By Dan Teano and Amanda Gabriel
Elm Staff Writers
This week Dan and Amanda are discussing the essential practices one should have in a relationship and how to put those practices into action.
Dan says… In the college environment relationships are tough to maintain. Since those in a relationship see their significant other nearly every day there is more room for misunderstandings and unhealthy relationship practices.
As with all things worthwhile relationships take work and all couples would mutually agree to this, whether they’re in the honeymoon phase or not. Although people only notice the public displays of affection there are certain relationship practices that go overlooked. Though activities will vary according to each couple’s personalities, the underlying principles remain the same. These relationship practices ensure that the boyfriend and girlfriend remain independent and leave space for each other’s individuality to grow and express itself.
It is important to reserve personal time, especially in college. With the heavy workload, variety of clubs, and your significant other, it is vitally important that you remain your own person. The risk of spreading yourself out too thin is a loss of identity. Due to this, boyfriends and girlfriends alike need to take time off from the things that demand their time. Having alone time does not make you a recluse or a hermit. In fact, it reaffirms your identity. About once a week, have a night where you “Netflix and chill” on your own, or treat yourself to a nice dinner in downtown Chestertown. You enhance your identity when you spend time by yourself, and you become more of the person who your significant other fell in love with.
Likewise, it is essential that you have a “guy’s night” or “girl’s night” out. Though it is easy to forget, your boyfriend or girlfriend is not the only person on the face of the earth. A relationship should niether dominate your social life, nor overtake your circle of friends. As often as you get dressed up to take your lover out to dinner, you should also go out and have drinks with your friends. Your friends should not be in direct competition with your boyfriend or girlfriend for your time, and you should not spend all of your time with your significant other and slowly disappear from your friend group. By allotting a bulk of your time to your original clique, you actually encourage their approve of whoever you’re dating.
Relationships should not consume your life. Holding hands every minute of the day makes weeks feel like months, and months feel like years. Doing these two simple things will not only build your self-esteem and identity, but also inadvertently prolong your relationship. Since people in a relationship tend to attach themselves to the other person’s hip, healthy relationships are few and far between. In the end, love is about appreciating each other, not owning each other.
Amanda says… Let’s face it, relationships require a great deal of effort, hard work, and commitment to keep both parties satisfied. As stated in the cliché, it is an emotional rollercoaster ride filled with highs and lows, but how do you make the highs last longer? Here are a few essential practices that can help lead to a stronger, healthier, and all around happier relationship.
1. Good communication. This is most likely the first component that comes to mind when one thinks of how to make things work in a relationship. Although it may be overused, it is not any less important. Good communication is the foundation for any relationship and without it, they often fail. Always listen to your partner and respond in a polite manner so that they too will be willing to listen to you in return. Face-to-face interactions as well as talking to them over the phone and through text regularly are also important. Even if your schedule is full for the day, message them to say hello and ask how their day went. It will instantly brighten their day.
2. Trust. In good relationships trust is the brick necessary to build on the foundation. Without trust how will you move forward? You have to have faith in your partner. Let them have their space. If your significant other texts you to let you know that they are going out Saturday night and both of you have communicated that you are in a exclusive relationship, do not spend all night trying to contact them, or ask them to check in every hour. Allow them to have some time with friends and new people. In the morning they will probably want to tell you all about the fun from the previous night.
3. Do not go into a relationship believing you can fix the other person. Both of you have your own separate personalities that interact and combine to glue the bricks together. This person sparked your interest for a reason, so do not try to alter their ways of acting or living. If there are things that bother you, refer back to essential practice number one and have a discussion about it. Otherwise, just learn to live with it because I am positive you have habits that bug your partner too.
4. Do not expect anything from your partner that you would not do for them. It is easy for your expectations to grow without realizing that they have gone too far. Make sure that you reciprocate gifts, romantic gestures, and even the small actions that make you smile. This way, there will always be an element of surprise in the relationship to keep these brick walls full of color and energy, instead of being dull and boring.
If you practice these tips to living a healthy and happy relationship, you will most likely continue practicing a good relationship or maybe even improve it. However, the bottom line is to always be yourself and treat your partner how you would want them to treat you.