How To Keep It Real In Your Relationship

The Internet has a lot of ideas about how to improve your relationship. Have a conversation in whispers with your partner. Turn off your phone. Cook a meal together. Tuck each other in. Read to each other. Surprise your partner with a special treat. Go out to dinner. Buy tickets to your favorite dance performer or musician. And while all of these things may be totally legit, I always go back to the same thing: Be real.

The one thing you can do right now, today, this minute to make your partner and yourself happier about your relationship is all about looking at your situation through real-colored glasses. When I hear people complain about their partners, sometimes it's a real complaint, but usually it's just complaining for the sake of complaining. Of course, there are times when upsetting things really do happen, and these things need to be addressed. I'm not suggesting that anyone ignore bad behavior or abuse.

But looking at the reality of a situation often yields the realization that really, everything is OK. Great, even. The more I focus on the positive, the more it multiplies. The same, of course, is true of the negative. If I want to upgrade my relationship right now, the best thing I can do is be real with myself. Are my partner and I happy together? Do we love each other? Do we care about each other? If the answer to all of these three questions is yes, we're probably ahead of the game. Here are a few ways to keep it real in your relationship today.

1. Never Take Anything Personally

Nothing is personal. Even if someone does something mean, it's just not about you. In the moment it may very much feel about you, but it's about them. And this especially applies to things like your partner leaving her toothbrush somewhere you don't like it, or leaving his towel on the floor, or whatever it is you feel like picking about right now.

To be real: I think it's always smart to ask oneself, "How important is it?" Most of the time, pretty much everything is a lot less important than it seems. Let this one go, and instead remind yourself that we're all having a human experience: Some days are a whole lot better than others.

2. Don't Assume Anything

If you're upset about something, bring it up. The fact that your partner forgot to do something or did something you didn't like probably has a lot less to do with carelessness and a lot more to do with being distracted or busy. Going into "just because X, therefore Y" mode is never a good idea in a relationship. It's just not true that because your partner is too busy to spend time with you tonight that they don't care about you. If you go into that manner of thinking, you're going straight to feeling bad about your relationship.

To be real: Think about the last kind thing your partner did for you. It was probably really recently — like yesterday. Now do something kind for them. You'll probably forget whatever it was you were upset about.

3. Focus On The Positive

I think a huge trap that many of us fall into in relationships is getting totally caught up in the negative. It's far too easy to get angry about little things or point the finger toward tiny problems. Don't fall into that thought pattern. It's not true.

To be real: Sit down and list 10 things you love about your partner. Positivity begets positivity, so banish those negative thoughts with some gratitude.

Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.

Images: Giorgio Magini/Fotolia; Giphy