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How relationships work for the best possible connection

In this video we’ll break down what a “good” relationship looks like, and what you’d need to do to create one.

Some of the topics we look at:

  • Are relationships worth it?
  • Harvard happiness study implications for relationships.
  • Good relationship principles.
  • Are relationships supposed to be hard? If there’s no conflict, you got a problem.
  • Weeding the garden, there should be effort but not strenuous.
  • Love is not enough, relationship management is about boundaries, not feelings/experiences.
  • Relationships and communication – why transparency from day 1 is the safest bet. Generous assumptions of intent when listening/observing. Stay until the conversation is done.
  • Make a mess then clean it up together. Learn to fight well.
  • Relationships and social media – high correlation between SM bragging and relationship issues. If you feel the need to prove it, something’s wrong.
  • How relationships change over time. How staying honest and involved in each others lives prevents drift (or early identify incompatibility).
  • Which relationships last the longest.
  • Divorce problems: Not invested in the relationship. Betrayal. Finances.Diff religion. Abuse.
  • Using the 3X model – curiosity, honesty, respect.

 


 

To master the creation of amazing relationships, get in touch with Dan for coaching

>> Apply for a free trial coaching session here! <<

 


Full transcript

How relationships can work to have the best possible connection.

So we’re going to have a look at the stats and my experiences coaching people for 10 years to find the common success factors for healthy long term relationships. And as well as find the common factors in relationships that break down.

I think we have to start by actually answering a question:

Are relationships worth it?

I see that question being asked when I look up keywords / search terms and stuff that comes up a lot. And what I’d say is, I always refer back to the famous Harvard happiness study –  the 70 year longitudinal study on what makes people truly enjoy their life – and the finding was undeniably: good, long term relationships.

So basically speaking, unless you have a certain personality type, like you’re an antisocial personality perhaps, or narcissistic personality, for most of the huge majority of the rest of you having a great partner is about the best thing you can do with your life. It’s not the only way to enjoy life. But it’s the kind of most guaranteed.

That being said, we can also see that having an unhealthy or toxic partnership is about the worst experience a human being can have. So we have to make sure it’s a good one. But if it’s a good one, stats say it’s worthwhile.

What is a good relationship?

It’s healthy: it feels healthy, you behave in a healthy way towards each other, you treat each other well.

You’re honest, you don’t have to hide anything. It’s the person you can be yourself with. You have a deep connection, you know each other intimately down to the core, your secrets, your vulnerabilities, your shames, your dreams, everything has been shared.

You’re very loving towards each other. You rely on each other, but you’re also independent, you’re interdependent. So you’re better together, but you can survive on your own as well.

The relationship lasts a long time, that in itself is a measure of success.

And overall, you have a relationship that will reduce your life regrets. You have the kind of relationship that when you get to your deathbed, all the things that you traded off to have this relationship, like all the fun of a single life perhaps, you’ll look back and go, No, this was the better choice. I’d rather have those regrets than not be with my partner. And I think that’s one of the easiest measures here.

Another question I see asked quite often is

Are relationships supposed to be hard?

When people ask this, I think what they’re saying is, why is it that I always have so much conflict in my relationships? Why does it feel like such a big effort? Is it really worth it considering it feels this way?

What I’d say especially if you’re a nice guy is if you’ve got no conflict in your relationship, there is no disagreement or upset ever, you’ve got a real problem. You’re doing it wrong.

Relationships aren’t free, you have to earn them, you have to work at them. And part of that is the constant confrontations and boundary management between you and your partner. That’s the hard part. But if you can accept that cost, then you get these massive rewards. That connection, the sense of being with someone sharing your life, having meaning through building a family with someone.

You can’t have that shit for free, you got to work at it. Just like gardening, you got to keep the weeds out, you got to fertilize things, you got to clip the leaves. You can’t just sit there and hope it will grow into abundance.

Two people, no matter how well they get along, they’re never completely 100% compatible. Right? We all have slightly different preferences, slightly different beliefs. If you’re looking to find your exact double out there, just stay home and masturbate because that’s the only person who’s the same as you. So you have to accept that getting into a relationship means sharing your life with someone who’s not exactly like you, and the inevitable friction that’s going to come up with that must be managed.

But like I said, you think of it like weeding a garden, there should be effort but it shouldn’t be strenuous. If the effort is exhausting, you’re either doing it wrong or you’re with the wrong person.

So if you’re a people pleaser, for example, being in a relationship may feel exhausting because you’re constantly trying to make the other person happy. Well, you’re doing it wrong. It’s not about making the other person happy. It’s about having a healthy connection which isn’t about happiness all the time.

And if it feels real strenuous because you’re being abused and cheated on and the conflict is just wild and chaotic all the time, then you’re with the wrong person.

Just gotta remember love is not enough for a relationship. It’s enough for connecting. It’s enough for dating. A relationship is about boundaries. You want something to go the distance with someone – a person is going to change over time and you’re going to change over time – for that to last you guys have got to have a solid understanding of what’s right and wrong in your relationship and how each person should behave towards each other for the safety of the relationship.

Another way to look at a relationship as it’s just communication.

Communication

That’s all it ever really is. Whether it’s body language, touch, or spoken words, the relationship is really made of us spending time and communicating with each other.

So if you can do the healthiest possible communication, you’ll probably have the healthiest possible relationship.

If there’s any one thing to focus on, it’s not my sex life, should we do be doing more stuff together, maybe we should travel, nah: get better at communicating, always just get better at communicating. There’s endless opportunity for growth when it comes to communicating. You can always do it better.

And every time you do, your relationship will improve.

Honesty

If you’re single listening to this, please trust me on my experience: transparency from day one, from your first date you should be totally honest. And that way, you’ve got no burden of secrets, no shame to hide, nothing to repair later on. No surprises that come up later like, Oh my god, you’re a different person who I thought you were. That’s the kind of shit that eventually leads to divorce.

Be yourself from day one and allow that sort of high likelihood of rejection feeling to happen. Because if they like you like that, you’ll never have to put any real effort into this relationship. Again, you can just be you and be honest. And that will do all the work.

Good listening

When listening to the other person try to have generous assumptions. Assume that they’re trying their best to be a good person. It sounds kind of obvious, but it’s amazing how much the opposite happens in relationships, how often partners will deliberately misinterpret each other to give it a negative meaning when it was really neutral or positive.

So when you’re listening to them think: they’re good person trying to do good things. Maybe they’re saying it wrong, maybe they’re not going to put the words together, but what’s the real intention here?

Now, of course, if you’re with an abusive person, you’ll notice that that doesn’t quite play out that every time you have a generous assumption about it they debunk that assumption, they really prove it to be wrong.

But when you’re with someone who’s good for you, being generous with the assumptions will relax them. And they’ll put more effort into communicating better.

Endurance

Whatever the conversation is, stay until it’s done. Really pay attention and see it through to the other side, especially confrontations.

Confrontations kind of have an inverse bell curve. You start all right, and then you get down into the valley and it’s horrible and pessimistic. And this is where most people bail out, especially on the downhill slope, they try to get out of it. Stick with it, have a big awkward silence if you need to, have half an hour to sulk, whatever, and then come back to it.

Stick with it until we come to the other side where you come to some sort of valued boundary agreement, even if it’s just, OK, we’re not going to see eye to eye on this, but we’ve said everything we need to say, let’s move on. At least get there. Don’t bail halfway when it’s roughest.

No perfectionism

When it comes to communicating with your partner, think of making a mess and then cleaning it up rather than trying to get your words perfect.

Whether it’s trying to impress them and be attractive, or  trying to manipulate them into getting what you want, instead try to just speak impulsively and spontaneously. Radical honesty. And then if that doesn’t go down well and didn’t come out right, fix it up together.

That kind of conversation is the most bonding. You say something that’s upsetting or offensive or confusing, and then the two of you try to pull it apart to find out what you’re really thinking and feeling. And that means you’re working together.

Fight well

What you’re really doing is learning to fight well. So when you have disagreement and conflict with each other, you’re fighting for the relationship rather than against each other.

As soon as you’re having a problem with each other, both of you should be starting to talk about how do we make sure this conversation improves our relationship? Rather than how do I beat my partner in this conversation? Or how do I stop them from being angry?

Social media

A little note I want to make on the side is relationships and social media.

I think there’s a pretty high correlation between how much a relationship is posted about and featured on social media, and how likely that is that the relationship has fucked up.

Generally, people only express things positively a lot and kind of brag and boast about something when deep down they know there’s something wrong with it. They’re trying to kind of validate it with others or prove themselves wrong and silence that voice inside them. I’ve noticed people in the healthiest and happiest relationships never brag about it, and don’t talk about it. They don’t need to – they know it’s good.

I think what there’s almost a chicken and egg situation here, where if you start posting on your social media about your relationship, you actually start endangering it. So sort shit out with your partner, not with the whole world, and don’t put out a false front because you’ll start to believe it. Or you start to wish you believed it. And then you’re not going to deal with the real issues in your relationship.

Adaptation

You’ve got to keep in mind how relationships change over time.

You think about how much you’ve changed in the last decade. Who you were at the start the decade compared with who you are now. I mean for most of you, you’ll be like a whole new person. Now imagine that you’re with someone else, and you both go 10 years together. So multiply your change by their change. And that’s how different two people can end up a decade into a marriage, unless they work at keeping their past together.

If you don’t consciously work on walking the path together, you will walk the path apart. People constantly change. You don’t see it on a daily basis because the changes are minute. But over the course of a year, or 10 years, the changes are massive.

If I look at who I was when I was 20, I basically don’t align with that guy almost at all. I don’t have the same hobbies, same interests, same mindset, same belief system, I don’t look like him. I mean, if I’d been in a relationship with someone, since then, they would have had to make some massive adjustments to keep up with who I am now. Staying honest, and staying involved in each other’s lives will prevent the drift. Do as much together as you can and share as much as possible about what’s happening for each of you on a daily basis. And you’ll keep sort of resetting the connection, and it will prevent the drift. Or you’ll identify quite early that you’re becoming incompatible, at least you’re in the relationship quickly, rather than dragging it out and wasting time. Now let’s look at what relationships lasts longest by reverse engineering, divorce statistics, we’re gonna look at some of the top five reasons why people get divorced based on the stats. And then from there, we’re going to extrapolate also based on other studies that I’ve looked at what the preventative or, you know, solution to those problems is one of the biggest causes of divorces is the other partner, seemingly not engaged in the relationship not invested in trying to make it work. But it’s actually I think the number one cause of divorce, the sense the other person is not working on the relationship should be an easy one for you invest in the relationship, if you’re going to have a long term relationship, then it should be in your top three list of priorities in your life, the maintenance of the relationship itself should be a project that the two of you are constantly working on together, there should be discussions regularly about the relationship itself, how well it’s going, what needs to change what’s working well, and so on. Don’t just hope that because you feel good today that everything’s fine. Because that’s the kind of thing that leads to divorce, I’m telling you, often the person who feels like the relationships doing okay, is the one that’s not invested as much as the other person. So it’s the other person doing all the work to make it feel that way. And they’re getting resentful, and bitter. And when it comes to nice, guys, that’s often the case. By the time the wife emails me, my husband, I’ve had enough Oh, my God, can you save this marriage? The guy doesn’t even know there’s a problem, right? He’s like, Oh, I’m just doing what I do, everything’s fine, because he doesn’t even want to hear about he doesn’t want to get involved in anything that might be icky. Right. And so she’s doing on a sort of secret work on the side, and the two of them just grown apart. But the next biggest causes of divorce is of course, betrayal, infidelity, cheating. And what you got to understand is for this to happen, there has to be a huge buildup of dishonesty and resentment. Cheating is not spontaneous, unless you got a serial cheater who no longer has to think about. But cheating usually comes with a huge backstory, it’s usually months in the making. And the only reason it’s allowed to escalate to that stage where the person builds up resentment towards the partner and desire for other people, is because it’s not talked about, he talked about it early, as soon as it starts happening, and you can nip it in the bud. So as soon as you’re having problems with your partner, you resent something they’re doing, you feel unfairness, whatever. As soon as you start being attracted to other people, even the brief attraction will compare someone on the street, make that okay to talk about, because often is that conversation that cuts off the process before it gets started. In general, I recommend a no secrets policy, your relationship should should be the one place where you are 100% transparent, as are they, even if you can’t do it elsewhere, he can’t do it in your relationship, then don’t have one. Another big one is finances, obviously, financial stress, but also problems between the two people when it comes to managing the money, which is really the cause of the financial stress. People can deal with being in poverty and struggling financially as long as they’re on the same team. So when it comes to finances, and just resources in general, and rules about how the resources are managed, that has to be a joint power arrangement, it doesn’t mean that you even have all the same money together or anything like that. It just means that whatever you’ve got going on is a discussed frequently discussed arrangement between the two of you that you’re both totally cool with based on your sort of preferences and styles and my relationship all the money is shared. But Lucy gets like we both get like money on the side that we can spend however we want. We discuss our budget every month. Lucene mostly manages the personal finances, I mostly manage the business finances. And we just have our roles and we’re constantly in communication with each other, we’re not doing the same thing. But we feel like we’re equal partners. And when we first had conversations about it, they were pretty ugly governance conversations. And I could see why a nice guy would want to avoid those kinds of conversations. But have we not had them we’d be having serious problems right now. It’s one that comes up a lot in divorce states is a different religion, which I thought odd because I have seen many partnerships where people have slightly different religious beliefs work out. And what I realized is, when people say different religion, what they mean is different core values. The Religions can be different, but the core values cannot be. So your core values must be a discussion that comes up very early in the dating phase. And if you haven’t done it yet, do it tonight. You talked about what you believe or what is right and wrong. What are your principles? What’s your code of conduct? What do you think people should and shouldn’t do? Especially what you should and shouldn’t do to each other. There must be an alignment, or at least respect for disagreement on that. You know, my wife was Catholic, I would be I guess you call an atheist. But I don’t ever stop her going to church or trying to talk her out of it. She doesn’t ever try to enroll me into Catholicism, we let each other have different beliefs. What we have in common is core values, like honesty, and respect and responsibility and core things that we love to do like travel and dance. Those things need to be aligned, the religion is not so important. And lastly, of course, one of the biggest problems that cause divorces, abuse, okay, the kind of abuse that comes with someone being an addict and the harm they do their family, to outright domestic violence. And this one’s pretty simple. Don’t fucking do that. Right? Just don’t, don’t get into a relationship until you’re sure that you won’t do that. And if you do, do it, make sure you go and get whatever therapeutic recovery stuff sorted as soon as possible so that it never happens again, right? You just cannot have a relationship where you abuse each other, emotionally or physically, or any other way. And hopefully, it’ll work out. You should be treating the other person like they’re your favorite person, not like be your fucking enemy. Think that one should be obvious, but apparently it’s not. Well, one way to sort of sum this up, is using my 3x model of confidence, curiosity, honesty and respect. Those three principles are critical to a healthy relationship. So curiosity about your partner constantly explore their mind, stay in touch with what’s happening with their life. Try to do things with them, get involved and know them deeply, and vice versa. Honesty. Get it all out no matter what you’re afraid of. No matter how much of a hassle it will be, no matter how sure you are that they’re going to react badly. Get it all out all the time. Never leave anything important, unsaid, and respect. Give them space or listen to them and pay attention when it’s their turn to talk. Try to encourage their self development and their growth. Make it that coming home to you is the best experience of their life. I don’t mean trying to please them. I just mean being a safe place for them. If you or you and your partner want help with this, of course get in touch Dan@brojo.org and we’ll have a session together talk it out.

How you can make massive progress in just a few months!

You can do all this on your own.

Through trial and error, books, courses and online content, you can figure it out slowly piece by piece over time if you dedicate yourself to it and are willing to fail often and get uncomfortable in order to achieve social mastery and build strong self confidence.

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Thanks for reading

Hope to speak to you soon

Dan Munro

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