We all want attentive partners. I'm not talking about clingy partners, but rather the kind who knows when we're not feeling well or remembers the names of our family members. There are some really easy ways to be a more attentive partner if that's something you're trying to improve upon in your relationship.
After all, there's nothing worse than having a partner who comes and goes when they want sex, then spends the rest of their time with their friends, or watching TV, and who barely notices you're alive. That's not a caring, life-affirming relationship.
When I worked with couples as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I saw a lot of couples who never addressed ways they could be more attentive, and who who wound up with some serious distance problems to overcome. The best way to avoid all that distance and the growing apart and resentment that comes with it, is to do your best to be a caring and attentive partner from the start. And even if you've been in a relationship for a while, it's never too late to learn these caring, romantic, essential relationship skills.
1. Get Off Your Phone
Nothing says "I'm only half listening" like being in your phone when someone's trying to talk you. Just make a conscious effort to put your phone away whenever you are giving your partner your attention. Even if your partner isn't trying to talk to you, like if you're watching a movie, putting your phone away sends the message that you're there in the moment.
2. Be A Good Social Media Friend
Like those Instagram photos. Comment on the occasional Facebook post. Retweet the super witty Tweets. It may seem silly, but it will show your partner that you care, that you think they're funny, that you enjoy seeing their selfies, that you're willing to do online PDA (to an extent) and that you're proud of your partner. Its easy to go overboard, but you can just ask your partner how they feel about their level of social media attentiveness.
3. Learn How To Listen
Listening is more than hearing. It's body language, head nodding, asking questions, paying attention (not being on your phone) and showing you are engaged in the conversation. Then, it's taking what you heard one step farther and acting on your conversation. Being a good listener can turn an average relationship into a spectacular one.
4. Ask Questions
Asking questions is a simple way to be more attentive. Ask your partner about their day. Ask if they need anything when you get up to go to the kitchen. Ask how they're feeling. Ask how their clubs or jobs are going. Ask if they talked to their family. Just ask questions that show you're paying attention and that you're interested in their lives.
5. Make Note Of What's Going On In Their Lives
You should remember the name of that person at work who always gives them a hard time. You should know what they hate about their commute. You should know what dog park they like to go to. You should make it your job to take an active interest in the day-to-day. It's the little stuff that often starts to create distance in a relationship.
6. Do More Things Together
If you're a gym rat, but your partner's a city runner, pick a day when they run with you and you go to the gym with them. See if you can squeeze lunch dates into your day. The more time you spend together, the more chances you have to be attentive, to show interest, to be affectionate, and to get to know your partner even better.
7. Make Little Routines
Talk on your lunch break. Text each other to have a great day. Talk on your commute home. Send each other YouTube videos of love songs on your coffee break. Just pick a few easy ways to show affection, and do them every single day, without fail. My "good morning beautiful" texts are one of my favorite parts of every single day. It's something very simple but very meaningful.
8. Get Into Their Interests
If you hate sports, you don't have to suddenly become a fan, but you might find it fun to go to a game together or to host a tailgating party. If there's a show they like, watch it too, so you can talk about it. Learn about what they love so you can ask questions or buy them things they might need. It will go a long way to help your partner to feel known and understood.
9. Buy Them Specific Gifts
Take your careful attention to their interests one step further and present them with a gift that lets them know you support their interests. For example, if you normally buy flowers, this time get paints and brushes for your art-loving partner or get potted succulents for your garden loving partner. Those types of gifts are as romantic as they are thoughtful.
10. Pay Attention To Their Body
Listen to their breathing and pay attention to their body movements when you have sex. Notice when they get a haircut. Pitch in a little more when you notice they're feeling exhausted or sick. Show care and concern when they limp. Have a gentle and caring regard for their mood and body.
11. Remember Special Events
There's really no excuse for forgetting anniversaries, birthdays, and special occasions. You can put the dates into your phone and get tons of reminders. Go one step farther and put in special other occasions, like a year at their job, the anniversary of when you got your first place, or their favorite pet's birthday.
Master this stuff, as well as some good communication skills and some healthy trust, and you'll be a shoe in for partner of the year.
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