The 5 Factors of a Flourishing Relationship

The 5 Factors of a Flourishing RelationshipEveryone thinks they know what makes a relationship work.

Communication. Date nights. Never going to bed angry.

All those things help. But they’re not enough.

To have a happy relationship, you’ve got to be happy, he’s got to be happy, and you’ve got to feel like you’re going somewhere as a couple.

How do you do that?

Twenty years ago, Dr. Martin Seligman launched the field of positive psychology. He wanted to know how normal, healthy people could be even happier and more fulfilled.

It wasn’t a question psychologists had been asking. Up until then, they saw themselves as the doctors of the mind, restoring troubled patients to mental health.

At first, Dr. Seligman was no different. Then he had a chance encounter with his 5-year-old daughter that changed him forever.

They were weeding in the garden. His daughter was laughing and playing and having a grand old time doing everything but pulling weeds. Dr. Seligman shouted at her to get to work.

She walked over and asked if she could have a talk with him. She told him that when she turned 5, she had made a vow not to whine about anything. It was the hardest thing she’d ever done. “And if I can stop whining,” she told him, “you can stop being such a grouch.”[1]

In short, you can make a decision about how you want to show up in the world.

You can look at everything that’s wrong and try to fix it…

Or you can look at the life you want to have and go after it.

Let’s imagine that, instead of Dr. Seligman and his daughter, it’s you and your guy out there in the garden. You’re sweating like crazy getting those weeds pulled, and your guy is supposed to be helping you. But his progress is slow because he’s goofing around a lot while he works on the task.

How do you feel about that?

Do you think he’s a jerk? After all, he’s not working as hard or as fast as he could.

Or do you appreciate the light-hearted fun he’s bringing to the task?

A life where boring jobs come accompanied with a little entertainment sounds pretty good. Because that’ a life where happiness has found a way to co-exist with duty.

For most of us, it’s easy to see a relationship as a series of problems that must be solved. The weeds must get pulled. The dinner must get made. Conflicts must be resolved.

But it’s much more fun to see a relationship as a series of possibilities to explore. For example…

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The 5 Things Your Relationship Needs To Thrive

The 5 Things Your Relationship Needs To ThriveDo you know what you need from a relationship?

A relationship that doesn’t meet your basic needs isn’t going to work over the long term (though it may be fun in the short-term!).

But that begs the question…

What ARE your basic needs?

Do you know?

A popular exercise involves making a list of your basic needs. The things you can’t or won’t compromise on.

Having those requirements written down in black-and-white helps you make objective decisions about the men you meet.

But these lists normally just scratch the surface. They cover the things we think we need but miss the things we don’t realize we need.

Do you have needs you’re not aware of?

Psychotherapist David Richo thinks you do.

He thinks every human being needs what he calls the five A’s:

  • Attention
  • Acceptance
  • Appreciation
  • Affection
  • Allowing

We begin life getting these needs met by our parents. As adults, we seek relationships that meet these needs. Once we mature, Richo says, we look beyond ourselves to give these gifts to the world.

So what are the 5 A’s all about?

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How Couple Rituals Keep You Together

How Couple Rituals Keep You TogetherBeing a couple is special.

You’re unlike any other couple.

As a couple, you have secrets no one else knows, you have inside jokes that send you delirious with laughter, and you have pet names and private rituals.

Defining who you are as a couple is an important part of bonding. Many couples feel as if it’s them against the world, and hardships strengthen their commitment to each other.

One of the best ways to create an unbreakable identity as a couple is to engage in rituals. defines couple rituals as:

“A planned, recurring exchange between two people in a loving relationship that is truly meaningful and powerful.”

You might have a special phrase that is nonsense to anyone but the two of you yet communicates a world of meaning when one of you says it.

You might have a movie that means a lot to you as a couple that you watch regularly.

You might have a special place you visit when you want to recapture the romance of your early days together.

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How to Spot an Energy Vampire

How to Spot an Energy VampireEveryone loves vampires.

Correction: we love FICTIONAL vampires.

We love vampires as long as we know they’re not going to show up in our homes to drink our blood. 😉

Vampires are all the rage right now in the world of fiction. But how did the idea of vampires find its way into the minds of the original, ancient storytellers?

We seem to have an intuitive understanding that there are people out there who prey on others.

They don’t suck their blood, of course. Not literally.

But they do figuratively-speaking. Because they drain our life energy.

Consider “frenemies.”

Frenemies are friendly and polite to you—on the surface. When you’re not looking, they delight in undermining you at every turn.

We love to watch frenemies on TV. The juxtaposition of nice and nasty is thrilling. But those people aren’t so pleasant to have in our lives.

There’s a similar concept at work in dating.

There are men who will love bomb you. They’ll flirt and flatter you. They’ll make you feel special, one-of-a-kind. They’ll be flabbergasted that someone hasn’t snapped you up yet. When you’re with them, you’ll feel overwhelmed with all that amazing attention. Wow!

But they’re pumping you full of good feelings for a reason. They want to see what makes you tick.

Once they figure you out, they have power over you. They’ll ask you to do little favors. They’ll take advantage of your generosity and goodwill. They know you never think badly of anyone, so you won’t catch on. You’ll just keep giving, because that’s what you do.

These folks are called “energy vampires.” They’re just as real as you or me.

And being able to spot them quickly can save you a world of trouble.

Do You Ask for Enough from People?

What energy vampires look for is someone who has a LOT to give.

When you have so much to give and no one to give it to, it’s painful. You’re born to help others. You want to heal everyone out there who’s broken.

That’s wonderful. But it’s only half the puzzle.

You have your own needs and desires. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you met someone who wanted nothing more than to give to YOU?

Wouldn’t it be even MORE amazing if you found someone who wanted to serve you as much as you wanted to do the same for him?

That’s the thought that scares away energy vampires and attracts great men.

You’ll meet a lot of men who have their own sad story about what was done to them and how hard they’ve struggled. Their stories will break your heart. You’ll want nothing more than to show them that love can be different.

I urge you to set your sights on a different breed of men.

Men who have a story about the positive impact they’ve made on the world. Men who are proud of the value they’ve contributed and the service they’ve made. Men who understand that setbacks happen and life is hard, but whatever. This is about the future, not the past.

A man who plays on your heartstrings knows it’s an easy route to your heart.

A man who inspires you with his resiliency, insight and love has the strength to hold your heart.

Vampire-Flushing Exercises

So try this the next time you wonder whether a man has the right intentions.

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