How to be a better partner, and person, relationally
1.) Open your eyes
See the person for what they are, and not what you want them to be. Don’t waste precious time trying to have them fit into the mold that you think would be best for them. Embrace them openly as they are, without fantasizing and pushing onto them all the ways they will be better once they embrace your self-improvement plan :).
2.) Outsource your needs
Don’t expect one person to fulfill all your needs. The Disney fairytales we grow up reading are sweet and charming, yet they create a false impression that one day you will be rescued, found, discovered, and be swept off your feet. Rescue and discover yourself! Also, recognize that no one person can meet all your needs. Seek out other close relationships to meet some of your needs. Expecting it all to come from your partner will set you both up for failure.
3.) Forget the idea that you will just know
Another fairytale/romantic movie myth to discard is the idea that you will just “KNOW.” A huge myth is that everything will be crystal clear and you will just know with 100% certainty that you are meant to be together forever and ever. This is another fable that I see countless people struggle with. There are no decisions in life that are completely easy and right. Abandon that idea- just throw it in the trashcan.
4.) Be the kind of partner you want to be with
It is inauthentic to ask for something and not be it yourself. It is incongruent and will not truly resonate. If you want more intimacy, act more intimate, and reach out for real and transparent closeness. If you want more sex, initiate it more. If you want to know his/her deepest and most intimate thoughts and desires, then open yourself up and shares yours first.
5.) Shut up and LISTEN
Listen to one another. People assume that they know everything about their partners, and can answer for them-that is a fallacy. Be curious and don’t make assumptions. In my office I will often ask each member of the couple to spend a little time listening to something that is really important and needed by the other. You can practice this at home as homework: One of you can be the talker and the other one can be the listener. The listener is not to interrupt or be defensive. The talker is to share as honestly and compassionately as possible. Practice taking turns where one of you is the talker and the other is the listener, and vs. vs. This exercise will do wonders for your relationship.
6.) Give Praise
Don’t ever waste a compliment by silently holding it in your head. Share with your partner, and others whom you love deeply, exactly why you love them, and what you are grateful for. Scientific studies show that practicing gratitude builds neuronal wiring, which builds in more connectivity, and a tuning in towards more grateful experiences in your brain. Give yourself and your partner this gift.
7.) Be wholehearted
Embrace every moment in your life with your partner, and your loved ones, in a rich, present, mindful, and wholehearted way. Life is not a harlequin romance-sorry! There inevitably will be and are bumps in the road-it is what keeps life interesting. It is how you manage and ride them out together which will define you as a couple. Dr. Gottman pointed out that the most important thing is how you resolve conflict, not necessarily that you have conflict. Conflict is a normal and natural thing in relationships. It is how you come back together at the end of it, which will determine your staying power. Fight fairly and mindfully, and always take the time and space to actually and honestly make amends. Air your grievances and make up in an honest and wholehearted way.
Now go out there and be a better partner, and person, in the world relationally!