Relationship Constraints

removing relationship constraintsAny time you hit a brick wall and lose momentum, there’s a good chance you have run up against a bottleneck, a constraint that holds back your progress. When you find ways to remove those constraints, it becomes possible to make a lot of progress really fast.

The key to removing relationship constraints is to identify the constraints.

Jessica owns a small salon. She built the business on her own from the ground up. At a few years in, she’s done well. Until recently, that is.

Her client schedule is booked solid. In fact, she also has a waiting list. She’s hit a critical point of growth. She can’t manage it all on her own any more. A bottleneck has formed. The bottleneck is the limited amount of time she has in a given work day.

In business, the “theory of constraints” focuses on identifying the one thing that’s holding back a company from growth. After hiring a few people, Jessica may successfully prevent herself from being a bottleneck that slows company growth. But then she may face another bottleneck. Once she has plenty of employees, the bottleneck (the constraint) might be the limited number of work stations available in the space she is renting. In that case, putting some time and money toward a larger space to rent would remove that bottleneck and allow the business to thrive even more.

Jessica is dealing with what is known as “the theory of constraints.” According to the theory of constraints, businesses are often held back from success by just a few small things. Obstacles that create bottlenecks. If those obstacles can be removed, the business will continue to thrive.

Relationships can be held back the same way.

Think about your current relationship. Ask yourself, what seems to be holding you and your partner back? What stops you from spending more time together? What prevents you from having more exciting or enjoyable dates? What gets in the way of making time to sit and talk?

Can you spot any restraints?

removing relationship constraintsWhen you spot one, don’t freak out. Every relationship experiences growing pains. One bottleneck isn’t the end of the world. Instead, remember that this is normal, and let your mind think outside the box. Get creative. Try to generate as many possible solutions as you can. Think of ways you can reduce or completely eliminate that constraint.

By learning to find and eliminate bottlenecks in your relationship, you can create some amazing breakthroughs. Instead of spreading your efforts thin, focus on removing bottlenecks.

Don’t let one problem area hold you back. Get rid of the bottlenecks in your relationship and watch it thrive.

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31 thoughts on “Relationship Constraints

  1. Lee said:

    Suzanne, glad you kept your job! No one is worth losing a good job opportunity. No mentioned that maybe he should change his job? If a man is really interested he will make those accommodations to be with you whether you have 10 jobs.

  2. Ali said:

    Hi James,

    I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for about a year and six months. We made it official last thanksgiving. His sister recently got in a relationship this January and her boyfriend tells her that he loves her already. This got my boyfriend thinking as to why he can’t bring himself to say that to me yet and we have been in a relationship for a lot longer than they have. He recenty brought it up that he is not inlove with me and he doesn’t love me and is unsure of whether or not he may love me in the future. He says he does care about me a lot though. I also am not inlove with him but I think that in time I may love him because I do care so much about him. I hadn’t brought up this conversation by the way. I was mad at him for getting irritationally upset at me for something and called him out on it and he brought this up instead. He says that I deserve someone to be inlove with me and love me. I’m not sure what to do, if I should just move call it quits or wait to see if we could both love each other. Do you think that we should love each other by now? I’m just confused that he brought this up but then says that he cares a lot about me and doesn’t seem to want to end it on his part, or maybe he is just waiting for me to pull the plug. I’m just not sure whether I can though, or if I should – please give me your honest advice.

    • James Bauer said:

      Interesting situation, Ali, though I wish it wasn’t happening to you because it doesn’t sound very enjoyable. It almost sounds as if you are friends who find each other attractive on a physical level but without that special “in love” feeling that makes you want to make each other a central focus for the rest of your lives.

      I certainly think you have been together long enough for that feeling to arise. It’s not that it never could, it just seems very unlikely to me at this point. People can make the choice to love each other even if the feeling doesn’t hit them over the head, but it sounds like that’s not what you’re looking for. So perhaps you should part ways in search of true love.

  3. cc said:

    I met this great guy back in June, we’ve gone out a few time but talk nearly every day. Here’s the roadblock he has kidney disease and is unsure of his prognosis until he sees the dr again at the end of May.

    He will likely one day be on dialysis and/or need a kidney transplant.

    He just wants to be friends because he doesn’t want to “hurt” someone when and if he dies. I’m willing to wait for him, till he gets the answers he needs from the doctor, but how do I get through to him that he’s worth being with even if it’s a short time And to just enjoy the life we are given. Noone is promised tomorrow, live for today.

    • James Bauer said:

      This may not be the answer you’re looking for, but after watching many relationships unfold I have come to the opinion that “being with someone” is not really defined by what people say. It’s defined by what people do. Right now it seems you are being with him in a way that is appropriate to the current stage of your relationship and his life circumstances. There is an irony to your question in that the answer may be to just enjoy the life you are given as no one is promised tomorrow. I don’t say that to be trite, but rather to point out the depth of the truth you already know.

  4. Ayelen said:

    Hi James! My name is Ayelen and I’m 26 years old. I live in Argentina and I’ve got to you by facebook, where I saw your video “What If You Knew What Men Secretly Wanted, but They Could Never Tell You”. I saw it because I am in a situation with a guy that I haven’t experienced before, because usually I’m the girl who would have never needed to read your book. Don’y ask why, but usually I’m the sexy funny, pretty sharp and lovely girl that guys want to make their wife. And maybe it’s easy for me to be that way because besides I’m really easy-going and sociable, the truth is that I’m not in love with them, because I’m not an easy girl in my heart, and with this I mean that very few guys actually get to me. In fact, among the many MANY guys that ask me out, I’ve met only 2 or 3 guys with whom I’ve actually fallen in love with. The others, are just nice guys, which may be intelligent, good people, more or less good-looking, and with whom I wish I could fall in love, but I just don’t, I don’t actually feel attracted by them. So imagine when I actually meet someone that makes me feel the butterflies. This last guy I met, although he didn’t make me feel in such way at the beginning, lead me to it in the end. We met in October 2013, went out and had sex together for the first time in December 2013, beatutifully and feeling great with each other. He was really into me, he did all the nice things you say in your video a guys does when he is interested, and the best of all, I WAS MYSELF WITH HIM, and that was what I liked the most, I think that that was the reason I kind of fell in love with him. But that first day we were together everything went out so well, that somehow while we were together just watching tv that afternoon I had the feeling that maybe that was it, that maybe that would be my husband, and at some part of my heart, I looked at him and doubt about if he was the one. Maybe it was just fear, but I promise myself no to rush into anything just to keep both of us safe from painfull situations. Anyway, days went through, we chatted almost everyday on whatsapp, I found myself smiling when someone asked me about him, and that kind of stuff. Friday came and he told me he was sad because his grandpha was very ill and that probably he would die, and that he needed love. Immediately I offered to go to see him but he had to go back to work so he said no. I offered to visit him at work (as he is the boss and owner of his company) but he said no again. So I offered to go out for dinner or after dinner (as he had a bussiness dinner) but again, he said no, he only wanted me to go and sleep with him that night. But I didn’t feel like it would be good if I went, because I still had that feeling somewhere, the one I had got the day we had had sex. I felt it wasn’t a good moment to tell him that, an so I said him that the following day I had a rehearsal really early before the show (I do ballet) and so that I kind of needed to sleep at home, but that I would go out with him as I wanted to see him and didn’t want him to be alone. Unfortunately he insisted and said nothing would happen (like saying we wouldn’t have sex) but still I felt it was a bad idea. So I kept firm. I hoped he would understand as I was offering to go out at least for a walk, but he wouldn’t. I feel stupid now about this, and you may say “You asshole the guy was deeply into you, all he wanted was love and you said no” I know, and this has torturated me all way long since then. But I wouldn’t be honest if I don’t recognize that this is what I was feeling at that moment and that actually, I did what I did because I felt it was the best for both, because I was scared to death that if went there and just feel uncomfortable, maybe I would lost my feeling for him like with so many other guys it happened. I didn’t want it to rush and I thought that although he might get upset, he wouldm’t take it so bad. Sadly, he did. Although we kept on dating two more months, during which he still pursue me and actually made me meet his family (under the order “DON’T GIVE IMPORTANCE TO THIS, IT MEANS NOTHING” to say after a few seconds “IT’S BEEN SEVEN YEARS SINCE THE LAST TIME I TOOK SOMEONE TO MY HOUSE”) the point is that the turned into an ambivalent guy that pursue me and had this kind of behavior at the same time, where he switched from being sweet to a little suspicious and acid depending on the day. I tried to do my best, to show him I really cared him and that actually, that was the reason for which I didn’t want to see him that day, not because I didn’t care, as I wanted to be there for him, but it didn’t work, and slowly, I stopped being myself. Somehow, his new behaviour made me feel uncomfortable and sorry al the time as I felt guilty for what had happened and not being able to handle things better, and I started being that girl you speak the most of in your video. Little by little he started getting distant, till one day he had a health issue and lots of problems al together and although he said he wanted to see me, he never could. He talked to me everyday and said he was sorry and gave me explanations I actually didn’t ask for (as I am not that kind of girl, actually I hate just thinking of being so) but in the end we didn’t see each other anymore and I had to have the fucking talk with him, as he kept saying the opposite to what he did, without me asking for nothing. It didn’t change anything after that and finally one day we had a fight, as he invited to a party and ignored me. This was april. After all of that, in June he talked to me for my birthday and he told me he cared about me and hoped I was fine and not angry with him, and that he had realized that I liked me a lot but that in the end we wanted more to have sex with me than to love me and that when he realized that he felt he had to separate from me and not see me anymore, as he believed I deserved more from a man. Somehow, all the time after the first incident, he forgot about how he felt at the beginning and he stayed with all the other feelings and with a wrong idea about us, as actually I believe we both stopped being really who we are. It’s like at the beginning, both of us had no barriers for the other one, and the best of us met, and we just fall in love. But then fear appeared in me and in him I think, and I never could feel or be like I was before, and of course that new me wasn’t attractive, but clumsy, nervous, and always trying to make it up but never spontaneous again, although I tried. After this, we met again in a party in August and we had good fun, I kind of manage to explain him what happened in a soft way and he said that although he believed that probable we aren’t made for each other, he had had fun and that he wanted to see me, so we started dating again. We did it pretty well till he disappointed me one night where I felt he left me (he didn’t appeared even for sex) and then, although he asked me out again politely, I couldn’t be myself again and so magic didn’t happen. He got distant again and we just stopped seeing each other without saying anything. This was october 2014. After that, we met one more time where I kept polite and charming but didn’t run into him to see if it worked, and although I know he sexually desired me, he didn’t call after that meeting. Somehow I know he feels about me as he said to me in my birthday. Anyway, he talked me once after that one day don’t know for what, but I said I was studing and didn’t contact me again till January 2nd, where he wished me the best for the new year, as, in his own words, I deserved the best. I said thanks and that was the end on the conversation. I kept on thinking about all of this all this time thinking if I should try one more time or just let him go, as although I know he doesn’t believe in us anymore, I think he might be wrong as the reason for which he thinks so it’s the wrong one, as actually, he fell in love with the real me at the very beginning. He’s a good guy and I’m a good girl. But now I don’t know what to do. I almost saw him in the beach (as we went to the same place on vacation and I knew he was there because a of a friend who saw him by chance), and I texted him saying so and that I wish he was ok. We chatted that day and the day after realle well, but it ended there. I texted him again two weeks ago asking him if I could go to pick a pair of earings I left at his house the last time we saw, as I was close to his house, and he told me we could meet during the weekend, have a drink and give them to me. Of course I said yes (without noticing, I swear I didn’t, that it was valentine’s day weekend) but he didn’t say anything in the four fays of the long weekend we had from February 14th to February 17th here in Argentina, although I met two of his friends by chance on the subway and on the street those very same days (I swear it was by chance, I couldn’t believe it), so he was reminded of me. Still he didn’t say anything. We haven’t spoken again since then. He likes my good news on facebook but it’s just because he cares and does so with many other people, and I think he might be going out with other girls as he went to see 50 shadows of grey to the cinema… and come on, that’s not a movie a guy watches alone, besides, he must have seen other girls since me and you know, it’s ok, I don’t feel angry, but I wonder if I should give it another try, or just let it go and let life do its thing, if he isn’t with another girl already. If I have to say what I would like, I would just like to be able to meet him again and just be who I am and that he opened his heart like at the beginning, and so be able to see what happens between us if we go back again to that spot where we were. Just to see if we are actually meant for each other. My deepest fear is two have ruined it with the one if he is so, or never falling in love again as I’m not an easy girl on this point, and I had never experienced a feeling like that before with a guy I had an actual relationship (I had two boyfriends but never fell in love with none of them). In anycase, if he’s not the one for me it’s ok, but I need to be able to move on as I’m getting really obsessed with this, and it scares a little bit. THANKS FOR READING, FOR YOUR PATIENCE, AND FOR ANY HELP YOU CAN GIVE ME

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Ayelen. This is a very long question, and I’ll be honest with you, I just don’t have enough time to offer private advice on such detailed questions for free. However, your question is perfect for the private consultation service available in the members area, and maybe there are some people reading the blog who have fewer time commitments and may be able to offer their insights as well. I love your involvement with the material I post here, but to get a guaranteed response to your personal questions, please use the private consultation service.

  5. Vivian said:

    What does it say when I tell him that I would like to go out for dates and reconnect (we have two young kids so only one of us can go out at a time usually and we’ve had some relationship issues recently) and he tells me ‘People shouldn’t be forced to spend time together. They should want to.’ When I arrange a babysitter in for the evening, he insists that he can stay with them and tells me to go out with my friends. While I appreciate the freedom, I also would like to spend time with him and have told him so. But I feel he is using the kids as an excuse why we can’t spend time together.
    He told me in the past that I had become deeply unattractive because after becoming a mum, I’d given up my hobbies and friends and would clear my schedule after taking care of the kids, and hang around hoping that he’d want to do something together. I realized it was true and in the past 2 years, started going out again, joining various social clubs and events and enjoying life.
    Now he complains that I no longer spend any time with him as I am always busy doing other things but still makes no attempt to initiate any type of date or tell me that he wants to do something together. I am so confused!

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Vivian. That would be a great question to send to our private relationship coaches.

      I will just add one thought here.

      It seems like your man is actually asking for you to give him a bit of a chase. In other words, he seems to recognize that he finds you more attractive when you make yourself a little bit less available. While it’s not always ideal for a long-term relationship, the fact that he is expressing that is the one positive thing in his otherwise negative (and in my opinion insensitive) comments to you.

  6. rysing wolf said:

    I love this post. It definitely made me think and I am already getting creative,thankyou!

    • James Bauer said:

      Excellent! 🙂

  7. Samantha said:

    The best relationship is the one that is build on friendship first.
    Looking into the future and thinking about ways how you can spend more time with him and worrying about when you will see him again take’s you away from the real moment right now and on a subconscious level you will sabagate what you have
    beacuse you won’t completely relax around him and be the true you as you will only be thinking about how you can see him again . Instead of having fun

    Learn to appreciate the time you have with him if it’s only for 15 mins or a day or 2 .
    You will than find in its own time you will work away around this together as you both really love each other company .

    I wish you all the best and would love to hear how you get on .

    Samantha 🙂

    • Melissa said:

      Thanks for your advice Samantha! I have been enjoying our time together but will keep this in mind! Your right we have plenty of time as long as he doesn’t move out of state!

  8. Asha said:

    Our problem is his was very nice, spent all him time with me, until his new best mate told him how to be a real man – shouldn’t only spend all his time with gf coz gfs r all contoral freaks. So now he only see me couple of times a week nd never take me to any of his party with this new best mate. ( it never happened before in last 6 years) He start talking about his freedom a lot and anything I do nice to him, he says I’m tricking him and trying to take his freedom away. Looks like either he will go out without me or I try do sth but he will think I’m tricking him…. What should I do?

    • James Bauer said:

      Asha, maybe you should ask him if he is still interested in pursuing a serious relationship with you. Tell him if he is he’s going to need to pursue you since he has made up his mind that your efforts to pursue him is an indication of control rather than love.

  9. unicor said:

    It sounds to me that you have 2 options
    1. You find a M-F job perhaps less pay but time for the weekends
    2. You continue in your job and realize he will possibly find some one else and you will try to find some one new with a similar schedule.
    Remember there are many other fish in the pond. Yes I know you like this one and time is passing….yet open your mind and your possibilities or find another job.

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      Oh dear. I can see what a dilema you are in. But, as James always says, the key here is to TALK to your man. You do not know what HE feels in this situation. You are ASSUMING what he is thinking – not a good idea – second guessing is a compllete non-starter.You are panicking and thinking up all sorts of things which are probably not true. TALK to him about your fears. (But don’t come across clingy and needy or that will freek him out). You say you see him in the evenings, so that is better than nothinng. It may be that he is quite happy to do his own thing, meet his MEN friends, etc at the week-ends, and keep the evenings free for you. It doesn’t automatically mean he is out looking for another woman. Men like having their own space, so your situation may quite well suit him. Please do not give up on this relationship. You say it has been a while since you had a special person in your life. It is SO important to work on and nurture a good relationship. They don’t come along that easily, believe me. You do not say how old you are, but it’s my guess that as time ticks away, it is less and less easy to find new, good men. We all collect baggage of some sort or another the older we get (I am 66 and am having similar problems – now being divorced after almost 40 years of marriage). So hang onto him for grim death – do whatever it takes, but DO NOT GIVE UP on him. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Another thing I have been reading – keep his interest with cute little text messages, photos, or whatever. So that when you are apart, he is reminded of you and not looking for another woman. Fight for him like a she-cat – but in a SUBTLE, feminine way. You can do it – and don’t get too anxious or wound up about it all – they hate that too!! (Men!! Who can do without them?) KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON (Pin it on your mirror). I wish you the very best of luck. GIRL POWER!! Lorna x

      • gertgh said:

        find another job that syncs with the desired lifestyle you want

      • Suzanne Rogers said:

        Wow! Great response! Too bad I didn’t see it in time before I chased him away with my fear….Damn! lol

      • Lana said:


        I might be wrong, but this guy may come back to you again after a while. The second try of building a new relationship will be more interesting, since you already learned new ideas from here and from your love experience with him. Be smart and wise and loving positive person at all times.


    • Suzanne Rogers said:

      Thanks for the reply! 🙂

  10. AE said:

    I think it is good that he just happily gets on with his own thing whilst you are not available.. He sounds like a well rounded person with an active lifestyle and he is not clingy, needy or controlling and probably doesn’t expect you to be that way either. Not saying you are. Do you really want him to sit home Saturday and Sunday pining after you? I know it sounds nice but it doesn’t sound like a healthy person really does it. If you worry about this and worry about him meeting someone else then in a way that is more likely to happen because something in your energy will become off kilter which he will pick up on and it might be the thing that drives him away. You know the issue is with you. Just stay in the present when you are with him. Be there and make the most of your dates. Try and get some leave now and again so you can have the weekend. Maybe he could meet you for lunch now and again? Do you work 24 hours at the weekend can you not sometimes see him after work? Eventually you might find a different job. Lots of people work unsociable hours and manage to have relationships. It is not a foregone conclusion that yours should fail because of it. But really there is nothing you can do except relax about this and see how it goes.

    • Suzanne Rogers said:

      You were right…my normally positive energy became negative and did chase him away – even before we could actually start anything….I guess that has to do with my insecurities! 🙁
      Thanks for you response.

  11. Suzanne Rogers said:

    HI, I’m hoping someone can give me a little sound advice here…
    I haven’t dated anyone seriously for many years, but I’ve recently met a really cool man that I started seeing 1 month ago – and the feeling was mutual. The problem is I got laid off my M-F job and my new job requires me to work weekends – When he is off work. He’s upset that I don’t have time to give him and our new relationship which i understand as I’m upset too, but it bums me out that he’s out having fun @the beach, hiking, meeting people etc on weekends while I’m working! He’s very nice, cute and friendly and I just know he’ll meet another woman who has more time to give him than I do and he’ll dump me.
    Its stresses me out because I really like him and I want the opportunity to get out and play with him (hike, bike etc) but all I now have available are a few evenings after work…Help!
    Please don’t suggest that “if he dumps me he’s not worth it”, etc as I know myself if I were left alone each weekend to get outside and play while he worked every wknd. I’d probably get BORED and start dating someone else too…
    Thanks, S~

    • Ellie said:

      I have worked every Weekend for over 9 years, but have still been able to spend Quality Time with My Long Term Partner …. inviting
      Him over for Dinner …. going out with him Socially after Work etc etc.
      Many People work Weekends today …. and it is never a Threat to
      any Relationship.

      …. In Fact not being so Available at Weekends, will make him
      Appreciate You all the more …. and the Limited but Qulaity Time
      You will spend together will enhance Your Relationship …. not
      destroy it.

      Very Best Wishes

      • Josephine Amolato said:

        oh that would be nice..if that is the case….

      • Lana said:


        May I ask you how can you let the relationship with your man go for 9 years and still being not married? Do you think it works better for you too? Being a Long Term Partner for so long does not sound promising to me at all. May be finding the way to spend more time together, literally more time, not just a quality time ones in a while, but being together more often would lead to a solid and promising relationship, like a marriage?

        If the relationship with the man is not leading to the marriage for so many years, it feels like stagnation to me. What is the point to have a long term partner who is not going to be your husband?
        I am now in a long distance relationship with the man for 3 months after dating him intensively for over a year, and I don’t know, how long I can wait till we overcome this long distance (8 hours by car) and become a real couple, married folks. I know from my heart that I can wait till good things come to me some day and be very patient, but I am not going to wait years and years for one man to decide to be married me. I think there are some limits in waiting time for woman too. We are not going to be younger by waiting decades for one guy to decide if this girl worth to be his wife.
        What do you think Ellie? I know everyone is different and has different goals in life, some ladies might be very satisfied with long term partners forever. But I know that I am not one of them, and I want to have more than just a long distance relationship or long term partner for 9 years. This does not sound very promising to me at all.

        I wish you the best in your love life,


    • Tammy said:

      Well, that’s interesting because when the relationship is just starting you get so excited and you want to spend all your waking hours with this person. But now, you cant because you are working and its difficult to build something in that way. A James puts it above, that might be a growing pain in the first stages of your ‘relationship’ be as it may its only a month old! So find a way around it, if you only get free time evenings, find a way around each others schedules, there must be a time that you do actually have for yourself that you can make time for each other. I don’t think getting a new job would be a solution, as I think number one is you, and if you feel you should get a new job, get the new job, but don’t do it because you want to spend more free time with a man! If even after trying to work around each others schedules you still don’t spend time together, then maybe he is just passing through.

      • robin W said:

        Robin w
        You can love and be loved as much on a Tuesday afternoon as you can on a Saturday night. They’re always things to do every night of the week. As long as your together when time permits you’re on the right tract. Good luck!

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Suzanne. That’s a frustrating predicament. Do you love your new job as much as you love your new boyfriend? If so, I think you’ll feel even more stuck. If not, it seems (ironically) the best thing you can do for your relationship is pour tons of time and energy into finding a job with different hours.

      It’s possible things won’t work out with this guy since the relationship is fairly new, but since you can’t see the future you might as well work on finding a new employment opportunity. If he dumps you before you get that far, you really didn’t lose anything by trying. But if you just assume he’s going to dump you and don’t try, you might remain stuck with a job that is terrible for socializing and lose a guy you could’ve kept in your life.

      In the meantime, get creative. Challenge him to think of something romantic the two of you can do during the few timeslots your free time overlaps. Wear him out a little bit in the evenings so he has less time, need, and energy for socializing on the weekends.


      • Suzanne Rogers said:

        James, Hi! I just now saw your reply to my question – Thanks for taking the time to answer me! It turns out after I mentioned my concerns to him, he suddenly decided I was “too negative” (right…lol), and basically dumped me….His Loss!
        Glad I still have my job! 🙂

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