#366 - The foundation for a mature, successful relationship.

healthy relationship mature relationship

The following is an excerpt from my book, Dating Backward.

The foundation for a mature, successful relationship.

Emotional maturity begins with an honest evaluation of your personal values, your response to life situations, and your relationships. Where you grew up, who raised you, the era in which you were born, your economic status, school experiences, your religious upbringing and everything else, positive and negative, that happened to you in your life will influence your value system.

What is said, what is not said, what is done, and what is not done all express values. A core value system that does not change is a sign of a healthy, mature person. Your soul mate and you gain energy and grow from your experiences as individuals and as a couple. You admire, respect, and love each other.

As human beings, when we are young, we tend to be wide eyed and naïve about relationships and have poor insight to our values. We are overwhelmed with infatuation and lack the expertise and understanding about life and the Four Relationship Cornerstones that make relationships successful.

We tend to follow society’s prescription for dating, infatuation, being head over heels, and crazy in love. What is valued in relationships during our teens and twenties is very different from what is important to us at forty or fifty years of age and beyond. Living life is guaranteed to change your list of things that are important, and it will continue to evolve as you travel through life. Dating backward is the ability to look at an individual and yourself before going forward into a relationship. Extraordinary relationships grow and evolve through life in tandem together.

While you may not grow in the same areas or in the same direction, you will share in the joy of your mate’s growth. Relationships that are not successful or extraordinary tend to experience change that is not communicated or shared as a life experience. Growth as individuals and as a couple is often lacking or missing in relationships that fail.

Infatuation is an incredible aphrodisiac and deludes the inexperienced into thinking it is true love. It is so powerful that we overlook serious flaws in the people we date, court, and even marry. As described in his book The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman explains the effect of infatuation or “the obsessive stage of love” on relationships. It has been observed that infatuation will last, on average, for two years.

When we make decisions based on infatuation, we are often totally incorrect and will probably regret our decisions later on down the road. Infatuation does not mean you are with your soul mate. It may be an indication of eros love but not true or agape love, which you should be looking for. A true soul mate is able to demonstrate agape love across the Four Relationship Cornerstones with extraordinary communication.

When you are infatuated with someone, you may see the imperfections in them that you are not willing to life with long-term but you gloss over them. You may ignore the imperfections; you may think you can change the imperfections in your mate or believe that the imperfections will somehow magically disappear. Infatuation causes chemical changes in the brain similar to narcotics and is very addictive.

There are those who cannot continue relationships because of the lack of the infatuation feeling and because they need to feel it over and over again. They are “forever daters” and can never commit to a long-term relationship. The chemical change can cloud perception and judgement in the same way narcotics can. Under the influences of these chemical changes, it is easy to gloss over unhealthy relationship characteristics and make errors in judgement.

The impact of these chemical changes and self-talk allows us to draw conclusions that may take years to understand before we discover they are erroneous. The singular belief that “He or she will change in time and come to a greater understanding like mine” is a relationship death trap. And often, several years into a relationship or marriage, we realize that the change didn’t happen no matter what we said or tried to do to “help” them change.

Change can only come from within, not from outside pressure. In spite of any encouragement (which usually turns to nagging and cajoling in unhealthy relationships), your mate can change themselves only if they desire to make the change. Some of us, even as we age, never learn this lesson and are doomed to repeat this error again and again. Infatuation blinds us to the realities of the relationship (or lack of one). This is why it is so very important to understand how infatuation affects us and to always look realistically at a new relationship. If there are aspects of his or her character that you cannot live with for the rest of your life, it is time to end the relationship before it goes any further, because these character traits will not change.

If you’d like to read more, Dating Backward is available on

Happy dating.