It’s no big secret that relationships are hard work and like anything else in life, ebb and flow. Sometimes you can’t get enough of your partner and spend your day aggressively (and happily!) texting each other, and other times, you dream of sleeping alone. It’s normal, it’s healthy, and it’s part of sharing your life with another imperfect person.
And while every relationship is different and what you need might not be what your bestie needs out of love, when it comes to being in a happy relationship that brings you joy and companionship — there are certain things you should never — and I mean, never — settle for. I'm not just talking abusive personalities or actions, cheating, and other obvious deal-breakers, but when it comes to being in a relationship, there are certain things you should always ask for — and make sure you receive.
“Asking for certain things, whether tangible or not, sets healthy boundaries and the essence of being together but separate. These two things are important,” relationship coach Kristy De Leon tells Bustle. “With the first you are letting your partner know where you draw the line, in every aspect of the relationship, in order to maintain self respect and respect for each other. With the latter, each partner needs to feel a sense of freedom and independence in a relationship. We are not caged animals so nor should we feel trapped or caged in a relationship.”
So what are some things you should ask for? Get started with these tips from experts:
1. Emotional Intimacy
Great sex in a relationship is a no-brainer, but what about great intimacy? They're not the same and you can’t really have one without the other. It’s important to ask your partner intimate, personal and robust questions that help you connect to them. “Women need to be emotionally intimate and one way we do this is through communication,” life coach and author, Sarah Stewart, MSW, CPC tells Bustle. “Ask your partner for that time. Maybe the two of you need to set a half an hour aside to just catch up and connect. We are all so busy and are constantly attached to our technology. It is important to be sure that this time is sacred and technology is left in another room. This will enhance the emotional connection women need.”
2. Affection, Your Way
You’ve likely heard of the Five Love Languages and even if you think they’re a little cliche, they have a point: not everyone gives, receives and needs love in the same way. When you’re in a new relationship, it’s important to illustrate to your partner how you want to be cared for. “She should ask to be shown love and appreciation in the way that resonates the most with her. Whether it is through actions (ex. Like leaving notes or doing things for each other) or verbally, each person interprets love and appreciation in a different way,” DeLeon says. “If your partner does not know how to show you love in the way you need to see or feel it, you will not be able to interpret it as love and it will create distance in a relationship."
Without honesty, you can’t build trust in your relationship. (Or intimacy, or anything really) Being with someone who isn’t honest or leads you on or has unhealthy intentions will never allow you to fully be vulnerable or fall in love. “Relationships live and die by honesty,” Stewart says. “Ask for that, it is the basis for a successful relationship. Just remember — you need to live by it as well. It seems like a simple concept but it is not. Being honest also means being vulnerable. Being honest about what you like or do not like; being honest about what you need in a relationship is not always easy to do.”
4. Alone Time
When you enter into a new love affair, it’s easy to get swept up in the romance and splendor of falling in like (and eventually, love) for someone. But everyone needs space to themselves, regardless if you’re smitten or not. It’s the only way you allow yourselves to grow as individuals, as well as a couple. “It is important to continue to do the hobbies, interests, and friendships that existed prior to a relationship, because these contributed to the personality that attracted the other person,” DeLeon says. “Your partner should also see the value in keeping your alone time and not give you a hard time for wanting to have this special time. After all, the relationship with oneself is more important to keep happy than the one with your partner.”
“Ask your partner what they need. Relationships are a two way street,” Stewart says. “If you are asking to have your needs accommodated, be open to accommodate theirs as well.” If you can’t be on the same page or a find a way to agree, you’ll spend more time resenting them than loving them. It’s important to make sure there is a balance of who gets what they want when they want it, and how much you’re compromising.
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