Cheers to my second post of the night, I’m on a roll people! Nonetheless, I’ve found that in recent months I’ve been sought out for a great deal of relationship advice from friends, friends of friends and otherwise. Now, that very well may be a result of my calm demeanor or level headed approach to troubling scenarios or this odd idea that I actually have a clue as to what it is I am talking about when it comes to maintaining a successful/healthy relationship. Whatever the reason, I do enjoy passing along some tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way.
I will be the first to admit I am far, far far far far from the perfect partner. I have a short temper some days, overreact on others, and can be a bit clingy on the in between days. Despite the shortcomings that I’ve been able to identify in myself, I do pride myself on my willingness to communicate, and that my friends, brings me to my first bit of advice: Communication.
I can’t stress how imperative it is to have open communication with your partner. If you are unable to express yourself openly, honestly, candidly, and transparently. That’s a problem and it will present itself over and over in a relationship (often via fighting or disagreements). You’ve got to be able to talk to your partner; whether that’s about something that’s bothering you, how you’re feeling, what you want out of the relationship, something you find to be lacking, a new trick you want to try in bed, or an issue that’s been heavy on your heart. Whatever it may be, you should be able to communicate it to your partner. Now, in the same stride as much as we want our voice to be heard we also have to be open and receptive to do the same for our partner. Sometimes it’s easy to spill all that you have on your mind and heart, but then put your guard up when it’s your partner’s turn. No, no, communication is a two way street, and for it to be successful both parties have to be receptive of one another’s feelings and opinions.
Leading me to my next point: Validation.
This is something that I feel a great deal of people overlook, yet it is something that we all unknowingly seek from our partners and the world around us. We all seek acceptance, want to feel valued, want to know we are loved, want to know that we are important, and so on. Therefore, validation is HUGE in relationships. What words are you using to validate your partner’s feelings? What sort of body language are you using when your partner is being transparent with you? As I always tell people, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. When you’re partner is sharing something with you, are you engaging with them or on your phone? When your partner is seeking your opinion are you being honest or just giving an answer to move forward in the conversation? Those are questions to consider when thinking of if we are validating our partner. Lastly, this goes back to the Golden Rule we learned in our days of primary school. Treat others how YOU want to be treated. If you were sharing something that’s important to you, how would you want someone else to respond?
Next point: Transparency.
For me, transparency goes hand in hand with trust. Within relationships, especially in a generation that is so connected via technology it’s easy to choose to not be transparent and only show the world, or our partners, what we want them to see (or what we want them to know). Are you following? Take social media for example – are we highlighting all of our personal highs and lows? Likely not, it’s easier to share the “best” moments of our lives to aid in the development of our desired selves for social approval (likes). Same goes with relationships, choosing not to be transparent involves not sharing the entire truth with your partner, whatever that may be. Now, does that mean you need to have joint social media accounts, give your partner your phone’s password, and go to every function together? Not at all, but it does mean establishing a level of respect for your relationship and ultimately your partner that creates an environment where transparency isn’t a burden but something that you both invest in.
Leading me to my next point: Investing in One Another
Again, easily overlooked in relationships. We often think of investing as a financial matter, yet we can also invest in our partners! Whether’s that supporting their dreams, using encouraging language, or just being there for them. This investment doesn’t always have to be a grandiose gesture, but the support of your partner often means a great deal and may very well just be the extra “push” you may need.
Next point: Taking Initiative
This looks different for everyone, but again I believe we all want to feel valued, loved, important and so on. Are you waiting for your partner to tell you something before you take action? Are you planning dates, surprises, or finding ways to show your partner that you care? Again, this doesn’t have to be a romantic boat ride down the Riviera, but it can be a hand written note, flowers, a gift, helping them complete a project or task, or even a text message. There’s countless ways to take initiative in a relationship to show that you care.
Now, that we’ve got the cute stuff out the way, let’s get real. I see so many relationships fail over things that were easily preventable, and yes, while things do happen for a reason, we are also in control of our own destiny (and relationships – lol) Want your relationship to be successful? Ok, cool, then stop doing these things:
Lying: For what? Whether it’s a little white lie, or something that you just f’d up on. Be honest. I can tell you from experience, nothing hurts worse than finding out your partner lied to you. We are human and we make mistakes, some bigger than others, but in most scenarios forgiveness is an option. Own up to it, and move forward as a couple. What’s done in the dark, always comes to light.
Telling Your Friends Everything That Goes On: Who’s in the relationship? You and your partner or you, your partner, and your 6 friends? Ah, okay. Not everything is meant to be shared, and sometimes.. actually most times seeking advice from your peers is detrimental to progress. Not everyone has your best interest at heart (or the relationships, for that matter) AND we also need to consider that not everyone is in a place where they can offer sound advice. Your homie with umpteen failed relationships is probably not the best person to go to for relationship advice.
Sneaking Around: Again, for what? Assuming that we are all above 18.. we are grown. No one has time to be tip toeing around doing something you ain’t got no business doing. Be transparent (as mentioned above) and taken ownership for your actions.
Stop Staying In Relationships That You Aren’t Happy In: Okay, yes I know I was here to talk about successful relationships, but stop watering fake plants. Not everything is always meant to be and some people, things, and so forth are temporary. You are not obligated to anything or anyone, no matter how much or how long you’ve invested in it. And that’s the truth, Ruth!
Holding on to Dead Weight: Whether that’s an ex from years ago or a argument that happened three months ago. If it isn’t adding value to the relationship, it serves no purpose. *sings* Let it gooo!
Breaking Promises: This may seem juvenile, but being a person of your word is important in many aspects of your life, and that’s no different for relationships. Communicate if you’re unable to make an event you promised you work or if you forgot to do something.
Being Where You Shouldn’t Be: This one is kinda hard to explain and some people may disagree, but hear me out. So there’s thing called temptation and it’s very real, ever heard of cheating? Yeah.. While you may love your partner very much, temptation and human urges exist. Because of this, I choose to be cognizant of where I am at all times, especially when considering social engagements and the conversations I take part in. Are the conversations you engage in appropriate? Are the social settings you’re in appropriate? Not following yet? Ok, better questions.. whatever you are saying or doing, would you feel comfortable doing it in front of your partner? If the answer is no, you probably ain’t got no business doing it. Again, we’re grown. Note: Cheating is a choice, while temptation is real ultimately nothing happens by accident.
Stop Withholding How You Feel: Feelings are important and we are all entitled to the expression of them! At the very end of the day, the most important relationship you have is with yourself. You can’t love anyone, if you don’t love yourself. Right?
Take care of you and your heart, and the rest will follow accordingly.
Phew! Obviously this isn’t an end all, be all for what it takes to have a successful and most important healthy relationship, but understand Rome wasn’t built in a day.What’s worth having is worth the effort.