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20 Essential Tips for Creating Successful Relationships

Relationships are a dance that two people do with each other to create the closeness/distance that is comfortable.  It takes two to tango, so even changing your part in that dance will make a difference.  These tips are essential steps to creating a more peaceful dance.


  1. Fight Fair.  Avoid throwing metaphorical punches under the belt or "zapping" each other with your words, gestures and tone.  Doing so invites a defensive response or counterattack from the other person.  Leave the sarcasm, name-calling, rolling of the eyes, etc...OUT.  

  2. Anger is a tool.  If you use anger as an alarm it becomes a tool for making yourself aware that something is wrong and needs to be addressed in an effective manner.  When you use it as a weapon to attack it will only hurt your relationship and move you further away from addressing the core issues.

  3. Respond versus React.  Reacting is that split-second, knee-jerk reaction to an issue.  There is not thought involved and can invite a reaction (usually negative) from another.  When you breathe first and consider what you are responding to, you are less likely to invite a reaction from the other. 

  4. Keep it on the "I."  Use "I-statements" when sending your message.  Saying "I think you are disrespectful," will more likely invite a defensive reaction or counterattack from the other person.  If you say, "I feel disrespected when you look at the television while I am talking to you. "  I-messages start with "I"  and then you add a feeling (which is one or two words describing how you feel.  An example is, "I feel ____ (hurt, disappointed, ignored, etc...) when  __________ (state the SPECIFIC behavior).  

  5. Be Calm, Clear and Direct.  Just because you yell does not mean you will be heard more clearly.  Staying calm and clear about your message will mean you are more likely to get your message across.  Be direct and assert what it is that you need to say and keep it on the "I."

  6. Get to the point and not long-winded.  Don't overload the other with too much it will only shut them down and hurt you in the end.  Keep your messages bite size and send more bite sizes rather than a monologue.  

  7. Define Measurable Behaviors.  Whether you are describing something that bothered you or requesting a behavioral change, keep it specific and measurable.  If you say, "I need you to show me you love me,"  this is not very clear or measurable.  Everyone has different definitions of what showing love looks like; however, if you say, "I need to feel loved by you calling me when you are going to be late,' this is measurable.  

  8. Ask for what you need.  Waiting for your partner to read your mind is a common trap.  

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