Here is a mini-playbook of sorts. It doesn't include everything you need to know for a healthy relationship, but it's a good start.
Relationships are forever evolving, and every relationship is unique to itself. Each relationship you have in your life will be different in some way from any other relationship. Still, there are some basic rules to live by when it comes to relationships. Are you looking for some tenets to follow in your relationship?
1. Choose a partner with care.
Choosing the right partner from the start is a make or break when it comes to being happy with your romantic life. Don’t date someone just so you’re not alone, and definitely don’t get married to avoid being lonely! Pay attention to someone’s character, not just your infatuation or first impression. Are your morals wildly at odds with each other? Chances are, things will only stay complicated. Choosing the right partner is the first and perhaps most important of the key relationship rules.
2. Speak up about your needs.
One major predictor of how happy your relationship will be is how willing you are to speak up when you need something. Chances are you can’t read minds, and neither can your partner, so you need to say something when your needs aren’t being met. Whether it’s your sex life, getting enough attention, or how much time you spend with extended family — it’s important to have a secure enough bond that you can be honest with each other about the stuff that bothers you. If you let things fester, the issue will only build until it’s blow out of proportion.
3. Avoid assumptions.
If you’re always assuming the worst about your partner, feelings will continue to get hurt. Don’t make assumptions about your other half, especially negative ones. Ask about the intentions behind his or her actions instead of assuming the motive was to hurt you. Think twice before you make accusations — when in doubt, ask questions before you point fingers.
4. Become a negotiator.
In order to have a successful relationship, you need to accept that you won’t get your way all the time. But, neither should you constantly be the one sacrificing everything you want or need. Be prepared to negotiate terms that meet in the middle. Negotiations can be about small issues, like what’s for dinner, or major issues, like where you will live.
5. Know about ebbs and flows.
Every relationship will have good days and bad days, and maybe even good months and bad months. If you expect everything to be rosy all the time you are setting yourself up for failure. Don’t walk away at the first sign of trouble — stay and fight for the relationship. Better yet, ask for help!
6. Take care of yourself and your own self-esteem.
If you feel insecure about yourself, it will come out in your relationship. You are more likely to become jealous or project your own issues onto your partner. Take care of your health, both physical and emotional, so that you can be a better partner.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653