I don't know about you, perhaps you're like me. You've learned some pretty toxic stuff in your childhood about love and romantic relationship.
This time in Chiang Mai, I had numerous opportunities to observe a lot of location independent traveling couples. Young, old, different culture background, coming from different areas of the world, with a different level of experience, having different agendas.
It’s so interesting to observe these traveling couple’s dynamics because many of them present something I rarely see.
I seriously didn’t know a healthy romantic relationship can be this loving.
What I’ve learned throughout childhood is that marriage is the worst idea ever invented by mankind. It’s a lot of fighting, violence, stress, shaming, and negative energies that feel like a war zone.
Many of us are survivors with PTSD.
The negative reinforcement continued as you live on, particularly with the crowds you hang out with.
You and I know that it’s a whole lot easier to pick up on the negative ones that sabotage each other rather than supporting each other.
Love is like, a miracle. It's rare.
If you want love, learn from successful couples.
Now after observing numerous traveling couple, I notice the dynamic between them is, the so-called love energy is so…strong.
To understand the dynamic, I spoke to some of them and asked questions. These people are for real.
The location independent couples, heck, most of us, are all technically ‘homeless’. Many don’t own homes, usually don’t have cars (maybe scooter if you are in SE Asia), and all our possessions usually all fits in a suitcase. With so little, yet, we can feel so fulfilled from our lifestyle.
When you learn to de-clutter your life, you can then focus on the intangible things that matter the most.
I know very well how hard travel can be. Things can go very wrong. Lost passport, missed flight, item got stolen, food poisoning, booking went wrong, insufficient funds, and getting awfully lost. What makes the traveling couples special is that they face all the uncertainty that the normal location-based couple with a routine don't.
And that's why some people suggest couples travel together before marriage to know your partner because that's when you start to really know someone.
I was hiking with a group, and there's this guy who asked his partner if she needed to stop to rest because she was feeling dizzy earlier due to elevation. He noticed without her asking and you can hear how caring & loving he is from his voice.
And another couple with the guy having the Celiac disease, his partner (who does not have the problem), will actively seek out gluten-free things for both to enjoy. With no complaints, she adapts and actually thinks eating healthy for both is a good thing.
There are more examples and it's mostly simple stuff. But these little things matter a lot.
The things I learned from the traveling couples are:
They face the obstacles together as a team
Whatever challenges happened is outside of them. The focus is to work together to solve problem and challenges coming their way. In other words, they don't spend time on blaming each other on occurrences, rather, they focus on the solution.
In a healthy relationship, when neither partner is seeking to kill the other for whatever resource, their end goal is the same. It's usually health, happiness, prosperity, and connection (mentally and physically). When the end goal is the same, then it's merely the communication and agreement on how to reach the end goal.
They take care of themselves
These traveling couples don't need a nagging partner to remind them that staying healthy is the key to a successful, happier life.
In fact, most of them are actively involved with local meetups that involve healthy eating, tantric yoga, spiritual classes, mastermind groups, and all sorts of beneficial events that cultivate positive growth.
They already train themselves to seek healthy foods no matter which country they travel to and they will look out for their partner's well-being.
Whether it's packing their own blender to make healthy smoothies, learning how to say no MSG and no sugar in different languages, or seeking out gluten-free quality foods in a foreign country (challenging), that's their priority and it becomes a habit, no questions ask.
They appreciate and take care of each other.
They use non-violent communication
Not limiting to love relationship, communication is the number one most important skill to connect with anyone. And when it comes to love, nothing is more important than knowing the love language that can reach your partner's heart.
When a person loves someone, they'll do anything to remove harmful obstacles for them and make them feel love. They won't criticize their partner for things that went wrong.
Use non-violent communication to listen and be heard. (Great book, must read).
There should be no abuse in a healthy, loving relationship. It's so simple yet it can be hard to grasp, especially if one came from an abusive background and that's all they've known.
Sure, things may go downhill or very hectic, and that's life. But the perspective is that life occurrences are the outside force that is challenging for the two. The energy focused should be on how to find solutions as oppose to be caught in the blame or even violence drama.
Choose the words carefully. Drop the harmful patterns that's learned in the past. Run in a different direction and do the complete opposite.
Listen attentively to your partner, let them talk and express their feelings without interruption. When they fully express themselves, ask questions to understand more.
The goal is to make sure your partner's feelings are being heard because you love them, you care about their emotions. Once the person feels they are being heard, they will feel that you care about them and do the same for you.
They'll know to encourage for positive reinforcement
When your partner did something great, compliment on their ability.
Don't criticize, nobody likes to be criticized, that thing does more damage in the long run and it will not promote growth.
If your partner uses methods that do not agree with you, share your perspective and see which method is more beneficial.
I kind of see love as a bank. The things you do and say with your partner is like adding or subtracting funds in your shared account.
Are the actions you do and words you say adding assets? Think.
When both partners encourage each other and add value to the relationships it increases funds in the love bank account. The investment will become an asset for both to enjoy.
Partners who do things that sabotage the relationship, like cheating, is equivalent to bankrupting the account, no credibility left.
If you are a smart investor, you'll know what to do.
They respect their partner
One of the most hurtful ways to damage another person is to ignore their feelings or dehumanize them in verbal abuse and that pertains to any relationship.
Whether it's business, partnership, marriage, or friends, respect is acknowledging another person's being and listen to their perspective.
Many times, the abusive relationship is when one partner is more controlling and demanding than the other. Usually unreasonable expectations that could only exist in their head, passed by what's taught to them. It's a mind prison they've locked themselves in.
From history and from what I've learned. Using fear to control people will never have a good outcome. Sure, it might work for a while. But when things are against the controller's favor, people will easily walk out on them and betray them. Very easy, be careful.
On the other hand, when you use love to nurture that loving relationship, adding value and respect the other person as a human being, they'll respond back the same. In fact, they'll do anything for you whether you ask for it or not. They will be loyal to you and walk with you through any obstacles.
Using fear and insulting ways to control people will only create hate and resentment. Everything built is merely walking on eggshells and all it takes is just one grain of violence to turn everything into a hopeless tragedy.
Everything the reinforcer thought they've built for the good will be, *poof*, gone.
At Seoul, Korea, on top of Namsan Mountain
They understand little things matters
For many men, they will feel hurt and lose self-confidence if their ability is being questioned and not giving them enough trust.
For many women, they will feel hurt and lose self-confidence if their appearance is being criticized and opinions being belittled.
If you both love each other, you won't use their weakness to trigger or manipulate them to get what you want.
You'll think of ways to choose the best for both and so is your partner. A lot of times, it's merely a misunderstanding or fails to see your partner's perspective that aroused the conflict.
I've seen guys who hold the door for their partner, or for other people. What a gentleman, love that.
They'll pull out the chair for their lady.
They'll walk on the side close to the street because they want to protect their partner by having them walk on the safer side.
They'll scan surroundings and look out for any possible danger. Woman love this. It's a sign of being protected and being cared for.
They'll go out of their ways to make sure their partner is safe.
I notice a lot of guys in Asia will hold their partner's handbag. Interesting.
I've seen how caring some woman are to their partner.
They'll pay attention to their partner's well-being.
They'll compliment their partner on great things they do.
They won't compare their partner to other guys and purposely put them down.
They'll give their partner opportunities to show off their skills, give them the trust, and appreciate their effort.
They'll focus on their relationship and be the support for their men, who usually have a harder time to speak about their emotions and feelings.
They will take care of themselves because they know their partner pride to have them.
Both will say things to appreciate each other.
Both will put their phones down when they spend time with their partner. They show respect by having their full attention on them.
That is the same for any relationship.
With an abundance of technology and social media, it's so easy to get caught up in the 'posting' and 'tagging' habit that one often neglect whoever they are with.
If you love and respect someone, you'd give them time and attention. Vice versa.
They learn to forgive, appreciate, and be thankful
These 3 components are the very basic stuff that is needed to live in this world happily and peacefully for any relationship.
This three is like muscles in which it's best to practice every day. There are a lot of obstacles in life, without practicing this three, it's too easy to revert back to the hurtful behavior.
Easier said than done, right?
To forgive is not easy. Especially when the damage has caused some serious trauma.
The thing is, those painful memories that haunt you constantly will only stop once you knew how to use them as a tool. A tool to heal yourself and others. That's what I learned. It's hard. I know.
Appreciate can be a habit. Every day we live and breath is worth to be thankful for. Things could be a lot worse. Everyone's clock is ticking and no one knows when it'll stop.
If you were to die tomorrow, would you change your actions?
Thankful is hard, especially when you feel like you are in living hell. I know.
But sometimes, it takes having nothing to appreciate everything.
Perhaps that's how life teaches you to forgive, appreciate, and be thankful. It's a hard lesson that makes us realize what it means to be alive and be living in this world with limited time.
It takes a tremendous amount of self-awareness to understand yourself and your own actions. And when you do realize the truth, you start to see how it impacts you and your goal to reach happiness in life. After that, you'll actively seek solutions to move forward because it hurts like hell to stay in the same spot when the truth is revealed.
May you find peace and love in a healthy way.