we’ve covered a lot of the fundamentals of
everything from love to relationship jealousy to relationship problems - I want
to go explore with you the real backbone, the foundation you’ll need to
understand in order for you to know how
to build a relationship that will last… and last.
And the key, I have discovered, to building exactly such a
relationship are something called the four pillars of relationships.
There are four pillars that hold up any healthy and functional romantic relationship… four pillars that I learned from a Senegalese Sage.
I met this guy on one of my travels, and I called him the “Senegalese Sage” because no matter what we talked about, he always had something profound to add to any conversation. A true fountain of wisdom, experience and insight.
And he was the one who taught me the four pillars that together are the key component of how to build a relationship.
Pillar #1: Love
This one SHOULD be obvious, but you’d be surprised just how many couples try to build a relationship, get and stay together without being in love with each other.
The relationship “just happened”… in a moment of weakness, when they were drunk, lonely, needy or all of the above, someone HAPPENED to be there… and they didn’t see a lot of other options, so they latched on to that person.
It gets worse when they STAY together for a couple of months out of pure convenience… and again, out of a lack of perceived options (a lack of options is ALWAYS a problem with perception – and it’s not a problem you will have if you use the material in our blog and our programs).
But here’s the real killer:
Convenience is the Death of Goals!
Have you ever stopped to think about that? I know it hit me like a freight train when I first really came to that realization… no true good thing is ever convenient!
- The food that is convenient leads to obesity… it takes work to shop and prepare healthy meals.
- The investment opportunity that is convenient leads to
bankruptcy… if you don’t become financially literate, chances are
you’ll trust a banker who is going to lose all your money - like so:
- And it’s the same with relationships… getting together with the girl that is “conveniently available” leads to settling for less than your dream girl!
She’s out there… in fact, I believe many “the ones” are out there.
But you will NEVER meet her if you SETTLE.
And it gets worse…
Eventually people truly get STUCK in this kind of situation… they are afraid of closing the door on a sure thing… afraid of taking a chance at CREATING their IDEAL relationship... and soon, a breakup is completely out of the question.
They’re not designing a life… they’re at effect, and not at cause.
There is even a song about being trapped in this kind of situation: “Happy to be Stuck with You” by Huey Lewis.
“We thought about breaking up,
But now we know it's much too late.
We are bound by all the rest...
Like the same phone number...
All the same friends...
And the same address.”
Now, I don’t know about you…
…but that doesn’t sound like the right solution for how to build a relationship. It doesn’t come across as the life of my dreams to me. In fact, when I was 19 and still very green about dating and relationships, I ended up in exactly that kind of relationship, and in exactly that way… and I got STUCK in it for over two years!
It didn’t end pleasantly either… but, I’m glad it DID end EVENTUALLY… because otherwise I would have missed out on the AMAZING relationships with some true DREAM GIRLS I was to meet later in life… girls that I was absolutely crazy about, and not just “stuck with”.
In one word… you want to be with a girl you actually love.
Everything else is settling.
Pillar #2: Trust
I’ve discussed this one at great length above… but the fact is, no relationship will ever bloom to its full potential unless both people fully trust each other.
Unfortunately, this is not a very common situation either... Most people live their love lives the way they do business deals… and they go by the rule “trust, but verify”.
Now, if you have reasons to mistrust, that is another issue… and in that case, by all means knock yourself out and verify… though I would argue that this is likely a mistake in finding the right girl and screening her properly.
If you pick the right girl in the first place, and if you are able to be vulnerable yet strong around her, it is HIGHLY LIKELY that she really will be completely open and honest with you… even if fear has held her back from doing so in her past relationships.
And if you want to give your relationship the best chance of becoming an amazing love story that you will remember for the rest of your life, you can’t play detective with her at every step of the way.
Your lover is the ONE person you should be able to trust… do it.
Final comment – this is another one of those things that goes both ways. You also have to be TRUSTWORTHY with her – she needs to be able to count on you and know you’re a standup guy and a man of your word, 100%.
The right girl will reciprocate.
Also, like really does attract like… That’s just the way this works.
Pillar #3: Respect
Another word that has become a bit of a platitude and to many people, lost its meaning… but this one is a crucial part of building relationships.
Do you respect your girlfriend? Do you value her as a human being and your equal?
Does she DESERVE your respect? (If not, go back to that post about selection!)
Does she SHOW YOU respect? (Again… if not, go back to the material on screening!)
If your girl disrespects you… if she constantly shows up late on dates, if she talks on the phone with other guys while she’s out with you, if she discourages you from your goals or questions your abilities, this could really be for one of the following three reasons:
- She’s trying to see how much in control of
yourself and the relationship you are. ALL women do this some of the
time – it’s unconscious and natural. You just need to know how to
handle this specific type of female “drama” – something we’ll address
in a future article.
- She’s being disrespectful because she knows she
can get away with it. She has tested you in the past, and you have
folded. Failing a woman’s test means asking for a second (and bigger)
- She’s a drama queen and not worth your time
Finally, treat her with respect. You don’t want to chase her, be submissive or pay expensive dinners for the privilege of getting to spend time with her – but you should still be a gentleman. Open the door for her; pull her chair out, walk on the outside of the side walk.
Women appreciate these gestures, and if you mix this kind of thing with all the other advice here, it will only make you look stronger… not weaker.
Pillar #4: Understanding
Understanding women really comes down to empathy… being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Most guys… well, most people, really… don’t truly listen when they have a conversation with somebody. As they’re hearing the other person speak, they’re secretly just waiting for their time to talk… rather than REALLY paying attention to what the other person is saying.
And not only to what the other person is saying, but also to the MEANING behind their words.
And not only to the meaning behind their words, but also to the EMOTION behind that meaning.
Three layers deep and we could still keep going… Do you listen like that?
It’s a very rare thing.
You see, women often communicate implicitly… and you have to mentally “read between the lines” to really get where they’re coming from… and that can only be done by REALLY listening… and deep diving, with open questions.
When she tells you something, feed it back to her… and then ask a question that goes deeper. If you do this right she will feel as understood as never before in her life.
Not a compliment you necessarily want to receive from your hookup in the club… if you do, get ready for a lot of “last minute resistance” before you take women to bed. But, it is the highest compliment a girl can pay you in a relationship.
You know how some radio hosts can just get people to TOTALLY open up to them, and even though they’re live on the air and in front of millions of people, they tell him their darkest secrets… things they’ve never revealed to ANYONE?
That… is the power of truly listening.
These guys have empathy down to an art form… and I highly recommend you listen to some radio shows like that, and learn from their communication style.
It really comes down to one of Stephen Covey’s principles from his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When interviewers asked him which of the seven habits was the most important one, he consistently responded it was the habit of seeking first to understand, then to be understood.
That’s listening… that’s empathy.
This, too, will trigger your girlfriend’s reciprocity button… and she will do the same for you.
And when you’re in a relationship where both parties are really focused on understanding one another… then you have the final ingredient for a truly great partnership.
I’ll say it again because it is so important: THE most important frame to set and have in an exclusive relationship is the TEAM frame. If you can both pull at the same string together rather than playing tug of war, you can accomplish anything.
Napoleon Hill often said that one of his most important masterminds was the one he had with his wife.
How to Build a Relationship: The Foundation
Now, there is one thing I want to add to the lesson the Senegalese Sage taught me those years back – these four pillars need to stand on a strong foundation…
Can you guess what that foundation is?
Communication, of course.
Want to know how to build a relationship right? Well, it starts with this: you absolutely need to have open communication lines with your girl… and that’s the MAIN reason why I told you earlier, in “How to Stop Playing Games,” to disarm and preempt freeze outs before they ever start occurring in your relationship.
If you don’t have open communication lines with your girl, if you don’t disarm all the games most people play with each other FIRST, none of the above will work or matter.
On the other hand, if you can talk openly with your girl about anything, and if you follow the advice in this series, you will be able to easily and efficiently disarm all the games just about everybody else usually plays in their relationships and create an incredibly strong bond with her.
Another thing I want to reiterate here is that you really only want to do this with girls you’re absolutely serious about… these techniques are TOO POWERFUL to use unless you have the best intentions going forward with this girl.
Everything else will cause all sorts of problems… and you really don’t want to even find out about any of them.
Keeping Your Own Life
Alright, this is a very individual topic and it’s going to be different for everybody.
A lot of “dating and relationship gurus,” when it comes to how to build a relationship, advise that you need to “keep your own life” and that the two of you shouldn’t be doing EVERYTHING together.
I would say, that greatly depends.
My sister had an eight-year relationship, and the her and her boyfriend were CONSTANTLY together. They didn’t keep separate social lives, they joined each other in their hobbies and they always met after work… every night.
That went great for them, and for almost a decade… until the seven-year itch that we talked about finally drove them apart.
Did the relationship not work out?
Yes it did… it worked GREAT… for eight years!
That is nothing to sneeze at.
Now, for some people, this kind of intensity and being together all the time would totally suffocate them… in fact, I’m one of those people, and I certainly need my alone time…
If I don’t have at least one day per week where I don’t see ANYBODY, I get totally exhausted.
So there is no one-size-fits-all rule of “always be together” or “keep your own life as much as possible”… it depends on your personality type, on hers, and how the two mash.
There is one rule that always applies, however – and that rule is BALANCE! You absolutely, positively cannot let the relationship tip out of balance to where one partner wants to constantly be together, and the other is trying to get more and more alone time.
That will trigger a Passion Trap-style dynamic and
relationship… 100% of the time.
But other than that, anything goes, in terms of how much time you spend together… simply find out what’s right for you.
Onward and upward,
UPDATE: read the next article in Ricardus's relationship series right here: How to Romance a Girl (and Really Steal Her Heart).