Whether this fact frightens or delights you, it’s true: we all need company. Our lives as human beings are characterized and often defined by our relationships.
We crave positive connections with just about everyone in our lives, whether it be our friends, family, significant other, or even ourselves. However, relationships can be tricky. We have all faced broken or damaged relationships at one point or another. Sometimes this damage is inevitable, but what can we do in our power to maintain and build strong, positive, and successful relationships? Here are 35 tips from relationship experts.
In all types of relationships, it is important to keep in mind that everyone wants to be seen, heard, and understood. If you make someone feel valuable, they will almost immediately feel good. Expressing your love and appreciation for another person is crucial in relationship building.
This can be done by recognizing and acknowledging the other person’s strengths and positive qualities. No matter the context or nature of the relationship, this can create a strong and genuine connection between two people.
When it comes to building positive relationships, never underestimate the power of showing daily appreciation to those you love. Thanks to dopamine and norepinephrine, we are more likely to express our admiration to our partners at the beginning of the relationship. Unfortunately, these verbal or physical communications tend to dwindle off with time.
Keep intimacy within your relationship by staying consistent with daily appreciation. Sharing this positive feedback reminds you of why you love that person and lets the other person know that they are valued.
Put Them on a Pedestal
If you feel as if you hit the jackpot with your partner, and that your partner has hit the jackpot with you, you will have the greatest chance for success in your relationship.
For example, if someone asks you about your significant other and you go on about how incredible they are, you’re in it for the long haul. But if you reply with complaints about how much he or she is getting on your nerves, that’s probably a bad sign. Try to look at your significant other through rose-colored glasses for optimal success.
Love Is a Verb
Whoever tells you that maintaining a healthy relationship doesn’t require work is lying. Falling in love is easy, but maintaining a good relationship does not happen overnight. It requires lots of effort from both sides of the relationship.
To make any relationship work, you must take the time to get to know your partner and put in the effort to make them feel loved and valued. As they say, love is a verb - so it’s important to use your actions to express it.
Keep Your Friends Close
Friendships are just as important, if not more, than our romantic relationships. As we all know, a strong friendship can often outlast and be more gratifying than a typical romance.
To keep your platonic relationships strong and healthy, it’s important to treat your friends as if they were just as important to us as a significant other would be. Showing your friends empathy, compassion, attention, and vulnerability, is key. When your friends feel that you are dedicating time and effort in your relationship, you will be pleased by how powerful your friendship can grow.
We all know that communication is a key factor in making any relationship work. But how can we maintain communication on a smaller day-to-day level? The answer is simple: daily checking-in with your partner.
As a real relationship grows and develops, sustainability is all about “checking in” on a daily basis. No matter where you are - whether it be sitting in your living room watching TV or socializing at a crowded party - take the time to cross the room for a moment of light touch, eye contact, or even a peck on the cheek.
No Mind Reading
Sometimes when we’re in a long term relationship, we start to get into a groove where we are very comfortable with our significant other. While this is mostly a positive thing, it also means that we start to expect that our partners can “read our minds” and know exactly what we’re feeling or thinking at any given moment.
That’s why it’s important to keep an open conversation in your relationship, no matter how long you have been together. In fact, the more consistent you are with this communication, the stronger bond you will develop with your partner.
How Are We?
We are often so caught up in the moment that we forget to take a second to zoom out of the relationship and evaluate what we and our partner are actually feeling. Take time to inquire into questions like “How is the relationship doing?” or “Where have we been struggling and how can we work on it?”
Another key to maintaining routine evaluation of your relationship is a yearly recommitment process. Every year, take the time to recommit to your relationship. Are you going to be together for another year, and what do you promise each other for this next year?
The best way to build strong relationships is to solve problems together and work as a team. Learning to strategize and negotiate as equals can help develop confidence and trust in each other and in your relationship.
Fighting or arguing about problems, big or small, only tears your relationship down and causes more tension between you and your lover. Instead, create a stronger, more long-lasting bond by solving problems together with consideration for each other's opinions and feelings.
While receiving feedback from your family and friends can be an interesting insight into how your relationship is doing from an outsider’s perspective, the best feedback you can give to your relationship comes from yourself. Take the time to provide both positive and negative feedback to your significant other. Feel free to use a notebook or paper-based calendar to write notes for each other so that you can actually visualize the progress you’re making.
Once there’s feedback, there’s a chance to improve. And improving your relationship will lead to a stronger and deeper connection.
Sometimes when we’re frustrated in our relationship, we can be quick to think that, if we could change the other person, our relationship would be so much better and easier. Although we can’t control other people’s thoughts and actions, it’s important to remember the one thing we can control: ourselves. We are in total control of how we respond to tough situations and these reactions can be more powerful than you think.
When you feel emotionally triggered by something your partner said, pause and try to ground yourself before reacting out of pure anger or pain.
The Right Kind of Communication
Many relationships can fail due to a lack of communication. However, even if the communication is there, it is important to make sure that you are communicating in a positive and effective way. Disrespectful communication can often lead to a broken relationship.
Open, respectful, and considerate communication is key. That means being attentive listeners, expressing how you’re feeling in a calm way, and being as authentic with each other as humanly possible. If you’re in a relationship with broken communication, just one simple “How are you?” can change the whole game.
Hearing vs Listening
There is a huge difference between just “hearing” someone and actually listening to what they’re saying. In your relationships, make sure you are doing less hearing and more listening. Try to fully absorb what the other person is saying by imagining yourself in their shoes.
The term “communication is key” does not only mean to talk about your feelings. It also means to truly listen to the other person and take their feelings seriously. If your partner feels that something needs to change in your relationship, take these thoughts to heart.
Keep Your Word
You know what they say: “a man is only as good as his word.” Being a person that sticks to your word can strengthen your relationship and build trust between you and your partner. Be sure that, if you say you’re going to do something, you will put in the time and effort to actually do it.
If we feel like someone in our lives constantly goes back on their word and doesn’t follow through, we begin to lose faith in them. If you aren’t one hundred percent sure that you can keep a commitment, then don’t make it.
What does it mean to have integrity? A person who possesses this powerful trait is someone who is honest, follows through on whatever promises they have made, and does the right thing even when no one is watching and there is no reward.
Try to practice having integrity within your relationships. A person who has integrity and follows through on their promises is more likely to maintain an honest and healthy relationship. If integrity is lacking in a relationship, it will surely struggle and may even break.
Trust is the core of every healthy, positive relationship. Establishing a sense of trust is vital in almost every relationship: whether it be a platonic friendship, a professional relationship, or a romantic one.
In every relationship that is important to you, you want the other person to know that they can trust you and that you are on their side. This works both ways: you also want to feel that you can trust your partner and that he or she has your back no matter what.
Confident and Humble
Although you may already be familiar with this fact, it is important to note that there is a huge difference between confidence and cockiness. Confidence is often paired with humility. A person who is both confident and humble can own up to their mistakes without letting their ego get in the way.
Confidence paired up with humility leads to more effective communication within a relationship. Staying humble and making sure your ego stays out of the way will lead to happier relationships.
Sorry Not Sorry
When we do something to hurt someone we love, the first thing we usually do is apologize. However, that “I’m sorry” might be meaningless if you don’t do anything to actually change the behavior that made your partner upset.
The next time you apologize to someone, be sure that you actually mean it. Alongside the typical “sorry,” make sure to mention something about accepting the blame for the situation and make a plan to change your behavior.
This tip is especially directed toward parents, but you could apply this to many different relationships in your life.
To build a good relationship with your kids, try practicing "control-free parenting." This means giving your children the freedom to decide things for themselves - as long as they don’t involve safety, health, or harm to themselves or others. Guiding your children on decision-making in a positive way is the key to building trust within a family.
Understand Yourself First
Before building a relationship with another person, make sure you fully understand yourself and what you want beforehand. If we aren’t clear on who you are as a person and what is important to us in life, it’s easy to fall into a relationship that isn’t right for us in the long-term.
Take some time for yourself to get clear on who you are and what your values are, as well as the different things you’d like to experience in life. This will make it easier to find someone who is a perfect match.
Confidence Is Key
People who build positive, healthy relationships are usually people that feel good about themselves and are comfortable in their own skin.
Being already self-confident, these people do not feel the need to draw attention to themselves and make everything about them. This is a key ingredient in a strong person - and relationship. They always make time for the people they love and promote a positive atmosphere where they look forward to spending time with them. They are also life-long learners, always open to opportunities for self-improvement.
Strengthening our connection with ourselves is the most effective path to strengthening our connections with others. The more we learn about who we are at our core, the more we fall in love with ourselves. And when we are in love with ourselves, there is a much larger chance of someone else falling in love with us.
Authenticity is the key to having real, intimate connections. Dedicate yourself to the art of bonding with yourself before bonding with anyone else.
Many life coaches and relationship therapists claim that self-awareness is a major building block in developing strong relationships. There is lots of truth to this. After all, when you begin to understand your own thoughts and emotions you become able to identify your emotional triggers, ultimately allowing you to manage your emotions.
Having more self-awareness will lead you to ask yourself powerful questions. This will lead to self-discovery and empathy not only toward yourself - but toward the people you love.
Although wearing your heart on your sleeve can seem intimidating, only when we are vulnerable with others can we let them into our hearts and build strong, healthy relationships.
This means opening up to your loved ones about your worries, fears, and hopes for the future, no matter how scary that may be for you. We worry a lot about what others think so this kind of openness may be difficult, but when you allow your partner to see you for who you are, you will create a bright future together.
It’s incredibly easy to fall into a routine within a long-term relationship - you feel like you know how your partner thinks so you lose the motivation to discover them the way you did when you first met. However, it is never too late to learn new things about your partner.
Make it a priority to find out more about your significant other. Try to find ways to constantly be growing and learning together in conversation and you will keep the romance alive for years.
People often measure their relationship efforts with the intent to keep it 50/50. However, this is unrealistic. No relationship is ever 50/50, and it shouldn’t be. Instead, stop keeping score and try to work every day to make sure things stay 100/100. A maximum effort from both sides into your relationship is the key to success.
Realize that you and your partner contribute to different things in your relationship in various ways and that is what usually makes you a strong and happy couple.
It’s All About Perspective
It is important to recognize that each person has their unique perspective and it is right for them. To build strong relationships, we need to try our best to understand the perspective of others. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to agree with these perspectives, it just means to be open and non-judgmental while listening to and trying to understand them.
Try to ask open questions and provide an opportunity to explore new perspectives that you may be less familiar with.
Every human being wants their feelings to be validated. Having someone truly understand how you feel from their perspective and allowing you to have those feelings is extremely comforting.
You don’t always have to agree with your partner. It’s totally understandable to have different opinions and perspectives about things. But you don’t need to agree with your partner's opinion to validate it! Validating means saying “I understand how you could feel that way.” And if you don’t understand, feel free to go ahead and ask why.
Don’t Break Even
Relationships are about love - they are not a transaction. Constantly keeping score and trying to remain “even” with each other can be a major relationship killer.
In a healthy relationship, you should be doing good for each other because of genuine care for a person - not just for the sake of keeping score. For starters, try to refrain from keeping track of how much money has been spent on one another. Give without expectation of getting anything back, and good karma will come back to you.
The Blame Game
If you’re in a serious relationship with someone, think of it as if you guys are a team. That means whatever problems come at you two, look at these issues together instead of letting them come in between your relationship and potentially ruining it.
You and your significant other are on the same side in life, facing the world together. Stand as one and look at your problems together instead of blaming each other for them. The “blame game” won’t get you anywhere.
Spending quality time together is a crucial part of almost every relationship in your life. Taking an hour out of your day to play a game with your kid may seem like something trivial, but it will contribute to the bond you share with your child and they will remember those moments for years to come.
As adults, we need to remember to take time out of our busy lives to spend time with our loved ones. Try doing some activities that don’t require much preparation like going on a walk together, watching a movie, or playing a card game.
Friends First, Lovers Second
Attraction and feelings of romance are significant parts of an intimate relationship. However, make sure you don’t lose sight of how important it is to maintain a friendship with your partner.
Even during times when your romantic feelings for each other are on the rocks, try to remember the friendship that first made you fall in love with that person. Remember the jokes and memories you have together and the interests that you share. Doing this will cause you to quickly find your way right back into each other’s arms.
The power of meditation has been proven in many aspects of our lives. But what you may not have known is that meditation can also improve your relationships with others.
Using an application or guided meditation, try taking some time out of your week for regular meditation with your partner. Lay down or sit across from each other and close your eyes while holding hands. It’s a free, relaxing, and efficient way to grow the bond you share with your loved one.
It may sound like a cliche, but it’s true that you don’t really know a person until you have traveled abroad with them. Different environments test your strengths as a couple and will allow you to evaluate how well you get along when you can’t escape one another.
If you can tackle about two weeks traveling in a foreign country with your loved one and don't want to punch each other in the face, you can probably survive a lifetime together!
Spending time with your loved ones is the foundation of any healthy relationship, but what you do during that time is also important. The next time you have a date with your partner, try to plan something away from all the noise, stress, and distractions that come with everyday life. This will free up your headspace and allow you to truly feel connected.
Life can be busy, but dedicating a few hours each month to spend time in nature together can do wonders for your relationship.