By Edwin A. Locke Ph.D. and Ellen Kenner, Ph.D.
You’ve just had another argument with your partner, accompanied by that all too familiar sinking feeling: Is this the beginning of the end? And deeper, you wonder if there’s such a thing as true romance. You’ve been through a failed relationship already and wonder what more you can do to make love last. Then you read what some “experts” say: romantic passion cannot last – that it’s just based on hormones in the brain that deplete as the “honeymoon” period, the excitement of a new love, fades away. When you observe several friends divorcing, or recall your parents’ rocky relationship, you may be tempted to conclude that love is indeed ephemeral. Even if partners stay together, they may not be happy in their relationship or marriage. You ask yourself: Have I been chasing pipe dreams about having a life-long romance? Should I give up on finding “the one” and be content with a series of good beginnings and sad endings?
We answer a resounding no to that question. You can have a warm, loving romantic relationship that grows deeper with time. The secret to lasting romantic passion lies in knowing what makes romance thrive. For some, romance is just infatuation – falling head over heels for someone based, typically, on one or two desirable qualities such as looks and charm. But these are not enough – you need to go deeper.
True romance is based on loving the whole person, not just skin-deep but soul-deep. It’s a feeling of profound connection based on the sense that you share fundamental values, fundamental views about yourselves and the world. For example: Is the world a place of adventure or a place that inspires fear? Does each of you want to grow in your knowledge and skills or just stay the same? Do you feel “in sync” emotionally? Here are seven secrets to making romance last a lifetime.
1. You first need moral character: honesty, integrity, independent judgment, a sense of justice, earned pride in yourself. Without this there can be no trust.
2. You need a genuine (not a fake) ego. If you are selfless, there is nothing to love. A person with an ego has their own (rational) values, things they stand for, things they love, things they want for themselves. Each partner needs to support the other’s values.
3. You need to share some common values and interests – over and above moral values – things you both like to see and do together.
4. You need compatible personalities – you don’t both have to be the same but you need to mesh so that you make each other feel understood and appreciated.
5. You need care about your appearance (without being vain).
6. You need constant communication, which includes good listening and feeling understood.
7. You need good sex, which means you need to learn how to give each other pleasure by telling each other what you like (and do not like). You need to learn to read each other moods and try to establish a positive emotional climate.
Are you starting to see what it takes to make a lasting romance? Hard work. If you know what love really is, not only will it last once you pick the right partner, but it will become deeper and more passionate as the years go by.
Do you agree with these seven secrets to making romance last a lifetime? What other tips should be listed?
Copyright 2011. Edwin Locke, Ph.D, a world-renowned psychologist, and Ellen Kenner, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and host of the nationally-syndicated radio talk show, The Rational Basis of Happiness®, have co-authored The Selfish Path to Romance: How to Love with Passion and Reason. Both are experts on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. For more information visit www.SelfishRomance.com.