4 Stages of Relationship-Improvement through Self-Improvement…

During the Relationship Blog Boom over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve read numerous relationship blogs and websites that mostly claim to have the perfect (or close to perfect) formula for not only attracting, but keeping a mate happy until death (or any other deal breaking situation :-)) do you part.

I have to admit that some of the titles are pricelessly entertaining and perfect for the a person that…desires hope, hasn’t figured this “guy/girl” thing out yet or who wants a quick fix for love or lust! Following those rules and sure-fire steps to romantic-relationship success (well maybe just some of those things) will certainly have results, but like the fine print on a TV stunt commercial, RESULTS MAY VARY! Some of the most entertaining I’ve seen are:

  • How to Seduce a Woman: 11 steps – wikiHow
  • How to Attract Women – Get the Girl of Your Dreams
  • How To Attract Men – WARNING: This Really Works
  • How to Attract Men – How to Be a Total Man-Magnet – Cosmopolitan

Now if the gender separation above isn’t enough, you also have some race-specific steps below to follow at your leisure. (I focused on Blacks since they are what I come across the most.)

  • 10 Steps To Keep Your BM Happy | whatblackmenwant
  • 10 Rules To Help You Keep Your Man | Brown Sista Online Magazine
  • What Black Women Need to Be Happy – Surviving Dating
  • Happy Black Woman | Live Your Ideal Life

I am an optimist, but also a realist. I honestly think that all of the above are fine to read and absorb, but that it takes a lot of discernment to know the difference between bad advice and good; between expanding or polishing up the current YOU and manufacturing an entirely different, new, and possibly insincere YOU.

Based on my research and observation of our fickle and often hard to please, man (and woman) kind, I think that the following are great ways to FOCUS ON YOU. By doing that, you’ll find that many of those same skills acquired to learn you and have a great relationship with self, can easily be applied to that significant other or relationship hopeful!

(1) Stop lying to yourself and tell yourself how you really feel – Now I’m sure that your first thought is…”I don’t lie. I always tell the truth.” Well that’s precious and of course you do. Now have a bite of this Zebra Cake and keep reading.

How often throughout your 24 hour day or 168 hour week do you tell half-truths or “white lies?” How often do you attempt to mislead not only others, but yourself by using the art of verbal or cerebral persuasion? I read a study that all but explicitly stated that the average human cannot really handle the truth. Lies such as complimenting Susan’s hideous outfit and calling that behavior, “being nice,” were at the top of the list.

Try an experiment! Go an entire 24 hours being completely honest with yourself about EVERYTHING. If you don’t like something…say it to yourself…baby steps :-).  If you’re bothered by something…say it to yourself! If you love or like something way more than you think you should…say it to yourself! If you’re insecure about something…say it to yourself! If you need help…say it to yourself! If you’re tired and can’t endure another minute of something…say it to yourself!

Over time you’ll learn to be more comfortable with your honest feelings and then the next step will be verbalizing those true feelings to those around you and more importantly, those closest to you. With a little practice you’ll begin to transfer those same skills of self-honesty into being honest with someone else. Successful relationships require and appreciate this!

(2) Figure out what you like, love, dislike, or hate – Have you ever interacted with someone who seemed to have virtually no clue of themselves? 9 out of 10 questions regarding their likes and dislikes were answered with, “I don’t know,” or “I’m not really sure.” Or even more cryptic, they did know what they liked and didn’t like, but had no clue why?

Now I do understand that everyone hasn’t experienced everything and that’s normal and that experiencing life WITH someone is an absolutely great feeling when the option is available. Sadly though, what I’ve found is that a lot of people only allow themselves to experience as much life as the people they interact with. Some have the philosophy that if they don’t have anyone to go with then they choose to miss out on the experience altogether.

Ask yourself this, how many movies have you missed out on not because you were too busy, or didn’t have enough money, or didn’t have a way to get there, but simply because you didn’t want to go alone? Don’t let the lack of a mate stop life’s experiences! Go out to eat at a restaurant you’ve never tried and request the best seat in the house. Take a trip to a place you’ve been and enjoyed or would love to visit! Buy that outfit and wear it to an event just because. Don’t wait for a date just to dress your best and experience social events! There is nothing more attractive than a person confident and comfortable enough to experience and learn themselves.

Once you’ve figured out the things that you like and dislike, you can use the same skills when learning and experiencing new things with that potential mate.

(3) Get back to adult basics – It’s amazing how we forget about the things many of us were taught as children (hopefully taught as children :-)). In case you forgot, here are a few things to remember.

Clean up behind yourself and stay tidy. I’m not suggesting that your home or vehicle or office space be in showroom condition 24/7, even though I could make a great case for it, but I do think that those 3 areas at a minimum, should be tidy and well-kept.If you ever forget about the importance of this, think about your initial thoughts when you were about to get into someone’s car and happened to glance down at how sloppy it was and the visual fear that overtook you as you wondered what that stain on the seat could be. You went out and had a great date and then were invited into their home for a much-needed night-cap only to find that the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom all resembled that same lack of hygienic attentiveness.

A few more that I think are often overlooked, but deserve equal attention are:

Being timely when picking someone up or being ready if being picked up.

Improving your communication skills (especially non-verbal), respond to texts, emails, IM’s, and Voicemails within 24 hours (I am horrible with this…).

Being an overall responsible person.

Improving or even perfecting these areas will no doubt prepare you for cohabitation with someone. Also, it’s much easier to demand skills that you also provide.

(4) Strive for Appearance Perfection – I was just about to leave it at 3 and avoid this, but it needs to be said, discussed, thought about. You may be thinking that I mean that you have to be or appear to be visually perfect. That’s not what I mean, but if I did, would you work harder to achieve it? 🙂

We have become a society so rooted in the belief that everyone should like and/or accept us as we are (flaws and all), but I’d like to be the first to say that’s a misconception. While I do believe that certain people will accept you as you are, I’d prefer you strived for more than mere acceptance and the meeting of expectations (your expectations first), but that you’d position yourself to exceed expectations. Don’t force people to accept your mediocrity.

Exercise has a number of benefits for a person as seen here in “25 Reasons to Exercise.” Find a routine that you like and stick with it. Commitment and determination are 2 things that don’t always show up on the “sexy” list, but trust me they are. Also, keep in mind that just because you’re not the 2 millionth purchaser of P90X or Insanity, that something as simple as push ups, sit ups, and walking the steps instead of taking the elevator can have positive results as well.

Find what you feel comfortable wearing. A comfortable person is happier and it will more than likely show in your smile, walk, and overall demeanor. Wearing something that you aren’t comfortable in is a signal that you aren’t sure of YOU yet…

Developing a healthy self-consciousness regarding your physical appearance is another area that can prepare you for comfortable and confident interactions with that mate to be! If you are a visual person like myself, I’d suggest taking a look at Pinterest.com. My wife introduced me to it and I can honestly say that I like it!

As always, thanks for reading and don’t forget to Tweet it!, Share it!, or Comment on it! with some feedback!

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