Since making my own mistakes in the past, I’ve read a lot about the science of how to have happy and long-lasting relationships—whether it's with romantic partners, family, or friends. Below, I'd like to share 12 science-based tips to help you avoid disconnection and make your relationships flourish!
Any issues you avoid, or truths you don’t want to acknowledge, will likely undermine your relationship. It’s better to face the truth squarely in the face right now and address it, rather than let it sabotage your relationship in the long run.
One of the biggest dangers in close relationships is assuming the other person is exactly the same as you in their feelings and thoughts — in other words, "failing at their mind." At times, our emotional self just doesn’t want to accept that the person we’re so close to is actually different from us—sometimes very different. I know I've made this mistake, and it has cost me dearly in the past. So how do we avoid it?
Tell Culture is a communication strategy where you are open and honest with close people in your life about your feelings, thoughts, and what’s going on with you. This makes you more vulnerable and authentic. Tell them information about yourself that you think they'd want to know.
For open and honest communication to work, you need to remove communication barriers. Figure out your individual communication preferences and then compromise on something that works well for both of you.
As you communicate with each other, don’t listen only to what the other person is saying, but also to the emotions underneath the words. Notice whether the other person seems stressed, frazzled, sad, frustrated, confused, pleased, glad, joyful, etc.
This is a magic-bullet solution to so many relationship problems! Schedule systematic meetings to talk about the state of your relationship and what can be improved.
All of these strategies will help you build up trust, which is key to having happy, lasting relationships. Always keep a personal evaluation of your relationship's level of trust in the back of your mind. How much do you trust the other person to act in ways that match your mental model of that person? How much do you trust that person to have your back?
Technological developments make it so easy for us to track each other and to be in constant communication. However, permitting each other to have privacy, as well as not pushing the other person to do things they'd prefer not to do, helps increase happiness in relationships, since it builds up mutual trust.
Surprise—conflicts can be healthy in relationships! If you go into a relationship expecting never to fight, then your first fight could very well lead to the end of the relationship. Instead, learn strategies for healthy conflict resolution, and talk about them with the other person beforehand.