What’s the key to successful relationships? How can I be in a healthy relationship? How can I keep my partner? These are all questions that I receive a lot.

Most relationships and dating columns would give you tips about choosing the right partner, communication tools, keeping love alive advice, and spicing up your sex life perks. This article is different!

Here is a riddle for you: What is the first relationship you have? How well do you know that person? How much respect do you show him/her? How do you show him/her love? How forgiving are you towards that person? How comfortable are you with that special someone? Do you even know who am I talking about? Guess who?

I am talking about you! Yes you! Your first relationship, the deepest and innermost, is with yourself. To have a successful relationship with another person, you have to have a successful relationship with yourself first. Let’s start from the beginning now! How do you have a successful relationship with yourself?

Your Inner Voice

How do you speak to yourself? When you are going to an interview or a date, what do you tell yourself? When you are presenting an idea or offering an opinion, what goes on at the back of your mind? Is there a voice that tells you that you will fail? That you are not good enough? That no one likes you? That you look horrible? That you will never be understood?

If that is the kind of inner voice that talks to you, feeding your mind with negative ideas about yourself, then you are your worst enemy. When you hear that voice, do not lend it an ear. Stop and send yourself empowering messages. Most probably that voice has been planted in your childhood and teen years by a parent, a teacher, or a friend.

How does that voice ruin your relationships, you ask! Well! You keep telling yourself that you are not good enough, you either attract someone who sees you as thus, or you drive away someone who is perfect for you but got tired of trying to convince you that you really are a great person.

Another risk is that the negative tone is no longer kept to yourself and you find yourself saying such horrible things to your kids, your partner, or your friends. You simply dump your baggage on them.

Respect

It is easy to say that you respect yourself, but do you? How do you show respect towards yourself? Do you allow people into your life who use you? Do you put yourself in situations where you have to choose between your beliefs and the people in your life? Do you allow others to hurt you? Do you chase after people? Do you stay where you are not invited?

The rule of thumb says: the way you treat yourself tells others how to treat you. So basically, if you do not treat yourself with reverence and respect, why would others do? If you cannot treat yourself with respect, how do you expect to teach your children self-respect and self-worth?

Unconditional Love

Do you know your strengths? Do you know your weaknesses? Do you know your flaws? Do you love yourself? Do you love all of yourself? Do you love the way your look? Do you love yourself as a child, teen, and adult? Do you accept that you are human and human beings make mistakes? Do you accept your mistakes? Can you forgive yourself? Can you look at your mistakes as lessons learned, and move on? Can you embrace your shortcomings? Can you look yourself in the mirror without being critical? Can you grant yourself acceptance?

If you cannot give yourself all of the above, you will not be able to give it to anyone else – not your partner, not your kids! This is a major relationship trap!

Friends

Do you have friends? No! Not those! I mean real friends, not the ones who keep you company when you are bored; not the ones who you hang out with for the fun of it. I am talking about friends who love, respect, and value you. Those who have been there in the times of loss, grief, and defeat. Those who help you be a better person. Those who help you recognize your strengths. Those who are kind, true, and compassionate. Those who do not judge you. Those who make you feel comfortable and confident being yourself.

Those who do not have true friends will suffer, and make others suffer, in their love relationships. You will simply become an emotional burden on others. All your needs for connectedness and support will become a burden on someone else. You will become a clingy partner and a possessive parent!

Hobbies

How do you enrich your life? How do you keep yourself company? What instills pleasure and joy in your life? People are different when it comes to hobbies; book clubs, candle-making, yoga, learning languages, traveling, cooking, writing, photography, knitting, …etc.

A true hobby feels like a need rather than a luxury. It is something that you enjoy doing and continue doing because it makes you feel good about yourself. It is your escape from pressure, pain, or anger. It is time well spent in your own company. A true hobby is not just a means to making new friends or meeting someone special. A true hobby is your gift to yourself.

Without fulfilling hobbies, you will feel an emptiness within. Like all creatures, you will try to fill that void with love. The truth is no love will fill all the holes in your soul. You will think your relationship is not working, when it might as well be, because you expect your partner to fill a gap that he/she is not responsible for.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
― Rumi