Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash
This article first appeared on The Good Men Project and has been republished with permission.
Are you wondering why some relationships die soon while others survive for longer periods?
Unless you apply the following 5 golden principles in your relationships, they’ll most likely die quickly. Why? Because they are based on the innate needs of every human.
Maybe you’ve screwed up your relationships in the past, and you want to avoid that this will happen in the future.
If that’s the case, what if by following the 5 Golden principles explained in this article, you’ll never screw up your relationship and build the foundations for long-lasting ones?
Wouldn’t that be great? You’ll discover how to do this in a few minutes, even if you believe not to be good with people or always failed at building long-lasting relationships.
Principle #1: Provide Respect
Respect is the first and most crucial ingredient that must be present in every meaningful relationship you want to cultivate. Why?
Because as humans, we need to feel respected by the people we want to build something with. That’s also explained by Abraham Maslow’s pyramid of human needs in the section about social relationships.
Reality is that every human on this planet would like to be respected by everybody, regardless of the degree of the relationship.
However, since we are talking about building healthy relationships, that’s an essential element as nobody likes to be disrespected; unless having achieved full enlightenment like the buddha.
Moreover, people that lack respect towards others could have some deeper issues going on within themselves. That’s what Nathaniel Branden says in his best-seller, “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.”
There he explains how having self-respect is essential to be able to respect others.
Respect Yourself First
I can totally relate to that. I remember the times when I had low self-respect, and I was unconsciously disrespecting some people with which I used to connect.
I didn’t know why I was doing this back then, all I can remember was that I had this inner drive pushing me towards this unhealthy behavior.
This behavior spoiled many of my friendships. In fact, by disrespecting people, I brought them to the point they didn’t want to spend time with me anymore (gosh if they were right!.)
That’s why respect is the most foundational element to build a long-lasting human relationship.
Principle #2: Develop Mutual Trust
Unless you have been surrounded by exceptionally trustworthy people all the time, you probably heard the sentence, “Don’t trust anybody, or you’ll get stabbed on the back!”
While following this noble principle might be practically useful in many circumstances, it can also turn out to be a double-edged sword.
The reason for that is simple; if you are always suspicious of others, that’s what they will feel coming off you when you’ll be with them.
That’s why I suggest you adopt a counter-intuitive yet better approach, trusting others regardless of how much trust they have on you.
Now you might think that I drank too much Vodka this Friday night. In reality, I’m totally sober while writing this, I just slept fewer hours than necessary.
Basically, what I want to say is that you should be trustworthy towards others, not stupid! There’s a huge difference between trusting people and not taking reasonable measures to avoid being stabbed on the back.
First of all, trust is something you should be open to give others, in the measure that others give it to you. This means giving it in micro-doses each time you feel like you know the other person better, and you see them reciprocating.
Trusting People Will Make You Happier
Let me tell you something. A very dear friend of mine once betrayed me, and this hurt me a lot as I had put a lot of trust in my friendship with him.
After the (figurative) punch on the stomach I got, I started considering not trusting people anymore. So I build a wall of concrete around me to avoid being hurt again.
The result? I didn’t enjoy the new relationships I was building as much as the previous ones as they felt unnatural, superficial, and based on shaky ground.
From that moment, I understood that trust is a necessary element to adopt in human relationships, even if one can get hurt from betrayal.
Closing your heart is not the solution, a balanced approach is. This means being open to people but dosing the amount of trust you give them little by little and ensuring they also give back that trust to you.
Then if somebody will betray you, you can’t do anything about it; after all, you can’t control how other people will behave, but you can’t either prevent yourself from profoundly connecting with them too.
Principle #3: Give First
Everybody is basically interested in creating real friendships where authentic mutual support is provided. This means that if you start to give before the other person does, you’ll tap into his or her need to feel loved.
How can you give first? By providing your friends with emotional support or being genuinely interested in them.
Another way is by giving them honest advice, and helping them when you feel they need your help, even if they don’t explicitly ask for it.
Be there, be present, be the first giver. This is what will ultimately make the difference in the long-term health of your relationship.
If you’re only taking the person might become resentful over time as he or she will assume you don’t really love them.
If you can reconnect to your emotional self more than your rational one, that will happen naturally because of the innate empathy we all have within us.
Developing healthy human relationships is one of the foundations for a happy and fulfilling life. My advice is to consider putting the above principles into practice with your family, friends, and loved ones starting from today.