I conclude where I began, by emphasizing the importance of acknowledging our core values and defining our most significant personal needs and desires. If we don’t know what we’re looking for, how will we know when we find it?
When I started this book, I wanted to write something profound—a revolutionary treatise on romantic relationships and what makes them tick. But after years of research and endless hours combing the dying embers of my previous relationships, I arrived at an obvious truth: the power of love, intimacy, and a meaningful and lasting romance exists not in words but in actions. In many ways, we have the power to control our thoughts, our behaviors, and our emotions. We like to think we have the power to control the forces that shape our lives, but in reality, the process of finding true love invokes more trial and error than divine intervention. Only when we learn to accept ourselves for who we are, to identify our own needs and desires, can we begin to build the foundation for a meaningful and lasting romance.
At one time or another, most of us have experienced meaningful, yet short-lived, relationships as well as lasting relationships we deemed woefully insufficient to meet our needs. Fundamentally, a meaningful and lasting romance involves less of what we want and don’t have, and is more about recognizing what we have while we discover the things we never knew we wanted in the first place.
As an accomplished engineer, I’ve tried to project logic and reasoning onto the notion of love. But logic rarely applies to love. For love, like chemistry, either exists or not. Love defines faith, compassion, and understanding. Love is wider than the grand canyon and more powerful than a tsunami. Romantic relationships represent complex systems, but unlike a machine’s finite capacity to function, humans maintain a limitless capacity to love.
I’ve done my best to present a variety of relevant concepts as accurately and indiscriminately as I can from both gender perspectives. I’ve also approached the topic of romantic relationships without regard to race, ethnicity, or cultural differences. No doubt, variables exist across geographic and ancestral boundaries, subtleties in the way different cultures view romantic relations. With this in mind, I resigned myself to make some educated generalizations based on my belief about the indiscriminant nature of love. Chemistry, communication, compromise, and commitment will always be intrinsic properties of a meaningful and lasting romance regardless of race, ethnicity, and cultural norms.
The 4Cs as I’ve described them in this book are both simple and complex in terms of how they relate to human nature and gender differences. The 4Cs are not a recipe for finding true love or a quick fix to a bad relationship. Instead, they represent the pillars of a meaningful and lasting romance supported by our foundation of core values. And when outside influences beyond our control threaten our romantic relationships, the aggregate power of chemistry, communication, compromise, and commitment helps us avoid the rocky shoals. The 4Cs are not absolute, but rather, a quartet of commonsense guidelines most people are familiar with—yet often fail to act upon. Just as no one grows up dreaming about divorce, few grow up eager to learn what it takes to make a meaningful and lasting romance work—or how to understand and appreciate the differences between our respective gender needs. Perhaps they should.
So where does this leave you? That depends on where you are in your romantic relationship and where you’re trying to go. Our lives are governed by our past experiences, which influence our state of physical and emotional health as well as our relationships with our children, former spouses, friends, and family. Each of us brings certain fears, doubts, and insecurities to our romantic relationships. Timing, geography, and logistics also add to the mix, as romantic relationships remain dynamic, evolving, and seldom propelled by logic or reason. If you remember nothing else, remember to keep smiling and maintain a positive attitude about life in general. Studies show that smiling, even when we don’t feel like it, directly influences other people’s attitudes and how they respond to us. Look inward and decide for yourself the things most important to you. Our lives are what we make of them. The same can be said for a meaningful and lasting romance.
Better to be who you are, faults and all, than pretend to be someone you’re not. You can’t expect to have a good love life if you don’t have a good life to begin with. Or, in Doctor Phil’s words, “In relationships, just as in every other aspect of life, the spirit and attitude with which you do things is at least as important as your actual actions. Embrace and incorporate these powerful values, and you will start living with more integrity, honesty, compassion and enthusiasm. This, in turn, will breathe new life into your relationship.”
A romantic relationship embodies a living, breathing union fueled by love and affection—and not immune to complacency, boredom, or a latent desire to want what we can’t have. Like all complex systems, romantic relationships require periodic maintenance, which in turn requires the necessary tools to achieve said maintenance. Let the 4Cs be your tools to heighten your romantic relationship.
I assure you, happily-ever-after does exist, but don’t spend your life chasing perfection. Love yourself. Love your partner. Make a priority of understanding each other’s needs and desires. Be flexible. Be persistent. And most of all, be open to new ideas. Sometimes we don’t know what we’re looking for until we lay our eyes and our hearts upon it. If you’re still single and actively searching for “the one,” don’t make the mistake of becoming self-absorbed or indoctrinated in your own beliefs of what a romantic relationship should be. Challenge yourself to break the mold and take a chance on something new with someone not your type. Make your relationship a high priority need. Let go of preconceived notions of how a romantic relationship should progress. No two people are alike and no two relationships are alike. Trust your instincts. If something isn’t working, then follow your intuition. A meaningful romance should be fun and effortless in the beginning, not a burden. According to authors Hendrix and LaKelly, a healthy romantic relationship evolves when “two people gradually transition from moving within a single orbit to moving in two separate, but overlapping orbits. They are able to have their own friends, their own interests, their own schedules, their own opinions, feelings, and thoughts, while still enjoying and preferring each other’s company.”
Achievements toward a healthy relationship require the sum of small efforts. Commit to one another. Use active listening skills. Engage one another. Respect one other. Work to resolve conflicts constructively. Be less judgmental and more open and honest. Don’t rely on someone else to make you happy. Strive to see things from the other person’s perspective.
Within this book, I’ve used words to characterize the 4Cs of chemistry, communication, compromise, and commitment as I see them. These requisite elements of a meaningful and lasting romance do not simply live on paper. They live and thrive within our hearts. For therein lies our passion for acceptance, companionship, and love. Whether you agree with my philosophy or not, I challenge you to examine your past and present romantic relationships to discover if chemistry, communication, compromise, and commitment persist. In the words of the late American mythologist, writer, and lecturer Joseph Campbell, “Love is friendship set to music.” Let the 4Cs become the lyrics upon which your own love song is built.
The 4Cs embody an amalgam of physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual attributes. To explore these qualities in totality—to understand precisely how and why we persist in romantic relationships with one another would require a lifelong endeavor and fill a skyscraper with paper. Just as no individual is privy to all mysteries of the universe, no one book can possess all the answers. Nonetheless, I sincerely hope The 4Cs of a Meaningful and Lasting Romance has not only opened your mind to new ideas, but opened your heart as well. For the answers we seek to the subtle complexities of human nature and romantic relationships exist not within the pages of endless study, but within ourselves. The epitome of a meaningful and lasting romance isn’t governed by mathematical axioms, the laws of physics, or psychological supposition. Our capacity to love and be loved remains as vast and mysterious as the cosmos itself—an endless expanse of unfathomable grandeur waiting to be explored. Or as Mark Twain wrote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Ultimately, the path to a meaningful and lasting romance involves a journey of two souls. I encourage you to use the principles I’ve outlined within these pages and define your own journey together. If you’re single, don’t settle for someone you can live with. Look for someone you can’t live without! For whatever path life takes you on, be passionate about your pursuits. Appreciate every moment you enjoy alone or share together because life doesn’t come with an extended warranty. Or as someone once said, “Life isn’t about finding shelter in the storm. It’s learning to dance in the rain.”