What makes a great relationship?

Many of my clients come to me wanting to get back into the dating game.  They are usually mature women, who have created wonderful fulfilling lives post-divorce.  And now they think it might be nice to have someone.  Someone on their own terms, that fits into their lives.  And many women are worried, how will I continue to show up as the empowered person I have become, when previously in my relationships, I molded myself to other people’s desires? I tell them, it’s important to know what you want, be clear about that, and trust that you deserve it and he’s out there. I’m a romantic.  I believe in the power of partnership. I’m not going to apologize for it, it’s in our hard wiring. Humans are pack creatures by nature.  We want to belong. Women are connectors by nature. We must attract suitable sexual partners or we fail to perpetuate the species. Ans so we quest on, in spite of past disappointments. And really, although it can be difficult, is there any more exciting game than the sport of dating and mating?

What are we looking for in the ideal romantic partnership?  I’ve created what I call the ARTFUL Relationship™.  Artful means done with craft and skill.  If you embody these characteristics and hold your partner to them too, you have the seeds of a beautiful intimate relationship.

A stands for Authentic.  I show up as who I really am, warts and all.  I make space for you to show up as you really are, even if I don’t always like it. (Then it’s my choice about whether I want to stick around for it or not.)

R stands for Responsible. I realize that I am 100% responsible for my happiness in the relationship.  I recognize that you are 100% responsible for your happiness. We don’t take on the burden of our partner’s work, and we don’t ask them to take on ours.

T stands for Truthful. I tell you the truth in spite of my fear and vulnerability.  I allow you to tell the truth, and I accept that it is true for you. I give up on the idea that there is only one “real” truth.

F stands for Fun! I am playful and seek to insert joy and pleasure into our relating. I enjoy and appreciate you for the offers of amusement and gratification you make me.

U stands for Unique. I am willing to be be unique, and to explore what our relationship could be, rather than hold us to other people’s standards. I honor your individuality, and stop comparing you to other people, or my past partnerships.

L stands for Lust! I am willing to embody my ardor, passion, and longing.  I allow myself to be turned on by life and by my partner. I live with enthusiasm, and welcome your desire as a sign of your vitality.  Together we find ways to dance together in the full flow of our sexuality throughout our relationship.

Obviously, this is an ideal.  We aren’t going to always be able to hold these qualities.  Our partners are going to fall short as well. There is no C in ARTFUL, but if there was, it would stand for compassion.  Can you have compassion for yourself, when you fail to live up to the person you want to be?  Can you have compassion for your partner when they behave less than kind, less than honest?  Are you willing to hold the people you are dating up to this standard, and decide what you can live with, and what you are willing to watch them grow into?  And are you willing to leave, if it becomes apparent that you are not ideal together anymore, and find new and better?

A great relationship takes craft and skill to work.  We are not born knowing how to do this.  We don’t have a lot of good role models. But I believe we can learn the skills, and we can hone our craft, and we can make an ARTFUL Relationship™ that nurtures us body and soul.


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