The field of relationship science is one of the most rapidly evolving in current micro-sociologies and psychologies. New theories are posited every day, with updated research on what makes the best relationship structure and strategy being developed at near-record level. Unfortunately, a majority of this data is only available to those looking for it.

Having trouble connecting to someone and making a relationship work can be one of the most difficult things to do. But I’m here to give you the advice and tools to make either your current or next relationship not only last, but be a healthy and happy relationship.As a woman in a happy, fulfilling romantic relationship with my best friend, I can say that the information you’re about to receive – and if you transfer that information into knowledge – will help you be the best you for a romantic relationship.

I’ve had first hand experience with helping friends and even private clients in helping them work through their relationship problems, and the following advice is the most basic breakdown of that work. Use it to make your life better first, then use it to help your mate.

15Don’t Make Sudden Decisions

The minute you enter a relationship is the same minute that you have to stop being a “me” and start being a “we.” If you want your relationship to last, then by all means, be the “me” at work, but when you’re not in that context, you’re a “we,” and that means that all of your decisions now fall under a “we” mentality. To a lot of you, this might seem obvious. It’s inherently disrespectful to make sudden, rash decisions without consulting with your partner, but for some reason every women’s magazine seems to think it’s okay to push this rhetoric. Sure, you can dye your hair, surprise him with a new car, but if you’re thinking of buying something expensive, a massive career change, or something equally as drastic, that decision now has to be a group decision.

14Intimacy Is Important, Stop Faking It

After communication, a healthy intimate life is key to any relationship. However, “healthy love life” is a relative term. If you like to be intimate three times a day in billions of positions, but your partner is only up to the one session a day, this is something you need to talk about. Almost all partners will stray when their intimate desires aren’t being met. Unfortunately, you’re both to blame for this.

Many women will fake it to make their partner’s happy, but this can be dangerous in the long run. When you first get together, have an open and honest conversation about intimacy. Talk about all of the things you’re into, where your limits are, what the differences are between making love and shagging are to you. You’ll find a happy balance, and one that you can hopefully maintain in the long run.

13Men Don’t Like To Feel Emasculated, Ladies It’s Time To Embody Your Role

So this might be one of the least popular items on this list, but unfortunately the science is pretty set on this one: women that act like men in the relationship are 70 percent more like to get divorced. This whole new trend of women being the same as men in relationships has been found to massively undermine men’s masculinity, and is one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States. Women that want to do it for themselves, be independent, show men how things are done, are significantly more likely to jump from relationship to relationship their whole lives. Why? Because no man wants to be told what’s up by a woman, and unfortunately that is an intrinsic trait of the gender. Women are exactly the same. There is a reason that women aren’t sexually attracted to effeminate homosexual men, so why would a man be attracted to a manly woman in the long run?

12Learn How To Argue

Just as learning to communicate is essential to long-term happiness, learning to argue is key to all relationships’ longevity (romantic or not). A lot of people will blame, shame, and defame their partners instead of actually looking internally to their role in the argument. This is a reaaaaally difficult and long-winded thing to accomplish in a relationship (I once refused to let my boyfriend get off a kayak in the middle of the ocean until we were done arguing and had come to a fair conclusion to work from) but is soooo worth. Here are some idea to start you off:

– Don’t raise your voice at any times

– Never, ever threaten the other person (except in extreme circumstances)

– Brainstorming, taking notes, making lists are very helpful in communicating the problem

Overall, the purpose of an argument is to fix an issue. That should be the only goal of a disagreement, and if the conclusion is “agree to disagree” that’s a win.

11Your Needs, Their Needs

It is a truth universally acknowledged that sometimes we don’t want to do what our parents want to do. Unfortunately, if you want to have a boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever, long-term, you have to show that you are open to trying new things that they enjoy. The reasons for this are two fold. Firstly, the easiest way to start hating each other is to introduce shame into the relationship. If your partner is really into fishing, and you think fishing is really lame, try it once. If you still hate it, politely explain that it’s just not for you, but that you’ll support your partner in their fishing hobby in whatever way possible.

Secondly, you might just enjoy yourself. Couples that do things together, stay together. One of my favorite, and the easiest way to try this out, is to introduce your partner to a TV show they might not be into. Watch at least THREE episodes together. If your partner isn’t into it, don’t pressure them. Use the show as your guilty pleasure, just never ever feel guilty about it.

10Screaming Is For When You’re Scared

My last roommate used to scream. We’re not friends any more, and never will be again. Why? Because it is literally the most childish, ignorant, selfish, abusive, and psychotic ways to communicate with anyone, let alone a loved one. Raising your voice is the easiest way to escalate a situation from bad to worse. Think about it this way: when do people usually scream on TV – when they hurt themselves, when they’re frightened, dying, acting like a crazy person. If you don’t want to be considered a crazy person, and subsequently become single, then stop with the screaming.

If you’re not sure how to avoid this trait, then the next best option is to write your feelings in a letter. Commit several versions to paper, and if you still feel the need to scream after getting everything off your chest, give your partner the letter instead.

9Don’t Ask, Don’t Get

Not even mind-readers are mind-readers. Whether you’ve been in a relationship for ten minutes, or five decades, your partner cannot read your mind. Just because you assume that they should be able to after all these years, doesn’t make it so either. If you want something out of your relationship that you’re not getting, then be explicit with it.

For example, say you hate that your partner farts near you. You give them the eye that you think says, “don’t do that.” They may interpret this as, “that mildly annoyed me, but whatever.” See the issue here?

It’s the same as with birthday presents. If you want a new phone but don’t tell anyone, then do you really think you should be upset to open a new watch on your birthday?

8Never Assume Anything

Similarly to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Get content, assuming things of a relationship is one of the biggest triggers for an argument. It’s also the weakest platform within an argument. A huge number of relationships break down because one or more parties just assumes things of their partner. Not only can this be disrespectful, but it can also be dangerous.

I’ll use the example of my most recent birthday. Other than a few extenuating circumstances, it was the worst birthday I have ever had. I am terrified, yes, TERRIFIED of immerse theatrical and art events. The only thing that scares me more is horror-based art and theatrical event, so when my boyfriend took me to the Griffith Park Haunted Hayride, and the crowd was overtaken by actors dressed as murderous clowns, I had a panic attack and wanted to die then and there. Combine that with nominal PTSD from an incident years ago, and my boyfriend was pretty upset with himself. He assumed I’d like the event because we’d been to see IT several weeks before. Luckily, we laughed at how abysmal the day had been, but it could have just as easily gone the other way.

7You Keep Dating The Same Type of Person

Everyone has a type. You’re allowed more than one type, but generally speaking, you’re more inclined to go for your type instinctively, than they are to approach you. If your type is not meeting you on all of the other areas discussed in this article, then the problem isn’t actually your type, it’s you.

So, how do we get over dating our type? Well, that’s up to you. Some successful concepts have revolved around Internet dating, not hitting on guys in bars and letting them hit on you, making lists of all the thing you don’t like about your type so you can head any future fellas off at the pass. Sometimes it’s not even just looks-based, you might go for a particular personality type, age, or demographic that just doesn’t match you well.

6You’re Probably a Me Monster

Okay, so here’s where things get personal: you are the problem. We’ll go into this in more detail later, but just know now that YOU are the problem.

One of the most unfortunate traits of our species is our inability to put anyone but ourselves first. I see it every day with relationships between couples, parents and children, siblings. What’s worse is that this is usually learned behavior: if you think your parents are selfish, then you are too (unless you’ve done the work on yourself).

Being a Me Monster is essentially the same as being the man with the trophy wife. You only want to be in a relationship because you think it’s the right thing to be in, but even when you’re in one you don’t change your actions, you make sudden rash decisions, you continue to be the “me” when you get home. Luckily, it’s an easy fix: stop being so flipping selfish, and put someone else first for once.

5Misery Doesn’t Actually Love Company

When you’ve gone through enough failed relationships, depression can set in pretty heavily. Most people don’t even realize they’re depressed until a doctor tells them, so if you’re on your fifth failed relationship, and you’re considering entering another, heed these cautions first…

Being depressed in a relationship can present with some fairly sinister symptoms: poor hygiene, sullenness, lack of ‘drive’, snapping, weight gain/loss. When you feel these emotions coming on, it is NOT up to your parter to fix the issue. Depression is inherently personal, and therefore should be remedied independently of your relationship (unless the relationship is the thing causing the depression – in which case, get out!)

So many relationships fail because one or both of the members is depressed. It’s an awful cycle, and one that should be tackled head on.

4Men Definitely Don’t Like Any Drama…Ever! So Keep That Stuff To Yourself

Drama is not for those of us looking for a serious, committed, long-term relationship. This isn’t limited to drama within the relationship, but in life in general.

Remember, you’re relationship is a “we,” so your problems are your partner’s problems too. If you’re constantly placing trivial arguments with girlfriends, petty fights with family members, or similar scenarios on your partner, you’ll exhaust them. The best way to achieve peace in a relationship is to limit your drama for when its really worth it, and you truly need the help, support, and advice from your significant other. If you continue to make little things seem big, then the big things will just seem as pedantic, so when you really need help, it just won’t be there.

3You Haven’t Figured Out How To Communicate

Communication is key to any happy, successful, long-term relationship. However, though we may think that there are only a handful of versions of the English language, there are actually billions of sub-languages within each version of English. While I was becoming a socio-demographic linguistic specialist, I began to chart how the different groups of people I hung out with would communicate. I soon found that each group had their own cadence, terminology, phraseology, and other stylistic tendencies. If I spoke to one group using another’s tendencies, they would look at me like I was crazy.

In layman’s terms, we don’t even know we’re changing the way in which we use language for each person we speak to. For some reason, and I think likely ego, most people assume that when they get home, they only have to communicate using their preferred version of English. This isn’t the case. Your partners are separate from you, so learn how they communicate. Almost all arguments either start, or are made worse when we fail to learn to communicate, and though this might not seem like a big deal right now, it’s one of the biggest reasons our parents are so unhappy.

Take the time and ask for clarification. Learn how to communicate on your partner’s level, and in return you’ll find everything in your lives getting better and closer.

2Love Your Children, But Love Your Partner More

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In all of the data I’ve read, papers I’ve written, couples I’ve worked with, etc, etc, the ratio of love for partner: children should be 60:40 of your total loving abilities. The reasons for this is pretty simple: children are better developed emotionally when their parents are loving toward each other, relationships last longer and are better if you live by this ratio.

One of the peak times for divorce in a couples’ life is when their children go off to university, or move out of the house. This is because, for the first time in some 20 years, a couple no longer has to direct their love through their children toward each other. Instead of using your children as a vehicle for loving your partner, use your partner as a vehicle for ensuring sufficient emotional development for your children.

1You Are The Common Denominator

Above all else, you are the common denominator in your own consistent failures. However, there is hope.

By attempting to identify, work-through, improve, and eventually move on from a constant issue, you’ll eventually make positive progress. I was recently engaged in a research project on what makes the expert performer, and the honest answer is that anyone can be an expert performer. This notion isn’t limited to sport, cooking, dancing, or any other skill. If you want to be the best performer in relationships, then you can do it.

All you need to do is figure yourself out. Take some time for you, learn about yourself. The better you get to know YOU, the easier you’ll make it for someone else. Then, when you finally meet the right person, all you’ll have to do is figure out their ticks. By that point you’ll be such a pro at working through the issues in this article that you’ll be set for a happy, fulfilling future with your best friend.

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