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  • Always communicate: Tell your partner what is working and what isn’t (in all aspects, including sexually). Let them know when there is a problem right away. If you hold it in, it will just build up and eventually explode. Remember that things cannot be improved if they aren’t addressed. However, be tactful and non-accusatory when approaching a sensitive subject.
  • Balance the mental, emotional, and physical aspects: Too much sex and nothing else is not healthy, but neither is eliminating that aspect of the relationship entirely. Physical closeness is crucial in maintaining trust, comfort, and enjoyment. Just make sure that the mental and emotional parts are equally satisfied. This can be achieved through activities such as watching a movie/show, playing video games, going on walks, cooking/eating a meal, or even just by keeping up regular, intelligent conversation.
  • Non-sexual physical gestures are key (i.e. holding hands, hugging, forehead/cheek kisses, etc.)
  • Give compliments: Sincere ones, about both physical appearance and personality (as always, balance is key!). Knowing you’re appreciated is one of the best parts of a relationship and it’s always nice to have a confidence boost from a loved one.
  • Be spontaneous and keep things exciting!: Once the initial attraction cools and you’ve moved from the honeymoon stage to the “comfortable” stage, boredom and complacency can set it. So do something of the ordinary! This could range from going out to dinner someplace new, trying a different activity when going on a date, or taking up a class together. Even the small things, like surprise flowers, chocolate, baked goods, or little presents can make a huge difference. It’s nice knowing you’re thought of and this makes things unpredictable and interesting.
  • Balance the PDA (Public Displays of Affection): Small gestures in public are important (i.e. arm around waist at a party, smiles at a more formal business event, etc.). It all depends on context. But never be closed off from everyone else. PDA is disrespectful and never appreciated by others in the vicinity, but it can actually hurt the relationship if not regulated. People act differently depending on who they’re around, so if you only focus on your partner, they will only see one side of you. Hanging out with friends and family is crucial to not only maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner but also with the other important people in your life. You don’t want to sound or act too clingy, so although holding hands, hugging, and occasional peck is totally fine (again, find the healthy middle!), don’t overdo it. Focus on the other people around you.
  • Distance: This one is so often overlooked and tricky to manage. Distance is good, but only in moderation, and only when both lead happy and fulfilling lives independently. You shouldn’t go more than two weeks without any alone time. But you should also never go a week seeing your partner every day because then you won’t have as much to talk about. Independence is key. Your partner is not a necessary component of your everyday life; they are merely there to make it a little brighter, more fun, and to make hard days more bearable. It is so important to recognize that you are your own person in a relationship. Do not lose your identity. Go out with your own friends and family, and make time to pursue your own interests and hobbies independently. Get a job, do your own thing, and you will make yourself infinitely more attractive. Remember that not everything should be shared– keep your privacy, keep your space. A relationship enhances; it does not complete.
  • Say “I love you” often (only if you mean it, of course!): You may assume that your partner knows this. You may not want to repeat the phrase a dozen times a day for fear of it losing meaning. This is valid, but you must say it enough to keep the love alive. Once a day before bed is a good general rule. It is the most amazing thing in the world to fall asleep knowing without a doubt that you are loved. This phrase has power– enough power to turn a bad day around, to give a boost of energy, and to bring about an unbelievable feeling of comfort and happiness.
  • Be respectful, trusting, open, and honest: Know what should be shared and what can be kept personal. For example, your partner doesn’t need to know where you are at all times, but it would be nice to let them know if you happen to be seeing an ex for catch-up coffee. They, in turn, should respect your space and trust you. It’s always good to be open about any feelings, doubts, or guilt. It will be good to talk it out.
  • Define boundaries: Don’t argue what the definition of cheating is after the line’s been potentially crossed– make sure you’re both on the same page with any gray areas from the start.
  • Don’t evaluate the relationship, nor fight when in a bad head-space: Take some time apart and talk when both are calmer and have had time to think. We all say things we don’t mean when we’re angry because we can only see the negatives. Don’t yell. Don’t give yourself a reason to regret. Making this mistake in a relationship can cause irreparable damage.
  • Always listen and let the other person know you’re there: Even if there’s no advice you can offer, just knowing that someone is listening on the other end of the line, or having someone to hold onto while you cry, can help enormously. Do as much as you can– try to talk things out, offer help, buy cupcakes, etc. Relationships are about helping each other, growing together through the bad times and the good. They’re about being there when needed, putting in the extra mile, and not giving up.