Being in a romantic relationship is incredible when the relationship is going well, but it can be stressful and painful if the relationship is strained. When you are in a serious relationship with someone, the things that you do affect them as well as yourself, so it is important that you consider the other person when making major decisions.
The amount of consideration that you give to your partner will depend on how long you have been in the relationship and how serious it is. Your choice of where to live won’t matter if you’re still at the casual dating stage, but it would if you knew your partner was due to move in with you soon.
Being a Better Partner
Being a better partner means knowing when to look after your partner, and when to look after yourself. Your boyfriend or girlfriend loves you for who you are, and if you’re always tired or stressed then you’re not going to be pleasant to be around. Taking care of yourself will make you feel better, and will make your relationships better too.
Get Some Sleep
You might think that burning the candle at both ends is productive, but it isn’t. If you’re sleep deprived then you’re going to struggle to focus, you’ll be cranky, and you will have poorer self-control too. This means that you’re more likely to snap at your partner over trivial things and that your interactions will be lower quality as well.1 Aim for eight hours a night and you’ll find that you feel better and your relationships (romantic and non-romantic) are better too.2 Also, you can try out our Sleepy personal aromatherapy diffuser to help you get your eight hours a little easier.
It takes two people to maintain a relationship. A happy relationship involves sharing of both responsibilities and fun. If you want to strengthen your relationship, then focus on the following:
Show, clearly, that you are happy and enjoy spending time with your partner.
Be a good listener
Listen to what your partner has to say, be understanding, and don’t judge them. If you’re in the wrong, apologize.
Share the good and the bad
Talk about your feelings and encourage them to do the same. Yes, a lot of people do find talking about their feelings difficult, but you should be able to talk to the person you are in a relationship with.3
Plan for the future
Be open about your plans for the future and how they involve your partner. Naturally, the definition of the future will change depending on the stage of the relationship. Planning to go to a concert in the fall could be “a future plan” if the relationship is new. Choosing a university or a job based on the relationship might be a natural progression when you have been together for a while.
As the relationship matures and you start living together or having shared family responsibilities, make sure that the workload is shared equitably. That doesn’t mean taking turns to put the bins out if one of you hates that job, but do make sure that everyone is doing an equal amount of labor, and is sharing the fun too. More and more couples are sharing household chores and bucking traditional gender trends, and this is having a positive impact on relationships.4
Stay in Good Shape
It’s not uncommon for people to let themselves go when they are in a relationship. It’s not a conscious decision, most of the time, but it’s something that happens because people start to feel comfortable in the relationship. They will want to spend time with their partner and decide to spend an evening watching a movie instead of going to the gym. Dates will center around food and perhaps alcohol, and people become less active and less fit. While there should be no pressure to have washboard abs if you don’t want to, a good partner should try and stay healthy for their loved ones, so that they can enjoy shared activities together for a long time. Consider making being active a part of the relationship, so that you can stay fit and have fun together. Studies show that exercising can boost your mood, and be a good form of bonding too.5
Enjoy Quality Interactions
The whole point of being in a relationship is that you spend time with your partner. In theory, the more time you spend with them, the better the relationship will be. In practice, you don’t have to spend huge amounts of time with your partner. Indeed, even a long distance relationship can work. The important thing isn’t the amount of time you spend together, it’s the quality of that time. So, when you’re together, put away your phone and focus on being mentally present.6
Be Kind to Each Other
Sometimes you and your boyfriend or girlfriend will fight. When you do, try to stick to the issue at hand. Any form of argument can feel a little hurtful, but don’t let the argument turn into ad hominem attacks. Be kind and understanding. Your partner will be more likely to be sympathetic to your side if you are.
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Do not allow yourself to be a doormat, however. It’s one thing to be sympathetic if your partner is having a hard time and is perhaps snappy or unkind in a way that is out of character. It is not wise to accept being neglected or abused. You need to be in a relationship that makes you happy, and if the relationship you are in right now is not providing you with the things that you want, then it could be time to move on. Studies into older people who remained in abusive relationships show that they often choose to stay because of issues related to age, finance or health.7 If you see red flags early on, then remind yourself that your happiness matters. There is no need to settle for someone who does not make you happy, especially when you are still young.
Say Thank You
When you do find someone that makes you happy, make a point of telling the person that you appreciate them. Saying “thank you” to people doesn’t just make them happier, it can make you happier too.8 Taking some time to think about the things that you are grateful for in your relationships will make you more positive about them, and make it easier to resolve conflicts.
Someone who is a good partner for you will want you to be the best version of yourself. Investing in improving will help you to build a better future for yourself and your partner. Investing in self-improvement will also help to improve your performance in other aspects of your life. While the link between self-esteem and career performance is questionable (some studies suggest that good career performance boosts self-esteem rather than the other way around), having good self-esteem does improve your overall happiness, and thereby can boost interpersonal relationships.9 This is a classic example of the old advice that if you want someone to love you, then you need to be able to love yourself first. Make sure that you are the kind of person that you would want to be in a relationship – whether that means being a good friend, a good provider, someone fun to be around, or someone that can motivate and support others to be the best that they can be. Listen to your partner and understand what they want, and your relationships will have the highest chances of success.
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