So, you’ve found someone special and things are going quite well? Or, perhaps, you’ve been on a date or two with someone and you think it might be heading somewhere, but you have a track record of ruining relationships before they get serious so you want to know how to proceed? Whatever your circumstances, let’s all just agree that relationships are complicated, and a great relationship is definitely hard to find. That’s because there are so many elements at play – you have to find someone who you’re compatible with and who you enjoy spending time with, you have to be available yet not too available, affectionate yet not totally suffocating them, goofy yet serious… the list goes on and on. And, it certainly doesn’t help that there’s a ton of conflicting information out there about how you should behave to drive him wild, what the warning signs are for a guy that isn’t ready to commit, etc.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can supercharge your relationship, little tips and tricks that will allow you to take things from ‘good’ to ‘fantastic,’ because let’s be honest – you deserve it!
You deserve a relationship that brings you joy and makes you crazy happy, and unfortunately, those don’t always appear out of thin air – they require work, but it’s all worth it.
Here are 15 ways to create the best relationship of your life. You can thank us later.
15Do little things for one another
We kind of blame rom coms for this one – so many people think that romantic gesture have to be huge, once in a lifetime things like buying a thousand roses or renting out an entire ice-skating rink for a private skate, etc. While those gestures are certainly lovely, they’re not really realistic – and they’re not something you can pull out of your back pocket every single weekend (unless you’re some kind of millionaire, perhaps). So, in order to create an amazing relationship, forget about those larger than life gestures and focus instead on the little things. Bring your partner a cup of coffee just the way they like it, or pour them a glass of their favourite wine and have it waiting for them after a long day. Give them a little mini massage while the two of you are watching television together. Bring home an inexpensive bouquet of flowers to brighten up her place, just because.
14Remember to laugh
Many people think that relationships should be all about passion, and while there definitely should be an element of that in any strong relationship, there’s one thing that’s often overlooked – humour. Just think about why you enjoy spending hours and hours with your friends – it’s because they make you laugh and spending time with them just feels easy and relaxing. While you definitely have a different connection with your romantic partner than you do with your BFFs, any strong relationship has an underlying layer of friendship – you need someone you can lounge around at home with, not just someone who takes you out for fancy dinners when you’re all dolled up. When there are so many emotions in the mix, it can be easy to be negative about things that go wrong in your relationship, or to let your frustration about the fact that he never puts the toilet seat down simmer for ages, but you kind of have to learn to just laugh certain things off, and laugh together.
13Support your partner
If your partner decides they’re going to climb Mount Everest, do you need to go out and buy them thousands of dollars worth of mountaineering gear before they’ve ever set foot in a rock climbing gym to practice? No. However, you should be supportive of their dreams to a certain degree, no matter how far-fetched they might seem. You can absolutely be the voice of logic and help them see some of the tough parts of what they’re hoping to achieve, but you should also be their loudest cheerleader, because that’s what partners do – they support one another. You don’t want the kind of relationship where your partner is hesitant to share their dreams because they know you’ll just slam them. You want the kind of relationship where you can curl up under the blankets with your partner and talk about your crazy dreams, because hey – maybe one day they’ll come true.
12Don’t put your relationship on the back burner
When you see totally happy, in love couples, it can be easy to assume that their relationship is super easy. After all, they’re laughing and obviously loved up – it must just come naturally to them in a way that it doesn’t to other couples, right? Well… not really. It’s true that a relationship shouldn’t constantly feel like an uphill battle where you’re fighting your partner about every little thing – that’s a sign that the two of you are probably not compatible. However, a relationship definitely isn’t totally effortless – you need to put in some work and time to nurture it. After all, a relationship is kind of like a living thing – it needs care and attention, it needs to be properly tended and nurtured in order to stay healthy. If you want to create a truly amazing relationship, you can’t just stick it on the backburner while you focus on your career or hobbies – you need to put in some effort.
11Communicate – always and often
Basically every single thing you’ve ever read about relationships suggests you need to communicate, but it’s such an important message that we’re going to go ahead and say it again – communicate with your partner! Always! Often! Openly! Now, we’re not saying you need to vocalize every little criticism you have, or constantly be giving them a running commentary about their choices. However, if you’re not open with your partner, you’re setting yourself up for failure. In order to have a strong and healthy relationship, you need to know that you can vocalize your opinions and feelings and that your partner will respond to that, and together you can make changes in your relationship that will have you both feeling happier and heard. Many people think that communicating needs to be negative, but it absolutely doesn’t – it just means sharing things with your partner on a regular basis, whether that’s a compliment or an honest comment regarding something you’re not crazy about.
10Be truthful and honest
Trust is something that’s tough to build, and once it’s been jeopardised, it’s almost impossible to regain – that’s why you should absolutely never, ever lie to the person you’re in a relationship with. We get it – it can be tough to be honest sometimes when you know that it might hurt the other person. However, if you start lying constantly, the entire foundation of your relationship will eventually crumble. Trust us on this one. The moment you tell one lie, you need to tell another lie to cover it up, and then another lie to make things seem normal again, and before you know it you’re wrapped in a web of lies and you can’t remember what you told your partner and what the actual truth is. Trust is one of the biggest factors in a relationship, and if you don’t have that, you’ll find yourself struggling to create a truly fantastic relationship.
9Don’t dwell in the past
Look, unless you met your partner while you were both children, the fact is that just about everyone has a past you might not know everything about. As your relationship progresses, you’ll share a lot of those details with your partner – both good and bad – but that’s just because you’re sharing all of yourself with your partner. It’s not ammunition for your partner to store up and throw at you when you’re having an argument. It can be easy to look at your partner’s past and worry about a myriad of things – whether they’re happy in their current corporate career when they used to be a wild, world-travelling adventurer, whether they’re happy with you given that their list of exes looks like a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, etc. The minute you start getting wrapped up in the past, it becomes a big part of your present relationship – and that’s just no good.
8Figure out their love language
A while ago, people were buzzing about Gary Chapman’s notion of love languages – the idea that people respond in different ways to different expressions of love, from words of affirmation to gifts and physical touch. While we won’t go too deeply into that concept, there is one important lesson there – different people feel appreciated and loved in different ways, and if you want an amazing relationship, you need to realize what your partner values. For some, it’s verbal acknowledgement – they want to hear you say “hey, thanks for making dinner tonight, I really appreciate it” or “man, you look absolutely amazing in that suit.” For others, it’s all about physical touch – they want you to be stroking their arm during dinner and holding their hand when you’re walking around. For others, it’s all about small gifts, little gestures that show you’re thinking of them. You need to realize what your partner values and focus your efforts on those types of gestures.
7Spend quality time together
What’s true of certain commodities is true of time – it’s all about quality rather than quantity. Wouldn’t you rather have one expensive, fantastic dress that makes you feel incredible every time you put it on, instead of ten inexpensive, cheaply made dresses that have you feeling less than confident? Well, spending time together in a relationship is just the same. Sure, you might spend all night sitting right beside one another, but if he’s staring blankly at the football game and you’re scrolling through your social media feeds, are you really spending time together or are you just in the same physical area? If you want to build a rock solid relationship, you have to carve out quality time, not just a quantity of time – find moments where you both can focus on your relationship without outside distractions. We’re not saying you need to give up your Netflix vegging sessions – we’re just saying you need to find moments to have actual conversations.
6Don’t become codependent
We get it – the reason you’re with your partner is that you love spending time with them, and particularly when you’re in the early stages of a relationship, you kind of want to spend every possible moment with your partner because they give you butterflies. That’s great – but you need to be careful that you don’t cross the line into codependency. The idea of spending time away from one another might be frightening, and seem like something couples on the verge of breaking up would do, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In order for your relationship to be strong and lasting, you need to still be your own people and keep your own identities while also becoming a solid couple. So yes, you should still have regular date nights and spend time with one another – but you should also say yes to girls’ night every now and then.
5Pick your battles
Look, there are some things in a relationship that are worth fighting about, and some that just really aren’t. If there’s a big, deal-breaker issue that you suddenly find you disagree on, you should absolutely hash that out and not just bury it under the rug and hope it doesn’t resurface. However, things like which shelf in the fridge you like to keep the milk on or how you like to fold your t-shirts or which way you like the toilet paper roll to face just aren’t worth fighting about. If you go to war over every little disagreement, you’ll find yourselves constantly fighting and in a state of negativity – and that doesn’t sound like a very good relationship at all. Save your fights for the topics and issues that really matter strongly to you, and try to let some of the annoying, nit-picky things slide. Plus, honestly – who wants to be fighting all the time? It’s exhausting!
4Keep things spicy
A strong, lasting relationship can’t be built solely on sex – couples focused solely on that tend to be in lust rather than in true love – but there’s no doubt that sex is an integral part of a great relationship. After all, it’s a way to feel closer to your partner, to connect on a truly intimate level. However, while most couples find themselves unable to keep their hands off each other in the early stages of a relationship, often when you’re in it for the long haul, you find those sparks fading a bit as you get too preoccupied with other things in life. Well, if you want the best relationship of your life, you need to step up your bedroom game. We’re not talking about going crazy and getting a ton of toys and outfits that don’t really appeal to you. We’re just saying you need to make the intimate parts of your relationship a priority, and make time for all that fun stuff.
3Don’t compare yourselves to other couples
Everyone’s heard the phrase “the grass is always greener on the other side,” and it applies to so many things in life – including relationships. You see all the messy parts of your own relationship, all the less than romantic moments. In others’ relationships, you really only see the highlight reel – you see the picture perfect moments they share on social media, the fact that they’re going on a date night at that hot new restaurant in town, etc. Couples don’t share the moments where they’re sitting in their grubbiest sweatpants, eating take-out straight out of the container while watching reality television. So, before you go wishing your relationship was like that other couple you constantly see posting on social media, just take a moment to realize that their relationship isn’t even like that – it’s just a snapshot that they’re providing you. Comparing yourself to others will just make you feel badly about yourself, and it doesn’t really accomplish anything.
2Be honest about who you are
It has become a bit of a cliché in romantic comedies and chick lit books that a woman will pretend to absolutely love something she hates, and before she knows it, she’ll find herself on a two week camping trip in the deep woods because she didn’t want to admit to her boyfriend that she hates the outdoors. There’s some humour in exaggerated situations like that, but the lesson is an important one – you need to be honest about who you are. If you want to create a truly amazing relationship, you need your partner to love you for who you are – not who you’re pretending to be. There are certainly compromises that need to be made in relationships, and you might find yourself doing things to make your partner happy that wouldn’t be your choice of a date night activity. However, if you’re lying about who you are and what you like, your partner probably thinks he’s planning incredible date nights when in fact you’re suffering through them.
1Be honest about what you want for the future
This is a big one, and if you’re young and just looking for fun relationships with no real future, it’s not really one you need to consider. However, if you’re looking for ‘the one,’ someone you’d like to settle down with and spend years and years with, someone to build a rock solid relationship with, you absolutely need to talk about the future. It’s not always the sexiest topic of conversation, but it’s necessary. If your partner wants to travel the world while you know you want to buy a house and settle down in a small town, that could be an issue. If your partner absolutely never wants to have children while you’re already dreaming of your family of five driving around in a mini van, that could be an issue. Many couples make compromises, but there are certain big issues that you can’t really compromise on, and it’s better to know them sooner rather than later.