From all angles, there are relationships that need nurturing—professional connections, friendships, family members, and, of course, romantic partners.
Strangely enough, it’s our most intimate relationships that often draw the short straw. Sometimes, we completely forget to employ our most basic relationship skills with our loved ones. Forgetting these basic skills can result in creating unnecessary distance, miscommunication, and misunderstanding.
To nurture the closeness between you and your partner, keep the following relationship skills in mind. In addition to creating closeness, these skills will support your partner in their own life endeavors as well as catapult you toward success in many ways.
After all, relationship skills are the kind of abilities that trickle over into many areas of life.
Here are six ways you can get started.
1. Practice Empathy
Familiarity can frequently intrude on our natural tendency to be empathetic toward our partner. We may get used to them complaining about work difficulties or issues with their extended family, for example. Little by little, we may stop listening and genuinely caring about those concerns.
Remember that true empathy can go a long way toward creating a strong bond between you and your partner. It’s as simple as making an effort to put yourself in your partner’s place when they are experiencing a rough patch.
2. Take Perspective
To practice the essential relationship skill of taking perspective, make it a point to really try to understand your partner and have genuine concern for what they are going through. This means holding back any natural urge to give advice or try to “fix” a situation for them.
In this frame of mind, you may have a difficult time seeing anything from your partner’s point of view. Being unable to take perspective is a bit more than simply believing you know what is best. Rather, it goes as far as making the effort to understand what they’re going through and validating what they are feeling, without making judgments, even if you don’t agree with your partner’s point of view.
3. Show Affection
People thrive on physical touch.
Consider how much you express your positive emotions by hugging, touching, or caressing your partner. An affirming and supportive touch can mean the world to them. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a big event. It could be something as simple as holding hands or a quick kiss on the cheek.
4. Be Trustworthy
This may seem like a no-brainer, but being trustworthy goes beyond the margins of fidelity that many of us assume.
For example, do you keep intimate information private between the two of you? Or, do you gab about your partner’s personal struggles with your friends? Do you make fun of your partner’s ideas when they’re out of hearing range?
Regardless of what others do, keep in mind that it’s important to be the person your partner can trust with their emotions, their thoughts, and their experiences.
5. Support Positive Experiences
When you’re one part of a couple, it’s important to be a cheerleader for your partner. After all, they’re counting on you to be in their corner and support them even when their endeavors flop.
In addition to being supportive, try to extend that sense of validation beyond what’s already taking place. For example, make it a point to go try new things together such as going out to eat at a new restaurant, or taking a class together.
Humans crave novelty and fresh experiences to enrich their overall level of life satisfaction. So, go and tackle life together, and bask in the closeness your adventures provide.
6. Rebound from a Conflict Quickly
Take stock of how quickly you get over a disagreement or argument.
Disputes are bound to happen in a close relationship. Yet, a couple certainly doesn’t need to nosedive down to the bottom of the argument ocean every time a conflict presents itself. Part of fighting fair is allowing the conflict to come to a healthy resolution or compromise, rather than letting it hang over your relationship like a dark cloud for several hours or days.
Learn to repair after conflict with your partner. Own your part of the way the disagreement was handled. Be specific about what you are apologizing for or regret. Listen to your partner. Be respectful.
Building a healthy, intimate relationship can be a challenge in today’s modern world, but these relationship skills can help you get there.
David Wachsman, MC, LPC Intern, works with clients at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin to build healthy, intimate relationships with their significant others. David can help you practice and employ different communication skills to deepen understanding with your partner. If you or your partner are seeking guidance to strengthen your bond, try giving David a call at (512) 270-4883, ext. 119, or request an appointment online through the RCC Austin Scheduling page.