Relationships take work. That work takes place both within your partnership(s) and at the individual level. Introspection and growth allow you to be your best self, whatever that looks like to you. Try some of these tips to be the best partner you can be and to practice healthy behaviors in your relationships.
Recognize what your boundaries are.
Awareness of your boundaries allows for the relationship to flourish by ensuring that your partner(s) knows about your wants and needs, so that they are able to be mindful and accommodate what your boundaries are. Sometimes, we don’t know what our boundaries are until we realize that we didn’t like how a situation played out, but it’s important to take notice of this and voice what you are feeling the first time this happens. Your boundaries are valid, no matter what and they do not need to be justified by anyone else, if you are doing what’s best for you. This step takes work individually to identify what your emotional or physical boundaries are and then communicate this to your partner(s) about how to work through these situations together.
Identify how you best communicate.
Being a better partner means that you are effectively communicating with your loved ones. Think about how you currently communicate with your partner(s) and how you would ideally like to communicate. What changes can you make to voice your thoughts and feelings in a way that works well for you and your partner?
Healthy communication includes:
clearly stating your wants or needs;
speaking from your own point of view; and
actively listening to what others have to say, while showing them respect.
Practice healthy communication in all your conversations, so that it is second nature by the time you’re having a much-needed conversation with your partner(s). Be mindful of how you are communicating and reframe your thoughts/words when you are communicating in a way that is not how you intend to!
Focus on your inner healing.
Is anything about yourself you would like to work on? Maybe you’d like to address and process past trauma, try new hobbies, or prioritize what is going to make you feel fulfilled. A relationship cannot flourish if someone is unhappy inside. It puts unwanted and unnecessary pressure on the relationship.
While it’s totally valid to lean on our partner(s) when we need love and support, your partner(s) should not be the sole source of your joy. It is not their responsibility to make you happy. Co-dependency can be easy to fall into when in a relationship, but remember that you should be able to show yourself love and respect before you can properly give love to someone else. Focusing on your inner healing and what you can do to better yourself will translate to the love you show your partner(s), as you will be able to add to each other’s lives to make your time together that much sweeter.
Show the kindness that you want to receive.
To be the best partner you can be means that you are thoughtful towards your partner in a way which you would want to them to be thoughtful towards you. This means consistently showing kindness or making your partner(s) feel special in a way that they would like. Everyone has different ways of showing love or affection, so being a good partner means that you are asking your partner(s) what you could do to be there for them. In any relationship, we all want to feel like we are a priority, so do the same for your partner(s) by being present and reliable. The standard for love should be that we feel seen and heard when in a relationship, which means demonstrating this by treating them as they deserve to be treated: with love, respect, and compassion.
Learn how to compromise in a way that satisfies you and makes you most comfortable.
Reframe what compromising means to you, and this step will become so much easier than you would think!
While most believe that compromising is the concession of something you want, it really means that everyone is happy with the outcome of a situation, so that you all feel prioritized, seen, and heard. The key to compromising is centered around the reminder that you and your partner(s) are thinking of the other as much as you are thinking of yourself. Make it known if you have a boundary that you need to maintain, while also making space for the wants or needs of your partner(s) to take shape. Doing so will demonstrate your willingness to make your relationship succeed and show that your partner(s)’s happiness matters to you, as well. Every relationship is unique as we make space for different wants and needs, so have open conversations with your partner(s) about what you can do to be a good partner to them. If you want to start being the best partner you can be, try incorporating attainable ways to grow that will lead toward sustainable behavior change over time that centers healthy relationship behaviors first and foremost. It won’t happen overnight, but people can grow and change. Relationships should add to your life, so make sure that you are setting a standard for how you want to give and receive love, so that your relationships are that much richer.
If you or your partner(s) have questions or want to access resources around healthy relationship behaviors, email HopkinsGBVP@jh.edu to learn more!