The year 2020 is finally over, and we have all experienced the many moments that have tested and pushed our relationships with our friends, family, and significant others nearly over the edge. Many of our lives have stalled since the pandemic hit and took away opportunities for us to foster relationships with the people we love. Now that the new year is here, it’s time to restart and carry on with our dating lives.
Many of us have been forced to live in the moment with our partners throughout the various curfews that were imposed on us, and things may have already begun to seem too mundane for the both of you. And for those who are single as of now, we are sure that you may be yearning for contact with someone new.
We hope you have grown through the disaster that was 2020, and it is time to start anew and inject some excitement into your dating life. Here are 5 great tips on how you can grow a relationship while you are still fresh into the new year:
1. Set Relationship Goals
It does sound cheesy, but setting goals does help you figure out what you want out of your relationship in the future. Setting goals allows you to think about what is most important to you when it comes to a partner. Once you have clear goals, you will be able to figure out if the one you are seeing is the right one for you.
Do you want them to leave you alone while you tinker with your hobbies, or would you rather they be able to join in with you? Do you prefer your significant other to be more affectionate towards you, or would you rather they give you more space? These are some questions that you can ask yourself when it comes to setting these goals.
If you currently have a partner, it is also helpful for both of you to set these goals together so you can both start on the same page, and better understand what both of you want to work towards this year.
2. Learn How To Be Present
Seriously, put down that damn phone! It’s never good manners to be on your phone more than half the time when you are together with your date or partner, even if you both live in the same home. Unless it’s an emergency, learn how to pay attention to your partner and show them that you are present with them, right there, at that moment.
This is especially true if you are outside on a date – nothing is a bigger turn-off than someone who is constantly on their phone while someone is talking to them.
Pay attention to your date whenever they are talking, even if it seems like they are talking about mundane things. People appreciate you when you are tuned into them, and it shows them that you are listening to them and respect them. If you do find yourself bored by what your partner is talking about all the time though, this may show signs that both of you are not on the same wavelength after all.
Similar to being present, the next step is to learn how to be a good listener. Everyone appreciates a good listener, and bonus points for you if you can remember specific things about their last conversation with you.
Being a good listener is more than just putting down your phone and looking at your partner while they are speaking. If you can sympathize with them and their feelings during the conversation, you will be able to build a strong connection with them. Encourage your partner by reacting to what they say appropriately.
If your partner is talking about something sad that happened recently, do try to sympathize with them and offer kind words; do not be afraid to share in their excitement too if they are telling you about a movie or TV Show that they have recently watched.
Here’s a neat trick on how to seem like you are listening to someone attentively. Try repeating the last few words of the last sentence that they just said, back to them.
For example, if the sentence was “Tom didn’t go to Minnesota last week”, you could parrot back to them: “Last week?” This encourages the other person to continue with their story and makes them feel heard.
4. Set Boundaries
While it is true that the first step to establishing a good relationship with someone is to have the courage to let them into your life, having a strong sense of boundaries with that person is also equally important.
There are physical boundaries and emotional boundaries. Some physical boundaries include things such as public displays of affection (PDA for short), your level of comfort with their touch, and your need for personal space.
Emotional boundaries are much more complicated and pertain to your feelings and beliefs. All of us have morals and values that we cannot compromise, ranging from religious beliefs to how they can be emotionally supportive in your life. In our pursuit of romance, we may end up putting ourselves below our partners and being too self-sacrificial or giving them too many concessions when they do things that hurt us.
Make sure to communicate your values and priorities to your partner early on (or right now if you haven’t already) so that they are aware, and they should understand. If at any point in time they are disrespectful to you or your beliefs, you should call them out and get them to understand that what they did was hurtful to you. If they still do not take you seriously on this, it might be time to reconsider your current relationship with them.
5. Create Moments of Attraction
The past year of dreariness and curfews may likely have dampened the feelings between you and your partner. Similarly, if you aren’t in a relationship right now, your excitement for finding a new significant other may have been diminished and you could be looking for something new to light a fire in your heart again.
It might be time to include a little novelty in your life, to spark moments of attraction and start burning the flames of passion anew. If it is too difficult to go out for a nice romantic dinner right now, invite your date or partner to have a cookoff with you at your home, and put some scented candles and purchase a nice bottle of wine for a nice candlelit dinner, just for the two of you.
You can also consider renting a nearby hotel or Airbnb for a quick weekend staycation, and the change of scenery can help you create more moments of attraction with your partner. Make it feel as if you are properly dating them (again).
Otherwise, even doing small things can help ignite the flames of your relationship. Bringing them a nice cup of coffee during the day, sending them a cute “thinking of you” text, doing the dishes for them, and other small gestures to show them that you care, can help you get closer to your partner if you make it a habit.
While the course of true love never did run smooth, we believe that if you are actively finding ways and putting the effort to grow your romantic relationships, you will eventually be able to obtain and keep a long-lasting relationship that can stand through the test of time (and a worldwide pandemic).