Many factors determine how and why a relationship comes into being, and whether or not it continues over the course of time or is severed.
So now let’s just focus on a few of the essential building blocks that help create and sustain healthy, fulfilling, and, yes, great relationships.
It should be no surprise that our first goal in life is to master trust, since that is the basis for all of our relationships moving forward. For many of us, our earliest experiences have been positive enough to allow us to adopt a trusting attitude. Some, though, have great difficulty with this, perhaps as a result of instability, inconsistency, invasion of boundaries, or even actual threat of harm or alienation. Mistrust can manifest in isolation and avoidance of intimacy.
Once trust is established, our focus shifts to a decision about whom we will invite to share ourselves and our lives with; those to whom we will commit our full attention, time, and energy. Commitment is reserved for only those people who have proven that they are capable of sticking around for the long haul and are ready, willing, and able to share themselves with us, and to have us do the same. Think loyalty.
This means that we care enough and are comfortable enough to share all aspects of ourselves. We feel the desire to open our soul to someone who cares enough about us to understand and support us fully in most everything we do. Intimacy implies vulnerability: We are willing to show parts of ourselves we are not so sure about — our weaknesses, our neuroses, and the things we like least about ourselves. We feel down deep that the ones we choose to have in our lives know us and accept us, warts and all.
The word literally means “regard,” or “to look back at.” Interesting, since most of us would probably say that respect has come to mean a kind of veneration—having a deep reverence for someone or something. And certainly, those with whom we are most intimate deserve this, as do we. But the origin of the word shows us something very different. When it comes to an intimate relationship, it’s about the mutual mirroring of emotions, feelings, and beliefs.
When we trust ourselves, our judgment, and what we believe, when we respect and honor ourselves in all we do, when we commit to being the best we can be and continue on that course for a lifetime, when we can converse, commune, and communicate with ourselves, when we are intimate with ourselves, practicing openness, honesty, and integrity, when we are empathetic to ourselves, practicing kindness, patience, and understanding, and when we are aware of ourselves as equal and sacred to all other beings, then are we able to enter into partnership with another to the fullest and most satisfying extent