The Art of Relating

Christine Kniffen, MSW, LCSW

Making It Happen

How to get there is simple, but it’s the execution of those steps with which we all struggle.
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A great relationship always guarantees one thing. You are happy. Otherwise, you just wouldn’t call it a great relationship, as these interpersonal issues tend to occupy quite a lot of brain space and unsettledness when things are not going well in this department.
There are three questions you must be able to answer to be happy in this ever-so-important aspect of life. You need to find out who you are, what you need to be happy in a relationship, and finally you need to learn to insist upon accepting no less than your own happiness. If you can’t do that for yourself, then certainly no one else can, or even knows how to do that for you.

Who am I? It’s such a simple question, but many people state that they really have no idea of who they are as a person. This simply tells me that you have not focused enough on yourself in life. For example, I always say that I am someone who needs “a little more validation (reassurance)” than your average person in romantic relationships. That’s just who I am. No longer would I let some emotionally unavailable schmuck tell me I’m “needy” ever again and then beat myself up due to feeling somehow “defective” and hence unlovable. Knowing yourself and accepting you for who you are, rather than letting others define that, is the ultimate key to happiness. Remember, you can’t realistically, fully accept and appreciate yourself unless you know yourself. Once you think you have defined who you are, then you need to be able to move forward and identify what you therefore need in a relationship.

I have worked with countless individuals to help them first discover who they are as a person and then move to answering the nest question, “What do I need to feel loved?” I have found through the years that many people cannot fully answer this important question either, as it quite logically requires answers to the first question. It is at this point that I usually say, “Well, if you don’t know what you need to feel loved, then how is anyone else supposed to?” It is the blank space left by this unanswered question that allows the room for the development of nonsense thinking such as the feeling that another should be able to read our minds. So, make your list. Start with things such as core values. You can be different on other things, but not core values. Examples include things such as honesty, trustworthy, loyal (faithful), kind, etc. Know your own core values and then list them, as you will not be happy if the other person is not similar in their thinking. Next, based on your personal experiences you might include on your list something like, social drinker only, financially responsible or has a profession of some type. These are personal to each person’s list and usually follow from having had a relationship with some trouble previously in these types of areas. Finally, there are things that must be included on all lists if a person is to feel loved, secure and happy in their relationship. This is essential, because only in this atmosphere is one able to grow as an individual with the care and support we all crave. If two people are not growing as individuals, the relationship will have trouble growing as well. And, a relationship that doesn’t grow, eventually will fade away. This is where I come into play. When working with client’s who are taking my Individualized Relationship Coaching Course, we work together to hand-craft your ultimate Want’s & Need’s List. This is something you can always reference. And, if there is an issue in your relationship that you are having trouble defining, you can almost certainly bet that one of your previously defined needs is not being met. Once you discover who you are and what you need to be loved, the final step takes real effort and faith.

The final step in Making it Happen has everything to do with the ability to insist upon accepting no less than your own happiness. I don’t think I can say enough about this part of the equation. Many of us have grappled with this step, while secretly admiring others who appear to have no difficulty in taking care of themselves and ending a relationship when it is not meeting their needs. Look, the reality for most people is that the ability to insist upon nothing less than your own happiness in a relationship is directly correlated with our perceived Lovability Factor. Unfortunately, many different life experiences have a way of negatively impacting our feelings of lovability. And, the less lovable we feel, the harder it is to be responsible to ourselves and insist upon nothing less than our own happiness. This is where faith comes in. Faith is the belief in something more, despite the lack of proof thus far. You have to believe that if you keep insisting upon nothing less than what you deserve, by way of leaving when it’s not right for you, you will find that person that can meet your needs. If you don’t believe that yet, you will have to “fake it till we make it” like most people at some point in their life. Treat yourself as a person who has a high lovability factor and is worthy of all that is good.

That person does not suffer from something is better than nothing. That person does not stay when they know it is not right. They don’t waste their time chasing the wrong person and trying to make it fit. They assess and move on with faith. The faith that they deserve a loving relationship, that the only path to it comes through taking personal responsibility towards our goal and that it will only then be a matter of time.

If you find yourself feeling hopeless about getting a wonderful relationship and true partner, then work on the steps listed above. Find out who you are, compose a terrific Wants & Needs list and finally start to insist upon nothing less than your own happiness. If they can’t meet your needs, you won’t be happy. Follow these steps and you are well on your way to Making it Happen.

Christine Kniffen, LCSW is a Therapist and Relationship Coach. For a free consultation call 314-374-8396.