From my experience, relationship, like just about everything else in life, is characterized by three main phases: a beginning, a middle and an ending… Here are some useful tips for navigating each phase.

When Nurturing a New Relationship

Take your time, let love evolve and grow at is own pace. Relationships that start off with great intensity and passion often burn out before they can establish themselves…   Enjoy the passion and excitement of making a potentially life-changing connection without trying to mold the relationship, to direct the flow of it… float along for awhile, allow the universe to guide you… give yourself the chance to really “see” the other before you start wanting commitments.

Talk to each other, Keep communications flowing… not just about your day and where you plan to go on the next date, but about your interests, your likes and dislikes, your political, social and spiritual beliefs and your expectations, your goals in career as well as relationships. Talk about where you would like to live, and how… and how you feel about your family, how you like to relax, what you like to do for fun… the list is endless… the point is to take the time to get to know each other, to notice where you agree and disagree… there’s a caution here, though, you don’t want to overwhelm him or her on the first few dates so you end up  scaring them off….be willing to ask the hard questions, like where do you see this relationship going, but not until you have seen some movement… common sense can tell you when it is appropriate to dig a little deeper with the conversation.

Have fun….. let go of your fears so you can see clearly. Trust that you will be OK no matter where the relationship goes.  If you are feeling stressed when you connect, know that there is an imbalance somewhere between you, consider passing up this opportunity for one that feels more relaxed and comfortable.

Be attentive to the warning signs… if he is checking with Mom every time he has a decision to make, no matter how big or small, you probably won’t be on the top of his list, even if he marries you. If she stays in touch with her old boyfriend, realize that she may not be able to move on with a new love yet… if he expects you to split the restaurant bill, or asks for money to pay his phone bill, trust that this relationship may end up being very costly. Don’t be afraid to say no….. trust that love can bloom again with a more suitable partner.

When Building on a Committed Relationship

Be honest with each other… secrets have a way of eroding a good relationship… once a lie is uncovered, trust is destroyed.

Keep it Fresh, Get Busy … over time, partners can begin to take each other for granted… and often get stuck in rather negative routines and patterns of communicating, working and playing together… Commit to a monthly date night, stay in touch with friends and family… share chores, cook and clean together, share books, plan adventures together.

Believe in each other, support the other in achieving their goals. If you feel like your partner is putting you down or you find yourself “dissing” the other, it’s time to take a second look at what’s going on… notice where anger and resentment is building up – and why…be flexible, willing to acknowledge the imbalances and to change.

Focus any desire for change  on yourself, you can’t expect the other to change… so many folks enter a relationship thinking that the other will become more of what they want in a partner, only to find that the more they push for change, the more the other digs in their heels and chooses not to… It will go a lot easier if you will change yourself, try to take a different perspective on the issue so you can adjust your attitude to it.

When Ending a Relationship/Breaking Up

Be realistic and practical, while you want to be open to the possibility that the relationship can be repaired, be willing to consider your options, accept that you probably need to move on.

Be graceful though the ending…sometimes a serious argument can clear the air and bring understanding… but let it go once you have calmed… this is not the time to allow anger to consume you and cloud your thinking. Remember that there are two sides to every story… love yourself enough to gracefully let go of what is no longer working.

Lean on friends and family. They will help you to heal and to recover your self-esteem… play with the children in your life, walk the dog, cuddle with the cat… Let yourself love and be loved, focus on what works, what and who is supportive and uplifting.

Avoid panicking – don’t try to hang on for dear life…. Trust that all has purpose, and trust that you have it in you to rise again,… this is not the time to fall into that old victim consciousness, but rather to notice what you have learned from the experience and be willing to move on from it.

Love is often not enough…. Successful partnerships come when each respects the other and takes time to really listen to the other…. Good partnerships come from clear communications, and a willingness on both sides to negotiate and compromise…

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