Whether you are single but hoping to meet someone special, in a new relationship that you want to take further or you’ve been together for many years, the following tips will help to keep things moving along just nicely.
Tip no.1 Become a good listener
One of the key elements of a healthy relationship is being able to listen well. Whether you are spending time with a new friend, or with your partner of many years, good listening skills are vitally important.
One of the biggest problems in relationships results from not feeling listened to. Years of resentment and bad feeling can build up, simply because one or both never took the time to really listen and try to understand the other.
If you know that you tend to do most of the talking, then make a point of listening more intently than usual to what the other person is saying, and if it’s something really important, practice the art of reflecting back a summary of what they have said.
Most people don’t want answers to their problems, they just want someone to listen and empathise with how they are feeling.
So the next time your partner/date/friend… says something that is important to them, try to actively listen, not to provide solutions, but just to show you care. Do this for normal conversation as well as with the big stuff. You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes.
Tip no. 2 Develop good Eye contact
There’s nothing more annoying than talking to someone who is looking around the room. It makes you feel they’d rather be doing something else.
When you are talking together, pay attention to giving eye contact, particularly when the other person is doing the talking. As a general communication rule – when you are talking it is acceptable to look around to some extent. But when someone else is talking, in a one-to-one situation, look at them. It shows that you’re interested, and helps to build connection.
Get into the habit of doing this in all your one-to-one conversations, but particularly when you are with your partner. Look for opportunities to hold eye contact slightly longer than you would normally. You can express so much with your eyes, and it will help to draw you closer together.
Tip no. 3 Use of touch.
Touch can say so much more than words alone.
A gentle touch on the arm when you’re talking together; a stroke of your finger across the back of the neck as you’re walking past; a gentle touch or kiss when not expected can be very powerful ways of helping to develop a relationship and build connection.
Even if you’ve been together for many years, touch can help to move you out of a rut and bring life back into a struggling relationship.
Tip no. 4. Use of humour
Humour is another essential ingredient in a good relationship and can draw two people closer. If you’re new together, it may take some working at, so make an effort to understand your partner’s sense of humour, especially if it is different to yours.
What makes him laugh? What amuses her? Try to get inside their head, to understand what make them tick. Humour is very personal but in time, a couple that knows and understands one another can develop their own unique sense of humour which will help to hold them together.
Tip no. 5 Look for opportunities to show that you respect their values and interests
If the love in your life likes football, make a point of checking out how well their team have performed this week.
If they help to run a local charity shop, find out how it is doing.
You don’t have to be doing everything together in order to appreciate what is important to your lover. Respecting the values and interests of the other person shows that you care and helps to draw you closer together.
Tip no. 6 Look for opportunities to discover the trivialities of the other
It’s the little things that can help to spice up a relationship. Listen out for indications of their favourite film, music, flower etc. and then look for opportunities to use that information, to show that you care.
If you make the effort to buy her favourite chocolates rather than just the first ones you see on the shelf, it shows that you have noticed. If he is cooking you a meal, why not buy his favourite tipple as a gift, rather than what you would normally drink.
This kind of attention to detail can help to bring you closer together.
Tip no. 7 Demonstrate your empathy to their feelings
If your partner has an important presentation to give at work, make allowance for the fact that they might be more stressed than usual. Instead of pointing out their grumpiness, look for ways to lighten the load.
If they are going through a difficult time, for whatever reason, try to put yourself in their shoes to see how they might be feeling. Give him/her the space and support they need.
Don’t judge or criticise. Remember that just because you might react differently does not make their behaviour wrong.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Once you get into the habit of looking for ways to build connection, you will find all sorts of other tips of your own. I’d love to hear your suggestions for Developing a Loving Connection with the Love in Your Life.
Carol, February 2013