The internet is full of opinions and relationship tips based on nothing but personal experiences.
One person’s experience is not always applicable to someone else’s, and each context is different.
However, research has shown us that 4 relationship tips are more universal and apply across cultures and individual circumstances.
We all have an innate need to feel wanted, valued, appreciated, and part of a tribe.
The essences of this are a sense of belonging.
Loneliness, anxiety, and depression are closely linked with the lack of belonging and not feeling valued, wanted, or appreciated and sometimes even having a felt experience of rejection and being unwanted.
This is devastating for the human spirit.
Relationships are biologically wired into us, and it’s an even more significant part of our support network now that tribal society has disintegrated and moved to the opposite spectrum of individualism.
So, let’s look at 3 relationship tips that will stand the test of time.
Self-regulation and self-awareness are the two essential skills that define stable, loving relationships.
Regulation means being able to monitor and regulate your nervous system.
This could be finding ways to motivate yourself if you feel down or demotivated or ways to calm your nervous system when you feel anxious, fearful and triggered.
We can’t relate well to others if we are too low as we lack motivation and energy and therefore have little to give.
Suppose we are on the other side of the spectrum of feeling anxious and fearful. In that case, we are likely to misunderstand and misinterpret our partner’s actions negatively and respond by attacking or withdrawing from them, which will cause a fracture in the relationship.
This is a skill I work a lot on with my individual and couple clients. See more here.
We tend to hope for the best and believe that our partner will magically know what we want and give it to us.
They should be able to if they are our soul mate, right?
As you already know, this fairy tale rarely has a happy ending.
It requires self-awareness to know our triggers, needs and boundaries and to see our part in the relationship dance as we refer to it in emotionally focused couples therapy.
We rarely take a moment to sit and reflect on what we need.
We tend to act impulsively at the moment.
When we can slow down, calm down and then reflect, we can see how anger and resentment might tell us about unmet needs or boundaries we need to set.
The better we know ourselves, the better we can teach our partner how to love us and avoid triggering us.
You can learn all about this and get the love map and guide in the monthly membership.
The core of relationships is the support system of a partner and someone that elevate us to be more than we can be on our own.
The basis of this is the emotional bank account.
Like your regular bank account, you need to put something in to have something to spend.
If you keep spending without adding any deposits, you will go into overdraft and eventually go bankrupt.
The emotional bank account consists of two parts.
This is how attuned and responsive you are to each other’s stress responses.
How well do you understand each other’s triggers, and can you help the other feel safe in this.
How well you notice their distress and can respond.
How well you turn towards each other and repair after a disagreement.
How accepting you can be of each other.
Emotional and physical needs.
This is our love language and what makes us feel good.
If your partner loves touch, how frequently do you have massages, cuddles or hold hands?
Is it the kind of touch they like?
If quality time is more important to them, then what does quality time look like for them and do you prioritise making this time?
These are the deposits you make into the relationship bank account, and when you have challenges or arguments, you withdraw from this account.
We need about 5 positives for each negative experience as our brain has a negative bias, so making regular deposits is critical.
There are a few other relationship tips that are important to mention here.
Relationships that last are built on shared goals.
Without these, the honeymoon and feel-good factor will subside and eventually, there will be an expiry date.
Many relationships have children as a shared goal for a while.
However, it’s essential to renew these and keep creating shared goals to not slowly float apart as the current makes you drift in different directions until you can’t see each other anymore.
So, each year you sit down and write out one or two common goals you want to collaborate on achieving this year.
It will keep a common purpose, and collaboration is what brings us together as social animals and why we relate
Intimacy and a sense of closeness are achieved by sharing our humanity and vulnerabilities and being accepted and supported by those.
It’s part of the bonding process.
There is a distinct difference between emotional dumping and vulnerability.
Emotional dumping is offloading our stress onto someone else because we can’t manage it.
It feels draining and can result in tiredness, irritation and anxiety for the receiver.
On the other hand, vulnerability is sharing something you might fear judgment, but you don’t need the other to hold it.
It could be a sexual fantasy you share with your partner or anxiety you keep hidden.
Emotional dumping is often fast, while the vulnerability is a slow opening over time as trust is earned.
At the core of our human experience is the need to feel a sense of belonging—a sense of acceptance.
However, in a culture full of shame, this is hard to give our partner.
Our self-shame and internal criticism often make us more critical and judgmental towards others, so to become an accepting partner, you have to start exploring self-compassion.
Once you replace your internal critic with compassion, it becomes much easier to give others acceptance.
It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give your partner.
Learn more about how you can have a great dating life and relationships here.