Wondering how to build a relationship the right way? The start of a relationship is an exciting time. Everything is new, a bunch of ‘firsts’ are ahead of you, and your cheeks hurt from smiling all the time. It’s pure bliss! As you’re getting to know each other and settling into the relationship, you’re working together to build a solid foundation for the future.
But want to make sure you’re on the right track? Follow these timeless tips for how to build a relationship. With time, patience, and respect, you’ll be well on your way to a quality partnership.
How To Build A Relationship From The Foundation Up
1. Communicate openly
Learning to communicate is one of the most important parts of knowing how to build a relationship. And yet, it’s one of the things couples struggle with the most. Communication boils down to feeling comfortable speaking your mind. It’s not easy to be vulnerable with someone, but in a relationship, it’s vital.
You have needs, wants, likes, and dislikes. Instead of making your partner guess what they are, tell them! Say what you mean and mean what you say. It takes time and compatibility, but with practice and patience, you and your partner can become expert communicators.
2. Listen to each other
Another important part of How to Build a Relationship 101 is listening. Practice deep, active listening. Be present, be focused, make eye contact, and really hear what your partner is saying. Let them know that they’ve been heard, too.
“By listening carefully when someone speaks, we’re telling them that we care about what they’re saying,” writes Diana Raab, Ph.D., in Psychology Today. “It’s also important to remember that listening is contagious. When we listen to others, then chances are they will be more inclined to listen to us.” When people feel heard, it makes all the difference.
3. Learn how to disagree
Have you ever gotten into a spat about something small, like what time to leave the house to make your dinner reservation on time, that blew up into a whole thing and put a damper on the entire night? Every couple disagrees from time to time. But successful couples learn how to argue respectfully, resolve disagreements quickly and calmly, and move on.
They don’t fight to find a winner and a loser; they fight together for the betterment of the relationship. Learn that disagreeing doesn’t have to mean fighting and that you are both entitled to your own opinion without disrespecting another’ss viewpoint.
4. Don’t keep score
Speaking of winners and losers, seriously, strike those words from your relationship vocabulary. Whether you feel ‘up’ because you took out the trash or ‘on top’ because you were right during your last fight, neither are healthy ways to approach your relationship.
Instead of framing things about yourself and wondering what’s in it for you or where you stand, consider your partner and ask what’s in it for the two of you. True partnership is working together and being on the same team. When you start keeping score, everybody loses.
5. Spend quality time together
It sounds like a no-brainer. Of course, couples need to spend quality time together if they want to know how to build a relationship. But when people get comfortable and settle into routines, you’d be surprised by how often quality time is deprioritized.
“Dedicating time to maintaining relationship quality is an investment in both yourself and your future,” writes Wendy L. Patrick, J.D., Ph.D. in Psychology Today. Remember the beginning of your relationship? When everything was new, exciting, and fun? And you wanted to spend every waking moment together? Keep that exciting feeling alive by spending more time together focusing on each other.
6. Do (almost) everything together
Years ago, I asked a family member in a long, loving relationship what their secret to a happy marriage was. Her answer was simple and not at all what I expected: “Do everything together.” Go to the grocery store together. Watch soccer together. Get an oil change together. Spending time together naturally brings you closer, and the more you do it, the stronger your relationship will be.
You don’t have to do everything together; it’s important to have additional support systems and outlets outside of each other. But when you can do something together, do it together!
The secret to knowing how to build a relationship? The work is never finished. Happy relationships don’t appear from thin air overnight. Even the happiest, most head-over-heels-in-love couples work on their relationships every day.
If you want a successful relationship, you have to be willing to put in the time to get it—not just when something is wrong, but every day. Do everything with love and treat your partner with respect, and you’ll be well on your way to building a strong foundation together.