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The Art of Solving Relationship Problems

Updated on November 1, 2017
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Stray thoughts on love, romance, and life. Also a fan of Charlie Munger and the Beatles.

Love, what a marvelous gift. None other elixir brings more joy to this powerful human experience, yet once scorched, this potion induces more pain and heartache than one can imagine.

It is unwise to wish for a relationship without the slightest shortcomings, our question then becomes: how to properly address relationship problems?

Foremost importantly –

Human have the tendency to overthink, our great tool of intelligence is also our great fallacy. Relationship problems, in particular, carry much emotional baggage and mental caveats. These baggage all too often muddle one’s clarity, whilst a simple solution can untie the complications like a shoestring.

Always stay calm and collected. It is not the same as being cold or emotionally distant, it simply helps one think by being unfretted. When things go pear-shaped, think to yourself: “I’ve seen worse.” Even if you have not, pretend you do. This puts everything in perspective, there is nothing attractive about being petrified or worse, whiny.

In order to achieve this, you need to master yourself. Yes, it takes practice and mental concentration, but it is not an impossible task. Should you find yourself stuck in a loop of negative thoughts, actively interrupt your own mind and insert positive thoughts. Yes, it works. Repeat as many times as need.

Worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.

— Mary Schmich

When In Doubt, Ask Yourself: "What Would James Bond Do?"

What is Our Objective?

Now that you are equipped with the right emotional framework to face a situation, let us discuss our objective.

Highlight: the goal of solving relationship problems is not appeasement.

Appeasement offers a “quick fix” to temporarily relieve anxiety, but it is (most often) not the correct course of action. What do I mean by appeasement? Appeasement is when you take back your boyfriend just to avoid the grief after he blatantly told you he cheated on you, appeasement is when you unnecessarily apologize to your wife to get sex faster, appeasement is saying yes to something you know you should have refused.

You do not exist to serve your relationship; your relationship exists to serve you.

You do not exist to serve your relationship; your relationship exists to serve you. 

Do not confuse that. You live with a purpose; you walk through life with a goal. Never change yourself to fit the agenda of a relationship, you should pick and choose your relationships wisely to effectively suit your ambition.

Note: this is nonliteral. When I say “never change yourself”, it does not mean you should never get rid of your heroin addiction to be with a wonderful partner. Weight your decisions against your goals.

If your girlfriend is a strong opponent of marriage, ask yourself if you are okay with being a boyfriend for the rest of your life? Or do you need to sacrifice this relationship for a better chance of marriage? If your husband is an animal rights activist and needs you to be a strict vegan, are you okay with changing your diet? Or do you opt for divorce? (Yes, change your diet.) Now, what if your goal is to be a world-renowned bodybuilder? Does that change anything? Food for thought.

The point is when confronted by a relational problem, your goal is to make the decisions that best serve your purpose in life. No one can tell you what your purpose in life should be.

Calmly analyze the challenge with your objective in mind –

You already know how an ideal relationship is (or should be). So ask yourself: what is off-balanced in my relationship that is causing problems?

“I am feeling emotionally distant from my partner.” Is it due to my partner’s attraction level has dropped? Or is it due to a lack of communications based on logistical reasons (we are both too busy)? If the former, then the solution is to raise attraction level: via the means of working out (look better), pick up a new hobby (be more versatile), or work harder on your career to get a promotion (more zealous). Depending on your objective, you can now pick your lever of raising attraction through any of the above channels. If the latter, then the solution is simpler: make time for one another, bond through activities that grow the both of you closer.

“My partner cheated, what should I do?” What is off-balanced here? Cheating destroys trust and damages rapport. Focus on the bigger picture, do not forget your goals, ask yourself: are you better off without this person? Or are you okay with taking this person back (granted if the person wants to amend)? Appeasement is often not the best course of action. Scrutinize hard. A small heartbreak is infinitely easier to deal with than a lengthy mistake. If the former, break up and avoid repeating the same mistakes. If the latter, focus on your own life and continuously improve, let the other person redeem by rebuilding rapport and trust.

“This person is too clingy. Freaks out every time I do not text back within five minutes.” This person needs much more rapport than you give. Are you okay with spending more time building comfort? Or will it be a better use of your energy to find someone else who is less needy? If the former, send small gifts, text back faster and spend more time together. If the latter, politely excuse yourself from this relationship and move on. Be the best person you can be, and find someone else who will make you happier.

Do not let desperation skew your decisions, adhere to the Desire Principle. Self-improvement is at the heart of all relational problem-solving. Demeanor is always calm and collected, no need to overthink. Situations are always analyzed, pros and cons are carefully measured. Choices are always weighted against the greater outcome of your goals, never lose sight of your purpose. Whatever decisions you make, follow through, and do not regret.

A side note on the title of this article: despite the logical decision-making process presented, notice relationship is not a science. Relationship is a finesse, it is an elegant dance, it is always an art.

© 2017 Yesso


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