Archives for November 2009

What Does Chemistry in a Relationship Mean

Chemistry in a relationship is like a performance; one is electrifying and another is boring. But no matter what, for love’s sake, you have to keep working at it to make it better.

Chances are you’re reading this because you’re in a relationship lacking in chemistry and wondering whether to stay or go. Maybe the chemistry was once there, but you no longer feel “in love.” Or it was never there and you suspect you made a big mistake. Consider this: Maybe the real issue isn’t so much the lack of chemistry but some other problem you haven’t identified.

How do you define chemistry? I think of it as a strong attraction that includes love, lust, infatuation, and a desire to be involved intimately with someone. Chemistry is emotional desire for relationship. It is outside of the realm of reason. With it, you may be attracted to someone who you know, intellectually, is not good for you. Without it, you may be with someone you respect but are not attracted to. At best, you can have both chemistry and love; at worst, you may have chemistry and misery or no chemistry and misery. Regardless your definition, chemistry is unconscious; we don’t “choose” who we’re attracted to. Even so, we aren’t helpless. We can do much to understand and manage it. Following are guidelines that can help you navigate the minefields of attraction.

1. Do you have to have chemistry for a successful relationship? No, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you will learn to love someone. Yes, it’s possible; but if you aren’t attracted to her, you may come to resent your decision. Be honest with yourself; do not choose a relationship primarily because “she’s a good person.” This is a formula for disaster. On the other hand, if the attraction isn’t there, it can grow. Many times people grow to love one another as they get to know each other better.

2. Because it’s unconscious, searching for chemistry in a relationship is a hit-and-miss proposition. You can find it, but you’ll have to be patient. How will you know you’ve found it? You won’t be arguing with yourself whether or not you love him. If it’s a debate, then either the chemistry is missing or he’s a poor partner for you.

3. Once found, you’ll have to be patient again – or you may make a mistake you’ll deeply regret. Chemistry isn’t the end-all, be-all solution it may appear to be. Because it’s unconscious, feeling deeply attracted to someone can be a result of childhood issues you’re unaware of or haven’t resolved. A big red flag is when you see a problem in your partner and you tell yourself things like, “This isn’t such a big deal; I can handle this,” or “I know he has a problem, but he’s working on it,” or “He really loves me; I’m sure we’ll work it out.” Ignore these problems now and you’ll have much bigger ones to contend with later.

4. If you’ve made it past these hurdles, you have one more challenge: The test of time. I’ve been coaching and counseling couples since 2000. One of the comments I hear most often is, “We’ve been married for years, but haven’t felt ‘in love’ since the early part of our marriage.” The “high” of new love rarely lasts more than a couple years. Once over, you’ll need to replace it with something more substantial: caring, respect, forgiveness, and an ability to communicate. These things can be learned, but you’ll have to work hard at them. Some may be difficult skills for you to master. You can definitely do it; roll up your sleeves and get to work!

5. Can you recreate lost love? Yes! In order to do so you must have one essential ingredient – willingness on the part of both people involved. My experience with couples is once a person has “given up,” has decided in his heart he no longer wants the relationship, the chances of rekindling love are minimal. You don’t have to have a lot of willingness; faith the size of a “mustard seed” can be enough. Counseling to help resolve underlying problems and to motivate you can be helpful. Keep the faith!

David Cantu
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Chemistry in a Relationship – Is it Love? How Do You Define it?- Article © 2009

What Makes a Good Relationship Work?

HeartThere are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. ~ Kahlil Gibran

What do you think is the most important ingredient for a successful relationship?
Would you say love? How about respect? Maybe you think it’s sex? Is it communication or commitment? Yes, all of these elements are critical. I find it hard not to put love at the top of the chart. In my mind, the others are subsets, or aspects, of love. Now, which of these ingredients is most essential for love? I got an e-mail from a friend recently and his vote is on giving. According to him, one of the biggest problems is that we generally “enter a relationship in order to get something…” This is so true.

Couple Romantic SunsetMy first response reminded me of a scene in the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Little Violet: (commenting on George Bailey) “I like him.”
Little Mary: “You like every boy.”
Little Violet: “What’s wrong with that?”

What’s wrong with entering a relationship in order to get something?
I say nothing. In fact, if we didn’t get a lot of “somethings” from a relationship, I suspect humanity would have died off a long time ago. In a very real and practical way, we need a great deal from relationships. We need respect, commitment, security, and, yes, sex. The possibility of getting them makes a partnership really attractive, and that’s why we put so much energy into marriage. In addition, there’s the powerful lure of romance and infatuation. All these factors make relationships worth pursuing. If you don’t know how to receive, if your focus is too much on giving, you’re going to have relationship problems!

True as this may be, it still misses my friend’s point.
We often pursue and interact with others from a very selfish perspective. Much too often, we ignore that we’re in a relationship not so much out of a desire for mutual sharing, but with a motivation that screams, “Me, me, me.” I’ve been counseling couples for more than twelve years, and one of the main problems people cite in their marriages is communication. In order to help them, I give very specific and simple instructions to help them communicate more effectively. The essence of these directions is, “put aside for a moment what you think, and explore what your partner is saying.” Very rarely are couples able to follow the advice initially. Why? Because we find it much easier to focus on what we think and what we want rather than on what our partner thinks and wants. This is a natural habit, one that causes us no end of grief.

Fundamentally, most of us are willing to give.
What gets in our way is fear or concern that we’re on the short end of the receiving stick. Once this thinking takes root, problems snowball. We begin to withhold and become resentful; our partner reciprocates; and it’s downhill from there. What’s the answer? I suggest a healthy dose of giving with a dash of responsibility and receiving:

1. Put your energy into giving, but do it thoughtfully.

We tend to give what we want, but that isn’t necessarily what our partners want.

In his book, “The Five Love Languages,” Gary Chapman says, “People speak different love languages.” Forget for a moment how you want to be loved and figure out how your partner wants to be loved.

2. Ask yourself this important question: “Am I giving in order to get?” If you’re treating your partner with the attitude that your relationship is basically a “business deal” and you often hear yourself asking, “I do this and that for you, what are you doing for me?” – then you don’t know what it means to give, period. I’ll be blunt; you need help, go get a counselor.

3. Listening is an act of giving. Learn to listen to your partner; this takes practice; and it isn’t as easy as it sounds. See my article, Effective Communication and Listening. Your relationship will benefit a great deal if you make it a priority to “walk in his shoes.”

4. Figure out what you lack in your relationship and ask yourself: “Is this something I should be getting from my partner, or am I being unreasonable?” This question can be difficult to answer. Too often we make demands of our partners that are a projection of our own insecurities. To really figure this out you may need help from an objective friend, counselor, or minister.

5. Be clear about your own wants. Too often people ignore their needs with the mistaken idea that giving is always better that receiving. This is a fallacy that inevitably leads to resentment and heartache. In order for your relationship to flourish you must be on the receiving end on a regular basis. Practice taking responsibility for getting what you want. It’s up to you, it’s your life!

David Cantu
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Create a Good Loving Relationship – Approach it with a Giving Heart – Article © 2009