There’s nothing easy about a relationship. Even couples that are perfect for each other have their ups and downs. Plenty of them, in fact! And if you want to build a healthy and stable relationship that lasts, you need a plan.
5 Tips for a Stronger Dating Relationship
A healthy dating relationship isn’t always about excitement and romance, though it should be at times. Instead, it’s a partnership where there’s love, assurance, commitment, trust, and respect.
If you want a fling, feel free to pull out all of the stops and carefully choose the perfect words for every situation. But if you want a healthy and stable dating relationship that lasts, you need to prioritize the foundational building blocks. Here are a few tips for doing the latter:
1. Be Honest From the Start
Honesty is the mark of a healthy relationship. And if you want to cultivate a relationship that’s built on honesty, you need to do it from the very start.
The longer you wait to make honesty a practice, the easier it is to shove things under the rug or delay saying something hard. Do it sooner and more often and there will be fewer snags later in the relationship.
2. Practice Emotional Attunement
Emotional attunement is one of the more important elements of a healthy and thriving relationship. But it’s also one that gets forgotten about.
“As you communicate with each other, don’t listen only to what the other person is saying, but also to the emotions underneath the words,” writes Gleb Tsipursky, Ph.D. “Notice whether the other person seems stressed, frazzled, sad, frustrated, confused, pleased, glad, joyful, etc.”
Body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice are all very important. Tune in to these softer details and you’ll have a much stronger capacity for relating to one another.
3. Seek Understanding on Multiple Levels
It’s not enough to know your partner on a surface level. That might work for a few weeks, but it quickly becomes insufficient for navigating more challenging roads together. Instead, you should seek to understand your partner on a variety of much deeper levels.
Your dating partner’s astrological sign is one level. If you’re dating a Taurus man, for example, it’s helpful to know how he’s hardwired and what causes him to withhold communication at times. It’s also important to understand your partner’s childhood upbringing, education, religious background, etc. Each of these layers paints a clearer picture of who they are and how you should interact with them to make them feel loved and respected.
4. Use These Words
When you first enter into a relationship, you use words like “I” and “me.” But once you’re in a relationship, that language needs to shift to “us” and “we.” This sends a clear message that you see the two of you as partners – not just friends.
The word “we” sets off a sense of connectedness in the brain. It defeats the “you” versus “me” mentality that often characterizes the initial phases of dating. And once you adopt this collaborative mindset, anything can happen.
5. Practice Gratitude
Research has discovered a clear relationship between the naturally occurring hormone oxytocin and love. (As you may know, oxytocin plays a role in factors like bonding, enduring friendships, and marriage.) The more oxytocin that’s present in dating partners, the greater the bond is. But here’s something you probably didn’t know: Practicing gratitude increases levels of oxytocin and tends to lead to healthier and happier relationships.
In one experiment, couples were asked to practice gratitude – answering a series of questions about things they were thankful for regarding their partner. After doing this for several days, researchers found that participants reported feeling more loving.
“They also reported feeling more peaceful, amused, and proud,” the researchers explained. “They perceived their partner as being more understanding, validating, caring, and generally more responsive. They were more likely to have reported spontaneously thanking their partner for something they’d appreciated on any given day. And they were more satisfied with the quality of their relationship overall.”
So if you want to give your relationship a boost, practice gratitude more often (individually and as a couple). The benefits will be noticeable.
Nurture the Right Type of Relationship
While there are certainly relationships where you get blindsided or mistreated, it’s important that you don’t view this as the expectation or norm. Instead, always operate under the assumption that you’ll get what you give. If you give honesty, kind words, gratitude, and respect, you’ll usually receive the same in return. And if you’re both committed to putting the other person ahead of self-interests, good things will happen.