Does your relationship ever feel unpredictable? Do you ever feel it swings back and forth between hot and cold–one moment you’re on a mountain of euphoric bliss, feeling closer to your partner than ever before, and the next you’re plunged into a valley of uncertainty and sudden, unexplainable distance?
Romantic evenings filled with laughs and unmistakable intimate connection crumble to bits at the slightest conflict or disturbance. Silent moments together are infused with a pervasive tension rather than an overwhelming sense of comfort. There’s a distance between the two of you and you don’t know why.
These feelings are often the result of a relationship that lacks consistency. When a serious relationship lacks consistent effort from both parties, it can begin to slip downhill very quickly.
This feeling is exasperating at best, and horrifying at worst.
You start to wonder: Why doesn’t it feel like it used to?
The truth is, your relationship shouldn’t feel like it used to. The honeymoon phase–the “she can do no wrong” phase–can’t last forever. In its place, however, should not be something less rich or emotionally unfulfilling, but something deeper and altogether more full. The deepest relationships are made, not found.
Loving someone despite their flaws means so much more than loving someone because of their perfection. We love despite, not because.
Love needs time to grow–it needs patience.
Throughout my ten-plus years as a men’s coach, I’ve seen too many frightened men jump ship when their honeymoon phase comes to its inevitable end. Their skewed definition of love makes them miss out on something potentially beautiful.
It’s time to learn what really makes a relationship work.
Chemistry and Consistency and What Makes a Lasting Relationship
If you’ve been in any long-term romantic relationships, you know that every relationship has its stages.
The first stage–the honeymoon phase–is heaven.
It feels like being in a self-driving car–everything happens easily and without any effort from either side of the relationship–the feelings, the emotions, the connection–it’s all there and it all feels so real and natural.
This stage revolves around chemistry–the spark that makes the two of you feel destined for one another.
Chemistry is extremely important because oftentimes, though it can seem shallow when looking in from the outside, it is what sets the wheels of that car in motion.
This is just a phase, however, and soon enough you discover that this car isn’t going to drive on its own forever–soon it’s going to need a bit of fuel and direction.
The fuel and direction of successful relationships is consistency.
Consistency is the choice to love–the actions, habits, and thinking patterns that turn chemistry into something far more meaningful–love perhaps.
Starting a fire is often as easy as lighting a match, but to keep that fire burning hot and bright and to make it grow, you’re going to give it fuel.
Consistency is the behaviors like trust, communication, and affection that set the foundation for a healthy relationship and make it last.
Chemistry is important, but later on in a relationship when the feelings aren’t so novel anymore, chemistry can only play its role with a solid foundation of consistency.
Love is a Choice as Well as a Feeling: 6 Pillars of a Consistent Relationship
Does inconsistency in a relationship mean the whole thing is doomed and you should jump ship before it sinks any deeper and drags you down with it?
No, it just means you have to get in the driver’s seat before this car veers off the highway.
A consistent relationship is built on consistent behavior from both sides. If you’re an inconsistent partner and your wife is a consistent partner, you’re going to have problems and visa versa.
Here are the six pillars that keep a relationship afloat long after the eclipse of the honeymoon phase.
1. Commitment to the process: remaining a grounded man in the face of conflict.
Imagine you’re on a basketball team but every time you guys start to lose or things start to go poorly in a game, the other four players just stop trying.
Terrible, right? If you’ve played recreational sports, you’ve probably found yourself on one of these teams more than a few times.
It’s an awful feeling. What’s the point of being a part of a team if you don’t accept that losing is necessary in order to get better? To grow, you need to hurt.
Is there really much joy in a victory if there was no process in getting there–no mountain to climb, tears to cry, pain to endure?
The beauty of a relationship lies in the choice to endure–the decision to cherish every experience, good or bad, because of the recognition that it is all part of an elaborate piece of art.
If one or both sides of a relationship feel as if the other is always one argument away from bowing out and calling it over, it creates unbearable tension.
To be a consistent man in a relationship, you need to show your girl that you’re there because you want to be there. You don’t fear conflict or hard times because you know that deep romantic relationships evolve slowly, they don’t just spring up.
2. The fleeting nature of emotion: the importance of moving slowly and deliberately.
Why is it a red flag when someone says “I love you” too early?
Think about it.
It isn’t because it is an outright lie. No, you may be voicing a feeling you have in a moment. It may even be true.
Most often, it’s because a mature person recognizes that love is a deep and profound feeling that takes a long time to develop. More often than not, saying the three precious words too early shows a bit of immaturity and naïveté.
It shows a rashness that is not usually associated with a potential long-term partner.
It’s the same reason that a man who pushes for sex on the first date betrays his intentions clearly.
A consistent partner understands that the best way to develop trust is to consider the feelings of the other person and not just the emotions of the moment.
Moving slowly shows high regard for their feelings as well as yours. It shows that you recognize that relationships develop slowly and can be hurt by strong statements that aren’t completely backed by reality.
To remain consistent in a romantic relationship, you need to recognize that love is practical just as it is emotional. Love is when emotions are congruent with consistent behavior.
3. Action over words: giving good reason to trust you.
Love can only live where there is complete trust.
As in all areas of life, actions always, always, always speak louder than words in the relationship game.
An inconsistent partner is someone whose words and actions are two completely separate things. They speak passionately in times of emotional connection but forget their words as soon as the reality of life sets in. Mixed signals are one sure sign of immaturity.
Broken promises, skipped dates, empty words–these are the ultimate destroyers of a relationship.
Consistency in a relationship is when words align with predictable behaviors. “I love you” becomes more than just three words spoken after a passionate kiss. It is backed up by endless affection, forgiveness, hours of quality time together, and relentless sacrifice.
Only when words have extensive proof to back them up do they begin to mean anything.
A relationship that LACKS complete trust feels like a collection of distinct moments, each with completely different feelings and emotions–now angry, now sad, now happy, now sad again.
In a relationship WITH trust, every moment is predicated on the understanding that you both desire the same thing. This makes the emotions of a particular moment of secondary importance to the overarching understanding of trust.
4. The danger of silence: how consistent communication reinforces feelings.
If you’ve ever been in a relationship where open and honest communication is absent, you know just how deadly silence is.
Silence–unspoken feelings–is what slowly erodes trust and leads to inevitable resentment.
Resentment kills relationships quicker than anything!
To build consistency in a relationship, both partners need to feel the safety and vulnerability to express themselves freely without the threat of excess judgment or anger.
When your woman feels like you are standing beside her as she battles life, she’ll know that you care for her and are planning to be there through it all.
Communication doesn’t, however, only apply to working out issues and sorting through pain. Communicating positive feelings is just as important.
As long as you have the proof to back it up, expressing your love, longing, and care for your woman will reinforce your mutual feelings and keep the chemistry alive.
Consistency enhances chemistry–it doesn’t do away with it altogether!
Sending the “missing you” texts when you are away on a trip and the “thinking of you” texts throughout the day (even after an intense argument) is the sort of consistency that builds a good relationship.
5. Self-confidence: how the ability to be alone makes the best relationships.
Why do nice guys get such a bad reputation?
Because it’s all a facade–it’s all a mask they wear to cover their insecurity and feed off of the approval of others.
When you actually need them…when there are battles to be fought, they’re nowhere to be found. They’re elusive people-pleasers–only there as long as things are easy.
They aren’t nice because they see the good in it, they are nice because it makes you happy and when you are happy, they are important.
Now, what is it that makes the lone-wolf guy so attractive?
What is it that makes a man who can handle rejection so attractive? Why is it that women often second-guess themselves when the man they just rejected seems unhurt and departs with his head held high?
It’s because he is fine on his own. He’s secure in himself.
He doesn’t see rejection of any sort as failure because he knows his own importance.
The best sort of relationships consist of two people like the lone-wolf guy–people who know that they can thrive alone, but choose to be together because they prefer it–because they feel stronger that way.
Phrases like “I can’t live without her” and “life would be meaningless without her” are lovely as long as they aren’t completely true (especially if you haven’t been together long).
When you both recognize that the other has the ability to thrive on their own, but chooses to be with you, the relationship feels all the more wonderful.
Otherwise, you may be stuck in an unhealthy codependency.
6. Becoming one: the enmeshment of your lives.
If you’ve been with your girlfriend for a while and have never met her friends and family, it’s a bad sign.
If she talks about plans for her future and you never hear the words “we” or “us”, it’s a bad sign.
One of the crucial parts of keeping a relationship together is showing the other person that you aren’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon.
This is a sort of symbolic consistency that can make the two of you feel more oneness.
Take interest in your woman’s life–her hobbies, friends, and family. This will show her that you want her to be yours entirely–you want to know what it’s like to be her.
If she doesn’t take an interest in your life reciprocally, try to let her in. If she seems reluctant, it’s a bad sign.
When these small gestures are carried out regularly, they hold a relationship together and provide a foundation for a more intimate connection.
Love isn’t only a feeling–it’s a feeling inspired by a choice…by choices.
Love isn’t self-perpetuating. It isn’t something you feel all the time on its own. You have to nurture it–nourish it. You have to provide it with the proper soil to grow and give it warmth.
Simply saying “I love you” doesn’t build a relationship. Relationships are built by consistently showing up. They are built by learning to trust one another, talk to each other, and make the other know without a doubt that you want to be there and you see the potential beauty in your connection.
Without this foundation of consistency, chemistry will go nowhere. After a while, good sex and a few butterflies disappear and leave in their wake emptiness and miserable self-reflection–the dawning realization that all you had was fleeting.
When you have consistency in a relationship, the chemistry is felt all the more. You treasure your closeness not because it’s easy, but because your choice to work through difficulties makes your connection all the more beautiful and all the more meaningful.
If you’re reading this article and especially if you have read this far, I’d wager you’ve found some meaning in the words. Something has touched you and you want to know more.
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