Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

The Most Reliable Route To Everlasting Love

We can’t legally drive a car without passing a written and practical exam. We can’t legally skydive without rigorous training, even though few things are more simple than pulling a cord and letting gravity pull you down to earth. Heck, it takes about 12 years of formal education before you have a realistic shot at being hired as a janitor or delivery driver.

And yet we can marry someone with exactly zero preparation. An arrangement that’s supposed to last until death. So I guess no biggie, right?

I apologize, I’m basically beating up a strawman here. Besides, I think almost everyone agrees that choosing a life partner is one of the biggest decisions we can ever make. So it’s not that we see marriage as something trivial. 

But we do tend to make another dangerous oversight.

We like to think good relationships happen naturally if we act from our hearts. Something along the lines of: if it’s meant to be, then it’ll work itself out.

But once you see that about half of marriages end in divorce, that belief doesn’t bear much weight anymore. Especially if you consider that a fair chunk of unhappy married couples stick together out of religious convictions, secular principles, or a desire to protect their children. 

So if we choose happiness over continuity as the key indicator of success, about 2 out of 3 marriages fail. That’s crazy.

If the news told you that whenever you left your house there was a two out of three chance that a football would catapult itself into your groin. Would you ever step out your door without wearing a cup?

If the odds that you’ll get hurt are this big, you’re obviously going to take precautionary measures.

So why do so many people run headfirst into loving relationships, without investing any time in how to love? Maintaining an intimate connection with someone is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. And one of the most painful endeavours when things go sour. 

For a culture that’s obsessed with romantic love—the US wedding industry alone generated over $50 billion in 2013—we have an incredibly poor understanding of it. 

Thinking you can attract your perfect partner and go the distance without any education in relationships is insane. 

Suppose you meet someone who can understand your feelings and views, can be your source of emotional support and encouragement, can communicate openly and respectfully in times of difficulty, can express gratitude and love, can adapt to your changing needs and desires, and, finally, can blow your socks off in the bedroom. Why would that person choose you if you can’t do the same for them?

It makes absolutely no sense. And yet countless people believe that this is how finding a long-term partner works. “You just need to find the right person.”

But that’s only part of it. First, you have to be the right person for someone else.

Now, don’t get it twisted. I’m not suggesting that you don’t deserve love until you better yourself. But I am saying that you probably won’t find the love you fantasise about until you can return the favour.

Finding ever-lasting love starts with being capable of giving it. So you better do your homework.

P.S. Working on how to be a better lover and partner doesn’t mean changing who you are. It largely involves getting a better understanding of yourself so that you can exercise curiosity, compassion and kindness when you’d rather hide, attack or condemn.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach