4 simple things you can start doing today that will make you happier in your relationships

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Are you getting what you want out of your relationships? Are they healthy, and do they serve your best interests? Are they authentic and sincere?

If you’re not getting what you want, it might be that you’ve missed 4 critical steps. In fact, most people don’t even know what they are.

So, how do you know if that’s the case, and how can you improve your relationships right now?

Let’s start with a quick story so you can really see what I’m talking about, and then I’ll show you exactly what you need to do.

I received an email recently asking the following question:

“What do you think of a 55-year-old man that dates a woman with young kids for 4 years and then breaks up with her off and on over that period and dates others in the meantime? Then he decides he wants to go back to her ‘one more time’ to see if it will work. By the way, the man was married for 23 years to someone else that divorced him.”

This question cuts right to the heart of relationships and leads us to one of the most fundamental questions we each need to answer: Do I know what I want from my relationships?

The man in this example seems lost. He clearly cannot decide what he wants and continues to chase other relationships because he hasn’t dealt with his relationship with himself yet.

He has ignored the 4 steps of personal growth and development:

1. Become self-aware.

Who am I? What do I want? Without addressing the issue of “self” first, it is impossible to know how to develop successful relationships with people around us. The man in the example has failed to answer these two questions. He has not laid out the principles of his life for himself and continually bounces from relationship to relationship, indecisive, insincere, and uncommitted. Indeed, he seems to be actively avoiding facing himself.

2. Exercise self-management.

How am I going to get what I want? Because the man has not addressed his self-awareness issues, he doesn’t know what he wants or how to act. He’s on a journey with no map and no destination, and he seems to be searching for some external thing to resolve his insecurities, soothe his fragile emotions, and make him happy. This will continue to determine the kinds of relationships he pursues until he goes back to the first step.

3. Develop social awareness.

What do other people need and want? Only after individuals have begun to understand their own basic needs can they begin to understand the world around them. Your determination in step 2 of what your want will influence how you see the world, your place in it, and the quality of your interactions with those around you. In the example, the man seems to have little regard for the needs of the woman and her young children. He has not created the stability she and her kids may need.

4. Exercise relationship management.

What can I do to support the other person and honor my commitments? Ultimately, only actions show how committed people are to anything, including their relationships. It’s easy to see through the example above that failure to sufficiently address the first three steps of personal growth and development will create the types of relationships people have in their lives. They won’t be able to reach the highest level of satisfaction and intimacy and they’re likely to continually make serious missteps.

You may be surprised at how ignoring these 4 steps deeply affected this man’s life and the lives of those he cared about. On the surface, he seems like someone who is desperately looking for a relationship that will make him happy in the long run. But what he’s failed to see is that he’ll never find what he’s looking for because he didn’t develop that vital relationship with himself first.

Your relationship with self is the foundation for everything else in your life.

If you’re not getting what you want in your relationships, the new year is a great time to find out why so you can start building the relationships you really want. Do you need to develop a stronger relationship with yourself? Have you chosen any of your relationships for the wrong reason? Have you fully committed to being an active partner in them?

Here are some questions to help you think about what you want to get out of your relationships and what you need to know about yourself in order to do that:

  • What do I want to get out of this relationship?
  • What am I willing to put into this relationship?
  • Have I kept up my side of this relationship?
  • Am I in this relationship in order to have someone else do things for me?
  • Am I chasing this relationship to feel powerful over someone else?
  • Am I in this relationship because it’s convenient?
  • Does being in this relationship protect me—or distract me—from facing myself?


Relationships—with yourself and those around you—are the source of true power in your life. Get the Nerve™ to start the year on solid footing by improving your relationship with yourself and recommitting to your healthiest relationships. These are two ways you can be happier and more satisfied with your life in 2014.

About Joe Serio

Dr. Joe Serio is a keynote speaker, trainer, and author who helps the people in your organization navigate resistance to change so they can move forward successfully.

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