Its been said: you spend half your life finding love; and half your life trying to keep it alive.
So what’s the secret to “happily ever after”?
Its not magic, but its not automatic – here’s 3 things that will keep your love alive:
- Work it: if you’re looking for a ‘quick & easy’ solution for long term relationship bliss, I have some sobering news – successful couples work at it. A lot. Here’s the problem with ‘magical’ romantic chemistry – it can disappear as quickly as it came. Focus on those things you can control, like how much effort you put into making your relationship work.
- Don’t fix the bad. Increase the good: relationships don’t fail because of an increase in conflict, but because of a decrease in positive feelings about your partner. Stop trying to change each other – you are who you both are, that won’t change – and focus instead on doing things together that make you happy: travel, movies, culture, outdoor activities, dancing, or even curling up occasionally with a glass of wine and Netflix.
- Forget romance. Think excitement: remember your first date? I’ll bet it was fun & even exciting – now you’re on the right track! Yes, chilling on a sofa and watching a movie is fine, but whenever and wherever you get the chance, do something exciting. Take a trip somewhere you’ve never been, go to concert or a comedy show. Life (and love) is to be lived.
In life (and in love) you have two options:
- Wait for good things to happen. Or,
- Make good things happen.
Now, which sounds like a better plan?
Dates usually go one of two ways: they start well and get better; or they start poorly and get worse.
So what’s the key to a successful date? It’s all in the conversation – here’s 4 ways to make it great:
- Ask open-ended questions — people like to talk, so give them an opportunity: don’t ask where someone is from; ask where they are from and how it compares to the place they are now. If they live near where you’re meeting, try asking what other places they have lived and what they liked or didn’t like about the various locales. Don’t ask if they are enjoying the drink or meal; ask about their favorite restaurants, pubs, and so forth.
- Listen before you talk: the best conversation topics are ones that your date is really interested in. How can you tell what those are? By listening to them of course! If he/she comments on some specific menu items, ask them what type of food they love; do they/can they cook; where’s the best (specific food item) they’ve had in the city recently?
- Use your common ground — there’s always something two people have in common: whether it’s something as basic as what you think of the restaurant, or as specific as identifying a shared love of the outdoors, you can always find something you and another person have in common to start a chat. Just be ready with open-ended follow up questions once you’ve broken the ice using the common ground.
- There are certain safe things we all love talking about — travel, activities, pets, movies, food come to mind: shared stories is one of the easiest ways to start a conversation that will keep on flowing, but talking about the crazy things pets do, funny travel stories, and anecdotes from your day all work well. One “Can’t Miss” conversation topic: asking your date their favorite place to travel (and why?) or a recent travel story; then tell them yours.
If you’ve been dating someone for a while, maybe its time you stopped – and started getting serious.
You’re ready for a relationship, but endless dating can be a drag. So how do you know if that person you’ve been seeing is really ‘The One’.
Start by asking yourself this: “Are they in Love with me?”
But how do you know? Here’s 7 signs:
- They look at you … a lot: its called ‘the look of love’ for a reason. Harvard researchers found that couples in love look at one another 75% of the time when talking (versus 30 – 60% for normal couples).
- They have fun with you even if the task at hand is not fun, per se: its not what you do, its who you’re with. If you have fun together while doing distinctly ‘unfun’ stuff (painting a house, moving, etc.), it means they’re happy to be with you.
- They pay more attention to you: in this busy world of ours, people make time for things that are truly important to them. If that thing is you, its a very good sign.
- They show empathy — in good times and bad: when someone sympathizes with you, they’re being a good friend. But when someone empathizes with you its a sign of love. Your pain (and happiness) is their pain and happiness too.
- They remember the little things: when someone remembers the little things – maybe even things you’ve forgotten yourself – its a sign of love. Your favorite food, movie, color or even your favorite wine – no small detail escapes someone in love.
- They introduce you to the important people in their lives: if you want to know how someone feels about you, look at who they introduce you too. If its people who are very special to them (ie. family, long term friends, etc.), it means you’re in that group now too.
- They often mention the future: when someone stops saying ‘me’, and starts saying ‘we’, its a sign that they’re thinking of the future (with you). If that’s not a great sign, I don’t know what is.
Matchmakers will tell you this about successful relationships: communication means more than immediate physical chemistry. Ideally, you want both, but finding someone with whom you can communicate openly with SIGNIFICANTLY increases the chances of a successful match.
But, above all else, AVOID these four “relationship killing” communication traits (Source: John Gottman, PH.D.):
- Criticism: complaints are fine. Criticism is more global — it attacks the person, not their behavior. They didn’t take out the garbage, not because they forgot, but because they’re a bad person.
- Contempt: “…name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor. In whatever form, contempt – the worst of the four horsemen – is poisonous to a relationship because it conveys disgust. It’s virtually impossible to resolve a problem when your partner is getting the message that you’re disgusted with him or her.”
- Defensiveness: “…defensiveness is really a way of blaming your partner. You’re saying, in effect, ‘The problem isn’t me, it’s you.’ Defensiveness just escalates the conflict, which is why it’s so deadly.”
- Stonewalling: tuning out. Disengaging. This doesn’t just remove the person from the conflict, it ends up removing them, emotionally, from the relationship.