Monday, September 11, 2006

The Twelve C's of Effective Relationships

As I've been finding out from observing relationships, both successful and unsuccessful, and from my own experience of both kinds, there are twelve C's that are necessary for relationships that are complete. These are:


Caring - mutual caring about one another - is the first ingredient of anything that can possibly qualify as a love relationship. There can be no worthwhile relationship between people who don't care about each other, and genuine caring about the partner is the first ingredient of any possibly lasting love. Any relationship that is shorn of caring turns into exploitation and ultimately abuse, coldness, and mutually assured destruction. People absolutely must care about each other in order to have any love between one another; and people who don't care about one another have absolutely no business being together. Caring provides the nurturing soil in which can grow love, as well as the partners. It is the first and main ingredient of love - as well as of friendship or indeed any meaningful interaction. The partners or friends who don't care about you are neither your friends nor your partners. And with caring, it is possible to overcome many obstacles, as well as many problems in self or in relationship. Caring provides the motivator and the soil; other things provide the tools to make it matter.

One such tool is compassion. Compassion means understanding where the person comes from and relating to them on the basis of that. A frequent grievous error that people make is that of judgment rather than compassion: Of failing to understand the person's motives, experience and ways of thinking before jumping to negative conclusions about their motivations and behavior and then prosecuting them for their perceptions of them. Few things kill love more reliably than lack of compassion; few things are as damaging emotionally. Compassion makes it possible for people to understand each other; to relate to each other on meaningful level; and to work through whatever problems that they may have, in a manner that is forgiving, kind and mutually enriching. Some people are compassionate overtly; others become so through training and experience, which may sometimes involve learning from errors and understanding own shortcomings enough to be forgiving of those of another. Whether natural or trained, compassion is the bridge between other and self that make possible the lasting and self-replenishing flow of goodwill and passion; and with genuine compassion, the error of judgmentalism that kills meaningful relationships is overcome.

Communication is what makes possible for caring and compassion to manifest and to continue. Communication makes it possible for people to talk through their problems, to work through their disagreements, and to come up with intelligent solutions that take the needs of both partners into account. Communication makes it possible for people to understand where they are coming from (making possible compassion), to express their perceptions and feelings, and to allow each other intimacy where there would otherwise be only battling. Communication means understanding own feelings well enough to express them and let the partners understand each other's point of view. This, in turn, makes possible both compassion and caring; it also makes possible to solve problems rather than get stuck in them perpetually. Lack of communication makes it impossible for people to understand each other, which in turn leads to needless conflict and frequent recrimination in place of knowing where each other is coming from. And learning to communicate - to understand the self, to try to understand the partner's perspective, and thus through mutual expression to understand one another - can solve most of the problems that arise in relationships. With good communication, it is possible to work through problems rather than letting them destroy everything in their path. Unlike caring (which comes naturally), or compassion (which can either be natural or developed deliberately), communication is in all cases a learned skill; and learning to communicate in relationships successfully is key to avoiding needless conflict and misery – conflict and misery that needlessly and unjustly destroy all kinds of relationships - and allowing love to grow in the nurturing soil of caring and compassion.

Consideration is attentiveness to the partner's feelings and needs. That of course is a part of love; and a necessary component also of caring. Consideration is what makes it possible on a day to day basis for partners to get along. It is what avoids disagreements and fights over small things, which fights may turn into something larger as they
build up. To be considerate of the partner makes it possible to anticipate many things that would otherwise lead to fights and to disagreements, and avoid making bad choices that wrongly affect the partner. All in all, it is a state of mind that makes it possible to get through the day without needless fights and resentments; and in so
doing it makes daily living easier.

Clarity is a matter of understanding emotions and motivations, especially one's own. Being able to do that, makes it possible to be compassionate to a greater extent. Being able to see self - and see the other - and love them for it, is to have contact with them at the deepest levels; contact that leads to a very profound and meaningful
intimacy. Being clear in the mind of the person's attributes, motivations, goals and perspectives, it becomes possible to likewise do what affects them most beautifully - to be the best partner possible, and to direct efforts in the most effective possible manner. Clarity is a state of mind that enhances effectiveness; and in relationships it is
a state of mind that enhances effectiveness of love.

Compatibility means picking the right partner and being the right person for the partner. It means choosing the right person and being the right person. Compatibility does not mean similitude of ethnicity or religion or age or upbringing or geography; it means closeness of basic mindset and basic propensities. It means being close to the
partner at the most fundamental levels - the levels, not of tradition or adaptation, but of the tenor of heart and mind. And it is discovered perhaps best through people finding each other based on similarity of interests - in forums (athletic, artistic, political, etc) that lend expression to those interests - rather than through people finding each other in bars, where the only thing they know about each other is that they are both drunks.

Credibility means being trustworthy. It means fulfilling promises; it means being able to own up to mistakes; it means refraining from expressions of anger and violence that do injury to the heart of the partner. It means earning and keeping the trust of the partner, by being or else becoming a credible individual. Credibility means
self-control; it also means character. All these can be developed, and there are many ways to do so in the world.

Charitability is a state of basic generosity and openness to the partner. It is willingness to forgive; it is willingness to refrain from criticism and prosecution; it is a basic kindness and goodness of spirit that makes it possible for love to continue in spite of possible misunderstandings, arguments and mistakes. It is willingness to live
and let live; it is willingness to be compassionate and forgiving. All in all, it is the essence of love - the love that makes it possible for goodwill to blossom and propagate and thrive in spite of anything that might arise between the partners. Once developed, charitability can then reach out to other areas of life and make possible more
fulfilling existence and beautiful experience of life for self and others in it.

Commitment means being dedicated to making the relationship happen. This is something that must be done by both parties - both must be committed to each other and to the love among each other. Commitment assures that people are determined to overcome whatever issues might arise, and are likewise determined to making love continue. It assures loyalty between the partners; it also assures determination between the partners toward making the love live and grow. It is an effort of will, by both parties, to persevere in love for each other and in so doing to overcome all possible obstacles while also sustaining and growing the relationship.

The tenth C of relationships is creativity. Creativity makes it possible to come up with original solutions to problems and, rather than being bogged down by problems, instead stay on top of them. It also makes it possible to have a relationship full of fun and excitement in which nobody ever gets bored or settled into a rut. Creativity makes the relationship blossom and sparkle and produce beautiful fruit; it also makes it possible to innovatively solve problems that may arise unexpectedly, for which pat or methodical solutions may fail. It is thus the attitude and frame of mind that allows both to solve problems and to reach ever-higher into the place
of ongoing love.

Consistency that matters in relationships means not having only a single emotional tone or a single way of thinking or even a single view of the partner, but rather being consistent in one’s determination to be loving to her. Whatever the mood, whatever the mind state, whatever the circumstance, consistency is a deliberate choice to remain loving and act in a loving manner to the best of one‘s abilities. It is not a matter of having a single mood; it is not a matter of having a single way of thinking; rather it is a matter of choosing deliberately to subject one’s words and actions to scrutiny of, “Is this a loving thing to do?” Consistency is a matter of choice and a matter of will, that uses the mechanism of deliberate action to overpower any bad feelings or bad reactions, or if they do appear to make up and grow stronger in the love. Like growth in economic curve, consistency is an ever-upward pulling force, whatever the fluctuation of risk-based emotional, circumstantial or other factors. It is the will that guides and informs continuity.

Finally, collaboration is just what it is: Being able to work together. This is something that any given couple has to work out for itself. Since people are different, and pairs of people more different, there is no single template for what kind of collaboration would work for whom. It is something that each couple has to figure out for itself as a calculus of their respective strengths, skills, likes, and requirements for what each needs to have done and what is required for both.

There are probably other ingredients, but these are the main ones I've seen so far in successful relationships, and ones that I have been called upon to develop in myself.


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