To start, she recommends making your set of absolute deal-breakers and keeping it short. Then, assuming your significant other has none of the traits on your deal-breakers list, deciding to love him or her while accepting every single wart and flaw they come with.
The results of this practice are dramatic from beginning to end. Here's how embracing radical acceptance can positively influence your relationships:
1. There's less drama.
Asking someone to change a bad habit once is called “a request.” Asking more than once is called “nagging,” no matter how politely you’re approaching the subject. Nagging leads to resentments, resentments lead to repeated arguments, and the same arguments over and over are called “drama.”
By learning to accept someone’s flaws, you subconsciously make the decision to stop nagging, which nips this whole downward spiral in the bud.
2. There's less stress.
Less drama automatically equals less stress to begin with, but it’s also important to note that deciding not to waste your time or energy on worry is also giving yourself a break from stress. When you decide not to sweat the small stuff, you take the burden of worry from yourself — in addition to all the complications of trying to get your partner to listen and change.
3. Less stress and drama equals more joy.
Remember when you were first in love and everything your lover did or said was magical and delightful? Remember how you could completely enjoy his or her company without the pressures of being responsible for his or her life? That’s what radical acceptance feels like.
It’s the realization that this person has flaws — because you’re not dating a robot, right? — and you’re able to enjoy them anyway. The only thing that changes with time is the repeated exposure to these flaws and their impact on you, personally.
This isn't to say you should accept flaws that are dangerous red flags (abuse, dishonesty, or criminal activity aren’t ignorable quirks), but by learning to accept your partner’s unshakeable flaws instead of fighting them continually, you’re lifting the weight of stress from both of you and allowing joy to trickle in again.
4. You have the freedom to be who you really are.
Whether or not your intentions are good, criticizing someone else’s behavior or inherent character flaws will build up resentments between you both over time. Period. Not only will you both begin to build up walls between yourselves, you’ll also significantly alter your behavior as a response to both the criticism and the history it’s actively crafted in your relationship.
After some time, the dynamics of the relationship have conditioned you both into acting like people you’re not, which aren’t even close to the versions of yourselves that fell in love initially. When you take the first step in radically accepting and loving where he or she is RIGHT NOW, you begin a chain reaction that erases these barriers and feelings of oppressive judgment in your relationship.
All that’s left when the smoke clears are two people with the freedom to be their authentic selves — the same selves who choose to keep loving the other through the rough spots.
5. Renewed security opens doors of intimacy.
By seeing all your partner’s flaws and actively deciding, “I am fully committed in my heart and in my mind to you and our relationship. I choose you and intend to keep choosing you,” you have consciously dropped anchor in your relationship — a practice Miller states we should all revisit every few years as a relationship evolves.
In deciding to commit yourself to this one person for the time being, you eliminate other options or the idea that you have one foot out of the door, thus giving your relationship the secure foundation it absolutely requires in order to grow. Security and trust between two people facilitates vulnerability and intimacy in ways that form bonds, allow for personal healing, and ignite passions that may be completely new to the relationship.
In fact, security in your romantic relationships creates positive transformation throughout varied facets of your life, as having someone to share — and adore! — your most innermost self with someone gives you the confidence to seek out the best for yourself at every opportunity.
6. It gives you clarity.
Miller promises, “What you will get, no matter what, is clarity.” Once you’ve decided to strap in and give someone your full, unconditional love by way of radical acceptance, you're able to see the relationship for what it really is. In doing so, you not only can honestly assess what roles you both play in your joint identity, but you can objectively decide whether or not this is a dynamic you really want to commit yourself to for the long-haul.
As harsh as it may sound, if you step back and take a clear look at your relationship while giving your 150 percent best and still see flaws that are deal-breakers, it’s time to pull the plug.
“Decide to just love him and make peace with the annoyances or terminate the relationship,” Miller encourages. “You should not feel tortured by saying yes to loving him!”
The bottom line is that everyone deserves unconditional love in their romantic relationships, and if you cannot honestly provide that to your partner, you owe it to both of you to seek out a better match.