Welcoming Ben Weaver and his guest post. Ben helps men not suck at relationships at BenWeaver.org.
5 Simple Practices on How to Not Suck at Relationships
And, helping to solve common relationship problems
My 29th birthday was made of something epic. After training for two years I crossed the finish line of Ironman. I remember even to this day how I felt when I crossed the finish line: incredible. I was on top of the world and nothing could touch me.
But the feeling faded the morning after the race. I laid in bed with an eerie feeling inside of me. “Is this all there is?,” I thought. Shouldn’t I feel more accomplished…more, complete?
The feeling never came. But another feeling quickly did: loneliness. We all know what it feels like but we never want to experience it. Unfortunately, we experience it way more than we would like.
I was 29, successful and all alone. As great as Ironman felt what I quickly realized was isolation and near depression had swept in and taken over my life. But why? Where did it all come from?
Well, somewhere between the day I was born and crossing the finish line of Ironman I started to suck at relationships. And by suck, I mean…suck.
Up to crossing the finish line, relationships were just SOMETHING. I didn’t understand the power of relationships.
Because men are stubborn, an entire year went by before I did anything about my loneliness. On my 30th birthday, I sat on my couch alone in a pile of tears and decided it was time to change.
My journey towards healthy and strong relationships began with me believing and practicing this truth:
Relationships aren’t just something. Relationships are everything.
Relationships aren’t just something you put up with or throw to the side. No, relationships are everything.
After this mind-blowing revelation, there were principles that kept coming up in my life. The more I paid attention to them, the more I practiced them. The more I practiced them, the more traction I gained in building strong and healthy relationships in my life.
Here are the 5 simple but hard-working practices you must put into play in your life if you no longer want to suck at relationships.
You must decide to work through your past
I’m familiar with what everyone says – “Meh – the past is in the past.” This statement is a lie. It couldn’t be any less accurate. Your past is alive and directly affecting your life as you live it right now.
Throw your age to the side for a moment. Do you remember how formative your teenage years were? If you are like me, you had all sorts of issues that came flooding into your mind that you probably never dealt with.
You have hurt and trauma in your past that is just wading around and stunting your growth in relationships moving forward. It’s time to address the mess.
I have struggled with relationships most of my life. But it wasn’t because I wanted to. It was because I didn’t understand the power of working through my past. Work through it now and your future will thank you.
You must begin giving and stop taking
“The more I help out, the more successful I become. But I measure success in what it has done for the people around me. That is the real accolade.” – Dr. Adam Grant, Give & Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success
Dr. Grant said it perfectly. And he’s talking about more than money. It’s something much more potent – the power of giving in relationships.
If you are taking more than you are giving in your life right now, then you suck at relationships and it’s time to straighten up. Taking is old news and bad advice. Giving is a part of the new economy in this world and it’s time for you and me to master it.
How do you know if you’re a taker?
If you find people moving in and out of your life often, there’s a good chance you’re a taker. They were tired of you sucking the life out of them and decided to move on.
But you can make the quick switch. How?
You become a giver by giving what you already have.
Every Monday night for the last two years I have gathered with a group of young single guys. What I love about our group is each of us has our own unique insight into life. Each of us has a perspective to give that the others don’t. What are we doing? Giving what we have. Nothing more. Nothing less.
You must invest more than you consume.
You and I are great consumers. We not only know how to consume but more than any other generation before us, we love to hoard. This is a massive problem.
What was first learning how to consume has now become abuse. This abuse rears its ugly head in our relationships and we have failed to control it. If you want to build strong and healthy relationships, you must begin investing in others rather than consuming them.
You must engage your life more than you exit it.
When I began my journey of not sucking at relationships I realized very quickly how naive I was to my own life. I was paying very little attention to my struggles and I knew exactly why. I wasn’t engaging my life as I should have been.
You and I are very good at exiting our own lives and stories. We do this through movies, binge-watching TV or by paying attention to the lives of our neighbors more than our own. If you find yourself in this position, you suck at relationships and something needs to change.
You need to turn your life on its head. Begin engaging your own life every. single. day. This isn’t about becoming selfish. It’s about becoming self-aware to yourself and your own issues.
Learning to engage your own day often brings a silence to your soul and you can begin to hear your own struggles, hurts and challenges you are up against. This is where you need to be before you can step into healthy relationships.
You must discover the power of vulnerability
A couple of years ago I went out on a first date that changed my life forever. I know what you’re thinking – a first date changed your life?! It did.
After the date, the young woman shared with a mutual friend of ours how much I had lacked vulnerability. It crushed me. But it also set me on a path I have never looked back on.
Up to that famous first date, vulnerability was just a hard word to pronounce. Being vulnerable with others is now a concept and purpose I live my life by.
Vulnerability is not easy. I get it because I lived it. But it is the mojo we need to get the life we want.
You weren’t made to suck at relationships. You were made for strong, healthy relationships. If you can begin to implement each of these principles into your life with others, you will set your life and legacy up to make a dent in this world. I guarantee it.
Your Call To Action…
Ben Weaver is a Youth Pastor, Author, and Writer in St. Louis, MO. He is passionate about helping single guys gain the confidence they need so they can build strong relationships and make a dent in this world. He is the author of Don’t Suck, an avid snowboarder and travel junkie. You can find all his work at benweaver.org