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Relationships are hard. The older we get, the more set in our our ways and less tolerant of differences, they become even more difficult. Add to the mix cultural or ethnic differences, different customs and mores and possibly a big age difference and building an enduring, solid relationship becomes nearly impossible.

Here I will describe some ways to build a satisfying, fulfilling and lasting relationship that will withstand the tests of time and bridge all the differences.

An enduring and wholly fulfilling relationship is built on the four aspects of human existence: intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual. Such a relationship must have three essential attributes: trust, respect and integrity. We will examine the four aspects and the three attributes in detail because you may have received some inaccurate information about them.


The intellectual, or cognitive aspect of a relationship is important because the human, as a social animal has an intrinsic need to relate. Relating has two main components, the intellectual (thoughts) and the emotional (feelings). Thus, we must be able to share our thoughts with our partner, intelligently discuss matters important to us and expect our partner to have the capacity to understand us, our thinking, our reasoning. Likewise, we must be ready and able to reciprocate, to become willing to understand our partner's thinking.

It is not essential to have a 100% match of intellectual interests to build a satisfying relationship. There are many socially acceptable ways to compensate for areas of difference. If I am a chess aficionado and my partner prefers to quilt, I can join a chess club and my partner a quilting bee without any detrimental effects on our relationship. There must, however be enough common ground and shared interests to talk about things other than the weather, or if the kids need new shoes. I have an interest in investing and want to discuss things with my wife about my choices. I like to read and talk about the books I read, we both like crossword puzzles, action flicks, travel and lots of other things. She has a large family and an obvious interest in their well-being. She needs to discuss family matters with me.

To relate intellectually, it is critically important to set aside judgments, biases and prejudices and to become willing to be inspired by our partner. Judgments create separation (an illusion: we are all one.) Relationships are about unity, not separation. Unity is only possible if we practice complete and unconditional acceptance. Judgments stand in the way of unconditional acceptance.


Somewhat more important in building a fully satisfying relationship are the ability and willingness to freely express feelings and the capacity for empathy.

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Expressing one's feelings is not an intellectual exercise, it does not mean describing what we are feeling and providing ample reasons (justification, rationalization) for feeling the way we do. Expressing feelings means acting the way we feel — if we feel sad we feel free to express the sadness through tears, a long face or other expressions. If feel love, we must act loving and not describe, circumscribe or explain how much we love.

Men usually express "negative emotions" (no such things, all emotions are signposts to guide our spiritual evolution) through anger while women express them with tears or the passive aggressive act of withdrawing, shutting down. Neither reaction is particularly healthy, as they mask the underlying feeling instead of allowing them to see the light of day. Thus, such reactions are ego-manifested and intended to manipulate. A healthier approach is to freely express whatever we are feeling. This may seem difficult at first, so just try to be brutally honest with your words: I am feeling sad, happy, content, insecure, afraid, horny, hungry, angry, tired, lonely, loving, frustrated, greedy, etc. Then, if appropriate, act the way such feelings would make you act but please be sure that you take an honest look at the true cause of your feelings.

Which occurs first, thoughts or feelings? Please think about this, we'll take a look at it in a minute.

The world turns without any particular intention towards you. Some traffic lights are red and some are green. Some days it rains and some days it is sunny. Drinking glasses break, it is their nature. It is not about you. Stuff happens, and sometimes it triggers an emotional reaction because our ego perceives some sort of threat. Here is your first major clue to achieve a blissful existence: it is easier to change your ego (self image, or how you want the world to see you) than to change the world. Kicking a flat tire might be an authentic expression of frustration or anger but it does not help the situation any. Unconditional acceptance, on the other hand, allows us to maintain our inner peace, our serenity and go about changing the damned tire.

Thoughts come long before feelings. Here is how. We perceive some event or circumstance. Please note that our perception is selective and thus already biased, we see what we want to see. The perception is transmitted via the cerebral cortex to our brain, at the base of which the ego evaluates the "threat level", so it can notify our adrenal gland about how much adrenalin to pump into our bloodstream. At the same time the ego alerts the brain about the "threat" assessment so we will know how to react. The "threat" refers to the ego, or our self image and not our higher Self, however neither the ego nor the brain are aware of this. The language of the ego is judgments, such as good, bad, ugly, beautiful, right, wrong.

The way around this problem is to observe our mind making judgments and choose to do nothing about them. Yes, you can observe your mind and it is instructive to contemplate which part of you is doing the observing. The eye cannot see itself, the ear cannot hear itself and your tongue cannot taste itself. How can the brain observe itself? It cannot, so who or what is doing the observing? Welcome to the realm of your higher Self. Keep observing your mind making judgments and allowing your higher Self to be in charge of life decisions. The mind is a great tool for balancing the checkbook or solving crossword puzzles but it is woefully unequipped to run your life.

Emotional Dance
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Enough intellectualizing about spiritual evolution and onto more happy, satisfying and enduring relationships.

The key element of relating emotionally is intimacy. Intimacy has been expressed as "into me see", or simply the willingness to be vulnerable. If I open myself and let you see my faults and weaknesses, it gives you permission to do the same and in the process we create emotional intimacy. Clearly, there must be an element of trust in the relationship for this to happen and we will take close look at trust a little later.

Empathy is the capacity to understand how someone feels. It is not the same as buying into the feeling or feeling the same way, that is sympathy and not empathy. We all have the capacity to understand how someone feels because we have all felt the same feelings (fear, jealousy, grief, hopelessness, etc.) at one time or another. Empathy also allows another person to freely and fully express whatever they feel and echoes the feelings through reflection: I see you are angry...


The physical connection, interestingly referred to as "chemistry", is also an essential part of a fulfilling relationship but for a markedly different reason. We all have a different level of sexual drive and it changes as we age. So, you may not have as much interest in physical intimacy as when you were younger, or as someone else might, even your partner.

Physical intimacy does not necessarily have to mean sex. Sometimes holding hands, or a hug, or cuddling and a kiss can mean just as much. It is, however important because there are no socially acceptable substitutes. If a partner is not satisfied physically in a relationship, it is usually not OK to seek alternatives such as different partners or paying for prostitutes.

Emotional intimacy is a necessary precursor to physical intimacy because without emotional connection it is just fucking, or at best mutual masturbation which is never as satisfying as making love.


The spiritual connection is the most important one in a fully satisfying, fulfilling and enduring relationship. If there is soul connection and a sense of unity of spirit, it is much more likely that a unifying purpose will be found and that you will be a team with the wind at your back.

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Spirituality has nothing to do with religion. It does not matter whether you call yourself a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist, an atheist or even an agnostic. It is imperative that you have sense of the unifying spirit flowing through you, that you experience your connectedness to the universe, to the "all there is". It does not matter what name you put on the "divine", whether it be God, or Yehvah, Allah, Buddha, love or no name at all. It is important that you sense, that you have the experience that you share this with your loved one and in fact, with all human beings.

Quiet your mind once in awhile and tune in to the gaps between your incessant thoughts. Revel in the beauty of nature and become awed by the glory of the sunrise. What you believe does not matter and it only has an effect on you and no one else. What you experience makes all the difference in the world, and the way you express your spirit in the world. Nurture your soul for you are a soulful being, and nurture your partner's soul. When you are in your joy, whatever that might be, your soul is nourished. Conversely, when you neglect your soul, your life will seem hollow, without purpose and without connectedness. You are, in fact a loving and lovable child of divine spirit, so live accordingly.

Which leads us to the three essential attributes of healthy relationships: trust, respect and integrity. Everyone wants these things but few people ever contemplate their meaning and even fewer dare to define them. Many corporate value statements contain these words but they ring hollow, for they lack definition. Definitions are important because how we define things governs how we behave towards them.


One cannot have a relationship of any kind without trust. At best, all we can have is a transaction, like at the supermarket check-out counter or at the bank teller window. We don't usually have a relationship with the check-out clerk or the bank teller because we conduct transactions with them and it is rare case that emotional intimacy develops. This is not "good" or "bad", it just is. While standing in line at an airport check-in counter, we are not looking for a relationship but only want to get our boarding pass and get on the plane.

TrustOne builds trust by being open and willing to be vulnerable, that is, by developing emotional intimacy and never abusing another person's trust.

Trust does not mean that I will always behave according to your expectations. Believing that is a prescription for disappointment. Trust does not mean that I will always do things just the way you would, for that would deny my individuality, my ability to think for myself and to make a unique contribution.

So what does trust mean? I define it to mean that I believe (and act under the absolute conviction) that your intentions are just as good, just as noble and just as honorable as my own, that you mean well. I celebrate our differences and encourage you to try different approaches. I want you to make your own choices and be responsible for their consequences because that is how you build self esteem. I know you will do things differently and even make some mistakes from time to time but I know that you mean well, that your intentions are good.


Everyone wants to be respected but what is respect? Is it earned or automatically granted based on age, social or political status, or level of achievement or education? Think about that for a while. Maybe you were raised to always respect your elders but if one of them is deranged alcoholic? Does he or she still deserve your respect? If a senator or congressman has been proven a liar and a cheat having embezzled millions of the people's money, does he is she still deserve your respect? Or a pederast priest or a child molesting professor?

RespectWhat does it mean to treat others with respect? Does it mean that we kowtow to them and call them "sir" or "ma'am"? Or is that just civility and politeness?

I define respect to mean that anything you think, say and do is just as important and worthwhile as what I think, say and do. Simply said, to me respect is the willingness to listen while seeking to understand you.

Respect, or the willingness to listen while seeking to understand is especially important in relationships. Many relationships fail because one of the partners felt that they were not listened to, did not have a voice in matters of mutual importance, of not being heard.


Here is another popular, if not overused word. Everyone considers themselves to be a man or woman of integrity, but what does it mean? Does it mean that you will not lie, cheat or steal? No, that would be honesty. Does it mean that you will do what you said you would? No, that would be dependability.

IntegrityI define integrity to mean that everything I create (my thoughts, words and deeds) are an authentic expression of who I am. My behavior is fully integrated with my Self for being otherwise would make me a hypocrite, act out from behind a façade, be something less than genuine. I recognize that people cannot relate to a mask, only to a real person. If I want to have relationships I must have integrity and genuinely express who I really am — and not my ego-manifested self image. People can neither relate to someone high up on a pedestal nor to someone in a deep hole, they relate best to those whom they perceive as their equal.

I have poured my soul out to you on this page. I would appreciate hearing your thoughts about this topic. Please leave a footprint on my blog in the form of a comment. I will do my best to respond to all. Namasté.