The Mistake Everyone Makes When Moving Their Relationship Forward

The Mistake Everyone Makes When Moving Their Relationship ForwardHere’s how relationships are supposed to go:

Meet. Date. Fall in love. Become official. Spend most of your free time together. Get engaged. Get married. Have kids. Live happily ever after.

When you follow the timeline, you know exactly what comes next.

Are you falling in love? Then the next step is to become official. He introduces you as his girlfriend. You change your social media status to “In a relationship.”

Are you together all the time? Then the next step is to get engaged. You watch for signs he’s hiding a large purchase from you, the jewelry store receipt itself if you’re lucky.

You rate your relationships based on where you are in the timeline.

If you’re just dating, you want to be exclusive. If you’re in a relationship, you want to talk about marriage. If you’re stuck in any one stage for too long, you get frustrated. You want to reach the next milestone.

That process is so familiar to us that we take it for granted.

But seeing relationships as a series of goals, each moving you closer to your ultimate destination of happily-ever-after, can backfire.

Where a relationship is in the timeline says little about where it is in terms of what really matters: intimacy, friendship, trust, and respect. Those qualities are what gets you to happily-ever-after, not the wedding ring.

I think back to the Zen proverb that goes:

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

The proverb warns against focusing too much on the end goal. Whether you’re enlightened or not, you still need fuel to cook and water to drink.

These days, that proverb might look more like this:

 “Before marriage, wash dishes, do laundry.
After marriage, wash dishes, do laundry.”

Regardless of whether you’re wearing a wedding ring, the activities that consume your time remain the same. You still have to go to work, buy groceries, keep the house clean, and get a good night’s sleep. Marriage won’t change that.

So, instead of setting your sights on reaching that next relationship goal, set your sights on building a good relationship. When you two are best friends as well as lovers, your relationship moves forward effortlessly.

But there’s a problem with good relationships…

There’s no extra social status associated with being in a healthy relationship. Nothing to “check off” to show you’ve arrived.

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Avoid this Holiday Romance Mistake

avoiding relationship mistakesThe holidays can be a wonderful time for relationships. Or they can wreak havoc on your dating life. It all depends on whether or not you manage to avoid one critical mistake.

A lot of people roll into the holiday season thinking the festivities will give them unique insight into the status of their relationship. That makes sense, especially if the relationship is new.

There are several potential indicators. Like whether he invites you to be his date for an office holiday party or a New Year’s Eve celebration. Or whether or not he gives you a gift (and what it is). Or how he reacts to your gift.

The temptation is to approach each of these like a litmus test. In fact, earlier this month there was an article in Glamour[i] encouraging readers to do just that! I cringed when I read it because that’s horrible advice.

Holiday events shouldn’t be used as gauges for your relationship’s health. I can give you two reasons why.

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The Upside of Relationship Mistakes

The Upside of Relationship MistakesWhich is better? To avoid mistakes altogether, or to watch for your mistakes, expecting them on a daily basis?

The answer may surprise you.

Back in the 90’s, IBM built a computer called Deep Blue. It played chess. In 1997, it actually beat Garry Kasparov, a world champion. Unlike human players who rely on intuition, it worked by calculating thousands of potential moves every second. And, it was good enough to take down a human world champion.

In contrast, TD-Gammon is a computer program that plays another classic game–backgammon. But instead of being pre-programmed with an extensive knowledge-base, it’s programmed to simply learn from its mistakes. Each time it plays someone, it makes adjustments to its strategies based on what worked and what didn’t.

When Deep Blue was fired up for its now famous match against Kasparov, programmers had to use a crazy-complex cooling system just to keep the thing running. It takes a lot of power to shuffle through every possible move every second! TD-Gammon, on the other hand, becomes more efficient the more it plays. Like a person, it learns from its mistakes and becomes a better player over time.

So, which is better?

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