Many folks would have
us believe that being single is just as pleasurable and fulfilling as being
partnered. The truth is, for nearly all of us being a single adult is a
time of disturbing incompleteness. It is a crisis.
You might conclude, then,
that most of us would take great care in choosing and dealing with our
intimate partners. Unfortunately, though, this is usually not the case.
In fact, we humans seem pretty inept when it comes to choosing intimate
partners–at least if we are striving for safe, fulfilling and enduring
relationships. If you doubt this, a glance at the troubling rates of divorce
and rape, and of child, spouse, drug, and alcohol abuse may convince you.
Twenty-six years as a
psychotherapist have persuaded me that most of us lack a basic understanding
of what makes a relationship tick; and that we are misinformed
as much as uninformed. Much of what we have been taught about
ourselves, other people, and successful relating–and which we have tended
to unquestioningly accept and defend–actually hinders us in our relationships.
I’m confident, however,
that with accurate information we can begin to learn how to choose our
partners better, and be better partners, as well. Out of
this conviction, in 1985, I began to teach a seminar, which I called Red
Flags/Green Flags in the Romance Game (and which I now call, Why
Relationships Succeed or Fail). My aim was to shed light on intimate
relationships, on what they are and how to succeed at them, as well as
on the characteristics of and differences between successful and unsuccessful
relating. What follows is a series of essays exploring this subject.