There comes a time in any relationship where things get comfortable. And, contrary to popular belief, there’s nothing wrong with that. At all. Being ‘comfortable’ with someone means you’ve let your walls down. You’ve shown your true self and accepted your partner’s true self in return.
But, there’s a huge difference between being comfortable and being lazy.
Relationships still take effort, regardless of how long you’ve been together. It’s easy to think ‘We’ve been together for 7 years, she knows I love her.’ Or ‘He knows that I support his passions, I shouldn’t have to compliment him all the time.’
But just because we know our partner loves and supports us, doesn’t mean we need to hear it any less.
There’s many ways we can project our love and gratitude onto our partners. Everyone has their own love language, and it’s important to know what’s going to have the biggest impact on your partner. The other sure-fire way to make sure you’re effectively giving your partner the attention they deserve, is just to do everything on this short list…
No matter who you are, everyone needs verbal affirmation to thrive. Even if you’ve put in the work, you’re comfortable with who you are, and you feel very much in love with yourself; no one is impervious to days (or moments) of self-doubt.
There is a lot of media that leads us to believe that we should be an island. Never to depend on anyone for strength or self-worth. We should love and praise ourselves and never look outside of ourselves for validation.
And that’s amazing if you can do that. Seriously. Bravo. You have a soul of iron and the spiritual stability of the Dalai Lama himself and you should write a book immediately. But for the rest of us, we may need a little reassurance, every now and then.
You still need to put in the work. Being completely dependent on someone to create your happiness can only end badly. But it’s not the end of the world if you enjoy when your partner tells you they like your outfit. It’s not a crime to feel a little sense of joy when they tell you they’re proud of you, and you should absolutely relish in the moment when they look in your eyes and tell you how lucky they feel to have you in their lives.
No one should have to be an island. Think about the positive feelings that shoot through your body when your partner verbally expresses their love for you. Now, when is the last time you returned the favour? If the answer is more than 40 minutes ago, maybe you should take a moment and express your feelings. Yell across the room, shoot them a text. I’ll wait.
The truth is, the fastest way to a more positive, more loving relationship is expressing how you feel about them on a regular basis. It lays the groundwork for overcoming any obstacles that may have arisen over time.
2. Romantic Gestures
Romantic gestures are like praise in physical/actionable form. Romantic gestures are more than words. They go beyond the surface. Anyone can say words, but a well thought out romantic gesture shows that you understand their needs.
Some people see romantic gestures as a candlelit dinner at a nice restaurant, while others would be stoked to come home to find that you’ve cleaned the entire house for them. It varies from person to person and it comes down to knowing what your partner would like best. There’s no real cheat sheet, but you can try some of these options (easy gestures, more difficult but more powerful gestures).
The point of a romantic gesture is to show your partner that you know them better than anyone else. To show that you have been listening and that you want to do something to make their lives a little easier, a little better, or a little more magical.
3. Carve Out Time
Nothing is more precious than your time. That’s why it means so much when someone chooses to spend it with us. You are literally telling someone that they are important enough to use your life up… if you want to be morose about it.
It doesn’t really even matter what you do in your time with them, as long as they are your only focal point. Turn off your phone, sign out of Netflix, and just ‘be’ in their company. Even 20 minutes of focused attention can create a huge impact for your relationship.
It’s so easy to divide our attention these days. We have a constant link to work and entertainment in our hands at all times. Our brains can multi-task better than any other generation. We live in a world of instant stimulus and gratification, but the most powerful thing you can do for your partner is let all of that go when you’re in their presence.
I don’t expect this to be easy. Media is an addiction that we are all fighting. Meditation can be a huge help when re-learning how to focus. Allow yourself to sit, without outside stimulus, for as long as you can. This can be very difficult for some people. Especially those with more extroverted tendencies. But, gradually, the amount of time you can sit in silence will grow longer and longer.
I promote meditation for many many reasons, and helping you reconnect with your partner is high on that list. If you find your mind wandering or feel that itch in the back of your mind that tells you to check your Instagram, take a deep breath and re-focus on your partner. Even if your partner is on their phone. They will be able to feel a greater intensity to your presence and, in most cases, will reflect that back to you.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with technology. It does amazing things for us. But, if we let it run our lives, it can destroy our real-life relationships. In the end, it is escapism and everyone knows that on some level. So, if you spend all your time buried in your phone… your partner can only conclude that it’s them you’re trying to escape from.
Don’t be afraid to take a step toward a better relationship.
Sometimes, when things get too comfortable, we can fear any sort of change that might end things. “What if she doesn’t take my compliment the right way?” “What if he thinks I’m crazy for planning a big date night?” I promise that, if they’re the right one for you, any positive action will be met with gratitude.
Sometimes we all need a little love and assurance. Provide it before they even know they need it, and you’ll be happy for the rest of your days.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project.