20 Things I Wish I knew Before Having a Relationship
Humans thrive in closeness, needing to love and be loved. But connections are difficult to maintain.
People don’t know what a good relationship looks like, as evidenced by the many letters I receive to my advice column. I feel bound to speak up because I write about these issues and care about children’s environments.
I’ve gathered some basic relationship principles from many sources and professionals throughout the years. This list is by no means complete. But it’s a must. You can post the rules on your fridge. Life, not me, will test you on them.
1. Pick a good partner. We like people for many reasons. They evoke a memory. They pamper us and make us feel valuable. Friend-test a prospective partner: Examine their character, personality, values, the spirit of generosity, the connection between their words and acts, and their interpersonal relationships.
2. Understand your partner’s relationship beliefs. Relationships are a complex subject with many competing perspectives. The person you’re in love with will invent dishonesty where none exists.
3. Separate sex and love. Attraction and enjoyment in sex are frequently mistaken for love, especially early in a relationship.
4. Be aware of your wants and express them. Relationships are not guesswork. They hide their wants because they are afraid to express them. A spouse who has not addressed their (unspoken) wants will be disappointed and angry.
5. Sincerity is required for closeness. Your lover can’t read minds.
6. Respect, respect, respect Act in such a way that your partner respects you both inside and outside of your relationship. A good and fair partnership requires mutual respect.
7. Remember that you are two individuals with diverse viewpoints and strengths who form a team. Differentiation is the strength of a team.
8. It’s important to know how to manage differences. Arguments don’t destroy relationships. So do slurs. Encounter the inevitable bad emotions that result from a person’s differences. That’s not conflict management.
9. If you don’t like or understand something your partner does, ask why. Never presume or accuse, just talk.
10. Respond quickly to issues. Keep grudges at bay. Anger causes couples to build walls and become strangers in relationships. Or rivals.
11. Learn to bargain. Culture no longer defines most modern interactions. In a couple, practically every act is negotiated. It works best when goodwill wins. Because people’s wants and demands change over time, good relationships are constantly negotiated.
12. Accept your partner’s concerns and complaints without judging them. We can often solve difficulties by just listening. It also allows for sharing. Empathy is essential. Examine the situation from both your and your partner’s viewpoint.
13. Don’t take it personally. A bad day is just a bad day, sometimes.
14. Maintain proximity with effort. Closeness is not automatic. Without it, individuals drift away and become vulnerable. It takes time and effort to build a good friendship.
15. Look outward. Marriage is a commitment to share a future. Make sure you’re on the same page with your dreams.
16. Don’t underestimate the importance of grooming.
17. Sex is good. Pillow talk is better. Intimacy is challenging, not sexy. He or she must be open to sharing their fears, sadnesses, aspirations, and concerns with other people.
18. Don’t go to bed enrage Tenderness is a start.
19. Apologize. Anybody can err. Repair attempts are vital—they predict marital satisfaction. Long-term relationships require the ability to forgive and forget.
20. Not all big issues can be solved by a talkathon. Sometimes just doing something together—a hike, for example, calms and reconnects partners.