7 "Awkward" Things That Can Actually Make Your Relationship Better
What does it take to have the "perfect" relationship? As many of us know, that doesn't really exist. Some would even argue that having a "perfect" relationship is a red flag in itself. So instead of shooting for the unrealistic idea of perfection, you should strive to make you relationship as good as it can be. According to experts, there are a few seemingly awkward but effective things you can do in order to get there.
"A good relationship is when two individuals are able to walk their own independent paths side-by-side with one another," relationship coach, Jenna Ponaman, CPC, tells Bustle.
Despite what some like to believe, a good relationship doesn't mean you're able to stay in the honeymoon phase as long as possible. It's about having the ability to overcome obstacles together while still maintaing the best possible outcome for both parties. "When you're in a relationship that is as good as it can be, you're able to understand each other‘s quirks, flaws, good qualities, and accept them for all of it," Ponaman says.
When you plan on being with someone for a long time, you know you're going to be exposed to their quirks and flaws. Sharing an awkward moment or two together is also inevitable. But that's OK. So here are some seemingly awkward things you may want to consider doing in order to make your relationship as good as it can be, according to experts.
1. Get Comfortable With Each Other's Quirky Habits
A 2016 survey conducted by Mic found that over a quarter of people wait six to 12 months into dating before farting openly in front of their partner. If you want your relationship to be as good as it can be, get used to it. Guaranteed, there's a lot more to come. "We all have ... quirks and things that we like to do, or even subconsciously do, that many people might find to be a little bizarre or even gross," Ponaman says. It's all part of the human experience. "Get comfortable around them and their habits, because the habits won’t go away," she says. "If you appreciate them for all their quirks and flaws, goods and bads, they will appreciate you more for it."
2. Stare Into Each Other's Eyes Without Breaking Eye Contact
Just to be clear, this isn't about having a staring contest. According to Ponaman, it's about granting someone the permission to look into your eyes to really see you and your vulnerabilities. "It can be awkward and scary all at the same time," she says. "But as a result, people are quick to break down their walls of insecurity and be who they truly are with their partner."
3. Allow For Trial And Error During Sex
When sex isn't as mind-blowing the first time you're trying something new, it can leave you or your partner feeling a bit insecure. "Allowing yourself to experience the discomfort and awkwardness with your partner allows each person to take the pressure off one another to have to have a fantastic ... sex life," Ponaman says. When you're both ready, if you're having sex with each other for the first time or you're just changing things up, it's going to require some trial and error. That means, awkwardness should be expected. But sometimes that trial and error can be the best part. "We get to explore our sexuality with one another, and we get to embrace one another in a more intimate and fun way," Ponaman says. Besides, a 2018 survey conducted by PureRomance found that 60 percent of people have started a relationship off with bad sex. So having some occasionally awkward sex is not that bad as you probably think.
4. Meet Their Family
Meeting your partner's family for the first time is a major relationship milestone that can get super uncomfortable really fast. "Walls come down and you can see the true behaviors, quirks, and chaos of that family," Ponaman says. While you're probably doing your best to be the picture perfect version of yourself, she says that's not how should look at it. Think of it instead as an opportunity to see how you will fit into the picture. "This is your chance to see if you can really embrace being a part of this family and having a lasting relationship with this person," she says. When your partner meets your family, it also will give you a little bit of insight as to how your partner may handle pressure. Overall, going through these seemingly uncomfortable events together can give you an opportunity to see how you both work together as each other‘s support systems.
5. Talk About Exes
No matter how curious you may about your partner's ex love, for the most part, nobody really wants to hear about it. "On the one hand, your past really doesn't matter. On the other, treating it like a taboo subject isn't the answer," sex and relationship coach, Ken Blackman, tells Bustle. "It's a big part of who you are today." According to him, avoiding it does two things: it creates mystery and maintains a wall between you. If you really want to understand each other and get closer, your history is a part of the picture. "It's real, it's the truth, and it can be talked about without one or the other of you freaking out," he says.
6. Talk About Where Your Relationship Is Going
Bringing up the future of your relationship can be just as awkward as rehashing the past. "Love is grand but life gets real so quickly," Noelle Cordeaux, relationship expert and co-founder of JRNI tells Bustle. "Couples with staying power need to tackle awkward conversations early on in order to avoid confusion and speed bumps down the road." The biggest awkward conversations that she says can tank couples if not settled up front include the topics of money, credit, kids, religion, social expectations, your definition of cheating, and even frequency of sex. Bringing up money or religion can definitely be romance killers. But if you want to be together for a long time, it's completely necessary.
So how soon should these topics be brought up? As Leanne and Ric Jacobs, The Om Couple, tell Bustle, "The longer we put off these conversations, the greater the chance that the relationship will end in drama and distress. Make these topics priority conversations as soon as you know you are crossing the bridge from a date to a duo."
Arguing with your partner will no doubt cause some discomfort between the two of you. But having disagreements, letting things out, and working through your problems in a healthy way is completely necessary if you want your relationship to work out long-term. It prevents the toxicity of resentment from building up.
There are many ways to confront your partner and talk out disagreements. Licensed marriage and family therapist, Laura Petiford, PMHNP, tells Bustle, one of the most forced or awkward behaviors a couple can engage in initially is mirroring. "When you're mirroring, you repeat back to your partner what you just heard them say and ask if you have it right," she says. "It’s amazing how frequently we hear something other than what was said. This is particularly helpful in situations where you feel the stress rising, your mind racing and you catch yourself thinking about your response which is a sure sign that you are no longer listening." That's because mirroring forces you to slow down. Often times, we're so quick to react to something that we don't agree with. But when you take a moment to slow down, listen, and truly understand what your partner is saying, Petiford says you become more curious rather than judgmental and reactive. "If done routinely, it can keep you out of 'fight mode.' Instead, you'll be learning new information about each other."
At the end of the day, it's important to recognize that there's no such thing as the perfect relationship. Having a good relationship will sometimes mean getting out of your comfort zone. But that's OK. Challenges are necessary for growth. Every little "awkward" thing you have to go through will eventually make your relationship that much stronger.