We’ve all been told the important stuff that helps a relationship work in the long-run:
- Clear and compassionate communication
But there are also other little skills that make a big difference.
Things that our partner may not even be able to vocalize, but that deep down in their subconscious they are eternally grateful for and that keep the relationship working and make us No.1 in their books.
Cultivate these skills and your name will be on its way to becoming an ill-judged impulsive tattoo on someone’s bicep in no time:
1. Be able to be on your own at parties
Couples spend a lot of time together. Hopefully most of that is pleasurable.
What’s also nice though is spending time together apart. This doesn’t just mean having separate lives, but even being able to detach when you’re in the same room.
Take going to a party. There’s always that moment when you worry if you’re partner is going to sink or swim. You worry about whether they’ll be ok when you go to the bathroom, only to return and see them enraptured in conversation and totally enjoying themselves.
You see them talk, tell stories, laugh. All while other people listening intently. It’s sexy. It’s cool. It’s the kind of person you want to scoop back up and have all to yourself again. (which is why brushing up on our conversation skills doesn’t hurt either).
2. Not Complaining
Ahhh the sweet sound of…nothing.
The first thing anyone takes for granted in a relationship is the newfound benefit of having a partner who act as a sounding board for their problems, be it their career anxieties or worrying about that passive-aggressive email they got from their cousin about the most recent family tension.
In the early stages your partner, deep in the drug-like effect of the honeymoon phase, will be happy to hear all of this. Until they’re not.
Complaining is a bit like masturbating. It’s easy and feels good for a while, until you overdo it. Then it becomes a problem. A distraction from other important things. A waste of energy.
The exception is if there are serious problems – family bereavement, illness, divorce, etc. – in which case these things will obviously take precedence in the relationship until they’re processed and worked through emotionally.
But for the day-to-day nonsense? i.e. what most of us complain about after a long day at work? That’s what eats away at a relationship like a constant wave crashing against a rock until it crumbles away against the overwhelming force.
Yes, partners are there for support, but they’re also there to share the loveliest version of ourselves with, at least 80-90% of the time.
10% of the time we get to be difficult, moody or boring. 10% of the time we get to bring our problems and be the one who needs help. Then we need to reset and realise our partner is there to share joy with, not be an unloading dock for whatever annoyance we happen to be carrying today.
3. Taking care of dinner, booking tickets, driving home
The person you want to be with forever is the person who can get things handled.
This is often framed as a male-female divide (i.e. “women like men who can change a tyre”, or book a surprise vacation), but this kind of reliability is attractive regardless of gender.
It’s not essential to be fixing sinks and mending shelves, but just being able to take the reins and handle little annoyances like sorting movie/theatre tickets, pre-planning a ride home after a party, or having dinner handled either by cooking or buying groceries/takeout, are just the kind of qualities that mean you can rest easy knowing that you’re with a solid teammate who won’t require you to pick up all the slack.
That being said, every man should note: you probably will get bonus points for being able change a tyre as well.
4. Learn your partner’s favourite things
Hopefully you’ve chosen a partner with a rich, colourful, fascinating mind full of preferences and opinions you can spend a lifetime learning about.
If so, take time to study it.
Read their favourite books, check out the movies they love, ask about the gifts and art they cherish, or take time to understand the projects they spend time working on in their career.
These might seem like things you’ll learn naturally, but it takes effort to actually dive into them fully, and once you do your partner will feel like you “get” them on a much deeper level than most people ever will.
To be honest, I snuck this one in for myself. The more this post gets shared, more people out there will be keen to give great massages and that’s great news as far as I’m concerned.
But seriously: who the hell doesn’t want to get their back rubbed and be told they’re wonderful as the aroma of sandalwood emanates from their pores?
It’s indulgent. It’s frivolous. And it requires a mindset of total giving without reward (unless there’s some sexy prior agreement struck beforehand).
If being rubbed with oil isn’t your thing, just anything that’s pampering for your partner will work. For best results, surprising someone out-of-the-blue so they never know when they’ll get a random treat from you works wonders.
Just make sure you choose a partner who also keeps a stash of balms and incense in their bedside table for you as well (or whatever you’re chosen treat is) – the more indulgent moments you both share in the relationship, the better.
What’s your skill that you think everyone should learn to be a better boyfriend/girlfriend? Let me know in the comments below!