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6 Things You’re Doing That Will Kill Your Relationship

Do you want to find the person of your dreams? Then be the person of their dreams.

Often, the biggest obstacle to relationship bliss is NOT your partner, its you. Maybe its time you take a step back, and get out of the way of your own happiness.

But how you ask? Start by stopping these 6 relationship-killing behaviours:

1. Stop sulking:  repeat after me: Sulking is not communication. Sulking is not communication. Sulking is not communication. Sure, your partner may eventually figure out that you’re pissed off when you cross your arms and pout, but you come across looking like a petulant child. Playing the wounded victim is neither cute or sexy. If you’re upset about something, take a breath and communicate. Here are the steps: Put on your adult pants. Open your mouth. Say something honest in a reasonable tone. Now, listen.

2. Stop trying to change your person:  I know you hate it when they lose their car keys again. While her absent-minded professor act was one of the reasons you initially found her so adorable, it stops being cute when you’re both late for a movie because you’re rifling through the couch cushions. But stop driving yourself crazy thinking that it’s going to change!

Most of the time, what we love about our partner also becomes that thing that also drives us absolutely mental. Take a breath and step back. Rather than wishing things were different, remember that your person wouldn’t be your person without their odd little quirks. And if you start feeling righteous, take a step back and think about all of the stuff that they’re putting up with right now, too.

3. Stop spending so much time together:  I know, I know, falling in love is so romantic! And when you do fall hard, you often want to merge with your new person. But pull back and take a breath. Coming up for air occasionally reminds you that you already have a life and -god forbid – if the relationship ends, you will have a life again. A little distance makes the heart grow fonder and allows you to appreciate your person a bit more. And wouldn’t you know, they’ll likely appreciate you just a bit more too.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff:  Mom was right: don’t sweat the small stuff. When you freak out every time your partner leaves a dish in the sink, you’re basically sending them a message that being a control freak is more important than their feelings. Everyone in the relationship is trying their best: creating some wiggle room for human difference is part of relationship compromise.

Create boundaries when it’s important (“How about not leaving dishes in the sink for more than four days”), but give your person the benefit of the doubt when you can. A little latitude goes a long way. And when you can let the small stuff go, you’ll have the bandwidth for a meaningful discussion when something that actually is important comes up.

5. Don’t ignore bids for affection:  people communicate their love in different ways. Some buy gifts, others say nice stuff, some like physical affection, other people like doing activities together. It’s important to have these gestures acknowledged. However, it may not always be obvious when your person is reaching out for your attention. For example, they may say, “Wow, look at that bird over there,” and secretly mean, “I really want to share a moment with you so I’m finding something to connect with you about.” Even if you think it’s a dumb bird, respond to their intention rather than the content. Remember to appreciate all the small moments of connection that you have.

6. Love the one you’re with:  your presence and attention is the most powerful gift that you can give someone. If you’re hanging out with your honey and are constantly checking your texts and insta-feeds, you’re waving a huge red flag that says, “You’re not important to me.” Put your phone down (hey, turn it off) and have some real time with another human.

While being alert for these relationship buzz kills doesn’t guarantee that you’ll live happily ever after, it will certainly give you a better shot. By being on the lookout for bad behaviour, you will proactively derail those insidious bad habits that can so frequently undercut a good relationship. And in the process, you’ll get to know yourself better too.

11 Things People In Successful Relationships Do Every Day

So, you’ve met someone special and you’re ready to start a relationship together. Now comes the hard part.

Yes, ‘positive dating’ is an essential part of finding your special someone. But if your relationship skills aren’t up to par, it might all be for naught.

Here’s 11 things people in successful relationships do every day to make their relationships grow stronger over time.  Hint: you should do this too!

1. They ask for help:  when you ask for help several things happen. You implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice. You show you respect that person’s experience, skill, and insight. And you show you trust that other person, since by asking for help you’ve made yourself vulnerable. While it’s relatively easy to ask for help with something practical, it’s harder to ask when the help you need is personal.

People who want a successful marriage are willing to ask for help, both because they need help and because they realize their partner will in turn receive a lot in return in terms of self-respect, self-esteem, and self-worth.

They get to know they made a difference in your life, which we all love to feel.

2. They’re patient:  showing patience is an extraordinary way to let people know we truly care about them. Showing patience–which is another way to show genuine confidence in the other person–is an extraordinary way to let your spouse know you truly believe in him or her.

Showing patience is an incredible gift–because, ultimately, it shows how much you care.

3. They set a great example:  researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that people with relatively prudent and reliable partners tend to perform better at work, earning more promotions, making more money, and feeling more satisfied with their jobs.

That’s true for men and women: “Partner conscientiousness” predicted future job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of promotion, even after factoring in the participants’ level of conscientiousness.

4. They compliment, they recognize, and they praise:  we all do some things well. We all have at least a few strengths, a few good qualities, a few positive traits…and that’s why we all deserve praise and appreciation.

Think of it this way: It’s easy to recognize great employees; after all, they do great things. But it’s very possible that consistent praise is one of the reasons they’ve become great.

People who work to build a successful marriage sometimes see the good in their partners before they see it in themselves–and that can provide the spark that just might help their partners reach their true potential.

5. They allow space and privacy:  everyone shares. Everyone “Likes” and “tweets”. Lives have increasingly become open books. Over time, we’ve started to feel we have the right to know more about others than we ever did before.

That includes our spouses.

But sometimes we don’t need to know. Sometimes the best gift we can give is the gift of privacy, of not asking, not prying–yet always being available if and when the other person does want or need to share.

It’s not necessary to know in order to care.

6. They actively search for opportunities the other has missed:  we all want to improve, to grow, to succeed…but sometimes we’re too deep in the trees to notice the forest.

People working to build a successful marriage take the time to look for the opportunities their partner might have missed. They’re able to not only know your dreams but to help you work towards those dreams–and to help open doors that might otherwise have remained closed.

They want you to succeed, because…

7. They find happiness in their partner’s success:  great business teams win because their most talented members are willing to sacrifice to make others happy. Great teams are made up of employees who help each other, know their roles, set aside personal goals, and value team success over everything else.

And that’s exactly how great marriages work.

Every great entrepreneur answers the question, “Can you make the choice that your happiness will come from the success of others?” with a resounding “Yes!”

So do people who want their spouse–and their marriage–to be successful.

8. They’re sincere and genuine:  lip service is easy to pay. Sometimes it’s harder to show sincere excitement when things go well. Sometimes it’s harder to show sincere appreciation for a thoughtful gesture, a kind word, or extra effort. Sometimes it’s harder to show sincere disappointment–with others, sure, but also with yourself.

People who want a successful marriage openly celebrate. They openly empathize. They openly worry. In short, they’re openly human.

Your spouse married a person. Be a person. Be the person you are.

9. They know that sometimes tough love is the best love:  I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. We all want to be better than we are. Yet we all fall into habits, fall into patterns, develop blind spots…and that’s why we all need constructive feedback. That’s why we all need advice, guidance, and sometimes a swift kick in the pants.

It’s easy to make a snarky comment. It’s easy to frown or smirk or look disappointed. It’s a lot tougher to say, especially to someone you care about, “I know you’re capable of a lot more.”

Think about a time when someone told you what you least wanted to hear…and yet most needed to hear. You’ve never forgotten what that person said. It changed your life.

Now go change your spouse’s life.

10. They weigh the personal against the practical:  sometimes seeking professional success can impact the success of your marriage.

Here’s an example: According to at least one study, if one spouse commutes longer than 45 minutes, that couple is 40 percent more likely to get divorced.

(There are some caveats. If you’ve already spent five years or more commuting more than 45 minutes, then you’re only 1 percent more likely to get divorced than couples with short commutes. In all likelihood, that’s because you’ve worked through the practical and emotional issues involved. Plus, if one of you had a long commute before you started your relationship, then you’re also a lot less likely to get divorced than husbands or wives who start a long commute later in their relationship.)

Just in practical terms, a long commute might not be worth it. According to another study, economists determined a 40 percent increase in pay is necessary to make an additional hour of commuting time pay off in terms of personal satisfaction and fulfillment. A few dollars an hour more won’t make you happy if you have to drive an extra hour every day to earn it.

Factor that in with the potential cost to your relationship, and personal considerations could definitely outweigh practical advantages.

People working to build a successful marriage always look at the big picture. Professional success is just one factor in the happiness equation. Make sure you look at every factor–especially the health of your marriage.

11. They build a shared sense of purpose:  fulfillment is often found in becoming a part of something bigger. We all love to feel that special sense of teamwork and togetherness that turns a task into a quest, a group of individuals into a real team.

We all look for that at work…but where we really need to feel it is at home.

Together, create your own mission. Create your own vision. Decide where you want to go, together, and make a plan to get there together.

Few things will make you feel more like a couple than being able to say, “We did that.”

Go do that.

The 5 Best Ways To Impress Your Date

If you’re on a date, first impressions matter. But second impressions matter even more.

In your perfect dating world, everyone will see you for who you really are – and that’s true (eventually).

But to make it that far, you need to make a positive impression on your date. How? Here’s 5 proven ways:

  1. Too late:  in dating, its often the simplest things that matter. Arriving late to your date may not seem like a big deal to you; buts its probably a big deal to your date. It sends the message that your time is more important than theirs. Stop with the excuses! Show up on time to every date – or better yet, 5 minutes early.
  2. Be excited (or fake it):  you may find it hard to muster any excitement on a first or second date – particularly if you’ve had a long, hard day;  or your dating life is frustrating, or… (fill in your excuse here).  But here’s the thing – if your date senses you’re not excited to see them, why on earth should they be excited to see you – let alone consider starting a relationship with you!? Be energetic & excited on your date. If you don’t feel that way, fake it.
  3. Positively positive:  griping about your day, your job, your dating life, how you’re really feeling, etc, is a perfectly natural thing to do when you’re with your friends, family or co-workers. But on a first or second date, its a true chemistry-killer. Keep things positive on your date; there’ll be plenty of time in the future to open up about your issues, but a first or second date is not that time.
  4. I hear you:  there is no greater skill you can display on a date than this – be a good listener. Active listening sends your date the message that you care, that you’re interested in them & that you’re fun to be around. In other words – that you’re great relationship material. Did you hear that?
  5. Chivalry is (not) dead:  (Men, this applies mostly to you) did you hear that one about chivalry being dead? Its dead alright – dead wrong. Men and women are equals (of course!), but that doesn’t mean you can’t display some common courtesies on your date – holding the door, offering your jacket or sweater if your date is cold, walking your date to their car or taxi at the end of your date, etc. If you’re treating your date exactly as you treat your friends, expect your date to consider you as ‘friend material’, and not ‘relationship potential’.

4 Behaviors That Predict Divorce

Your relationship is not perfect.

But no-ones perfect, so expecting your relationship to be perfect is probably not the right approach.

However, relationship psychologists can predict which marriages will end in divorce 93% of the time.

How? By looking out for these 4 ‘relationship-killing’ behaviors. Learn them & avoid them at all costs:

  1. Contempt:  a virulent mix of anger and disgust, contempt is far more toxic than simple frustration or negativity. It involves seeing your partner as beneath you, rather than as an equal. Basically, contempt is “the kiss of death” for a relationship.
  2. Criticism:  like contempt, criticism involves turning a behavior (something your partner did) into a statement about his or her character (the type of person he or she is). Over time, these personal detractions can add up, feeding darker feelings of resentment and contempt.
  3. Defensiveness:  if you find yourself regularly playing the victim in tough situations with your partner, you might be guilty of being defensive. Couples who divorce within the first several years of their marriage — one of the times when divorce rates are highest — “entering negativity is like stepping into a quicksand bog. It’s easy to enter but hard to exit.”
  4. Stonewalling:  you know when an argument is about to start. You can feel your heart rate increase and your voice get just a tiny bit louder. But the moment things start to get heated, do you pull out your phone, walk away, or simply ignore your partner? Blocking off conversation can be just as toxic for a relationship as contempt because it keeps you from addressing an underlying issue.

Now, here’s the good news: Don’t panic!

It’s important to keep in mind that occasionally displaying any one of these behaviors — or all of them, even — is completely normal. It’s when these negative behaviors happen so frequently that they replace more positive interactions with your partner that can be cause for concern.

Simply recognizing that you’re doing something that could be hurting your relationship is the first step to actively combating it. If you can figure out how to avoid the behavior or replace it with a more positive one, you’ll probably make the relationship even stronger.

 

7 Essential Relationship Skills

We’ve all seen the movie: boy meets girl, sparks fly, and they live happily ever after. But is that REALLY the way love works?

Actually, no. The truth is that you can and must IMPROVE your relationship skills – to help you find and build happiness in a long-term relationship.

Here are the 7 essential relationship skills:

1. Communication:  This category involves critically important skills: knowing how to listen, sharing your thoughts and feelings honestly, refraining from criticizing and encouraging your partner to share his or her feelings.

2. Conflict Resolution:  Conflict-resolution skills include techniques such as staying focused on the topic, staying focused on the present, being ready to forgive or apologize, knowing when to take a break.

3. Knowledge of Partner:  What’s his shirt size? What’s his favorite food? After communication, simply knowing a lot about your partner is a powerful way of showing that you care, and makes you better equipped to tend to his or her ongoing needs.

4. Life Skills:  Do you plan for emergencies? Do you exercise and stay fit? Studies show that people usually want their partners to contribute a degree of security to a long-term relationship. People also want their partners to take good care of themselves.

5. Self-Management:  This is not the same as life skills. People who are skilled at self-management take inventories of their strengths and weaknesses and always strive for improvement. They know how to interpret disturbing events in positive ways and they work hard to reach their goals.

6. Sex and Romance:  People with strong skills in these areas inquire and care about how to please their partner sexually, set aside time for intimacy, refrain from blaming their partner when sex doesn’t go smoothly, and try to stay physically attractive for their partner.

7. Stress management:  Do you know how to use breathing, meditation, or imagery techniques to help you fight stress? If you know how to avoid or fight stress, you’ll be better able to love and support your partner.

5 “Relationship Red Flags” That Aren’t As Big A Deal As You Think

Your perfect match is out there, but they’re probably not perfect.

Those qualities that you THINK are the most important for your relationship success, probably aren’t.

Most importantly, beware of false ‘relationship red flags’ – start by ignoring these 5:

  1. “Fit” to be tied?:  a lot of people think that it’s necessary to date someone who shares their same exact health and exercise values, but you don’t need that for a good relationship. As long as your partner respects your fitness goals (or lack thereof), and you respect theirs, your relationship should be fine.
  2. Miseducation?:  not all education happens at a prestigious university – there’s lots of successful & very smart people who were too busy building a successful life or business to spend years in a university or college.  Instead of getting fixated on degrees and pedigree, try to focus on what your potential partner is doing with their life now.
  3. Out of fashion?:  just because fashion is important for you, it doesn’t mean it has to be important for your partner, and it doesn’t mean you won’t have a great relationship. There is one standard that you should always hold your date to, however – hygiene. Clothes can change. Hygiene is harder.
  4. Living separately together?:  having separate friends is healthy and it will only benefit the relationship in the long run if you don’t do everything together.  Making a point to spend some time with your friends without your partner, and vice versa, is a great way to avoid isolation and losing touch with your friends in your relationship.
  5. Reaching for greater heights?:  if you’re looking for a lasting relationship (not just a casual fling), height should not be a huge concern. Personality, character, values & shared life goals are far more important for a successful relationship than someones height could ever be.

4 Ways To Make Dating Small Talk Without Seeming Awkward Or Boring

In life (and in love) you have two options:
  1. Wait for good things to happen. Or,
  2. 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:

  1.  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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

4 Things That Ruin Relationships

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.):

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.”
  4. Stonewalling:  tuning out. Disengaging. This doesn’t just remove the person from the conflict, it ends up removing them, emotionally, from the relationship.

7 Unavoidable Questions To Ask Your Partner Before It’s Too Late

So you’ve met someone new, and things are going great – fantastic!

But before you get REALLY serious, its time for some serious questions.

Dating works best when you’re having fun – keeping your first few dates light and casual is always your best bet.

But at some point, there are some ‘serious’ questions that need to be asked. Which questions? These 7:

  1. Do you want kids?:  it’s best to address the topic of parenthood sooner than later, so no one winds up resentful — or heartbroken — years down the line. If you or your partner are (understandably) worried that having kids will change your relationship for the worse, you should arm yourself with knowledge about what helps parents maintain intimacy.
  2. Who will do the cooking, laundry and housework?:  according to a 2007 Pew Research poll, sharing household chores is the third most important factor in a successful marriage. (The first two are faithfulness and a happy sexual relationship).
  3. How much debt (if any) do you have?:  “Lying about your debt can potentially destroy your relationship”. An honest conversation about finances – especially about debt – is key before getting married, or even getting serious.
  4. How much time apart do you need?:  interestingly, spending time apart and getting some of your needs met outside your relationship may be exactly what your partnership needs.
  5. What do you consider cheating?:  there are those who believe looking at pornography or going to strip clubs is cheating. Bottom line is, everyone has different limits. Establish the boundaries, before getting into a marriage.
  6. How do you feel about divorce?:  it’s not an easy discussion to have but it’s worth it. That’s because simply knowing that you have an “out” — even if you never use it — can be freeing. If you’re staying in the relationship, it’s because you want to.
  7. How will getting married change our relationship?: Some people feel the expectations are different when you’re married than when you’re dating, and others feel that they are the same. It’s important to be on the same page about expectations for every stage of a relationship.

4 Things You Do On Dates That Make You Look Like You’re Trying Too Hard

Have you been dating for a while but not truly connecting with anyone? Then its time for a different approach.

Maybe you’re trying – but here’s where dating is different from other aspects of your life: it’s possible to try too hard.

How you ask? Here’s 4 “over the top” dating mistakes – and what to do instead:

  1. Checklist dating:  its normal to want to be prepared for your date, but when your date feels like they’re being interviewed it’ll be over before you know it. Put away your checklist and focus on having fun – particularly on a first or second date. There’ll be a time for a more in-depth discussion about your future together, but a first date is not that time.
  2. Stress test:  sometimes you want so much for the date to go well that it looks like you’re going to pass out. Dating is like a reverse test – if it looks like you’ve ‘over-prepared’, it won’t go well. Relax and focus on enjoying yourself – if you do, its highly likely your date will too.
  3. (over) Dressed for success:  you want to look your best on your date – and showing up looking disheveled is not okay – but you can also overdo it. Showing up in a fancy dress or a designer suit might just make your date feel under-dressed. Aim for a clean, smart-casual look. Save the designer duds for a few dates down the line.
  4. The butler did it:  yes, you want to pick a nice meeting place – but aim for someplace a bit less formal and more fun & casual. Showing up at an overly fancy, expensive restaurant will put your date on edge – and make them wonder if they’re dressed appropriately (see point #3 above). In general, you want the true focus to be on you and your date – not your clothes, the restaurant or anything else. Free your mind and the rest will follow.