THE BLOG
03/26/2014 10:54 am ET Updated May 26, 2014

The Single Biggest Factor That Determines the Success of a Romantic Relationship

Erwan Davon

What is the single biggest factor that determines the success of a romantic relationship? We all know that most romantic relationships don't last as long as they could. Most of us have done our share of dating, and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, this can be fun, so long as this is what we want. But what about when we want a lasting relationship? When we want that special person to become a soulmate and partner? That's a different ball game -- the kind of relationship most of us want in the end. My wife Alicia and I call it the "Eternal Date" -- a relationship that reaches higher and higher peaks of intimacy and sexual attraction. A relationship with soul that also has the sexy!

Let's face it: If a relationship is reaching higher and higher peaks of intimacy and sexual attraction then by definition, it is growing. For relationships to succeed, they must grow, not just in terms of years together, but in terms of the quality of those years. A successful relationship is where the honeymoon period continues to snowball, not where the honeymoon is but fond a fond memory.

The relationship patterns that get set for a person very early in life come out in our deepest and most meaningful relationships. Growth is necessary. Have you ever noticed how the deeper couples go in their relationship, the younger they get? At their finest, they seem like kids in the sandbox, playfully chiding each other with shovels and pails.

In life as in our romantic involvements, our relationship patterns tend to coalesce early in the formative stages, establishing a kind of long-term "relationship blueprint." So, in life as in our relationships, if the grooves grow rigid, the sparks diminish. The much-cherished Eternal Date begins to bear an expiration stamp. To avert that pitfall, it's essential to investigate these blueprints and agree on the importance of growing together. Growing together is a big deal. Is our romantic life worth the effort? You bet it is; both partners need to be equally committed.

Specifically, we need to grow psychologically, spiritually, romantically and sexually. We all have our psychological issues that require confrontation. Spiritually, we need to strive to cultivate the ability to contact our deepest selves -- to explore awareness and deep presence. Romantically, at the very least, we need to grasp the stages of relationship and ask ourselves, "how do we get past the initial dating phase?" Practicing and honing sexual skills is essential for keeping the chemistry beyond the hot initial dating stages. A simple interrogation about "what is an orgasm?" and "how can orgasm be prolonged?" is a practical start towards transforming a stagnant relationship blueprint.

Fortunately, most people's relationship goals overlap significantly. Most people genuinely yearn for a loving intimate connection, a great sex life and their partner's unconditional support. So, what is the mysterious x-factor that defines compatibility for a couple? In my opinion, the x-factor is found in each partner's willingness to develop themselves. A prospective partner's willingness to involve themselves in growth and development work -- psychologically, spiritually, romantically, sexually -- tells a lot about them. And of course, we must assess our own selves along these criteria. With this in place, a couple is going somewhere; the shared relationship goals are being met.

If you are already in a relationship, both of you should honestly ask yourselves, "are both of us willing to grow and develop?" This will prove an accurate barometer for the quality of your relationship. The opposite is attachment to the past, attachment to one's backward relationship blueprint -- which is basically defensiveness. Defensiveness gunks up the works.

Of course life is fraught with ups and downs of life, but these can be as stepping stones as the relationship grows, strengthens and improves. There is no glass ceiling. As the Taoists say "with every step you arrive."

Erwan Davon, based in San Francisco, has been teaching singles and couples how to have thrilling love & sex lives since 1995. ErwanDavon.com