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    Tips on Making Love Last

    By Scott Tsui–

    Recently, my partner and I took a gay cruise vacation to Tahiti. While enjoying the picturesque beauty of the islands, I had the pleasure of chatting with single gay men and couples about dating and their relationships. Being a mature crowd ranging from 40s–70s, many on the cruise had been around the block a few times. I met couples who’ve been together anywhere from 5–41 years. Interacting with them, I considered not only the length of their relationships, but also the quality and whether or not they still enjoy each other’s company.

    From my observations, these couples were staying together for various reasons: some good and some not so good. Reasons included, for example, the bond of the home they built together, financial considerations or companionship. A few remained intimate and loving even after 3+ decades.

    Other reasons were more negatively based, such as fear of the unknown, the inability to venture beyond an abusive relationship, and aversion to entering the dating scene afresh. There were tiresome couples who constantly bickered and found no pleasure in each other’s company, and then others who fought continually just because drama had become a part of their life. Other couples had simply drifted apart.

    What brings quality to a satisfying and meaningful relationship? What’s the ultimate secret?

    To unveil the secret of successful relationships, it’s important to become acquainted with John Gottman’s “Emotional Bank Account” concept. Gottman is among the authorities of marriage and relationships, having observed thousands of couples over decades.

    He discovered that many couples failed to connect emotionally and didn’t realize it. The key to remaining connected is to turn “towards” instead of “away.” Turning towards can be simply acknowledging what your partner says with a, “That’s interesting,” to show that you’re listening. You’re turning towards your partner rather than remaining mute, which is turning away. Remaining mute causes your partner not to feel heard or understood.

    Every positive response to your partner’s attempts at connection is a deposit into the Emotional Bank Account, while turning away constitutes a withdrawal. It’s much the same as with a real bank account. A bank account in the red indicates trouble and a relationship in jeopardy, which causes partners to feel lonely and disconnected, wondering whether the relationship is working. An emotional bank account in the green indicates the partners are maintaining a positive relationship and are remaining connected even through times of conflict.

    Every act of turning towards, no matter how subtle or small, counts as a positive interaction in that account. Negative interactions would result from turning away.

    Keys to Managing Your Emotional Bank Account

    Focus on deposits (positive interactions) and minimize the chances of withdrawals (negative interactions). Examples of positive interactions include:

    • turning towards your partner;
    • paying attention and listening;
    • asking for more information;
    • substantiating your partner’s perspectives;
    • expressing sympathy.

    Keep in mind that 5 positive interactions cancel out 1 negative interaction.

    Build up your account daily Emotional Bank Account with at least 20 positive interactions. It’s important to make these small deposits every day to save for “rainy days.” They can be small gestures, such as smiling and saying “thank you” or “I love you” for no particular reason.

    They can also be thoughtful actions such as a hug, washing dishes, doing chores, cooking a meal or doing something else that shows you care. These deposits build up and result in a bank account in the green even after a withdrawal. Don’t underestimate these small deposits. Their impact can be significant in times of crisis that require a substantial withdrawal. An emotionally rich relationship is built up over time and doesn’t just happen during a two-week vacation in the Caribbean.

    While depositing into the Emotional Bank Account of your partner is crucial in a relationship, making deposits in your own Emotional Bank Account if you’re single is just as important. Appreciate yourself and have a positive outlook. Treat yourself well and be kind. Show yourself the love and respect that you would give to a partner to feel positive and happy. We need to generate happiness within ourselves so that we can share this in any relationship.       

    Start today by choosing an action as your first emotional deposit either to yourself and/or a friend or partner. What will be your first deposit? Let me know what some of your actions have been to keep “in the green.” Please let me know at scotttsui@lonelynomorebook.com

    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/