“Here’s one of my favorite paradoxical tidbits of human dating behavior. The key to creating passion is the presence of obstacles. That which he gained without effort is lost without much regret – easy come, easy go. (The Tao of Dating, Loc 2366)
It was 2012 and I had a girlfriend of about two years.
We went up to wine country in California for a weekend getaway.
I booked a small, romantic bed and breakfast for us. We shared it with one other couple.
They didn’t know it, but they changed how I did relationships going forward.
Something trivial but of extreme importance happened to me at this bed and breakfast.
This couple seemed to share a much stronger connection than my girlfriend and I. We were happy. But it was clearly a much weaker bond than the couple sitting across the table. Then it happened.
Seemingly randomly they entered into an elaborate and secret handshake. They both broke out laughing.
‘What the hell just happened‘ I thought.
They didn’t know it, maybe my girlfriend didn’t either, but I felt so small. So inferior to this couple. We had an average relationship. They had an extraordinary one.
They had created some kind of a handshake when a code word was said. I don’t know if there was more to it. I didn’t ask. All I saw was a strong connection topped off by a shared experience of an automatic and coordinated handshake.
It was at this point where a little bit of the invisible curtain was pulled away from my eyes to see the social tricks in real-time. It all immediately clicked for me.
Though at the time it made me a little depressed that my girlfriend and I didn’t share what they had, it provided me an opportunity and learning experience. I took it.
Does this all seem inconsequential to you? Then you are most at risk and should continue reading.
This handshake is one of many things you can do with your partner to strengthen the connection; to strengthen the relationship. To set you apart from your everpresent competition.
Any skill will do, but preferably one that is often used. The more often the better because the more often your partner will be reminded of you.
If you can’t come up with one, try taking a speed-reading class together. Keep the TV off one night during dinner and acquire a skill together. If successful, your partner will think of you every single time they have to read something.
Let me say that again, every single time for the rest of your partner’s life when they have to read you will pop into their mind.
Any time your partner does something foolish, awkward, or embarrassing be sure to make it a moment so that you two share an inside joke.
For example, if she has a habit of spilling stuff, or is a bad parker, you can create a nickname related to this behavior that you can bring up when the moment is right. You two will be the only ones laughing and all the other couples will be jealous.
I came up with this one while traveling in Moscow where I don’t speak the local language fluently and the locals don’t speak English at all. It’s a way to communicate non-verbally and turn some potentially awkward experiences into jokes between only you two.
For example, you can decide on certain eye movements to represent good/positive or bad/negative. A left wink can be bad. A right wink can be good.
In Moscow, I was on a date at a food court venue with communal seating. In the 45 seconds I got up to get my food, a Russian guy sat in front of her and was hitting on her. It would be kind of awkward to let this dude know that her and I don’t fluently speak each other’s language and give him the upper hand to talk shit about me in front of my face. Luckily, we already agreed on some basic non-verbal signals. I looked at her, she gave me the left wink, that was my sign to tell the guy to get lost.
This doesn’t always have to be in the bedroom. You can casually whisper something naughty in her ear during a dinner party or in the elevator.
But it should also happen in the bedroom. I find it’s one of those things that women universally enjoy and it’s seldom mastered (or even done) by men.
If it’s not clear already, it’s not about any one thing. It’s about being different and unique and special. If your relationship gets stale, get out even if it’s been 40 years. It’s not fair for either person.If your relationship gets stale, get out even if it's been 40 years. It's not fair for either person. Click To Tweet
I was reading NLP: The Essential Guide where I found a 21-day mindfulness exercise. It sounded intense, but useful. I’m going to ask my next serious partner if she wants to do it with me.
If you’re in a relationship right now, can you think of at least one future plan you both have that you are looking forward to? I’m guessing the longer you’ve been in a relationship, the more often that statement is false.
As a general rule of thumb, you should have something going on in the future more often than not that you are both mutually looking forward to.
It could be seeing a movie that comes out in a couple of months, a weekend getaway, or planning a surprise birthday party for your child or friend.
If that sounds too intense, then replace all of it with “Learn”. Just learn about your partner. Explore their values and interests. This will lead to a deeper conversation. A deep conversation is the opposite of a superficial conversation that we’re all super familiar with already.
Anything that your partner talks to you about which they don’t talk to anyone else about strengthens your connection. Topics that are awkward or unformidable are a goldmine in the way or deepening your connection.
What do you two have that she doesn’t have with other guys? This should be a long list. The longer the list, the deeper your connection.
Humans tend to avoid eye contact. But there really is something special about making eye contact, a window to the soul. It creates a deeper connection. It’s nonverbal communication.
You can even try this on a first or second date. Just tell your date to stare into your eyes for 2 minutes. You’ll do the same. At the end of the two minutes, you will tell each person one thing about themselves from nothing more than looking into the eyes.
It’s been scientifically proven that looking into the eyes creates a strong feeling of connection.
Honestly, I’ve never done this one before. If you have, did it work?
Does your partner have a traumatic incident they need help getting over? How about an allergy?
I met a guy in Ubud, Bali who told me how he cured his girlfriend’s gluten intolerance.
When I met his girlfriend the next day, she was pregnant! I gotta assume this created a nice and special connection. After all, who doesn’t love gluten?
If you’ve never fostered a dog, it’s common that the fosterer will actually just keep the dog permanently. Why? Foster dogs are usually sick or in need of emotional support.
Street or foster dogs form a stronger connection with their owner than other dogs, and the same is true of the owner.
The more your partner thinks about you, in a positive frame, the better.
There’s plenty of malicious ways to do this by withholding attention, but I have a better idea.
How about surprising them with a gift that is going to be commonly used?
My buddy received a lunchbox from his girlfriend and I thought that was genius because every time he ate lunch, he was automatically reminded of her.
Does your girlfriend like to cook? Get her some fancy knives.
If you haven’t already, I suggest you doing it even just by yourself. These are a unique genre of book. Almost everybody’s sex life could be improved or updated. This will help. At the very least, it’s a shared activity. I have an erotic fantasy book recommendation for you to start with.
It’s too easy to get stuck in a rut with a long-term relationship. If that doesn’t mean you should end it, the least you could do is be different. Remember, what separates you from any guy she can meet? What’s unique about your relationship?
This doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Next time you go to the gym together, each of you wears one earpod and one of you controls the music during the workout.
Yes, the type of cheating that involves sex with someone who is not your partner. Hear me out, now. I think this point is valid, but if not, I know you’ll tell me in the comments. See you there..
Have you cheated? Of those who say they’ve never cheated, I think half are lying and most of the other half are fooling me. My point is that it’s common. So common that I’d rather go through this experience sooner than later.
If you can get through this together, that’s a very good sign in my opinion.
I was with a good friend on a weekend trip when he cheated on his long-time girlfriend. This guy was totally faithful otherwise. A seriously good guy.
He ended up telling his girlfriend. They tried to work through it for over a year, but she could not let herself forgive him. They split up.
That was the right move. And, ultimately, I believe it was her loss and his win.
There’s going to be a lot of trauma in a 50+ year relationship following marriage. If your partner does not know how to forgive AND forget, let go of the relationship.
Otherwise, you’ll turn into one of those bickering couples who’ve been together forever but should’ve been divorced years ago. Do you know one of these couples?
By the way, who cheats more, men or women? Tell me what you think in the comments and I’ll share my thoughts.
You both should be enabling each other to grow. And, there’s only one way to grow. That’s by getting uncomfortable.
Does he not like to dance? Encourage him to dance more. Eventually, bet him something (sexual or not) that he go start dancing randomly on the sidewalk or start dancing alone on the dance floor.
And if he ends up loving it, every time he dances in the future, he will think of you!
Does she not like to speak in public? Bring her to an open mic night and encourage her to get on stage for 5 minutes.
I want to read some comments on ways you’ve built a strong connection with your partner. Don’t be a freeloader. For now, here are my miscellaneous ways to build a strong connection with your partner:
It’s all about setting you and your relationship apart from everyone else. It’s really just one piece to the puzzle, but you want to avoid the ordinary life whenever possible.
It doesn’t mean you have to take her on a private jet to a private island. It just means you have to share a bond with her that’s stronger than she’s felt with anyone else.
Fortunately for you, the bar is low.