Everything You Need to Know From Loving Yourself to Someone Else
It has been said, that no human can live in complete isolation. Humans are naturally configured to relate with people at home, in school, at work, in religious centers and in our various communities. You cannot be in a relationship with yourself, unless you’re not yourself; you’ve heard the saying before, “it takes two to tango.” Every relationship counts, whether social, platonic or intimate and we all can use a little help here and there.
It is a popular saying that questions should not be answered with questions. Right, but the question, “is there such thing as a perfect relationship (?),” can only be answered by “is there a perfect person?” Nevertheless, there are healthy, great and happy relationships, as there are healthy, great and happy people. You have your answer right there. Don’t strive for a “perfect relationship,” instead work towards making it better than what it was yesterday or even a better YOU.
The choice of the word “work” is intentional because great relationships do not happen by accident; they require effort, commitment, consistency and time.
The following advice will definitely help you to enjoy your relationships. Feel free to apply them as your different relationships demand, especially for platonic and intimate relationships, because of the specificity involved. There are no stereotypic advices for relationships because of our individuality and experiential differences, but we can apply them as it affects our situation and lives.
Relate First with Yourself
It all starts with you. How well do you understand and relate with yourself? It goes a long way to determine your relationship with others. Love yourself first, it is not selfishness. Treating yourself with love and respect is as important as loving and respecting your partner. Be comfortable in your own skin; enjoy your own company before you consider enjoying another’s company. Do things that make you happy. Take responsibility for your own actions and happiness. Your partner will definitely try to please you and make you happy, but in the end, you are responsible for your own happiness. This happiness will radiate from you into your relationship. Remember, you can only get from someone else what you are willing to give, so start with you.
Bring It In
A relationship is determined by what you bring into it. It is what you make of it. The quality of a relationship is based on the individual and combined qualities of the people in it. It can be likened to a vacuum; if you will it with water, water flows out and if you fill it with wine, wine flows out. Thus, you bring love in if you want it in, you bring contentment in if you want it and it goes on like that. This is the best place to lead by example. If you want your partner to be committed, start by showing commitment. Do not assume that by being in a relationship, all is automatically well. No! You have to bring in what you want. Be realistic in your expectations too; don’t go into a relationship expecting your partner to do in your life what only your creator can do. Sometimes, we are not in the wrong relationship, we’re just not bringing the ideals in. What do you want in your relationship? Bring it in.
The Power of the “Little”
Every little thing counts and yes, it counts in your relationship too. Every day, at every opportunity that presents itself, commit yourself to doing little things for your partner, especially the seemingly unimportant things that are sure to make a positive impact. The results might be little but they will surely count. Do not belittle the power of a gentle touch, a smile, a kind word here and there, a listening ear, an honest compliment, a caring act like leaving note on the table, taking out the trash, helping out with chores or any other thing that concerns your partner. It has been said that a woman needs seven meaningful touches per day and that a man needs his ego massaged from time to time likewise. This may seem insignificant or ridiculous but it is true. Always remember that a little goes a long way.
Know Your Love Languages
There is a difference between knowing that you are loved and feeling that you are loved; it all depends on how it is communicated to you. This is where love languages come in. everyone has a love language that they relate to and can understand. Your love language and that of your partner may be as different as French and German. For you to communicate effectively, you must understand each other’s language. Confusion and misunderstanding can occur when you try to communicate or express yourself in a language that is foreign to your partner. There are five major love languages and they include;
• Words of Affirmation: This is communicating love verbally. It involves the use of kind words, verbal compliments, words of appreciation, words of encouragement and even letters and poems and songs to affirm your love for your partner.
• Receiving Gifts: A gift is symbolic because it shows thoughtfulness, that you have your partner in mind. It does not necessarily have to be big or way out of line, it is the thought and consistency that counts. You can also give your energy, time and attention.
• Acts of Service: This involves doing things that you know your partner would love you to do. It may involve helping out with tasks or activities. By doing these, you communicate love.
• Physical Touch: Physical touch communicates love or hate; it can make or break a relationship. A hug, a pat on the back, a shoulder to cry on, a warm embrace and other love touches count.
• Quality Time: This means spending good time with your partner and giving your undivided attention. It includes togetherness, sharing with each other, quality conversations and activities.
Communication is very important in relationships. It strengthens connections and helps in the processes of decision making and problem solving. Communication is more than just exchanging information, kit also includes the emotions and intentions behind the information. It is a two way street; not talking alone, but listening also. It is not complete until the message communicated has been received and understood the way it was intended. Being in a relationship will involve you being open, honest and vulnerable with your partner. In communicating, ask questions, make clarifications; don’t just assume. Be able to express your feelings to your partner and be willing to allow him or her do the same. It builds trust. Pay attention to non-verbal signals; body language, tone of voice, inflection, eye contact and be aware of yours too. Be comfortable with words like “please” and “thank you”. Listening is also vital. It is not just hearing, but focusing, paying attention to what is being said, seeking to understand it and providing a feedback where necessary.
Being in a close relationship makes you vulnerable, especially as any little offense that may not be a big deal from an outsider will be a big deal from your partner. Forgiveness is the healthy response to an apology and is necessary if a broken relationship is to be restored. If you show forgiveness, your partner is more likely to forgive you too. Forgiveness builds trust in relationships. It is a win-win scenario; it absolves your partner and also frees you from carrying the burden of anger and resentment around. Forgive yourself, forgive your partner. Forgiveness does not always come easy, it can be tempting to hang on to negative emotions; it is not unusual to feel this. With forgiveness, you have to make a deliberate decision to put your partner’s wrong behind you and let go so that you can move forward together. Forgiveness has health and psychological benefits too. Studies have showed that couples who practice forgiveness are more likely to enjoy more satisfying relationships and enjoy longer lives. What if your partner does not apologize? Lovingly approach them and hope that they will apologize. If your attempt(s) fail, you cannot force an apology, but you can express your willingness to forgive. In instances where your partner hurts you regularly without showing remorse or signs of changing, you should forgive still and then make a strong choice to move on from such relationship.
Your relationship is a team. Teamwork is basically m being able to exist and work together to achieve a common goal; a relationship goal in this case. You are in a relationship for a reason and the only way to achieve that is to work with your partner and not all by yourself. Teamwork is more than compatibility; it involves being cooperative and supportive, collaboration, partnership and a combination of your knowledge, strengths and resources. Your partner is your team mate and you will have to work hand in hand if you want any meaningful achievement. The quality of a team work is superior to the effort of one person. There is no substitute for the help, companionship, care and strengths that you enjoy when you work as a team. Teamwork strengthens your bond, it can also be fun-filled, enjoy it. Two are better than one for a reason.
Relationships are all about give and take. Compromise is a key part of every relationship. It is a mutual concession that may sometimes require you to accept standards that are lower than desirable. Compromises usually occur in a bid to even out individual differences in decision making processes in relationships. Don’t feel bad though, it is these differences that make your relationship special. It should be fair and balanced, not one sided. Be willing to allow your partner to express himself or herself and they will in turn do the same for you. You cannot be in a relationship on your terms alone; you also cannot compromise everything about you. The wisdom in this is that you should know when to stand your ground and when to bend. For example, you should not compromise your uniqueness, self-esteem, values and core beliefs but can concede on matters such as choice of meals, taste in furniture, chores, etc.
Let the Past Stay in the Past
Whether it is a forgiven offense, family issue or a grievance from a previous relationship, leave it behind and move on. You cannot start a new day with the broken pieces of yesterday as the best future is based on the forgotten past, especially when it is a wreckage of bad experiences. The past is past for a reason, you cannot move forward looking backward; you’ll hit your head, bump into nasty things, fall into pits and the likes. This is not saying you should ignore your past and refuse to learn from it; this is saying it should not be a stumbling block to your future. By all means, learn from your past, but do not live in it. Let bygones be bygones. When you find yourself regularly citing references from your past experiences, especially the negative ones, you should be careful. Bringing grudges from previous experiences or making negative references is as incompatible as new wine in an old wine bottle; the bottle will burst and the wine will be spilled out.
Know When to Let Go
Everything that has a beginning must surely have an end. The issue in many cases in that we don’t like the end; timing, circumstances, etc. as important as it is to know when to start a relationship, it is more important to know when you have to call it quits. Do not be misguided, the harsh truth is that not every relationship is forever and trying to hold on to such is like clinging to shadows, you’ll do yourself more harm than good. Sometimes, letting go is a gain, it does not mean you are at the losing end. It just means that you have to lose right now to gain later, for example, letting go of a partner that doesn’t appreciate and respect you or a partner that abuses you emotionally and physically at every opportunity. Don’t be weighed down, know when to keep trying and know when to let go.
Making use of the above tips would surely help you to build and keep a loving and healthy relationship. Have something to add about relationship advice? Share it with us in the comment section below!