Romantic relationships can be hard to wrap one’s mind around. Everyone’s looked back at a seemingly complex relationship only to realize how wrong they were about it. Dating often seems like a weird mix of extreme complexity and stark simplicity. The reason is that relationships tend to have very complex ideas hanging from a few simple points. Understand and focus on those essential points and the relationship as a whole can become incredibly powerful.
The first point is simply that one needs to recognize the essential humanity of one’s partner. This is something that most people will be tempted to write off as little more than a platitude. But treating it that way is one of the best ways to ruin a relationship. The fact that the person one is dating is an actual individual is a harder point to really understand than most would assume.
Much of this has to do with the whole idea of love. Love tends to create an idea of the couple over the individuals within it. And of course it’s all framed around oneself. No matter how understanding anyone is they’re still seeing the world through their own eyes. It’s always going to be the default vantage point when considering anything subjective.
But one should always consider not just what a partner thinks about something, but how they go about the process. One should learn how they take in and process new events and ideas. Basically, people need to always be trying to put themselves into their partners shoes. There’s no need to always agree on everything. But people should be able to understand why their partner sees an issue differently.
The second point has to do with fitness and nutrition. This isn’t something that most people really give a lot of thought to at first. And when people start dating they’re usually happy to test the waters with a different food or physical activity. But it’s important for people to go beyond those first tentative steps. People need to be with a partner who has similar goals for nutrition, fitness and overall health. One of the most common mistakes people make is thinking that they can change a partner’s view of any of those. But you can’t trick someone into eating better or getting enough exercise to really make a difference. If someone doesn’t like to work out after they’ve given it a try than they most likely never will. Likewise someone who insists on cooking every meal with healthy ingredients probably won’t enjoy trips to fast food franchises. And it becomes even more important when children are a possibility.
The third point to focus on is chores. It’s not exactly a topic that’s overflowing with romantic imagery. But any married couple can attest to the fact that there’s few things more romantic than coming home to find that the dishes were done, dinner cooked as a surprise or the vacuuming finished up. It’s important that a couple learn about just what they consider the breaking point for chores. What limit every chore has for when it needs to be done. There’s far more variability in these ideas than most people realize. And this lack of realization tends to create a lot of arguments. It’s only on understanding that it’s filled with subjectivity that a couple can know what will make the other happy.
The fourth point to focus on is family. Most people will agree that meeting a partner’s parents for the first time can be rather stressful. It’s easy to just retreat from it, nod and smile a bit, and then forget about their family until the next holiday approaches. But in the end a relationship is all about the joining of two different families. That might be a family of two, or it could involve twenty or more. But big or small, a family is one of the most important ways that people define themselves. When someone invites a partner into their family it’s not something to be treated superficially. One shouldn’t just try to make a good impression. One should instead try to fully fit in.
The fifth and final point to consider is how differences can support each other. When people start a relationship it’s usually under a banner of shared interests and ideals. But the differences can be just as important. This can either strengthen or weaken a relationship, depending on how it’s approached. Differences being a strength might seem counter intuitive at first. But one might consider it a bit like interlocking puzzle pieces. The pieces fit together because their differences compliment each other. Likewise someone who’s easily stressed and someone who’s naturally calm can help balance out the extremes as different approaches are called for at different times. And the same is true for almost any contrasting emotion or viewpoint.