Top relationship insights we learned from therapists

Though relationships can bring joy and fulfillment, they also require effort to maintain. All types of relationships, whether single, committed, or somewhere in between, have their highs and lows. It’s important to understand some key principles when it comes to relationships.

Here are the 8 best bits of relationship advice:

1. Intentionality is required for a relationship to flourish

Being “intentional” in a relationship means taking the time to plan and actively work on improving it. By making the relationship a priority and not just an afterthought, you can ensure that you are actively nurturing it. This will prevent feeling like other relationships may be better, as you’re putting in the effort to maintain and improve your own.

A suggestion for couples to strengthen their relationship is to participate in an “intention challenge.” This involves creating a list of 12 actions, which could be a combination of gifts and gestures, to complete for your partner on a monthly basis. It’s a straightforward and easy way to show your partner that you are thinking of them and making an effort to improve your relationship.

2. “Passionate love” will fadeā€”and that’s OK

Many individuals mistake the decline of intense love as the end of the relationship and believe they need to find someone else. This is not an effective way to find happiness in the long run.

Companionate love is not the same as the initial rush of excitement and anticipation, but it is a feeling of contentment, satisfaction and fulfillment. It’s the deep feeling of happiness and contentment being with someone who is a part of your life and you know they will always support you. It can be more enjoyable in the long run than the intensity of passionate love.

3. Seasons of comfort and seasons of growth

In relationships, it is common to experience both comfortable and challenging phases. Comfort cycles are when everything is going well and we can relax, while growth cycles are when one or both partners are not satisfied with something and we have to work to improve, grow, and change. This is when both partners need to show care and concern for each other’s needs. This ebb and flow is a natural part of any relationship.

4. Default to giving your partner the benefit of the doubt

In most cases when couples argue, it is not because of intentional malice but rather neglect. People usually don’t intend to upset their partners, and we all make mistakes by forgetting or overlooking our partner’s needs. By assuming good intentions, it creates a space for a productive conversation instead of a defensive argument. If your partner is consistently not understanding and causing you pain, that’s when you should have a serious conversation about expectations or seek the help of a therapist to improve communication.

5. Ability to sit with discomfort

Developing your ability to understand and express your emotions allows you to think and make decisions more clearly, because you are no longer avoiding or suppressing your pain. When you are not avoiding discomfort, new possibilities and options will become available to you.

To maintain a strong relationship, it is important to be curious and open to exploring yourself and your emotions. This requires courage to face the underlying issues that may be causing difficulties in the relationship. Be willing to look inside yourself and be prepared to face any discomfort that may come up. This courage to confront personal challenges will enable you to fall in love with your partner all over again.

6. Too much hope can cloud your judgment

When it comes to relationships, hope can often manifest as repeating past patterns of attachment. For example, if someone has experienced narcissistic abuse in childhood or had an emotionally distant caregiver, they may hope that a partner will change and provide the love they desire. Additionally, feelings of longing or deprivation may be familiar, leading individuals to believe that if they are good enough, talented enough, attractive enough, thin enough, or smart enough, they will finally receive the attention they crave from a partner.

7. If you’re single and looking, focus on your own wholeness

An essential aspect of any relationship is to have a fulfilling life before committing to another person. This includes having a strong support system, hobbies, self-care practices, and mental well-being in place before entering a serious relationship. This will increase the chances that the relationship will be functional and long-lasting.

8. Never underestimate the power of shared laughter

Shared laughter between partners is often seen as a sign of intimacy and connection, however, it’s important to remember that it can be developed and strengthened even in relationships where it’s not been a strong suit. Being aware of the importance of shared laughter can be the first step to increasing it in the relationship. Some couples may find it challenging to be more light-hearted and inject more laughter into the relationship, but there are simple ways to add more fun and joy into daily life together.

The insights shared by therapists in 2022 provide valuable guidance on how to navigate the complexities of relationships.