As I scan through my vast array of social media outlets, I can barely go two minutes without seeing a link to a blog post or magazine site dedicated to achieving, and maintaining the ‘perfect relationship’, with a man of course. Despite this being a popular topic amongst women, it seems romantic relationships receive too much airtime these days and the other important relationships have to take a back seat. When thinking about the relationships that make up the web of my life, I realise that many of them have similar foundations, whether it is with my mum, dad, friends or boyfriend, there is always a common goal in the relationship; self-growth, happiness and empowerment. Of course, they are complex and it’s not always going to be an easy ride, but I have compiled some guidelines for a healthy and rewarding relationship.
Punctuality – In my eyes, one minute late may as well be an hour. What kind of message does this send the person if you don’t adhere to the rules you both set? However, I am fully aware that traffic doesn’t always behave, but setting off a few minutes earlier would benefit punctuality and give you more time with your important person. Maybe I’m exuding bitterness, but an ex-boyfriend once turned up to a family meal 4 hours late, so punctuality has always taken number one spot. Thankfully, I’ve moved up in the world and my current boyfriend is always deliciously early.
Make time for each other – Life is chaotic, to say the least, and our to-do lists on a Monday morning seem more like 500 page novels. I understand this more than ever now I’m a student with deadlines upon deadlines looming over me. Although I relish the student life, since starting higher education I’ve found a whole new friendship with my parents. It’s the little things that go a long way and something as simple as having a family dinner can fuel a much-needed catch up.
Remember the small things – Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t cost a small fortune to make someone happy. It’s often the small things in life that show someone you understand them and that you’ve invested in their uniqueness. My brother has an unhealthy obsession with Nestle Frosted Shreddies. He gorges, on average, 4 packs a week. My mother supports his obsession so much that if she spies an offer in a supermarket, no matter what she’s doing; she will come out with at least 5 boxes. Who knew cereal could make someone so happy.
Find a common interest – One of the most important things in a healthy relationship is finding something that you can both relate to. Something as small as having a mutual passion for Colombian coffee, red wine or water sports can stimulate conversation and open doors to future opportunities as a pair. It may seem trivial, but having things in common is the foundation to a relationship with a friend, boyfriend or family member. It may sound dramatic, but it’s nice to know that even though we seem like insignificant specks compared to the magnitude of the universe, there’ll always be the little things to bond over.
Communication – If you’re anything like me, you cringe at the thought of confrontation. In tricky situations I tend to mull over the situation for days subsequently allowing my stress levels to rocket and worrying about how the situations will evolve. From musing such as ‘how will he feel?’ ‘will he be upset?’ to ‘he absolutely needs to know how I feel here’ and ‘I CAN’T BELIEVE he doesn’t realise I feel this way without me telling him’. Who’d have thought that people couldn’t read minds? It’s not just boyfriends who lack telepathic skills, so do 99% of humans. That’s why conveying important emotions are important, especially if they’re troubling you. It’s better out than in, they always say.
Try something new – Don’t get me wrong; it’s nice to be comfortable. Having a steady routine is what I love most in life, however it’s refreshing to the other person to know you are open to new ideas or activities, perhaps ones you would never have dreamed of trying. Concerning parents, take them to a new restaurant you’ve never been before and try something completely new! With a friend, try testing out a new fitness craze like hot yoga or Pilates, something that could provide laughs for days as you think back to maneuvering yourself into strange positions in 45 degree heat. If it’s your boyfriend, I doubt I need to go any further; you get the gist.
Go out to dinner often – I’ve said it before, but dinner opportunities aren’t just about overeating, they’re about conversation and intimacy. Despite being in a loud, bustling restaurant, catching up over good food is one of life’s simple but glorious pleasures. There is no limit to who you can take to dinner, it’s universal. Old friends, new friends or even friends you’re having a bit of a problem with, dinner dates can ignite all sorts of realms of conversation.
Learn their emotional cues – I think this one lends itself nicely to romantic relationships. It’s easy, when you’re at such a level of comfort with someone, to know exactly what makes them tick, laugh, and cry. Arguably, you show yourself in your most raw form to those who you love, which can often spiral into something slightly more archaic, when you’re having a bad day or the hormones are in overdrive. I have to admit, I’ve done it a few times in the past, by winding the other person up and saying something I would later regret but nonetheless tipped the power scales in my favour. We are all human and we all need sparks in our relationship, but not a volcanic eruption. It’s important to take the time to understand your partner’s emotional cues, for example, what subjects provoke sensitivity or tension. Arguably, your partner’s emotional cues can be read through body language and facial expressions. With the change in technology and the fact that a lot of communication is done over the phone or via text, the ability to understand these signals is constantly diminishing. That’s why it’s important to create time for as much ‘in-person’ communication as possible. Not only will this allow for a deeper understanding of their emotional cues, but it will also strengthen your relationship.
Put yourself in their shoes – This point probably relates most appropriately with the parent-daughter relationship. Despite being a young adult now, I have retained some of my adolescent theories on all parents. I sometimes believe they are lightyears away from the younger generation, with different values and beliefs. When I was in my early teenage years, it was considered a felony choosing to socialise with your parents over your school friends. Thankfully I never succumbed to this peer pressure, but I bet many young people never stop to think about the parent’s side of the story. This time together in your younger days contributes so much to the lasting friendship in your adult years, so the next time your mum or dad wants to get a coffee or take a day trip, take it as a compliment. They see you not as a juvenile teenager but as an adult.
Me time, everyday – So far we’ve focused solely on making other people happy and although the world needs more of this type of person, sometimes you have to be selfish. Take time for you. Whatever makes you happy, do it. Have a bubble bath, eat 4 doughnuts, maybe go for a long invigorating walk. Sometimes there’s nothing better than me, myself and I!