1. Figure out if your relationship is worth saving.
â€¢ If one or both of you have a history of being unfaithful to each other, then the damage you have done may be beyond repair.
â€¢ If you find yourself constantly attracted to other people, or even fantasizing about dating another person, then you may have lost that feeling for your current love interest.â€¢ If you suspect your loved one just doesn’t make you want to be a better person. If nothing about the relationship makes you want to grow, then you may have become too complacent for that spark to stay lit.
â€¢ If you’re in the relationship because you’re afraid to be alone or because you don’t think you can do much better. This is a sign that you feel more anxiety than love.
â€¢ If you refuse to ever leave your significant other because “it would hurt him/her too much.” The longer you wait to call it off, the more hurt your loved one will be, and if you know it just doesn’t feel right, then you’re not doing your significant other any favors by sticking around.
â€¢ If you are afraid to introduce your significant other to new friends or family members because you’re worried they won’t get along. Do you really want to date someone you can’t show off to your friends and family? It’s one thing if your significant other is just shy, but if he or she can’t get along with anyone else in your life, it can be a deal-breaker.
2. Look through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror.
In order to move forward in your relationship, you have to absolutely stop obsessing over your loved one’s past–as well as your own. If you’re too hung up on whether or not he’s still gaga over his ex from high school, or if your old ex is dating someone new, then you’ll never be able to strengthen your bond.
Avoid asking too many questions about your loved one’s past relationships, and definitely avoid snooping through his things or looking online for hints about his past. Not only will this make you worried for no reason, but if he finds out, it won’t speak well of your confidence for the new relationship.
â€¢ As for your own exes, you don’t have to cut off contact with them unless it’s necessary, but do try to minimize contact, especially when you’re starting a new relationship.
3. Share your passions. It’s important to have common interests other than your love for each other.
At first, passion may be enough to keep your love going, but once your relationship matures, it’s important to share common interests or activities so that your relationship stays fresh.
You should work on sharing hobbies, whether you bake desserts every Sunday, or find a TV show that no one likes but you two.
â€¢ Have a couple culture project. You can decide to watch at least one movie together a week, or have your own mini-book club. That way, you can motivate yourself to learn new things and have something to talk about.
â€¢ Make time for fun for fun’s sake. Not everything you do as a couple has to make you more interesting or talented. There’s nothing wrong with sharing a pitcher of beer and hitting up a local pool table once in a while.
4. Share your passions–but not all of them.
Though it’s important to have shared interests with your loved one, it is just as important to have your own interests.
Do you love yoga while he likes swimming at the local pool? Do you like getting together with your girlfriends to dance to 80s music, while he likes meeting his bro-friends at the local bar to watch football? Great! It’s important to maintain your own identity while building an identity as a couple.
â€¢ And it’s just as important to spend the night with your sweetie hanging out with friends as it is to have some alone time regularly. Both of you absolutely need it in order to maintain your own interests, as well as to realize how grateful you are when that loved one is around.
5. Learn to compromise.
It’s important to stand up for what you believe in–but only to a point. If you’re sick of sushi but your girlfriend has been dying to try the new Japanese place on date night, give in but ask if you can pick the movie.
But always remember that it’s important that both people are willing to make a sacrifice. If you find yourself always giving in to your loved one’s needs, big or small, it’s time to have a talk.
6. Follow your own pace.
The biggest mistake you can make is putting your foot on the gas to catch up with all the speeding cars–you’ll end up crashing and burning.
Just because your impulsive best friend has shacked up with her boyfriend of three weeks doesn’t mean that you and your boyfriend have to go apartment hunting ASAP.
â€¢ Even if all of your friends and their pet fish are getting married, it does not mean that you are ready to take the plunge.
7. Communication is key.
If something is bothering you, it’s important to let your loved one know so you can tackle the problem together.
â€¢ Pick the right place and time to have a talk. Even if there’s something really important that you want to say to your sweetie that feels like it can’t wait, you won’t be able to have the conversation you want to have if you try to talk at a loud concert, or the minute after your significant other got some bad news at work. Make sure you are both sitting down and looking at each other to have the conversation to avoid distractions.
â€¢ Use the right tone to get heard. If you begin the conversation in an aggressive manner, your significant other is likely to get defensive. Be as calm and rational as possible, even if you’re feeling angry. This will let your significant other actually hear what you have to say.
â€¢ Don’t be too confrontational. Try saying, “There’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about,” instead of, “We have to have a talk–now!” This will still show that what you have to say is important, but will cut down on the drama.
â€¢ Don’t let the small things build up. If you want to avoid having big serious talks all the time, remember that if something small ticks you off, you can tell your significant other without making a big deal about it. That way, you can avoid being passive aggressive or having the tension build up, and can move forward while understanding each other’s needs.
â€¢ However, it’s also important to know when to lay off–if you’re bothered because your boyfriend accidentally put your milk away in the cabinet, there’s no need to nag him, especially if he’s had a rough day.
8. Even if your love is rock solid, your loved one should not be taken for granted.
Remind yourself how lucky you are to have found your soul mate, but that it’ll take hard work to make the relationship thrive.
No matter how busy your days are, try to find the time to have a conversation when you’re both away from your computers, phones, and televisions. It’s important to make time for each other even if everything is going well.
â€¢ Do something completely new together as often as you can, whether its taking a dance class or making your own gnocchi, to avoid getting into a rut.
â€¢ Compliment your significant other at least once a day. For bonus points, find something new to say every time!