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by Alissa Klugh, MS, LPC

Do you often find yourself wondering what has happened to your relationships? Maybe you’ve run into some challenges with your significant other? Maybe your issues have arisen in dating, and you are struggling with finding a good partner? Maybe you don’t have a great relationship with yourself, but you’d like a better one? These are all reasons people seek help in relationships – and they (and you) are not alone. The relationship-building industry is huge. Why? Because there is an innate need for human beings to be in close, secure relationships, and when we struggle with it, we want to fix, fix, fix! Why fight what is laced into our genes? Embrace it!

In an effort to put relationship information out there, I wanted to share with you some important pieces in developing and maintaining positive relationships – no matter who you are with. Below, you’ll find some quick tips for understanding ways to improve.

1. How do you feel about yourself? We often attract what we feel. Did you know that? This phenomena has many names, but you may have heard it called the “Law of Attraction.” The reason I bring this up is that, if you feel crappy about yourself – you’re insecure, unsure, lack self-confidence, etc., you’re more likely to attract the like. Do you want a partner who is insecure, unsure, and lacks self-confidence? I’m going to guess not. Part of working on relationships is building your relationship with yourself. Understand your needs. Understand how to communicate your needs. Understand what you want and how to get it. Understand what it means to feel fulfilled and joyful.

2. How do you feel about your partner (and if you don’t have one, your potential partner)?  If you and your significant other are constantly arguing and not getting along, it’s hard to feel anything but anger, sadness, resentment, guilt… the list goes on and on. If you’re in a difficult space with your partner, coming at the problem with this anger, sadness, resentment, etc., is probably not the best approach. Remember what I said about inviting in what you put out there? You guessed it – if you approach relationship challenges in a negative space, you are probably going to find your problems unresolved. Likewise, if you are single, approaching every potential relationship with “this one will be the same as the last,” will continue to lead you down a road of loneliness, because, chances are, he/she will be similar to the last. When developing relationships, we want to explore how we are feeling about our partners or potential partners and think about if this approach is working. If it’s not, then adjust, we must!

3. How do you communicate? Really think about this one. Are you sharing your needs and wants clearly? Are you being reserved in what you truly want because you’re fearful of the consequences – “what will he/he say, if I do/say this?” Are you being true to yourself in your communications? I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say “no,” if you’re struggling with relationships. It is incredibly important to learn and understand various ways to communicate with others. If you never told your wife that you wanted a new pair of shoes for your birthday, can you really be angry with her that she didn’t pick up on your passive hint about liking those shoes? Ponder that for a minute. Communication is all about being clear and specific regarding your wants, needs, thoughts, and concerns. Don’t get me wrong, the other person can still not “do” what we want them to, but that’s because we cannot control others. If we are attempting to share our ideas, and using this open, clear communication, then we are doing our part. Sometimes our partners just need reminded of a previous conversation. Do you sometimes forget? I’ll bet you do. Don’t forget to mention the importance of what you’re sharing and that you have his/her attention when sharing. A good rule of thumb: If he/she is not looking at you, or their attention is elsewhere, they probably did not hear/absorb much. Find a good place to have a needed conversation and mention how important the conversation/content is to you.
These are just a few ideas for you to start looking into regarding relationships. These tips are not a “be-all-end-all” guide to mastering relationships, but it’s a good start. It’s up to you if you want to take steps to improve your life and relationships. I’m just here to share what I have learned to be helpful to others.

Stay posted for more information regarding growth in relationships. The juicy details will just keep on coming!