For some people the goal of dating to casually is to find themselves in a long term relationship of some description. Obviously this is not true for everybody. This post deals with some of the mechanics of long term relationships, many of these can be applied to relationships generally. This not about composing a set of rules that must be abided by in order to succeed in a relationship, every relationship is different (despite what the books tell you) and it is up to you to manage that accordingly. What follows are general principles for good communication that can often help make a relationship more successful (whatever that might mean.)
- Continue to say what you mean and mean what you say. If you have read my other dating posts which you can find here, this is repetition. I repeat it because I think it is the most important advice anyone interacting with other human being can have. Honest communication is the cornerstone of all the happiest and most functional relationships I am aware of, and all other points flow from here.
- Make your needs known. While it would be nice if our partners could read our minds and understand when we need a little TLC, this unfortunately mostly not the case. Don’t get mad at your partner for something you haven’t let them know you need. This is a part of communicating honestly!
- Communicate without judgement. We all have those times when our partner is pissing us off but there is no real need to apportion blame. Conflict can often be because we have not adequately made our needs know, or our partner has not understood those needs. Instead of saying, “why do you always do xxxxxx when you know it annoys me?” frame it in away that is less judgmental while still getting the point across, for example: “I feel xxxxx when this happens because xxxxx”. This is an honest way of communicating your needs without having to put your partner on the back foot.
- Consult Your Partner. This is perhaps a little dependent on how long you have been with them. If you have been with someone for a while, it makes sense that you talk about life decisions together and make them a part of your plan. Each party in a relationship wants to feel valued, and talking to your partner about big decisions is an important part of this. This does not mean you have to ask your partners advice, or even necessarily take their opinions on board. It does mean that you should talk to them and hear them out.
- Apologise sincerely when you fuck up. Everyone fucks up from time to time. It is normal, we are all humans and humans are flawed. When you hurt someone whether that hurt is accidental, or you never intended something to happen, it doesn’t matter. If you cause hurt you need to own up to it and make amends. Saying “I’m sorry you feel that way” is not a real apology. “I’m sorry that what I did hurt you, I not do things like that in the future” is a real apology. If you respect your partner you should respect that the way they feel about things is legitimate, even if you do not agree.
None of these things are the magical key that will make your relationship work well forever, they may however help you communicate more effectively in a relationship. I think that it is important to remember that fighting is normal but playing power games shouldn’t be. There should not be winners or losers in a relationship, and if there are it might be time to look a little closer at your relationship dynamic.
Good luck and have fun!