One of the most important things that helps people maintain healthy romantic relationships is having a healthy sexual relationship. And you can’t have a healthy sexual relationship without having a healthy romantic relationship…see what I’m getting at?
You can’t expect to have a happy relationship or a healthy marriage down the line if something is off about your sex life, and I’ll tell you right now that it requires a lot more than thirty seconds of oral and some ham-fisted boob grabbing to get someone going. Pleasure is a two way street: selfishness has no place in the bedroom, and no place in a good relationship. Opening yourself up emotionally to a person helps to strengthen your physical connection, and vice versa.
Have boundaries, and routines
Boundaries and routines aren’t as boring as they sound; they help to redefine the lines of connection you and your partner have with each other, and help balance and strengthen your relationship. You can’t spend all of your time focused solely on sex and how good the sex is; you have to set aside time for everything else, as well. Have time together with friends, time together with family, and time alone; ignoring yourself and throwing everything into only the other person is enough to have anyone burn out in a few short months. Sure, there are exceptions: when my husband and I started to date, we were dating long distance, so all of our time together was just us alone, until we could move closer. But once we’d closed the distance, we started to incorporate our friends and family into our activities, and it helped us strike a good balance in our relationship.
Your other relationships don’t end or become less important just because you’ve started seeing someone, and it’s crucial that you maintain them, and maintain your own relationship with yourself as well.
Touch each other often
Not just in a sexual way, either. It’s important to make sure you have a solid connection around non-sexual touching: hug each other, hold hands, kiss each other hello and goodbye, snuggle together while you watch movies. Not all touching has to lead to sex, and knowing that (and practicing it) will help strengthen the bond you have as a couple.
Say ‘I love you’
This one seems like kind of a given, but you’d be surprised how often I see other couples who just don’t say it. Saying ‘I love you’ lets the other person feel reassured, and it’s a small gesture that can help keep your connection to each other strong. If you aren’t at the ‘I love you’ stage yet, tell the other person that you miss them, or that you can’t wait until the next time you see them. It’s sort of like the non-sexual touching, but in words instead of actions.
Be supportive and complimentary
It’s not only a nice thing to do, but it helps to build your partner’s self esteem as well as their connection to you. I’m not saying to just go around and compliment everything someone does—but you know how good it feels to be told you’ve done something well, or that you look nice. Paying your partner compliments is a super easy way to make someone else feel good about themselves, and about their choice to be with you.
If you have trouble with words (and some people do!), little gifts or tokens of affection are a great way to show your partner that you appreciate and care for them. Again, I’m not saying to go out and buy something crazy and expensive every time you want to do something nice for your partner; it can be something as small as writing a little note or grabbing their favorite gum when you’re checking out at the grocery store. In this case, it really is the thought that counts.
Open your eyes
I know throwing your head back with your eyes squeezed shut when you’re in the throes of passion is a natural reaction, but try keeping your eyes open a bit more—trust me. Make eye contact with your partner, smile, connect on a level that isn’t purely physical. It’s better and cheaper than a romantic getaway to a dreamy beach resort, and helps your partner feel prioritized and wanted in the bedroom.
You’d be surprised how few couples actually sit down and talk. I think I’ve been a bit spoiled by my husband in terms of talking, because with the distance, that was all we could do sometimes—for weeks or even months on end. We talked about everything, even the most seemingly innocuous things: our days at work, our families, random thoughts, our feelings, music, books, movies; it got to the point where, when we would meet up, it felt as if no time had passed since our last meeting. We’re a highly communicative couple, and it’s helped strengthen our relationship—in both sexual and non-sexual ways.
Know what your partner likes, what they love, what they dislike, and ensure that you communicate your desires and feelings to them as well. A relationship where you never communicate meaningfully will never grow into its full potential, and will always be stunted and unfulfilling for both of you. I can’t stress enough how important speaking to your partner is, and how much they’ll appreciate that you’re making a conscious effort to get to know them, to care about them, and to fully love them.
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