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How To Have The Relationship You’ve Always Wanted

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How To Have The Relationship You’ve Always Wanted

First off, let me say that I’m no relationship guru.  I don’t have any magic tricks or secrets to get you to the ideal relationship.  But fret not.  What I do have is a strong work ethic and the desire to try new things continuously and prune my approach to relationships in a way that continuously improves my situation.  In essence, what I have is the same as what you have—a Lifehack mentality.  And my Lifehack mentality is how I’ve come up with these strategies.  These ought to give you a strong foundation to build upon, and while no two relationships are alike, they all require nurturing and time to grow.  Consider these tips the “Miracle Gro” for your relationship.

1. Determine what you want and what you’re willing to give.

Before you can work towards having the relationship you’ve always wanted, “the ideal relationship” needs to be defined.  It will be different for each of us and we need to know what is perfect for us. You may want to sit down with a notepad or computer and start writing.

Some questions you should be able to answer include: “What is important to me in a relationship? What are the necessities?  What are the big deal breakers?  How will this person treat me?  How will I treat them?  What am I willing to do?  What am I not willing to do?  How can I best please my partner?  How can my partner best please me?”

It may seem like a silly exercise, but in doing it, you’ll start to realize what you actually want (which is likely different than what you think you want) and what you’re actually willing to give.  You have to start with realistic expectations and commitments.  Give up on the idea of what a relationship “should” be like, and start to determine exactly what you want yours to be like.

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2. Assess your relationship “self.”

Unless you’re just a selfish person, having the relationship you’ve always wanted isn’t just about getting what you want, but about satisfying your parter’s needs as well.  Since the part of the “ideal relationship” that you have the most control over is what you do, you should start by assessing your relationship “self.”

Are you doing everything you can to create the ideal relationship environment?  Are you fulfilling all of the necessary requirements?  Does your behavior/commitment to the relationship deserve an ideal relationship?

Work on yourself to become someone worthy of a perfect relationship.  Make sure you’re exceeding all of your partner’s expectations, and satisfying them beyond all requirements.  Work on yourself so that you are creating the perfect relationship for your partner.  This will make it much easier for them to do the same for you.  The best way to assess your relationship “self” is by soliciting feedback.

Ask your partner, your family, and your close friends for feedback with regards to your relationship with them.  Prepare yourself to accept any feedback they are willing to give you.  Remember, they are doing you a favor, not attacking you.  Take their feedback into great consideration and assess how well you fit the role you will play in your ideal relationship.

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3. Take responsibility for your happiness.

Your happiness is not your partner’s responsibility.  Nor is their happiness yours.  Take responsibility for your own happiness.  In doing so, you take back the control and decide to be happy.  It’s unfair for us to put that responsibility on our partner, and yet so often we do.  Then we blame them for our not being happy.  So stop it.  Take it back, and make yourself happy.

4. Give up on being right.

“You can be right or you can be happy.”  We’ve all heard that quote, but it bears repeating.  Too often we inflict damage on our relationship by requiring our partner to accept our point, rather than sharing in the experience of conversation fairly.  Remember, the goal is to enjoy each other’s company and friendship, not to establish intellectual dominance over the other person.  If your goal is the latter, join a debate club.

5. Perfect the art of conversation.

My wife and I have a pretty fantastic relationship.  It started with great conversation.  We’ve known each other since we were very young, and at some point in our teenage years we had one great conversation.  That conversation lead to us both wanting to have another, then another, then another.

Ten years later, and nearly four of those years married, we’re still having amazing conversations. We debate all sorts of things; politics, religion, world policy, science, medicine, business, art, books, movies, music, and much more.  Sometimes it seems like we’re arguing, and maybe even fighting.  But we know what we’re doing.  We have plenty of practice.  And we have the utmost respect for each other’s feelings.  We never cross lines to hurting one another or insulting.   We get heated at times—I tend to get loud when I get pumped.  But these conversations are the life blood of our relationship, and I look forward to growing old with her and having these conversations.

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6. Be more affectionate.

I’m not necessarily talking a bunch of PDA here, but find a comfortable form of affection and engage in it often.  Maybe you’re a hand-holder, maybe you’re a baby-talker (it’s more common than you think), or maybe you are the too-much-PDA type.  Whatever works for you, do it, and do it more.

Also, hug and cuddle more, even if you’re not the cuddling type. Multiple studies have shown that cuddling and physical contact with people we love releases oxytocin, or “the love hormone.” Oxytocin has been linked to promotion of attachment in relationships, boosting sexual arousal, improving social skills, and more, all of which seems quite beneficial to a good, strong relationship.

7. Be quick to apologize and be quicker to forgive. 

You should never go to sleep angry, right?  Maybe, maybe not.  But one thing is for sure: you should be quick to apologize.  Don’t hold your apology while waiting for his. Likewise, if your partner has apologized, be quick to forgive.  They are making themselves vulnerable with their apology, and you owe it to them to protect their feelings.  Develop this habit, and it will be easy to never go to sleep angry again.  Neglect this habit and you’ll spend many a night facing opposite directions gritting your teeth until you fall asleep.

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8. Make each other better.

Do you like the person you are when you are in the relationship?  Do you like the person your partner is?  Are you a better person in the relationship than you would be alone?  A relationship is a partnership, often with the expectation that it is for life (or at least for a long time).  Would you keep a business partner that was making you a worse person?  I know I wouldn’t.  Strive to make each other better, and you’ll both value the relationship a lot more.

9. Devote time to your partner.

This is something that I had to learn the hard way.  In never wanting to appear “soft,” I often would leave my partner to hang out with the guys.  I know, I know. How macho, right?  One day she finally told me that I wasn’t spending enough time with her.  It wasn’t that she didn’t want me to hang out with the guys (because she’s never stopped me from doing that), it was that she just wanted my attention as well.  Since then I’ve made a point to spend time with her each day.  Some times it’s the whole day; other times it’s a 10 minute conversation before we drift off to sleep.  But I try my best to devote some time in every day to her.  It means a lot to her.  And she means a lot to me.

10. Make it passionate.

We stress.  We get tired.  We have things to do tomorrow.  There are plenty of reasons not to expend the effort to “make it passionate.”  But I always imagine this: what if you were hoping for an evening of passion and he turned you down.  I know I’d feel pretty crumby, and probably a bit rejected.  I’d never want my partner to feel rejected by me.  So from time to time try to add a little passion to your relationship.  I’m sure you can find ways to do that.  If not, here are 5 Ways to Keep Passion Alive in Relationships.

Quick Tips

Here are a couple of quick tips to keep in mind when building/nurturing your relationship.  Not all of them will apply to everyone, so find which work for you and holdfast to them.

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  • Give genuine compliments often
  • Always assume the best of your partner
  • Encourage, rather than expect, your partner to improve
  • Learn to listen actively
  • “Just Because” gifts never go out of style
  • Focus your efforts on what you can do for your partner, and they will likely do the same
  • Volunteer together—it makes you both feel really good about yourself and each other
  • Take care of yourself
  • Spend time apart
  • Appreciate the little things
  • Don’t neglect the “friendship” aspect of your relationship
  • Share secrets
  • Better yet, share fantasies
  • Create and work towards common goals
  • Spend more time outdoors together
  • Accept differences and agree to disagree

Obviously getting the relationship you’ve always wanted requires more effort and strategy than can fit in one blog post, but these tips will help create a solid foundation on which to build your ideal relationship.

What did we miss?  What do you do to keep your relationship in good order?  Leave a comment and help us find and create the relationship we’ve always wanted.

More by this author

Ibrahim Husain

Ibrahim is a management analyst who writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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