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How to Improve Your Next Relationship While Still Single

How to Improve Your Next Relationship While Still Single

We’ve all been in a relationship that seems doomed. Maybe one person gives everything they have while the other just tries to take everything that they can. Perhaps both partners just stopped trying. Either way, there IS hope for those single Pringles to better themselves and better the quality of their love lives. Here are a few ways to improve your next relationship.

Instead of obsessing over your ex’s flaws, evaluate your own.

Most people only see their partner’s flaws and unintentionally neglect their own. This seems harmless; however it can result in bickering and one or both partners becoming dissatisfied.

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Remember in high school when the teacher asked us to grade ourselves? And in job interviews and evaluations, we are consistently asked to point out weaknesses and other “areas of opportunity.” The reason for this is because unless asked to do so, humans are typically reluctant to search internally for problems when faced with adversity.

Hopefully you’re not reading this and giving yourself all “A”s — try to honestly and humbly reflect and consider your partner’s complaints, and determine the validity of those concerns. When we accept our shortcomings, we are far more likely to seek improvement than when our partner (or boss or teacher) conjures a moment of reflection.

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Figure out why you want a partner and what you hope to get out of a relationship.

Everyone has their personal reasons for wanting a partner. Many seek emotional fulfillment, while others desire fulfillment physically. Some are simply afraid of being alone; they allow their definition of worth to be dictated by whether or not they have a significant other. Contrarily, some people simply find a partner for personal gain.

Whatever your need(s) are for a partner, it’s important to know them prior to entering a relationship. How can you expect a fruitful partnership if your definition of success has yet to be define? Utilize time in between relationships to determine what you like and don’t like and where your areas of opportunity lie. If you can’t figure them out for yourself, you can reach out to an ex and ask for them to candidly outline some for you.

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Work on your confidence and self-worth.

After any grieving period following a breakup, start your rebound by improving your self image. If weight and health are issues, work on your fitness and diet. If you’re impatient, learn to be patient. If you’re too jealous, learn to appreciate your worth so you know your partner has something to lose, and allow them the freedom of making a mistake before you smother them and treat them like they’ve already done so.

These flaws are relatively easy to work on if you’re truly committed to a better outcome than last time. Volunteer time with children to help with patience; keep at it and eventually it will come.

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Your personality is like a muscle. If you start with low resistance, you can gradually work your way up until you’re able to tolerate much more than you ever thought  possible. The same goes for jealousy. Learn to be proud of yourself by achieving goals such as weight loss, speaking to new people to improve communication, or joining a rec-league or a coed social league to improve social skills while putting yourself out there to meet new people.

Figure out what kind of person you want to be with and what your priorities are.

After you’ve figured out your reasons for dating and your self-esteem has improved, figure out what your needs are within a relationship. Think about what type of person are you looking for and what your relationship requirements are. If you’re in you mid-20s or later, can they offer enough time for you away from their career, kids, family, etc? What about maturity levels? Do you like going out or staying in? Do you want time for your friends or time alone? The more you know about what you need and what you need from your partner, the better armed you will be going into a partnership.

Featured photo credit: Boating by gagilas via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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