If you have watched “Grace and Frankie” or “Jane the Virgin”, you might have already realized that relationships can be such a mess.
Ask anyone who is still struggling with their relationships, they will all tell you “love isn’t easy”. Whether you are single, dating, engaged, or already married, your relationship still takes work. It proves to be hard work as your actions, your words, and even your thoughts play a role in maintaining a healthy relationship.
Every relationship is unique and requires different things. But in general, it’s safe to learn from relationship therapists, matchmakers, researchers, all the experts who understand well how relationships work. And in this blog, we will introduce to you 15 of them, as long as their excellent pieces of advice.
1. Look for someone who shares similar values
According to Kelly Campbell, PhD, California State University’s associate professor of psychology and human development, for a long-lasting relationship, it’s important to look for similarities. The more you share with the other half, the better. Take age, education, personality, hobbies well into consideration to avoid problems in the long run. Also, what matters the most is the willingness to make the relationship work from both sides. Without that commitment, it is hard for your relationship to live long.
2. Don’t take him/her for granted
LCSW Irina Firstein, an individual and couples’ therapist, shares with us that most of the couples sought her help too late as they were so done with the relationship at that time. Everyone has a breaking point and if their needs keep being neglected, they will look for an escape. If you are OK without things you want, it’s fine, but don’t assume that the other is OK too. We all know that there is no such thing as a perfect relationship, but don’t use that sentence often as a rationalization for complacency.
3. Don’t try to be their “everything”
“You are my everything”, it does sound sweet, but it is not realistic. According to the founder of Tribeca Therapy, Matt Lundquist, the easiest way to kill a relationship is having no other relationships.
Express Your Love
4. Show your appreciation daily
Oakland University professor Terri Orbuch, a.k.a the author of “5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great” says that a small daily gesture of gratitude goes a long way. People feel happier and more motivated to work on the relationship when they feel special and appreciated. If you are not familiar with showing appreciation, you can start with a small gift, a favorite dish, a hug, a kiss, a note telling them they are the best.
5. Try to meet their needs
According to psychologist and dating expert Jeremy Nicholson, love is not just a feeling, it is in fact a trade and a social exchange. It is a given and taken relationship, in which we get our needs met and need to ensure that we also meet the needs of the other. Only when the exchange is satisfying, your relationship will grow with good feelings. But if it is not, things turn sour and it might end your relationship. Therefore, pay attention to what you two actually do for each other, not just how you feel about each other.
Maintain Good Sex
6. Orgasm isn’t everything
According to licensed marriage and sex therapist Kat Van Kirk, orgasm isn’t everything in sex. There are many more reasons to make whoopee. Because of the hormones released during sex, we get a great number of benefits, emotionally and physically. A few to name are sensation, emotional intimacy, emotional bonding, stress relief, improved immune and cardiovascular system, etc.
7. Keep things steamy
Sari Cooper, a licensed individual, couples’, and sex therapist, shares with us a vital lesson many overlook. Many stop seducing their partners once the knot is tied. A cold bedroom will quickly freeze your heart, so keep things steamy in there with certain practices on a regular basis.
8. Overcome sexual performance anxiety
Here’s some advice from The Intimacy Institute’s sex and relationship therapist Chelsea Holland. Instead of sticking with strict expectations, you should relax and focus on a close and intimate connection with your partner. Start the night with sensual massages, a shared warm bath, an erotic story, or even some adult toys. It is great if orgasm happens, but if not, don’t be frustrated. Once your anxiety dissipates, your satisfaction can escalate.
Handle conflict nicely
9. Pay attention to how you fight
Texas State University associate professor of communication studies, Sean Horan, shares that there are four conflict messages called “The Four Horsemen” that help predict whether the relationship can last long: criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness. Look for shared common goals and work on them instead of resorting to those relationship killers. Also, avoid using “I” versus “you” language as it will only deepen the gap.
10. Approach it nicely
According to The Gottman Institute’s certified master trainer and director, Carrie Cole, the approach decides how the rest of the conversation goes. And eventually, it also predicts which direction your relationship takes: a dead-end route or a smooth path filled with love. So try to have a nicer approach instead of attacking or blaming your partner. Criticism is a relationship killer so don’t take it lightly. Next time, instead of using harsh words, try to make a positive request (but don’t be passive aggressive).
11. Engage in good conflicts only
Every couple needs good conflicts to understand and love each other more. According to psychotherapist Ken Page, who is also the author of Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy, we cannot always get what we want from our partner. But as long as you join hands to work on it, it is not the end of your relationship. But if those “good conflicts” are dealt with blame, bitterness, and contempt, you will only get a toxic relationship.
Pay attention to self-care
12. Take some alone time
According to Amy Baglan, Ceo of the dating site MeetMindful, it is important to take an exhale from your relationship once in a while, no matter how deep your love is. Don’t spend all your time with your partner, try to hang out with your friends, go on a vacation with your family, or just enjoy some quality time with yourself. By doing so, you will be recharged and ready to mingle with your partner even stronger.
13. Never abandon yourself
A similar advice piece from relationship expert and co-creator of Inner Bonding, Margaret Paul, never abandon yourself or it will cause lots of relationship problems. Stop it immediately if you are abandoning yourself emotionally (judging or ignoring your feelings), financially (spending irresponsibly), organizationally (being messy or late), physically (not exercising, eating healthy), relationally (creating relationship conflicts), or spiritually (depending on your partner for love and recognition).
You can only create a loving relationship once you know how to love yourself.
14. Lead a fulfilling life
Relationship expert Charlie Bloom, a.k.a the author of “That Which Doesn’t Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places” shares that he grew up thinking it takes self-sacrifice to maintain a marriage. In fact, we don’t need to sacrifice our own happiness for our marriage to survive. It is more important to create a fulfilling life for ourselves so our marriage life will be mutually satisfying.
The bottom line
And to end this blog, let’s hear the advice of matchmaker and dating and relationship expert April Beyer. According to April, we should focus on how beautiful our relationships are and what lessons they are teaching us. No matter how long your relationships last, each of them has value. There is no failed romance. A seasonal or temporary relationship cannot be should not be turned into a lifelong relationship. Just enjoy the journey and let things evolve into what they are meant to be.