When my wife and I were in premarital counseling, our counselor gave us a piece of advice that would end up changing our lives:
Always make the first move.
The meaning is simple: if you can help the relationship, then do it. Don’t wait for the other person to act (even if you don’t want to).
Most people have strained and superficial relationships with family and even with friends. This is because most people always wait for the other person to “make the first move;” say hello, organize a hangout, or apologize.
This is a pride thing. It’s one of the main killers of marriages, friendships, and even families.
If you want to have deep, meaningful relationships with your friends, family, and even just the people in your day-to-day life, make the first move — even if it should be them. Be the first to:
- Initiate the conversation
- Send the first text
- Say you miss them
- Say you love them
- Apologize and ask for forgiveness
- Organize a hangout
- Compliment them
- Thank them
- Tell them you appreciate what they did
For a long time, I felt awkward and uncomfortable telling my brothers and sister “I love you.” Three of the people whom I loved most in the entire world, and I couldn’t say it!
Now, I tell them I love them all the time. I say it over text, over casual phone calls, at crises, celebrations, and over the holidays. I tell my friends, too. Every single important person in my life — mentors, family, friends, even coworkers, know how special they are to me.
It feels silly to be afraid to say this to a loved one. Yet, so many people can’t say a few simple words that would galvanize the entire relationship and deeply touch their soul.
Once you can do this, you can begin enjoying a gem most people never will: close, loving, life-giving relationships with many people.
You Get Out What You Put In
A lot of times, I’m scared to be vulnerable with my wife. My wife, the person I’m closest to the entire world. I still get scared!
I get scared to let her know how I’m feeling — when I’m sad, angry, depressed, insecure, or afraid. I’m afraid of the embarrassment.
But I crave intimacy and vulnerability, with her and my other friends. I want the key to all great relationships — to know and be known.
If you want that but haven’t felt like you’re getting that, let me remind you of an important truth:
You get out what you put in.
If you feel like you’re not getting the intimacy and connection you need, look at your own actions first.
How vulnerable have you been?
How much does your partner/friend know about what’s really been going on with you?
A few months ago, I was going through a few days where I was really insecure. I wasn’t communicating with my wife well. I was tense, stressed, and anxious. I wanted intimacy, but since I was afraid and insecure, I was acting like a jerk, which made intimacy 10x harder!!
Finally, I decided to tell my wife Kimi how I felt. The pain and tension weren’t worth it anymore. I wanted intimacy, so I chose to be intimate first.
I made the first move.
And you know what? Everything was resolved almost immediately. I can almost feel the shame, anger, guilt, remorse, and frustration lift off my weary shoulders. Just by saying how I felt!
You get out what you put in.
Want more intimacy? Then be more intimate.
Even when it’s scary.
When You’re Brave, You Make Everything 10x Better
It’s scary to be vulnerable.
To ask for attention and love.
To ask for romantic intimacy.
To ask for quality time.
To talk about hard things.
In fact, it’s so scary to ask these things, most couples don’t ask.
Most get resentful when their needs aren’t met. This resentment turns into bitterness, passive-aggression, and more isolation. Intimacy becomes 10x harder.
But when you’re brave and you do just do that hard thing — you make everything 10x better.
After 7 years of counseling and therapy, I’ve learned that everyone has their own brokenness that, if left unresolved, hurts other people.
You have your own brokenness. And if you never resolve it — if you’re never brave enough to confront it — it will eventually destroy your relationships.
Being brave is hard. Very hard.
I was scared to call my best friend and tell him how hurt I was that he didn’t pick me to be his best man at his wedding.
I was scared to tell my wife that I have strong fears of abandonment.
I was scared to tell someone in my family that no, I wasn’t going to lend them money that I’d probably never get back.
But I have excellent relationships now — full of trust, vulnerability, and true connection. When I’m sad, I can say it. When I’m scared, I can be totally vulnerable.
It’s not easy.
But being brave makes everything 10x better.
The Difference Between Ordinary and Extraordinary Relationships
Most people wait for the other person to make the first move.
If there’s a conflict, disagreement, or problem, most people cross their arms, dig in their heels, and wait for the other person to come to them.
Extraordinary people make the first move.
Humility, honesty, and bravery bring more of their own. Positive actions bring more positive actions.
The same is true for negative actions — lying, dishonesty, pride, and fear all bring more of the same.
There’s an old saying that goes, “You can’t pick apples from an orange tree.” What you plant is what you get.
Most people spend most of their relationships planting below-average “seeds” — quality time is replaced by mindless entertainment like sports and drinking. Physical touch is replaced by aggressive, surface-level touch meant to instill self-reliance, not dependence.
My therapist once told me that when I hug my guy friends, try to not pat them on the back. Just hug them like I would my wife.
The first time I tried it, it was weird.
Guys always need to “bro-hug” — that big bear hug where we slam each other’s backs with fists. It’s aggressive! It’s manly! It’s strong!
But it’s really hard to have a soft, true connection. No posturing or pretending or protecting yourself.
This is how extraordinary relationships look. They’re marked by powerful courage and bravery from both sides — to be open, free, and honest, warts and all.
Do you want to have extraordinary relationships?
Then be honest with your fears, anxieties, and emotions.
The Questions Everyone With Incredible Relationships Asks Themselves
People with several deep, intimate relationships carry themselves differently. They treat their friends differently. They ask themselves specific questions that most people don’t even think of.
From a speech for alcoholics by marriage experts Dave and Polly P.:
“Ask yourself: Do I think of my partner and myself as a unit? Our book says that selfishness and self-centeredness are, we think, the root of our problem.
Are you selfish or self-centered with respect to your marriage or relationship?
Do you think in terms of our house, our cars, our bank account, our dogs, our furniture?
Or do you think in terms of my car, my money, my phone, my stuff?
If you are thinking mostly about yourself, you are not likely to have a relationship with another person that will bring you joy and happiness.”
Most people don’t ask themselves these hard questions. The truth is, if you have mediocre relationships, it’s likely because you’re being selfish, self-absorbed, or self-centered.
Can you say you’ve been more selfless than selfish in the past few months?
Many people can’t.
The good news is, change is readily available.
All that is required is action.
Best-selling author Grant Cardone once wrote:
“Almost every problem people face in their lives are all the result of not taking enough action.”
If you want to upgrade your relationships from mediocre to extraordinary, you must take actions you’ve never taken before. Grant Cardone went on to write, “Success is just one of the byproducts of those who take the most action.”
Want incredible relationships, best friends, and an amazing partner?
Then take more action than you ever have before.
The amount of energy, focus, and care you put into making yourself better is proportionate to the level of relationships you’ll have.
If you don’t invest in yourself…
If you don’t bother to learn how to communicate…
If you don’t care enough to learn how your loved ones want to be loved…
You’ll always have mediocre relationships.
If you want amazing, high-quality relationships that will last for decades, you need to take action to learn how to do that. Take care of yourself, and heal what’s preventing you from connecting.