How often have you heard that relationships take work? That it takes two to tango, and that each person should put the other one first? Yet, if your relationship becomes work, and you feel that if you let go of your mate’s hand, he’ll be gone, then you are the prime mover in your relationship… and you may have the wrong partner.

Before moving onto another relationship, it important to first step back and reflect on why you chose that person in the first place. You have heard me say many times before, that nothing happens in a vacuum, and that is especially true when it comes to your choice of a mate. If you acknowledge, recognize, and understand the patterns from your family of origin, which you spot in your relationship, you can catch a glimpse of the principal under those patterns. And it is those familiar patterns which compel you to choose to that particular type of partner… to gravitate to a person whose behavior fits your comfort zone. To further complicate things, you are always trying to “get it right,” and therefore, continue to recreate what you need, rather than what you want.

So, how can you know if he is wrong for you?

  1. Often, when you fall in love, you put your best foot forward and become the person you think your mate wants you to be. This puts you into a passive state of submission, putting your own feelings on hold, while preforming for love and approval. If you had a controlling parent, or parents, you may pick a dominant mate. This allows you to do what you know how to do, and that works… until it doesn’t. No one really likes someone who is needy, and even though it seems as if your partner wants you to “go along to get along,” he may just be recreating his childhood pattern. There is a great difference between wants and needs, and if you compromise your authentic self, you can easily become what your partner needs, rather than what he wants. Never mind losing yourself in the meantime.
  2. It is a distortion to think of love as submission. Love is not meant to sacrifice one partner’s identity for the other.
  3. If you become someone other than yourself… someone else’s idea of how you should walk in the world, then you are in danger of becoming a distorted version of yourself, unknown not only to you, but also to your mate; here is how you lose yourself to the control or possession of another.
  4. Acknowledge, recognize, separate, integrate, and individuate. This is the process of how to know yourself, how to listen to your inner voice, and get to know your own wants and needs. By recognizing your own patterns of behavior, you won’t be compelled to act or project them out, but rather to choose consciously and deliberately how to act in a way that works best for you. By overriding your compulsions, and in essence, shadow material, you will automatically integrate those pieces of yourself that you are unaware of, or have long forgotten.
  5. If your partner doesn’t see who you are, doesn’t behave in a manner that values and validates you, doesn’t actively listen to you, discounts you, doesn’t support your goals, and takes out all of the oxygen in the room for his own persona, then you may think about moving on. The one place you should feel safe, to be yourself, is in a relationship with your beloved.
  6. You will never change him. There is an old adage: men never think women will change, and they do; women always think they can change men, and they never can. It is hard enough to change yourself to be the “you” that you were meant to be, never mind trying to change others.
  7. Don’t settle for less. You will always need your own needs to be met. You must be able to count on the head on the pillow next to you to be in your court, right or wrong. A good relationship requires that level of commitment, obligation, and responsibility, knowing that the one person who will always be there for you is your partner through thick and thin.
  8. The most important ingredient in any partnership is mutuality. A relationship is only as solid as the two people in it, and if your life story is all about the relationship instead of you and your partner, then it will never be fulfilling. You can compromise your partnership for all of your life, but it will never be the kind you really want or need. A good relationship that is mutually satisfying for both, values and validates its individual parts.

In the final analysis, any partnership can be sustained through hard work and compromise. But a loving relationship that allows each partner to reach his fullest potential, must be authentic and mutual. This is the kind of relationship that we speak about when we say “true love” – the kind of love that lasts a lifetime, and can sustain itself through good times and bad.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.