Maintaining Romantic Relationships When two people choose to forge an interpersonal involvement through communication and believe the bond to be romantic, they have chosen to be in a romantic relationship with one another. In the beginning, being in a romantic relationship seems effortless, magical, and exhilarating. This is before conflict arises and negative emotions cause things to get real and bring the relationship down from cloud nine.
While enjoying the initial stages of the relationship is important, it is also imperative that the two individuals are simultaneously building a foundation of appreciation, respect, forgiveness, and trust. Without this effort, once the “honeymoon stage” is over, the relationship will most likely crumble and leave both partakers hurt and confused (McCornack 326). With this said, a romantic relationship is one of the most rewarding, complex, and significant entities in a person’s life, and though it seems as if maintaining one should come easily, at times it can be one of the most difficult challenges.
However, if effective communication is executed and both partners share the desire to be together, the challenges of misunderstanding one another and accepting shortcomings can be surmounted and a successful romantic relationship can be achieved. Because there are two people deeply invested emotionally, mentally, and possibly physically in a romantic relationship, the stakes are higher than those in a friendship.
The chance of actions and words exchanged causing destruction to a point of no retribution is greater than in a platonic relationship, where forgiveness is more easily granted. In an intimate relationship, both people must meet each other halfway. The inherit nature of the human race is to focus primarily on personal needs, but in a committed romantic relationship it is important that the needs of the other partner are also taken into consideration, which may require compromise on how communication and expression of feelings are exchanged.
Typically men are less sensitive than women, causing many unnecessary disagreements between the two. Men need to realize that at times the criticism or suggestions they believe will be helpful actually sound mean and hurtful to women, and women should realize that usually men do not have negative intentions with their blunt words but instead do not know any other way to communicate as they were created to interact that way.
A helpful tactic in preserving an intimate relationship is for the couple to be able “to create and maintain ‘positive illusions’ about each other, that is to be less negative and more kind in their evaluation and feedback of their partners, [which] can help to enhance relationship satisfaction” (“How to Build & Maintain Happy Intimate Relationships”). This applies to both sides of the relationship. For example, the man can be gentler in his communication and the woman less harassing in hers, resulting in both of them being happier with the way they are treated, bringing them closer together. Partners are happier and more committed when positive interactions between partners outweigh negative ones by a ratio of at least 5:1” (“How to Build & Maintain Happy Intimate Relationships”). The risks are greater in a romantic relationship than in a platonic one, but so are the rewards, causing the necessary determination and effort worth the gamble. As life progresses, changes are inevitable, and relationships are affected by the continuing evolution of a person’s life.
An individual’s wants and needs change as a relationship develops, and this change should be embraced as an opportunity for the relationship to grow and reach a deeper level instead of resisted and ignored. By periodically setting aside time to check in with one another on these changes, the couple can assure that they are aware of the other’s changing expectations and goals, therefore enhancing the intensity of their connection (“Building a Healthy Relationship from the Start”).
Sometimes, couples forget that they must make the conscious effort to keep the relationship going, which leads to it falling into a rut. Thus the exploration of each other’s hobbies and interests is essential in maintaining the excitement of sharing experiences with one another (“Building a Healthy Relationship from the Start”). Having a significant other is like always having a best friend around, but better because there is affection and deeper feelings involved.
The point of a best friend is to have someone to share enjoyable experiences with, so to not include one another in activities and adventures in an intimate relationship is counter-intuitive and defeats one of the main purposes of being in one. Long-term relationships are difficult because sometimes the couple loses sight of why they are together in the first place. They begin to view the relationship as a job instead of a thrilling, positive addition to their lives.
From personal experience, I know that even though avoiding this unfortunate situation sounds simple enough, it can happen all too easily, for I am guilty of it as well. A year ago, after I realized that my relationship with my boyfriend was becoming more stressful than fulfilling, I knew I had to make a change. I told him that I wanted to be “the cherry on top of his life sundae” and be a positive appendage to his life instead of an exhausting obligation. By this time it was too late and we broke up for a few months.
I feel as though if my boyfriend and I had taken the time to sit down and talk to each other about the changes that were occurring in our lives and in our relationship, as well as make the effort to experience fun activities together instead of falling into a routine of going to each other’s houses with the occasional trip to the movie theater, our relationship might not have transformed into such a tense monster that seemed to spiral out of our control. When conflict arises, communication is the key to a resolution.
Because a common source of conflict is unrealistic or unreasonable expectations, the two members of a relationship must be willing to be open and honest about what they anticipate from one another and whether these expectations are being met (“Building a Healthy Relationship from the Start”). Each of the romantic partners must be willing to attempt to see the issue from the other’s point of view. Sometimes, the way that conflict is dealt with speaks enormously about a person’s past experiences and family history.
No two people have grown up exactly the same, so it is impossible for two people to have the exact same way of dealing with issues. In some families, communication is not a big priority, yet in others it is constant. It is important for an individual to be aware of his or her partner’s background so that an understanding can be met and communication can effectively solve an issue instead of prolonging it. Another important aspect of solving a conflict is timing. There is no perfect time for a conflict to occur, but the partakers of one have control over when they solve it.
In the past, it was believed that it was best to never leave a fight unresolved and that the issue should be fixed immediately; however, it is now recommended that people take some time to “cool off” so that hurtful things are not said that could potentially cause irreversible damage to the relationship (“Building a Healthy Relationship from the Start”). This personal time can allow each person to alleviate the initial anger or hurt and rationalize their thoughts.
The most important aspect in the approach to solving a conflict is for both partners to do their best to communicate in a way that the other will understand. The main obstacle that makes maintaining a romantic relationship so challenging is that men and women communicate so differently, and it is impossible for them to ever communicate in the same manner no matter how much each of them try. When it comes to communication, men and women are on two completely different planets, stated by the best-selling book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.
In this relationship guide, the author John Gray states, “Men are motivated when they feel needed while women are motivated when they feel cherished” (“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Quotes”). This could not be truer. Men approach the world with the mindset that they are an individual in a hierarchy where life is a contest of social order, while women engage the world “as an individual in a network of connections” where life is a community and the main focus is to evade isolation and sustain intimacy (Tannen, Ph. D. 24-25).
For effective communication to occur, understanding and compromise must be implemented. This is vital in maintaining a healthy romantic relationship because ineffective communication leads to frustration, confusion, and eventually termination. In order to avoid this, both the man and the woman in the relationship must be willing to accept each other’s way of interacting, even if it seems strange or ridiculous. To many people, opening the lines of communication seems impossible because they view the difficulty of communicating as an inevitable problem and a flaw of the other person.
However, this is not the case, and it is achievable as long as both partners are prepared to attempt to see communication from the other’s point of view (Tannen, Ph. D. 297-298). There is no one set way to do anything in life; instead, there are many methods of approaching an issue or situation and the “right” one depends on personal preference. This applies to maintaining a romantic relationship as well. Each couple has their own unique way of interacting with one another, and in each of those couples, the man and the woman also have different ways of communicating and expressing themselves.
John Gray also wrote in his book, “When men and women are able to respect and accept their differences then love has a chance to blossom” (”Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Quotes”). A relationship cannot grow without proper communication, and for this to be accomplished both partners must be willing to give up their stubborn pride and come to terms with the fact that their way of handling situations is not the only way. Once this level of respect is present, misunderstandings will be a misfortune of the past.
The best approach to maintaining a healthy intimate relationship is to not overlook each other’s flaws and shortcomings but to accept and embrace them. Though this can be challenging and at times overwhelming, the success of maintaining a romantic relationship is one of the most fulfilling triumphs known to mankind. Works Cited “Building a Healthy Relationship from the Start. ” UT Counseling and Mental Health Center. The University of Texas at Austin. Web. 7 Mar 2013. How to Build & Maintain Happy Intimate Relationships. ” Counseling Center Resources Articles and Brochures. Roosevelt University. Web. 9 Mar 2013. McCornack, Steven. Reflect and Relate, an Introduction to Interpersonal Communication. 2nd. Boston: Bedford/st Martins, 2009. 326. Print. “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Quotes. ” Goodreads. N. p.. Web. 6 Mar 2013. Tannen, Ph. D. , Deborah. You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. NewYork: William Morrow and Company, Inc. , 1990. Print.