The struggle to find “the one” can be a daunting and exciting journey. With a childhood full of Disney romances and conventional wisdom such as, “When you know, you’ll know” and “it will happen when you least expect it so stop trying so hard.” When it comes to healthy long-term relationship characteristics, it would seem one Disney character has the right idea, “Just Keep Swimming.” These tips can help you identify if your partner could be “the one” or if it’s time to look for other “fish in the sea”.
- A strong connection is established through knowledge, friendship and intimacy. Do you know your partner’s world? Have you taken the time in your relationship to ask questions and learn about your partner? It can be as simple as their favorite movie or food and progress as deep as life stressors and biggest fears. A relationship built on friendship and mutual interest in “the little things” establishes a strong basis in mutual respect. This will prove essential to cope with and manage the stressful patches in your relationships.
- Appreciate, admire, and show gratitude toward one another. In the “Honeymoon Phase” this admiration and fondness is easy to come by but as the relationship continues to grow past the honeymoon phase you need to establish mutual respect for one another. Do you frequently tell you partner, “ I’m proud of you for________”, “I think you’re sexy when____________”, “It means a lot to me when you____________”. These comments demonstrate appreciate and admiration. Do you thank or show appreciation for your partner often? Are you grateful for the little things? Gratitude can be expressed by saying, “I’m grateful that you____________”, “ Yesterday I noticed that you________________and I’m so thankful that you took the time to do that”. When you increase your awareness of your partner’s positives and focus on ways to be grateful, you, in turn, will reinforce in yourself the things you are thankful for.
- In order to create meaningful connections, look to your partner for support. This goes much deeper than seeking advice from your partner. This refers to not only seeking advice from your partner but also how they respond. Do you and your partner speak each other’s language? What does it mean when your partner says, “How do I look?” “How was your day?” “Want to go golfing?” these questions are opportunities for connection and growth within your relationship. If these questions are met with “Fine”, “Okay” or “I hate golf” this can decrease your connection. Take the time to determine what your partner means. Whether they are seeking attention, communication, or just wanting to spend quality time together. Understanding your partner’s language will ensure you and your partner’s needs are being met. This will facilitate seeking out your partner for support instead of going elsewhere.
- Stress and arguments are necessary in relationships. How you and your partner maneuver through arguments and times of stress is statistically one of the biggest indicators of a healthy relationship. Do you view your partner as an alliance or an adversary in times of stress? How you view yourself and your partner during an argument can create disaster for your relationship. When you argue, do you view each other as teammates fighting to find compromise or are you enemies fighting for the last word? Ask yourself, “What are we really arguing about?”, “What do I really need in order to feel better?”, “Am I effectively communicating what I need?” In arguments or moments of stress, remind yourself that you and your partner are on the same team.
- In a healthy relationship, individuality and future goals are supported and respected. Can this partner support you in making all of your dreams come true? The ability to pursue your dreams is an integral part of finding “the one.” Can you identify your goals? Do you have a plan for accomplishing them? Is your partner aware of them? What role does your partner play in supporting your dreams? Have conversations with your partner about your future goals and what they mean to you. This type of conversation piggy backs Tip #1 and keeps you in “the know” about your partner’s inner world.
- The quote, “love is not a feelings; it’s a choice, by Khano Makwarela, speaks volumes to the journey of finding “the one”. Do you and your partner make a daily effort for your relationship? Love is not a feeling; it’s a choice. Are you and your partner willing to choose each other daily? The word daily has no substitutions. Daily cannot mean on days that aren’t too hard, or on days that work, kids, family, and life stressors don’t complicate things too much.
Whether you are in the honeymoon, lust filled, early days of a relationship, or contemplating taking the next step, the quest for identifying “the one” is a never-ending journey of growth for you and your partner so take the advice and, “just keep swimming.”
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