It is quite difficult to open yourself up to a possibility of a new relationship after a painful breakup. Sense of unknown, lack of courage to make another attempt, fear of (another) failure all these factors can inhibit us in our quest for our soul mate. However, we will never be able to experience genuine emotional happiness if we stick to the same patterns that have already turned out to be misguiding. In order to find the perfect couple for yourself and to achieve long-lasting happy relationship, it is essential to make some changes in your current romantic style.
- GO OUTSIDE. You probably remember that SATC (Sex and the CITY) episode when Carry teaches single women how to find a guy; and in one moment, she makes them all go out for a drink instead of giving the college-style, theoretical lecture. This is definitely one of the most important lessons that you have to learn about finding the right person: it is highly improbable that they will knock on your door one day while you are sitting and watching TV-soap marathon. If you really want to meet someone new, you have to put yourself out there.
- CHOOSE PLACES. Previous rule, however, has certain limitations if you are interested in more than just a casual fling. Night clubs and bars are not really the places where people are interested in finding long-term partners; also, no one will guarantee you that you will find the person that you met there even slightly interesting the morning after. Rather focus on the places that reflect your true interests and habits: classes that you like, volunteering for the cause that is important to you, favorite coffee shop, nice breakfast place in the morning, or any place that could be related to your hobbies (library, sport club, animal shelter etc.). In that way, you will have better chances of meeting appropriate potential partners than you would in that go-go pub at the corner of your street.
- SEEK FOR COMPATIBILITY. Do you know why our friendships last much longer on average than our romantic affairs? It`s because they are based on similar interests and attitudes, shared values and mutual topics and experiences. The same things make the relationship last as well: if your life habits are compatible with those of your partner, that will create strong common grounds for your future together. Also, it will increase the number of positive experiences that you share with each other, which is a strong predictor of long-lasting happiness in a relationship (Bazzini, Stack, Martincin, & Davis, 2007; Gable, Reis, Impett, & Asher, 2004).
- BE REALISTIC. Important part of becoming an adult is putting both your feet firmly on the ground. Don`t wait for the `perfect partner.` You can miss a valuable person by holding to some imaginary ideals of how they must look like, talk like, behave like etc. Instead try to set your expectations in a more realistic manner. Remember, you are not perfect either; the beauty is in finding someone who will see all your imperfections as something completely desirable.
- BE ACCEPTING AND OPEN-MINDED. Once you meet someone with whom you have so much in common, try to be tolerant about those minor differences that will inevitably occur. Do not force your partner to change; the only person that you can shape into whatever shape you like is yourself. It is essential for a healthy relationship that you and your partner each keep your own individuality: in that way, you will both get the most from your connection. Plus, being open-minded to different and unknown things your partner brings into your life can enhance your own personal growth as well.
- BE HONEST. This implies to various aspects of relationship behavior: introducing yourself, saying what you have on your mind, opening up about your past experiences. When you finally meet the person you are interested in, you might feel the need to `oversell` your virtues: however, if you truly want to build long-term relation with someone, the only way to make it last is through showing honesty and sincerity about yourself and your expectations. If it is really the right person for you, he/she will like you just the way you are.
- COMMUNICATE AS A COUPLE. It is important to keep the love flame by showing dedication to each other in various ways. A study conducted by team of psychologists showed that using specific `WE`-related vocabulary in a couple communication leads to higher levels of marital happiness and positive emotional behavior (Seider, Hirschberger, Nelson, & Levenson, 2009). Also, try to spend enough quality time together (that excludes TV, other people, crowded places etc.). If you nurture your relationship, the relationship will make you thrive as well.
- SHARE POSITIVE EXPERIENCES. Couples who try new experiences together tend to be more satisfied with their relationships (Bazzini, Stack, Martincin, & Davis, 2007). Share the excitement of doing something different (or the enjoyment of staying in the comfort zone) with your partner: cook together, watch the favorite movie, go travel, try a new hobby, sign up for a dance lesson, go jogging or go to the new bar. Whatever you choose, you will not only increase the amount of time spent together, you will also create memories and share a laugh, which will lead you to the next level of intimacy with your partner.
- BOOST THE PARTNER`S CONFIDENCE. Have you ever heard about the `Michelangelo effect` (Drigotas, Rusbult, Wieselquist, & Whitton, 1999)? It refers to the mutual `sculpting` of two persons in a relationship in a way that brings to light the most positive things about both of them. The best way to do this is by using affirmative language in communication with your partner: praise them for everything good that they have done, congratulate them, show admiration and try to revive positive experiences together. By pointing out how much your partner is close to become the best version of himself, you will eventually help them achieve this ideal.
- INVEST IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP. Finally, when you get everything that you want from a relationship, there is only one message that you need to have in mind: take care of what you have, be grateful and show affection to the partner. Be proud of yourself for all the progress you made, and remember: you deserved it!
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By Marina Musatova, Psy.D. and Katarina Mijatovic, MSc.
Bazzini, D. G., Stack, E. P., Martincin, P. D., & Davis, C. (2007). The Effect of Reminiscing about Laughter on Relationship Satisfaction. Motivation and Emotion, 31(1), 25-34.
Drigotas, S., Rusbult, C., Wieselquist, J., & Whitton, S. (1999). Close Partner as Sculptor of the Ideal Self: Behavioral Affirmation and the Michelangelo Phenomenon. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 77 (2), 293–323.
Gable, S., Reis, H., Impett, E., & Asher, E. (2004). What Do You Do When Things Go Right? The Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Benefits of Sharing Positive Events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87/2, 228–245.
Seider, B., Hirschberger, G., Nelson, K., & Levenson, R. (2009). We can work it out: Age differences in relational pronouns, physiology, and behavior in marital conflict. Psychology of Aging, 24(3), 604–613.