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    Natural, Learner or Blamer: Knowing Your ‘Relational’ Type

    By Scott Tsui–

    Recently, I had an interesting conversation over dinner with 3 single gay men in the Castro. One was a pharmaceutical researcher, one a dentist and the other an accountant. All were in their 30s, attractive and successful.

    When the topic of relationships came up, one of them mentioned that he found it challenging to comprehend the intricacies associated with establishing and maintaining a relationship. I responded by asking two questions. Firstly, how many years and how much money had each invested in advancing their professional lives? Not unexpectedly, the answer was “quite a lot.” When I asked the second question regarding the amount of time and money they had allocated to educating themselves in learning about how relationships work, there was silence.

    Let’s think about this second question for a moment. For a satisfying quality of life, understanding people, including ourselves, is a key component in building a happy life with long standing relationships. Take this a step further. How do we connect with the right partner to minimize conflict and heartache in our relationships?

    Very few are taught how to find or attract our perfect partner, let alone how to date with a view to cultivating a lasting, satisfying and fulfilling relationship. We just expect a relationship to happen based on the people we meet and past experiences. We rely on intuition without any forethought whatsoever.

    While we have spent years in school, and many more engaged in further studies to gain expertise in making our professional life easier, very few have spent time studying how to build intimacy with another person, and learn how to love, and to be loved, which incidentally, also includes understanding and loving ourselves.

    You might be asking: Is it necessary to learn about love and relationships? How come some couples have healthy, fulfilling and joyous relationships without any kind of training? How can you explain that? Sometimes couples work through their challenges, later in the relationship, and invest in counseling.

    When it comes to dating, each may be unique due to many factors. Based on my observations and experience, in the world of relationships we can consider three broad personality types as a general guideline.

    The first are the “Naturals.” Naturals are born with traits that made them “relationship ready.” They tend to be more compassionate, caring, loving, forgiving, trusting and patient toward their partner; that’s just who they are. Their attitude toward relationships is positive and they have a high level of adaptability and emotional maturity. Naturals are rare, so if you are fortunate enough to meet and recognize a “Natural,” hang on to them, and have the awareness to reciprocate.

    Then there are the “Learners.” Learners take time to reflect on situations and past experiences to minimize costly mistakes. People can become Learners at any stage of their life. What matters is that they eventfully develop self-awareness and ask themselves questions like: What do I need to change to avoid making the same mistakes? How can I do better next time? Who can I learn from?

    Learners go through learning curves and generally find solutions to overcome their challenges. Learners can be recognized because they are curious, open-minded, often have a certain vulnerability and are not afraid to ask questions. Learners also make good companions.

    The last type is the “Blamer.” Blamers like to point the finger at others rather than taking responsibility for their own actions. They often keep trying to change their partner rather than look internally and change themselves and their perspective. Others play the role of victim and refuse to make the effort to create new opportunities to move forward in their relationship. Some Blamers are constantly criticizing others or making negative comments about relationship-life in general. Blamers typically refuse to admit that they are wrong. Dating or being in a relationship with a Blamer can be emotionally draining and is probably best avoided. In some cases, the dynamics in this type of relationship could be classified as emotional abuse.

    With the realization that there are many subcategories of these, take a moment and think about your past or current relationships. Can you identify with, or place others you know, into any of these categories?

    In my next column, I will relate the story of a Natural couple who spent forty years together. I was fortunate to interview them and to learn their insights and perspectives, which I will share with you.

    Scott Tsui is the Relationship Results Coach, author of “Lonely No More – 8 Steps to Find Your Gay Husband” and the creator of the world’s first online gay relationship training: Gay Men Relationship Blueprint. Tsui works to help gay men find, attract and sustain meaningful relationships. For more information: http://scotttsui.com/