Commit to your boundaries. Before you begin a relationship, determine what you will or won’t tolerate. Also, identify what you will allow yourself to do. Each of us gives importance to certain ideals and values. Sticking to these creates integrity.
Don’t lose your identity. Hold onto some of your alone time, friend time, and work time. That way you won’t have to fight to get it back later. Your heart may be telling you to ignore your ideals and values for the momentary pleasure, but in the long run you won’t be happy if you sell out. It’s the beginning of losing who you are and what’s important to you. Remember, you won’t be happy if you have to suppress important parts of yourself to keep the peace.
There are three stages to romantic relationships:
- Stage one – the honeymoon stage of total togetherness.
- Stage two – you start to assert your individuality again.
- Stage three – you both meet in the middle and create a genuine, healthy integration of your lives.
Learn to deal with disappointments. No relationship is perfect. Unrealistic expectations undermine your ability to see and appreciate the good in your partner. If you find someone who can work with you to manage disappointment, you can build an enduring trust that lasts a lifetime.
Open up to each other slowly. Think “delightful discovery” not a brain dump. Reveal your story over time as it becomes contextually relevant. At first, the temptation may be to idealize yourself, creating a high, and not altogether accurate, expectation you can’t live up to. Ask yourself, “What mental image is he (or she) forming of me?” One caveat – if you’re dating someone who makes you want to hide your true self, beware.
Ask for what you need. Know what you need and how to ask for it. Yes, this takes self-awareness and forethought. I can’t stress enough the importance of doing this introspective work before you begin a relationship. Then don’t be too shy to talk about your intimate needs.
Be on the alert for narcissistic tendencies, because empathy dysfunctions such as this are more common than you might think. If the other person only wants to be noticed, validated and affirmed, without giving the same to you, end things quickly and don’t try to change him or her. Toxic relationships can damage your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health for a long time.
My new book, “When Empathy Fail – how to stop those hell-bent on destroying you”, (now available for purchase) is designed to provide practical, no-nonsense advice that helps you protect yourself from toxic relationships. The first chapter is free for download, so feel free to download your copy. I’d love your honest feedback after you’ve read it. Please come over to my Facebook page and share your thoughts.