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Holding hands

Love is a four-letter word

For anyone who is in a relationship...

February 14, 2018 — 

Jessica Cameron is a professor of social psychology at the University of Manitoba. One of her research areas is romantic relationships, and she has some tips for us.

Jessica Cameron is a professor in social psychology at the University of Manitoba

Jessica Cameron is a professor in social psychology at the University of Manitoba


Top Three Signs You’re in a Good Relationship:

  1. You’re happy! Specifically, you’re happier in your relationship than you were before it.
  2. You feel supported and valued by your partner. When you have a problem, your partner’s reaction makes you feel valued. When you think you might need help, you are confident your partner will be there for you.
  3. Your partner is also happy and feels supported and valued by you. Sometimes this is hard to figure out but usually people who are unhappy start to show signs, especially once the hope that things will get better wears off.

Three Warning Signs You’re Not in the Right Kind of Relationship for You:

  1. You can’t remember any good times in your relationship. Things feel bad now and they seem like they’ve always been that way.
  2. You or your partner express contempt towards each other. Relationship expert John Gottman says that couples who express disrespect towards each other (e.g., being mean and hurtful on purpose) are more likely to dissolve their relationships.
  3. You feel more insecure than you did before your relationship. If a partner undermines your sense of self-worth, then your own relationship satisfaction is probably dropping too. Relationships where one partner “pushes” the other down, perhaps to feel better or more secure themselves, are destructive and more likely to dissolve.

Three Tips for Valentine’s Day (for Well-Established Couples):

  1. One of the best ways to reconnect and enhance the bond between partners is to try something brand new together. Take a ballroom dancing lesson or learn to cross-country ski together. The key is doing something new together that you both want to do. If only one of you wants to be there, the other one may resent having to do something they have no interest in and resentment towards a partner doesn’t lead to connection/intimacy.
  2. Experience and express gratitude. It is easy in well-established relationships to take a partner for granted. Think about the ways your partner makes your life easier (maybe they always wash the dishes) or express that they know or understand you (i.e. they make a cup of coffee for you every morning). And then tell them you appreciate it. It’s important that people know, at least time to time, that someone appreciates the things they do and recognize their gestures for what they are (i.e. acts of love).
  3. Recognize that there’s a lot of social pressure for romance on Valentine’s Day. Although some people may enjoy “over the top” romance, others do not. What would your partner enjoy? In new relationships, the conversation might be pretty awkward, but it’s pretty important so that one partner doesn’t end up disappointed or unnecessarily overdoing it.

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