Gain greater awareness of your lover’s needs and discover a happier relationship.
By Denise Wade
Last updated on Oct 10, 2023
Photo: Yan Krukau, Tat’yana Andreyeva | Canva
Many people ask me why they have to be the one in the relationship to be flexible and the one to have to cultivate change. We are designed to adapt.
It’s the human instinct and why humans are to be found in every ecosystem on earth.
It is not easy, but I can guarantee that a shift between you and your partner requires one person to make the first move to transform the relationship and empower the other. We can be a nurturer, a caretaker, a catalyst for change.
Understanding our lover is the first part of building and sustaining a happy partnership and negotiating our differences. Most of our disappointment comes from expecting them to think and act like you.
Here’s how to build a better relationship by being more aware of another person:
1. Get into their world
Try to educate yourself on one of their main interests…..sports, politics, current events, travel, music, etc. Converse with them often on this subject. They will be most impressed that you took an interest in something they are passionate about and may very likely reciprocate. Early in my relationship, I got interested in how the NFL draft works, and now it is a great day my husband and I share.
2. Compliment, compliment, compliment
Your lover needs to feel amazing when they’re with you. A person gauges you by how they think about themselves when they are with you. Research shows the human brain is infused with a splash of dopamine (the happy neurochemical) when their experience with you is positive. This creates a desire to be with you by associating you with the neurochemical high.
3. Understand that some fall in love with reality, others fall in love with potential
During my research, I had the opportunity to ask people about the biggest disappointment in their relationship. Some responded, “My spouse or partner changed, or I liked them better when we first met.” The others I interviewed responded, “I thought they would make more money or get a better job or would pay more attention to me.” The most resistance to commitment comes from believing a partner will change them or they will make unreasonable demands. Try turning complaints into gentle requests using “What would make me happy” statements instead of “You don’t” statements.
4. Know their love language
We are wired with survival skills, a drive to compete, a hunger for challenge, and an innate need to provide and protect. Unfortunately, laundering dirty underwear and doing dishes fall short of those categories. I highly recommend you read Dr. Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. For example, if your love language is acts of service and your partner’s is physical touch, I suggest you use these to negotiate fair trade in your relationship.
5. Realize they might fear of losing control
Fear of being controlled is one of the reasons people have a hard time committing to a relationship, fear of losing control of their own life, and fear of not getting their needs met. Most people become sad, depressed, or unfulfilled when their needs are unmet by a partner.
However, some people respond with anger and feel out of control. Try sitting down with your partner and crafting three shortlists for each of you: one for emotional needs, one for physical needs, and one for functional needs. Now discuss with great detail how and when each of you benefits. Then, decide what is negotiable and what is a deal breaker.
6. Be the one they can’t be without
Many people choose their relationship partner by looking at who they can’t live without. Many people don’t understand their feelings about a lover until they’re gone. The longer you talk to someone and spend time with them, the less chance they have to miss you. Don’t rob yourself of this opportunity. Some people are drawn to a lover who ends their phone calls or dates before they do. This includes not being immediately available for emails and text messages at the other person’s convenience.
7. Don’t be afraid to be wrong
It’s okay to be the first to apologize and admit when you’re wrong. This demonstrates two character traits that people find appealing: confidence and humility. It also models that it’s safe to be wrong, which is often difficult for the human ego.
Gradually try exercising these suggestions and notice which ones make a positive impact. Education and awareness are vital starting points to build a great relationship and understanding your partner.
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Denise Wade, Ph.D. CMRC is a dating Mentor, transformational educator, author, researcher, and relationship expert.