If there's one thing that's important in a relationship — apart from compatibility and, you know, liking each other — it's having a strong emotional bond with your partner. This is the glue that keeps a couple together. And it really can be the difference between a healthy, happy relationship, and one that likely won't go well.
If you and your partner already have a solid emotional bond, then I bet you listen to each other, support each other, and always take each other's side. If so, those are all incredibly good places to start. "When you have this strong foundation, you are more able to navigate and survive the issues that seem to tear other couples down or tear them apart," says Nicole Martinez, Psy.D, LCPC, in an email to Bustle. "[These couples] have the ability to talk things through, hear the other person out, care about their feelings and point of view. This solves more problems than I can even start to explain."
Of course, if you guys aren't doing these things, then your relationship is likely a bit of a struggle. When things go wrong, you might feel like your SO doesn't have your back. Or when things go right, you might feel like no one is there to offer congratulations. It's definitely not a good feeling, but there are ways to work on it. Below are some tips to help build up the emotional bond, and get your relationship back on track.
1. Accept Your Partner In All Of His Or Her Weirdness
If you truly want to feel close to your partner, you shouldn't wait around for that fateful day when they are "perfect." They are who they are right now, with all of their quirks and eccentricities. So go ahead and accept them. It'll prevent chronic frustration, according to Dr. Terri Orbuch on HuffingtonPost.com, and bring you both closer together.
2. Go Do Something Out of The Ordinary
If you do the same things day in and day out — eat the same dinner, watch the same movies, go to the same restaurants — then it's high time you change things up. "Boredom and [a] predictable routine can suck the life out of any relationship," said Jamie Long, Psy.D., on Psychology Today. "It's important to try new adventures and create new rituals of affection." You don't even have to do anything elaborate, just as long as it's different.
3. Work On Actually Listening To Each Other
It's one thing to listen to each other, and it's another thing to just wait for your turn to talk (Hint: most of us do the latter.) So learn to be a good active listener. As Martinez says, "If there are any significant issues to talk through, listen to the other person entirely before you speak, and then have them do the same to you." That should do the trick.
4. Be On Your SO's Side During Hard Times
Take a look at how you handle yourselves when the other person starts to vent. "Nothing is worse than complaining about a stressful moment than to have your one true love see 'eye-to-eye' with the enemy," said Long. It's much better to be on their side when they're upset, even if you disagree.
5. Make It A Point To Do Sweet Things Throughout The Day
Yes, the occasional big display of affection is great. But so are the smaller day-to-day ones. Think along the lines of pouring your partner some coffee, or sending a sweet text midday. "Research shows that the accumulation of small gestures has a bigger impact on couple happiness than grand, less frequent gestures," Orbuch noted.
6. Have Yourselves A Good Laugh
Make it a point to reminisce over old funny memories, or that hilarious thing that happened last week. "Bonding over these moments builds a reservoir of joyful memories that can serve as a buffer against tough times," noted an article on Prevention. Plus, it's nice to have these little inside jokes.
7. Be Happy For Each Other's Successes
Nothing's worse than sharing good news, only to have your partner show zero signs of congratulations. So even if you're feeling jealous or slightly intimidated by your partner's successes, it's much better to set that all aside in favor of patting them on the back, according to Prevention. It shows that you're in this as a team, and that's always a good thing.
8. Talk About Anything Other Than Your Relationship
In the same way the two of you can get kinda boring with your routines, you can get pretty darn boring with your convo topics, too. So if you're rehashing the same things over and over again, make it a point to talk about anything else. "Set aside 10 minutes a day ... to talk to your partner about anything other than work, family, the household, or the relationship," Orbuch suggested. "This simple change infuses relationships with new spirit and life."
9. Kiss Each Other More Often
Research has found that it doesn't necessarily matter how great the sex is in your relationship, but it does matter how great the kissing is, according to Diana Rodriguez on EverydayHealth.com. That's why it's important to kiss each other goodbye, or to snuggle and make out on the regular. It'll truly bring you closer.
10. Get To Know Each Other's Friends And Fam
If you two have completely separate friend groups, it may be time to make a change. As Orbuch said, "[Couples] who accept — not necessarily love — each other’s friends and make an effort to know them report being happier than couples who have separate friends and separate family lives." So start planning yourselves a joint get-together, ASAP.
11. Go To Bed At The Same Time
Yes, I know. You guys have busy schedules, and therefore crash into bed at different times. But it is important to — at least occasionally — go to bed at the same time. As Rodriguez said, "Make an effort to head to bed at the same time at least a few nights a week." You'll notice yourselves feeling happier, and more connected.
And, after all, that connection is really what your relationship is all about.
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