It doesn't matter whether you're going on your first date your getting married, living together or long distance: we could all use a little relationship advice. Here are 10 tough relationship situations we've covered over the years, and how to tackle them.
10. Rock the First Date
Let's start at the beginning: you've just met someone and you're about to head on the ever-stressful first date. First of all: Relax! It's supposed to be fun. Make sure you're direct about your plans, and keep the conversation interesting, but a little risky. You don't want to scare them off, but handling some more controversial topics now will save you the trouble of discovering deal breakers in the future. Check out our guide to the perfect first date for more.
9. Survive Long Distance
Just hearing the words "long distance relationship" sends many people into a tizzy, but if you're determined to make it work, it's possible — but not without a solid plan. You can do a lot of things to make it better, but the most important tip is this: always know when you're seeing each other next, and have an end game plan. Having goals to look forward to keeps you out of the depressing limbo that long distance relationships so often cause. And for heaven's sake, if you're going to sext, at least do it safely.
8. Navigate Dating a Coworker
It's hard to meet people after uni... so chances are you'll find yourself at least considering dating a coworker one day. After all, that's where you spend most of your time! Dating a coworker can be difficult — and in some cases, downright disastrous — but depending on the company you work for, it may be acceptable (though probably not advisable). First, check your company's HR policy, then ensure there aren't any conflicts of interest. And remember, when you're at the office, keep the relationship professional. Check out these tips for more.
7. Ease the Move-In Transition
If you've been dating for a while, you may be considering moving in together, and a lot of times you may have no problem doing so — but there could be a few bumps in the road. If you aren't used to having a roommate and sharing your stuff, be prepared for a few life changes. If we can offer one piece of advice, though, it's that you should still take time for yourself and your friends — not every waking moment needs to be spent together just because you live together. Make sure your personal habits match up well, too — or be prepared for a tough road.
6. Manage Your Finances
When you're in a relationship — particularly later on, when you've moved in together or gotten married — money can be a pain point. 65 per cent of couples argue over money and financial disagreements are the number one reason married couples say they divorce. How you manage your money is up to you, but the most important thing is to avoid fighting about it. That means knowing each person's "money personality" (similar philosophies help), creating a plan, and going over your finances regularly to make sure you're on the same page. If you find yourself fighting more often than you'd like, these tips can help, but communication is key.
5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Speaking of communication, successful back-and-forth is essential for any successful relationship, whether it's about money, sex, family, or who's turn it is to do the dishes. The key, often, is trying to remove your emotions from the situation and have a productive discussion rather than an emotion-fuelled argument. Of course, that's sometimes easier said than done, so you may need to take some time to cool off separately before you really dive in. Also, be aware of these common communication mistakes — no matter how great of a couple you are, we all do things that hinder communication (like expecting your partner to read your mind, or giving in without saying what you really think). At the end of the day, everyone has different communication styles, and knowing how your partner's mind works is the key to making everything go smoothly.
4. Prepare for Marriage
If you plan on getting married, there are some things you'll want to keep in mind first. Some things are practical: for example, you're not just marrying your partner, you're marrying into their family. If you can't stand them... be ready to deal with that forever. Other things are more philosophical, but can still stress you out. It's normal to wake up some days and think "Holy crap, I'm married forever and ever?" Remember: you may be married, but your relationship and lives are still a work in progress. Oh, and while you're thinking about all these things, you may have to mentally prepare yourself for parenthood, too.
3. Know When You're Doomed
It's not exactly something we like to think about, but you may also have to think about the other side of the coin — that your relationship might be headed for the end. This is actually predictable if you know what to look out for. Dr John Gottman says there are four communication qualities that can almost always predict when a couple will break up: criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. If you deal with conflict using any or all of these... you either need to change that, or recognise that things likely won't work out. Check out this video for more.
2. Mend a Broken Heart
If, in the end, your relationship just wasn't meant to be, you've probably got a little healing to do. Break-ups suck, and there are a lot of scientific reasons for that. You're hard-wired to fear rejection and the more relationships you have fail, the tougher it gets. ASAPScience says the best way to get over a break-up: surround yourself with friends and family. Time heals all wounds, but if you can keep yourself from wallowing alone, you'll make that healing much easier. And if your breakup is a bit more serious (like divorce), we've got advice for that too.
1. Learn From Others
Everyone's different, but that doesn't mean we can't all learn from the most successful relationships. There's a surprising amount of research that tells us what successful couples do well. For example, most happy couples maintain friendships outside their relationship, and try new things often (and, unsurprisingly, they have more sex). Check out some of the research to see more, or if you prefer, this infographic has a breakdown of the most important stuff.