To learn more about making a smooth transition from hooking up to being exclusive, we spoke with Toronto-based registered psychologist Dr. Eliana Cohen, who gave us some tips on how to keep the momentum going once you’re past the dating stage and firmly rooted in a relationship.
Let’s face it; all couples argue, but if you want your new relationship to last you’re going to have to fight fairly. Cohen explains that this means not immediately shutting down and going on the defensive whenever a disagreement comes up. What you should be focusing on instead are tolerance, flexibility and openness, which make it much easier to resolve the argument. “You’re always going to have some conflict,” Cohen says, adding that fighting itself is OK as long as it’s done in a way that helps move the relationship forward. “With each argument you’re building emotional intimacy,” she explains. “Facing and negotiating conflict together is huge.” Here are a few rules to live – and fight by:
• Be willing to talk through the issues, no matter how uncomfortable they may be.
• Avoid getting defensive.
• Resist the urge to toss out insults or hit below the belt.
• Keep the eye rolls and sarcasm to a minimum.
• Listen to each other so you can better work through the problem.
• Keep an open mind and be willing to compromise.
Stay curious about each other
Once you’ve been dating for a while it can be easy to think you know everything there is know about the other person, but it’s crucial to continue discovering new things about each other, Cohen explains. Having a continuous interest about the other person and what makes them tick is one of the most effective ways to keep your relationship interesting and moving forward. “Being curious rather than assuming what the other person is feeling or thinking is very important,” she says. The best way to do this is through asking open-ended questions that will allow your guy to open up about his day, his goals, his likes and dislikes, his past and whatever else makes him who he is.
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Give each other space
While it’s tempting to spend every second in a loved-up cocoon of new relationship bliss, make sure you balance out your interest in each other with individual interests. “When you’re first in love you want to fuse, to become one person,” explains Cohen, but she says it’s important to allow for solo space amidst the love fest. “Alone time gives you time to process what’s happening and keeps you grounded in your own life.” Carve out some time just for you by hitting the gym, going out with friends and continuing to do the activities you love to do –even if your new guy doesn’t share your interest.
Avoid rigid routines
One of the biggest relationship killers is falling in to a mundane routine. Routines are frighteningly easy to settle into and harder than you think to climb out of. The best thing you can do for your new relationship is to regularly try new things together. “Keep it as varied as possible,” says Cohen. For instance, don’t go to the same takeout place every Friday for dinner or take the same route every time you go out for a run. Switching up these little things makes keeps the whole relationship on its toes.
Be open to discussion
Good communication is paramount. A willingness to discuss anything that comes up in the relationship – from finances to sex to family – is a must if you want your new love to last. If something is bothering you the only course of action is to discuss it because the longer you leave an issue unattended the bigger it’s going to get. We know it’s hard; you don’t want to rock the boat or cause a crack in what seems like the perfect relationship. But no one is perfect and problems will arise – you just have to be willing to address them before they get out of hand.
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