In the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship, you usually don’t have to do much to help things along – the relationship seems to grow without much effort. Still, it’s a good idea even then to go ahead and establish healthy patterns so that your relationship continues to thrive for years to come.
In my book Insecure in Love, I suggest some steps you can take to create a relationship that lasts:
1. Share personal thoughts and feelings: In the beginning of relationships, there is an important dance that happens around self-disclosure. Partners create a safe space within their relationship when they are supportive of each other sharing personal information at a similar pace. Failing to open up is clearly a problem – as is jumping in too quickly. Neither approach allows you and your new partner to stay in tune with each other. The dance of getting to know each other is essential even in established couples, who need to maintain a safe zone between them in order to keep a close connection.
2. Establish interdependence: It is important to rely on each other and function separately from each other. Turn to your partner for comfort, support, and encouragement. Yet still pursue your own separate interests as you manage some of life independently. And encourage your partner to do the same. This will help you both to feel personally supported while also feeling deeply connected.
3. Touch base daily: Talk briefly about what lies ahead in your day (if you talk daily) or your week (if your relationship has not yet advanced to daily contact). Then follow up with how your day or week unfolded. This will help you to remain current with each other’s lives.
4. Spend quality time with each other: This is generally not a problem in new relationships, but it can be. If you are in a long distance relationship or one of you has some taxing obligations (e.g. high expectations at work, many family responsibilities), then it’s important to find ways to connect meaningfully. Make sure you plan activities together – and be creative: if schedules keep you from going out for dinner and being together in person, eat together while video chatting.
5. Show that you care: Be conscious of the many ways that you and your partner express your love. You might do this physically with a hug or shoulder massage. You can also do this with words of appreciation or heartfelt compliments. Some people are most comfortable showing their love through actions, such as giving gifts or taking care of their partner’s needs (e.g. cooking for them, helping them organize their home). The more you are aware of offering these expressions of love, the more likely your relationship will remain on a positive track.
If you and your partner actively take responsibility for nurturing your relationship, that relationship will grow. You may each offer something different to the relationship. For instance, one of you might tend to plan quality time together while the other tends to be more affectionate. This is fine. It can even be a wonderful balance – as long as you both feel cared about. If one of you feels that you are not being supported or truly heard, then it’s important to talk this problem through. By attending to your relationship in these ways, you are setting and maintaining a path that can sustain a caring, loving relationship for life.
Entries for the Relationships blog are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.