Looking for a great relationship? In a great relationship and want it to stay that way (or get even better)? Here is some tried-and-true relationship advice to help you navigate the ever-changing pathways of love.
Know and love yourself
Before you start seeking your perfect match, make sure you know who you are. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your passions? What personal challenges have you faced with success? How about dreams—short term and long term? Knowing yourself deeply enables you to sort out the type of person you get along best with; someone who complements you in a way that brings out the best in you.
You also want to be at peace with who you are. You want to be secure in your own worthiness, and not rely on a partner to provide you with self-worth. It’s a lot of work to get to the point where you love yourself wholly, but it is worth it because you will attract other good, mentally-healthy people.
Choose your partner for the right reasons
Desperation leads to poor decisions. No one makes good love decisions if they are feeling insecure, lonely, or unlovable. Make sure that you involve yourself with people who make you feel loved, worthy, and respected. It is important to be sure that you are emotionally healthy so that you attract other emotionally healthy people.
Be realistic about what a relationship provides you with
So many people dive into relationships thinking that love will solve all their problems. Or they have unreasonably high expectations of what a relationship should look like, based on too many romance novels or romantic movies. Instead, spend some time around happily-married couples and ask them the secret to their healthy relationship. Use these people as models to learn from.
Love is a verb; it is an intentional choice
It’s easy to feel love and loving in the early years of a relationship. Everyone has rose-colored glasses at the beginning, seeing only the wonderful parts of their beloved and ignoring the annoying ones. These magical sparkles start dulling after several years—and that is normal—to reveal the true essence of the person beneath. Pick the type of person whose core you will continue to love when those initial feelings start to recede. And love actively—show your partner how important they are to you in acts and in words.
Express your gratitude for their presence in your life. Admire them. Respect them. Don’t ever take them for granted.
Good communication is key
If you can’t talk about heavy things with your partner without them shutting down, you should question the viability of the relationship. If both people are invested in the relationship, they should feel free to communicate about any and all subjects. If your partner is communication-avoidant, ditch the relationship and find someone who wants to work to find resolution when issues crop up.
Choose someone whom you respect and admire
You want to look up to your partner. You want to admire what he does, how he treats others, and how he moves through the world. Choose a good person who contributes not only to your well-being, but is concerned with contributing to his community’s well-being, too.
Choose someone whom you can trust completely
This is your heart we are talking about, so if you get a sense during your initial dating period that something isn’t “right”, listen to that little voice. It’s probably right.
Even if you are head over heels in love, take things one step at a time. Don’t open up that box of chocolates and eat them all at once. Savor your new relationship. Reveal things bit by bit. A good relationship is worth putting the effort in, starting with building a solid foundation. Take your time to get to know each other. Don’t sleep together on the first date. Give yourselves something to look forward to. Sexual intimacy is all the greater when a bond of emotional trust has been established.
Know the difference between compromise and sacrifice
All relationships require some degree of compromise to keep them going. But when one person feels like they are sacrificing something that is important to them in order to keep the relationship intact, it’s time to pull back and reevaluate the situation.
People don’t change
Oh, people grow and evolve, but the fundamental traits that your partner is showing you now will not change. Marriage will not miraculously make your partner be a better money manager, or stop him from spending all his free time with his PlayStation. If there are things your partner does now that irritate you, be aware that these things will continue to irritate you (and may even be worse) 10-15 years from now.
Respect each other’s individuality
Everyone knows a couple who is “joined at the hip.” But how happy are they, truly? Healthy couples respect each other’s individual hobbies, passions, need for space from time to time. Couples thrive when they honor each other’s need to do their own thing. Coming home to a partner who can’t wait to tell you about the race they just won, or the painting they are working on, is one of the best feelings in the world. Pursuing one’s own bliss is vital to keeping a relationship fresh and vibrant.
Sex is a barometer of the relationship
Sex is not everything in a relationship, but it is an important component and one that reflects the emotional intimacy of a couple. If couples are disconnecting emotionally, they will not connect sexually. So if you see your lovemaking frequency dropping off, step back and take a look at what is happening with the status of your emotional intimacy.