The other day I had a male friend talk with me about what he thought love may be, based on his observation of a certain couple we both know. He described this couple as reminding him of being like one would be with an old comfortable sweatshirt. They were relaxed, at ease, with each other. Mind you this couple is only two months old… hardly enough time for the relationship to have been tested. I tend to see love similar to what Ali Binazir wrote, “Love is the sustained ever deepening appreciation of another person over time.” And, yes, that appreciation could include the comfortableness of another. One quality that I absolutely know is an ingredient to the development of sustained appreciation of another person is… “effort”.

As I work with couples where at least one partner is ready to throw in the towel, I will remind them that they will not have the history with another that they have with the person sitting in front of them. They could also go years, maybe even decades, before they meet another person to whom they would want to partner with. If the environment is safe, but they have just found themselves quagmire in a lot of negativity with each other, then I have them rediscover what they appreciate about the other and go forward from there. It is a process that involves increasing that appreciation, improving communication, seeing each other with grace, feeling their bond, and practicing a new way of being with the other… and it often produces positive results.

Invariably, every successful couple will tell you that they work at it… they are willing to put in the effort. As I experience personally and see my single clients struggle with moving from one dating experience to the next I wonder how extensive this problem is where effort isn’t even on the radar. Invariably, even though conflict is a part of any healthy relationship, it seems, the dating experience ends because of a conflict that one or both people would rather run from than learn how to navigate through. Instead of opting for putting an effort into understanding each other and how to work through conflict, they appear instead to be satisfied with flitting from one relationship to the next. It makes me wonder if in this very short attention-span and throw-away society that we live, this same throw-away attitude with things has transferred to people. This problem may be exacerbated by the fact that with internet dating, there seems to be an endless supply of people to “date.”

So, if indeed, effort has become a rare commodity in a person how then does one know if one is dating someone with a desire to navigate as oppose to bail at the first sign of trouble. Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy answer for you. It seems it still comes down to waiting and seeing how a person responds when you have a disagreement or a bump in the road. Ask yourself if you and the other person have the capacity and willingness to talk out a problem, take ownership of your part, empathize, apologize, forgive, and respectfully assert yourself. I can tell you it is only through this “effort” that you will experience the gift of knowing love at a much deeper level that only time can give you.

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