Relationships Failing More Than Ever…Can This Save Yours?

by Reid on June 6, 2013

Today, I’m going to teach you why relationships are failing faster than ever before, why people are so upset or unsatisfied in their relationships and what you can do to start transforming that.

If you read my last articleUpset couple , we talked about the Difficult Conversation Formula and how you can start speaking up about the things you’ve been withholding for so long.  It is my belief that it’s what you’re not saying that’s destroying your relationships, and that also includes holding back the good stuff. Withheld appreciations and affirmations and acknowledgements over the course of a relationship are just as detrimental as withholding all the scary stuff that you’re afraid to talk about.

It is my belief that it’s what you’re not saying that’s destroying your relationships, and that also includes holding back the good stuff.

So why are relationships failing more now than ever?

Well, I have a theory and I think it’s a pretty good one.

Basically, the ways that we measure success in relationship have changed. It used to be (in our great-grandparents day especially), you measured success in a relationship by duration. The longer your relationship lasted… the more successful it was… the more proof that you had that you’ve won. If you got married and you had kids and then you had grandchildren and you got to watch them grow up and you guys were still together, you won at the game of Life.

Nowadays, duration isn’t the metric. It’s changed, but no one is really talking about it. Though, you can kind of see it out there in the ripples of what’s going on in relationships, if you can step back far enough to gain some distance and perspective from what “Culture” tells us we should be doing.

There is this outdated belief that the longer you are in relationship (even if you’re miserable and unfulfilled) the safer and more secure you are, the better “job” you’re doing. Because of this cultural teaching, people are acting on the handed down tradition of doing whatever they can to preserve the relationship, at all costs, no matter how uncomfortable. You don’t go around wearing your grandmother’s girdle just because she did, do you? So STOP using her outdated relationship models! (To those of you who DO like wearing your grandma’s girdle, go for it, AND please upgrade your relationship models!)

A major “truth” that needs to be updated is “never rock the boat.”

Most people spend their entire relationship trying to accommodate each other and be easy to stay with. Most people ask for what they think other people are going to be a yes to. They’re calculating and guestimating and paying attention in their relationships to figure out what the other person is going to be okay with. By playing into this “tolerance economy” (what they will tolerate/what I will tolerate), no one ever stops to figure out or speaks up to ask for what it is they actually want.

We were taught “don’t want to rock the boat” in our relationships because the goal is to get them to last longer. You end up walking on egg shells in order to preserve your relationship, in order for it to last longer, even if it’s stressful and unfulfilling. Even with the best of intentions, it’s the walking on egg shells that ends up crushing our relationships.

Loving Couple

We now live in a relationship world where duration is no longer the metric anymore.

The metric has changed. We no longer live in a world where most of us married our high school sweetheart, and will live in the town we grew up in for the rest of our lives. We aren’t limited to a small circle of people as possible mates- we have the whole world at the click of a mouse. We won’t be run out of town for not staying together “’till death do us part.” We don’t have to tolerate, put up with, or suffer through relationships anymore. Relationships can be a source of celebration, deep love, and transformation.

Rather than Duration, look for Depth. Depth is the new metric, and a successful relationship is one where you truly get to know yourself and your partner, where you build trust and safety to be authentic and transparent, where there is integrity in ending a bad relationship rather than suffering through it. That’s the new commitment: to not treat our relationships like egg shells, and to empower those we love and ourselves by being authentic, real and open. Honesty and transparency are the new fidelity for today’s relationships.

Honesty and transparency are the new fidelity for today’s relationships.

If we change the metric of success to Depth… if honesty and transparency are how you show your commitment to your relationships, then how we interact with people changes, too. We no longer need to just ask for what we think other people will be okay with!

You have to ask what your truth is. What do you really want? What’s real for you? Being honest and transparent in sharing your truth will bring your relationship deeper, AND threatens that it could end the relationship altogether.

When you start being absolutely honest and having the difficult conversations that you think will end the relationship, you’re tempering your relationship like fine steel. If the relationship doesn’t end and you guys end up staying together, then you’re living a relationship with a capital R. Your Relationship is strong and resilient and supports you both. And all the energy you put into hiding or being careful can now be poured into loving and sharing yourselves with one another.

If you want to transform your relationships, start going for depth and truth rather than walking on eggshells. It’s going to be a little bit hard to do at first, but I’m going to give you a particular way of approaching it, to help midwife you till you get the hang of it.

The Problem: Attraction Vs Self-Expression

The problem starts in the dating world. We’re taught that we want to attract people. So my job is to figure out what I need to say or do or wear so that you will be attracted to me. I want you to find me alluring and irresistible and that takes a lot of bandwidth. I’m spending all my time and energy trying to figure out what to do to influence you into liking me, rather than being present and being myself. In the old days, where I might have a dating pool of maybe 10 people and I HAD to find a mate quickly, for life, the attraction model made more sense. I don’t need to be in a relationship to survive now. And we have a dating pool of millions. Thanks, Internet!

With the change in relationship paradigm we can —and I strongly recommend- switching the focus from attraction to self-expression. Self-expression is now the new currency in today’s Relationship Economy. Self-expression leads to more ease and openness and happiness in your relationship world, in your communities, with your friends, and with your family. (Well, maybe not your mom, maybe your mom is still in the old world and doesn’t want you to be that self-expressed. Love you, Mom!)

Self-expression is now the new currency in today’s Relationship Economy.

Self-Expression: Figuring out who you want to be, what makes you happiest in the world and being THAT person as loud and as proud as you feel like you can be. And then seeing who’s attracted to that real you.

Self-expression is where I think relationships are actually going. When you’re more self-expressed and more transparent in your relationships:

  1. (1) You’re happier, and
  2. (2) The people who are having a relationship with you are actually having a relationship with the real you.

You being the real you can feel really scary. However, it’s ultimately going to be something that makes you happier and takes way less bandwidth and energy in your life than you trying to figure out how to keep somebody attracted to you. Plus, we’re not trapped in some Dantesque version of 7th Grade Hell where you’re entire life hinges on whether the cool kids like you or not. In fact, if you’ve attended any of your school reunions lately, you might notice that the “real world” has leveled the playing field for the cool kids and the geeks. We’re, all of us, just trying to find love and purpose in the world. Why not access the energy of being truly yourself rather than holding onto your grade school angst?

Where this approach is super, super useful and uber important is when you start being the person you’ve always wanted to be. You’re now role modeling and giving permission to the people in your relationship world to be their version of self-expressed. They get to release all the worry and access the energy that they couldn’t before.

If you add into this dynamic the things we discussed in the last two articles – getting better at having difficult conversations, and knowing how to make your loved ones feel romanced – now it all starts to come together! You’re starting to weave a relationship where you don’t have to hide anymore and the people that you’re in a relationship with aren’t hiding either.

Happier And Healthier Vs Hiding Who You Are

Being self-expressed and transparent doesn’t guarantee that your relationships will stay together forever, but that’s not the point anymore because you want to be more honest and go deeper in your relationships. The deeper that you go and the more honest that you are, the happier that you are and the happier that your partners are, and inside of all that there’s a lot of room for you guys to figure out what your relationship will be together. Ideally you’re going to be happier, there’ll be more ease, there’ll be a lot more feelings of connectedness and that’s the point. It isn’t to stay together longer, it’s to go deeper. If you choose to transition the relationship, you can do it with integrity, knowing that neither of you sold out on being the best YOU you could be. Instead of having to wait for an epic train wreck to end your relationships, you can celebrate the awareness and integrity in parting ways because your relationship lasted as long as it was supposed to.

Being self-expressed and transparent doesn’t guarantee that your relationships will stay together forever, but that’s not the point anymore … be more honest and go deeper in your relationships.

A side benefit of being more self-expressed and more honest with each other, of course, can be that people often choose to stay together longer. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s way better odds than trying to “tough it out” while you slowly deny the world who you truly want to be.

Watch for the next article where I’ll be talking about how to listen to your partner’s body which is a really useful skill and you can use that to expand your abilities in bed!

If you agree that relationships in this day and age are not about have to’s but about get to’s, and you want to learn more… If you want to expand your relationship, deepen it, strengthen it, create more success in it by a factor of 10, join me in Relationship10x a series of free training videos and an optional 6-week course designed to transform your relationship 10x in 10 minutes a day!

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Yours in truly being the you YOU want to be!

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