Oh, how wonderfully frightening that first fullness of falling in love! But like most balloons, after a while, the fear of being known and loved and accepted flattens our feelings a bit, and we now wonder how much of the air of love will seep out.
And even though we cannot predict everything our partner might do, we still want some way of lessening the odds that all the air of love disappears.
Here are the top, effective actions that can help you “road-test” your new relationship, minimize surprises, and keep that love balloon full. I can’t promise that your love is right and good and long-lasting, but I’ve learned from my clients and research participants how to increase your ability to see and know your new partner—and how to trust your love judgment.
1. Pretend You Are Already Loved and Accepted
There’s no point in leading with your fears. You only risk creating what you fear: that he or she will leave you. Instead, calm yourself down, work as a team to solve problems, and tell yourself you are already loved and accepted.
Avoid the top relationships misbehaviors that are the kiss of death to love.
- Interrogate your partner
- Use criticism or sarcasm to express your fears and doubts
- Don’t do “get even” behaviors such as cheating or not returning phone calls
- Walk away in a huff from disagreements
2. Don’t Overdo Being Accommodating
Being a team-player and wanting to make your partner happy are, of course, good things. But pay attention to when you are giving in to something that matters to you.
Think about how lobsters get cooked. You put them in cold water in a pot, and you turn on the heat. Eventually, the water boils, and the lobster is cooked. But in the process of the water reaching the boiling point, the lobster adapts to the rise in temperature until, of course, it is too late.
If you appease your partner by fooling yourself into believing that your desires and preferences are “not so important,” you risk feeling resentful and unappreciated. This situation creates “Death by a Thousand Accommodations.”
Giving in too many times on things that are of value to you makes you disappear in the relationship. And if your partner can’t see you, you can’t see the “who and how of your partner.”
- How important is this issue?
- Am I feeling resentful?
- Am I keeping score of how many times I’ve given in?
- What is important to me?
3. Don’t Always Put Your “Best Foot Forward”
In the beginning of a love relationship, we often hide our quirks, preferences and lifestyle. We are reluctant to reveal ourselves out of fear of being rejected. But don’t you want what we all want: To feel safe and warm and loved.
Practice being you in your “life as usual:”
- Watch your favorite television shows—even if your partner doesn’t like them. And voice your preference for what movies you want to see.
- Keep doing things with your friends and family—even if your partner doesn’t like them.
- Talk about your deepest, darkest feelings and past whenever an incident in any aspect of your life trips them off.
- Show your quirks. Be clumsy or a little late or messy or a bit indecisive.
- Don’t rely on Big! Wham! Wow! dates to make you feel excited and closer. Instead, make your time together resemble real life. Run errands together. Hang out with friends. Eat leftovers.
4. Don’t Avoid Those “Hot Topics” in Your Relationship
All relationships have hot topics. It might be about sex, children, money, time together and many other things. In the beginning of relationships, however, we are tempted to avoid them. We hope that time together will soften the heat.
But if you want to see your relationship, you most likely will need to talk about these issues.
How to talk about hot topics:
- Signal your partner that you have something uncomfortable to talk about
- Rate your urgency on a scale of 1-10 so that you partner knows if you need to talk now
- Tell your partner you want to work as a problem-solving team—and that you need his or her help
5. Act With Beauty
The woman who raised me—her name is Daisy—taught me many things. When she would put me to bed at night, she kissed my forehead and said: “Stay sweet.”
She also taught me to “act with beauty.” But what does that mean? In relationships, most especially, we create love by making sure we act with love.
How to create a loving relationship and loving partner:
- Touch each other when you are bringing up difficult topics
- Be empathic
- Be proud of your own behavior
- Solve problems instead of going back over who said what.
Finally, if possible, allow your relationship to go through good and bad times in each of you. Stress—and even success– can bring out the best—or the worst in people.
I wish you love and wisdom!