How to Elicit the Best from Your Partner

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There are several different versions of me when it comes to dating: there's the moody, withdrawn me, who's afraid of opening up to someone; the playful and childlike me who enjoys silly dancing; and the generous me who will do anything for my partner, just to name a few.

The version of myself who shows up - on a date or in a relationship - is dependent upon the other person. He will elicit from me a higher version of myself, or one born out of ego. His perception of me and energy towards me will (unconsciously) elicit my response.

This is why you can take the same person, but depending on his partner, he will act completely different in every relationship. The same man who treats one woman like crap will treat another like gold. The same woman who's afraid to open up and be intimate with one person will be the utmost communicative and vulnerable with another. 

We can elicit the best or worst from people - in every relationship in our life, romantic or otherwise.

So, how do we do it?

1)Focus on Your Partner's Positive Attributes

Everyone has a shadow - darker parts of themselves that can feel hard to love. People are selfish, afraid, and fearful. I know that in a relationship, I can get overly emotional. I'm sensitive. I can withdraw easily because I'm afraid. You're not perfect, and neither is your partner. Choose to focus on what you love about your partner instead of the few things that you dislike. When we focus on how funny someone is, for example, telling them how much we love their humor, laughing at all of their jokes, and expressing gratitude for their lighthearted nature, he will want to present that part of his personality more, whereas if you focus on how your partner is an introvert, constantly mentioning how he doesn't want to go out on Friday nights and withdrawing from him when he's not as social, you will activate that part of him. 

2)Use Positive Reinforcement Instead of Nagging

Let's say your partner is a slob. Or he is irresponsible when it comes to money. Or a little awkward at your work functions. It happens. Shower him with praise when he does take out the trash. Point out when he choses a cheaper item on the menu: Look at you, being all financially responsible! That's hot. You don't have to use those words exactly, save you want to sound like a Kardashian, but you get the drift. 

3)Whatever Negative Aspects You See in Your Partner is a Reflection of Your Own Psyche

This is a hard precept to digest, as your ego will convince you that you're Mr. or Mrs. Perfect and your partner is the jerk with all of the problems. Well, that mindset is surely not going to help elicit the best from your partner. I remember a time that I was dating this very attractive and successful guy. He was tall, dark, and handsome, and on paper, he was every girl's dream. After about two and a half months, he started to pull away. He was less responsive when texting, and our dates became more infrequent, as he was suddenly busy, or too tired from work. The peak of his emotional reticence came on New Year's eve, when he failed to make plans with me, and didn't even text when the ball dropped. It felt like he had stuck a hundred swords in my heart. After a long meditation, it occurred to me that he was pulling away because he was afraid of being in a relationship, and lo and behold, I was also afraid of being in a relationship. At that time in my life, I thought I had to look perfect, be perfect, and smile my way to love. This mask kept everyone an arm's length away, because deep down, I was petrified of intimacy.

Choose to see the best in your partner and that is what he will give you. Choose to focus on his flaws, complain to your friends, and nag, and your relationship will deteriorate. Love doesn't mean we ask our partners to be perfect; it means we love all of our partner, and hopefully, they love all of us.

RelationshipsJessica Leon