstrate they are more than just words.  Listening matters.