Why is Proper Execution and Maintenance of a Relationship so Important? Part 1 of 2

main

Cadets,

Some of my cadets will email me to ask me questions about dating and relationships.  Today I would like to share a dialogue that I recently had with one of you.  This is the first part of a two part post, it is very long but it addresses many of the important issues we have talked about. I hope that you will find it insightful.

Cadet:

Hi Love Cop, I put myself unintentionally in a position where chemistry sparked between me and a man from my sports club unexpectedly. I have a 1 year relationship with another man, so I allowed my head to take control of the situation. Yet since then I have been developing a deeper friendship with this acquaintance of mine. Doubts that I had repressed about my relationship have become more real issues since my curiosity in the second man has prevailed. I have talked to my man and explained those doubts which revolve mainly around us being at different life stages, and uncertain compatibility, he's a student I am not, I am worried about his lack of direction and ability to equal what I can bring to the relationship in terms of security, however personality and chemistry we work excellently. I told him man 2 came on to me and that I rejected the offer but did not admit that I am curious.

A friend recently suggested that I was hedging my bets. I will not physically cheat but am cautiously fancying the upcoming friend while my head slowly allows us to get to know each other. Experience makes me think it would not be in my best interest to allow romantic progression with man 2 to develop regardless of my status, yet especially having the trust of my partner. Yet man 2 and I are going away for our second sports trip alone together post noticing each other, this time staying the night, me in tent him in vehicle. But in reality I am beginning to want the impossible, my partner with more decisiveness about his future and our compatibility. OR to get to know this new person and assess our compatibility with a view to remaining friends if we are not compatible or making myself available down the line if I think we might really be suitable. I feel guilty as a result of behaving like this and wonder if this is an indication that a) my partner and I should (not) work on us. Maybe I should be single and try this new guy..but maybe far away hills are greener or I am acting out of loneliness as my partner has been across the country for the past 9 months and we see each other just a couple of times a month. I've done long distance without difficulty in the past to other boyfriends so I am surprised at my own flakiness here. But I am 28 and really tired of dating students too- I have been dating students for the past 10 years and feel like I am ready for a man who knows what he wants out of life and if I am to be a part of that, also I'm quite generous and would like if I went out with somebody who could reciprocate that...I've never really been "taken care of" or felt that was important for me..but lately that has changed, a switch has flipped on and I cannot ignore it.

I am developing my own business and a busy person so it's frustrating to feel so unsure of what to do right now. I read your blogs and found I liked your realistic and common sense approach to relationships. I am hoping you could give me some of your advice or wisdom on what best to do as I really do not want to hedge bets but actually make a decision.

Love Cop:

Thank you for your letter. I created this blog because I truly want to help people find and maintain healthy, loving relationships. Now let me just start by saying I cannot tell you what to do. All I can do is address the issues that you have brought up in your letter and give you my thoughts on them. It is up to you to decide whether or not my points are valid and what you should do. So let's begin. I saw a number of issues that popped out at me when I read your letter. I will try and address them one by one.

1. The Doubts You Have About Your Current Relationship. Unlike men, when a woman enters a relationship she either knows from the beginning exactly what she is getting (whether she cares to admit it to herself or not) or at least she has a much better idea of what she is getting than the man does. The reason that women are much better at relationships than men is because they are always evaluating the relationships and their partners. Women are very prudent and practical in this respect. Men, well most men are just run by their emotions and never evaluate the relationship or their partners unless they are forced to. Common knowledge is that the woman is the more emotional one in the relationship but, in reality, it is quite the opposite. 90% of the time it is the woman who is far more rational and objective than the man. You have astutely noticed that your relationship does have some issues. For that I commend you. You have also communicated those issues to your partner. Again, kudos on your part. As you very well know, there are no clean deals. It all comes down to what you can live with and what you cannot.

2. Long Distance Relationship. I will talk a little about this but if you want more insight then please check out my article on the subject. http://www.thelovecop.com/2010/06/can-you-bet-on-a-long-distance-relationship/ Interestingly enough, it also talks about hedge betting as well. I am sure you will find it very insightful. Now on to your specific situation. So you have been dating a guy for a year but for 9 months of that year it has been long distance.

This adds another interesting component to your situation that I see that you are becoming aware of. If you are not going places and doing things together then it is just talk. It is much harder to build a deeper intimacy within a relationship when you and your partner cannot see each other on a regular basis. In fact what happens is that a false or pseudo intimacy is built. I like to call this phenomenon "highspotting." When people in a long distance relationship manage to get together, on occasion, they really try and make their time together "count". So they try to do as much as they can in the little time they have together before they have to part ways.

However, trying to cram as much as you can into a limited span moves the relationship at an unnatural pace. The goal is to create a high that will last you through the period that you spend apart until you can meet up again. It is a cycle of highs and lulls than can become addicting. The problem is that, in many cases, the highs really are not that high. They just seem high when contrasted with the lulls. Secondly, the highs also have a way of repressing or glossing over the problems that exist within the relationship. The woman (more so than the man) is painfully aware that these issues exist but both people get caught up in the high of being together after the lull. To compound the problem, during the lull, opportunities present themselves all the time with all sorts interesting individuals that we would like to get to know better but can't because we are in a relationship even though our partner is never around and we feel so alone.

3. The Proper Execution and Maintenance of Relationships This is where the crux of the matter lies. The success or failure of a relationship will always hinge on this. Unfortunately I find that this is the area where men fail the most. Relationships are the most successful when a man knows how to properly take the lead in the relationship and also properly maintain it.

The best example I give to illustrate this point is Salsa dancing. Salsa dancing has two very important rules that must be followed in order for it to work. Rule number #1 is that the man must lead and the woman must follow. Now this is not a domineering or controlling lead (90%-10% my way or the highway) lead but a gentle lead (51%-49%) based upon mutual respect and trust. If the woman tries to lead herself or the man is incapable of leading the woman properly forcing her to lead herself then the dance falls apart and does not work. It not only looks but also feels wrong. This leaves both partners (but especially the woman) feeling frustrated. The second rule of salsa is, "take care of your lady, take care of your lady, take care of your lady."

In Salsa, it is not about the guy. The man is there to show off the lady and make HER look good. That is why she trusts him and lets him lead her. Now here is the most important part. In order for a man to lead and take care of his lady properly, he must do it through his actions and not his words. When the couple is dancing and trying to stay in time with the music it is not practical or effective for the man to verbally tell the woman what he is going to do before he does it. He has to confidently and effectively communicate what he wants to do through his actions and then properly execute. If he has communicated what he wants to do effectively them the woman will know exactly what he wants her to do and do it.

That is what makes the dance so beautiful. When it comes to relationships I have found that men seem to have lost the ability to lead and are not mindful to take care of their lady. When a man does not seem to have a clear direction or focus in his life or in the relationship the woman finds this disconcerting. There is a void that she finds that she often has to step in to fill in that void. The issue here is that most women do not want this role. A woman wants a man, not a son or a puppy. The second major failing that men display in relationships is once they think that they have gotten the girl, they think their work is done. What most men don't realize is that getting a woman to fall in love with you is the easy part. Keeping her in love is the hard part. Instead men reverse this and start taking her for granted once the have her. A man is smart enough to know that if he properly maintains his car, it will run smoothly.

However, for some strange reason, men don't apply this same wisdom to their relationships. Men forget about romance, respect and affection resulting in their ladies slowly but surely falling out of love with them. As this process continues the woman reaches a breaking point where in her mind the relationship is over and the man is out. She may not physically leave till months later, but make no mistake, it's over. With all this being said, let’s look at your situation specifically. Judging by your doubts about your relationship, it seems to me that your partner does not know how or has stopped taking the lead in the relationship. It seems that you have stepped into that role and that this is a place you no longer want to be.

Secondly, it seems that he is also failing in the area of properly maintaining the relationship. The proper maintenance of a relationship has 3 major components. Those components are ROMANCE, RESPECT and AFFECTION. This is how a man, "takes care of his lady." If you don't feel like you are being "taken care of" it is because these components are not being properly applied in your relationship. Let's start with affection. You are a woman so you know that there is a BIG difference between physical intimacy and affection. Most men do not realize this and equate them as on in the same. Herein lies the problem.

Next is romance and respect. If you don't feel like you are being "taken care of" it is because he has forgotten about romance. When a man forgets about romance he inadvertently starts taking his partner for granted and, in a way, is disrespecting her. Because of this, the lingering doubts you have always had have started become more prevalent. If he was doing everything right, those doubts would not be an issue. Same goes for your interest in this new guy. If a guy knows how to properly maintain a relationship and never takes his lady for granted, it does not matter if there are other guys who are richer, smarter, more charming or better looking than him. Those men will immediately fade from his lady's mind because no man has ever treated her so well. The fact that you are also involved in a long distance relationship just exacerbates the situation. You two don't see each other that often and when you do you highspot. All these factors combined are making you take notice of guy #2 and slowly fall out of love with guy #1.

Now one thing you must understand is that love is not black and white. Some people think that you are either in love or you are not. This is simply not the case. There are DEGREES of love. If you were to do a 100 point system charting degrees of love then 90-100 would be absolutely and totally in love and 51 to 89 would be varying degrees below that. 49 and under is out of love. Where you are on that scale is something only you know. All I can tell you is that if you are 51 or higher on that scale you can get your degree of love up to the 90s if you and your partner work on maintaining the relationship. If you are 49 or lower on that scale, there is nothing you can do. Try as you might you'll always know deep down that the relationship isn't right. I hope that I have given you enough insight to make a well informed decision. I apologize for the length of this response. I just wanted to make sure you know why I said the things I said and what my basis for saying them was. Good Luck,

Here to Serve and Protect Your Heart and Mind

The Love Cop

Check back in a couple weeks for part 2 of the dialogue.