The Most Effective Way to Deepen Your Relationships

by Jayson Gaddis on · 25 comments

If you really want to deepen and grow your relationship life, take a look at the person in the mirror, pour fertilizer on yourself, and grow.

That’s right. Changing yourself is the fast track to relational depth.

Of course, I’m not talking about getting a new wardrobe or haircut. I’m talking about changing your internal world, the part that no one can see.

If I want more depth out there, I have to go deeper in here.

When I was 29 years old, I was in a lot of pain and doing a great job of hiding it. I dated a lot of women, but felt unsatisfied in every relationship. I wanted something more yet I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that I wanted. Looking back, I was longing for true love, a deep intimate relationship where I felt met, seen, and alive.

Because I didn’t know how to get what I wanted, let alone know what it was that I wanted, I blamed each of the women I dated and made my dissatisfaction their fault. I genuinely believed that I would feel better if only “she” would be different. 

So, with ten or more years of limited results and unfulfilled relationships, I hit a tipping point.

My pain was so substantial and my desire for different results was so strong that I was ready to finally ask, “What if I’m the problem?” After all, I was the one common denominator in every relationship I had.

This is when everything shifted.

Once I asked the above question I could then make this statement:  "I am willing to do whatever it takes to get different results."

The problem was no longer “out there.” It was “in here” and that I had the power to do something about. Damn!

This was a huge turning point in my life, which catapulted me on to a spiritual path that continues today.

Once I had the humility to ask the question “what if I’m the problem?” my relationship life began to shift slowly.

As I changed, I attracted new people. People that wanted to be authentic and real. People who were willing to talk about the hard stuff in life and not hide it. People willing to go to therapy and ask for help when they were stuck in the weeds. People willing to lead with their vulnerability. Wow. I began to meet women and men that could go deeper in relationship because I was going deeper in myself.  All of the sudden, my relationships began to nourish me.

It took serious pain, serious longing, and a simple question directed inward, to change my relationship life.

And today, every time I find myself wanting to change my partner, I slow down and take a look at the man in the mirror.

Because change starts with me.


by Jayson Gaddis

Jayson Gaddis, MA, LPC, CGT is a relationship psychotherapist devoted to helping people awaken through relationship and intimacy. He's calling in a new paradigm of connection, deep relationship, and family. Jayson is a husband and part-time stay-at-home Dad getting schooled by his two kids.
Jayson Gaddis
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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Noel October 29, 2011 at 8:58 am

This almost brought me to tears Jayson. I don’t really know why. I just felt the pain as you did, the confusion and I’m touched that you are brave enough to face the ‘problem’ and make the change. Just as the old saying “you’ve to love yourself first before loving others”, now we gotta look into ourselves first and change before anything else. Thanks so much.
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Jayson October 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Cathy, yes. However, I’m not a huge fan of Dr Phil. “trying harder” can backfire esp if one is trying to be something other than what they are.

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Jayson October 30, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Noel, oops. i responded to someone else in your thread. my bad.

you are welcome and thank you for seeing me. 🙂

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Jannie Funster October 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Very revealing. Thanks for sharing, Jayson.

Yep — us in the mirror. It’s all inside. We can grumble and complain, or realize we are the key to our own happiness. We can sit and worry, or make the switch to either take action to change things, or accept what is.

Awesome post!

And Jayson, please give my regards to that Lance guy I see flitting around here from time to time. 🙂

xoxo to all.
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Jayson October 30, 2011 at 9:50 pm

YES! Ironically Lance and I have never met, just online. But i’ll send my regards if he has not seen this comment! 🙂

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Evan October 29, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I’d add putting time in to listening

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Jayson October 30, 2011 at 9:50 pm

yup. deep listening. deep. deep.

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Harleena Singh@Freelance Writer October 30, 2011 at 1:54 am

Hi Jayson,

Touching post!

I think if we try to change people or the world around us, it does leave us more frustrated and unhappy in the long run. However, changing our own selves, or adapting the changes around us is what works best for everyone. It is indeed easier said than done- but it is surely the only thing that is going to work in the end and give you peace of mind.

Thanks for sharing 🙂
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Jayson October 30, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Harleena,

agreed.

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Justin | Mazzastick October 30, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Great points Jayson. We all go through the growing pains of relationships. Its how we learn what we do and don’t want in ourselves and our partner. At least you had the presence of mind to not blame your partner and instead look into the mirror first.

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Jayson October 30, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Ha ha. did I say I didn’t blame my partner first? I think I blamed and blamed for years and years, then woke up out of that to see the man in the mirror was kidding himself with that approach. I can still slip into blame, and now that is my clue to look deeper.

It’s amazing to me how much we tolerate others blaming. Sadly, it’s part of our culture and even encouraged.

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Meghashyam Chirravoori October 30, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I loved the fact that you summarized something so important in just a few words. It is so true that most of the time we keep wanting other people to change….We never even stop to thing – can I change? Thank you indeed..for at least turning my own attention inwards for some moments at least.

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Jayson October 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm

You are welcome. i know right? at least for some moments…..

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Cathy | Treatment Talk October 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Hi Jayson,

I really enjoyed your post, and completely agree with your point. They way to have deeper relationships is looking at ourselves first. I once heard Dr. Phil say when you are having issues with your significant other, that you should try harder to be a better partner. Relationships can be challenging, but looking in the mirror is a good place to start. Thanks.

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Jayson October 30, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Cathy, yes. However, I’m not a huge fan of Dr Phil. “trying harder” can backfire esp if one is trying to be something other than what they are.

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Daniel Wood October 31, 2011 at 4:46 am

Inspirational post Jayson. I am totally agree with Harleena. The best way to be happy and satisfied is to make adjustment in yourself. But the problem with us is:
We listen half, understand a quarter, think zero and react double.

I truly believe in “You get what you deserve”. So first we should perked up ourself then should expect from others.

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Jayson October 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Thank you Daniel. I would tweak “you get what you deserve” to say “you get what you believe you deserve.” 🙂

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Jimmy/Life Architects October 31, 2011 at 5:40 am

Hi Jayson,

I love that you have identified that you were the common denominator in all your problems. It takes guts and fortune to awaken to that. Some people spend their whole lives looking outwards. We who are enlightened are truly blessed.

What intrigues me about inward change is that once we are able to do that, our partners will usually notice and follow suit. Great post
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Jayson October 31, 2011 at 10:16 am

Thanks Jimmy. Love it. Yes, changing me will change others.

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Nick Sotos November 1, 2011 at 2:53 am

Jayson I loved your post. Thank you for sharing your personal story. What I liked the most is the importance of selflessness in every relationship. I like this point and I admire your principles.

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Jen November 2, 2011 at 8:14 am

Jayson,
Thank you for sharing so openly! I once did a woman’s workshop about self-reflection and change.

I had them all look in the mirror as I played Michael Jacksons song “Man in the Mirror.”
He was an eccentric man, but boy did he write good lyrics! This one inparticular…..

I know this was a good reminder for me today. So often I want to “pass the buck” to blame things on others when I really need to look inward. It certainly is a continuing journey.

Thank you!
In Harmony,
Jen

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Debbie @ Happy Maker November 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Grest psot Jayson and thank you for sharing. I do agree when we have a problem in a relationship we need to look at ourselves first.

I have gone through a divorce and it was not all my ex’s fault. it takes two to create a problem in a relationship and the key is to figure out what part of the problem you are.

For myself I made the wrong choice. I was one of those that thought if I loved him enough, he would be different. All he needed was someone to really love him. What I didn’t realize that he was who he wanted to be.

Thanks again for sharing, it is wonderful getting to know new people.
Blessing to you.

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Angela Yount November 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm

To change everything, changing ourselves is the best part we can do. No one can do it, except through yourself. I do agree when we have a problem in a relationship we need to look at ourselves first.

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