It's not always easy to talk with a dating partner, but communication is one of the most important parts of a healthy relationship. You can build stronger connections and grow closer to your partner by talking honestly about how you feel, what you want, and anything else on your mind.
We came up with some conversation starters that can help get things going. Use these suggestions in a way that feels comfortable, and most importantly, be confident and be willing to listen.
Some tips for healthy conversations.
Talk face to face - texting can lead to misinterpreting each other, so if it’s possible, talk in person. If it helps, make a list of things you want to say or talk about.
Find the right time - find a time when both people are free, not angry, distracted, or feeling rushed.
Check your language - be honest with each other, but make sure you're not attacking them. Focus on using "I" or "we" statements instead of "you."
Check your body - show your partner that you’re invested by giving them your full attention. Put away the phone when talking face to face.
Let's talk boundaries.
It’s so important to set boundaries in a healthy relationship. Everyone's boundaries are different, so take the time to figure out
what you really want in the relationship. Here’s some questions you can ask to get the conversation going:
+ What are your physical boundaries? What are you okay with?
Establish boundaries during a time where both partners feel safe and calm. Physical intimacy can be great, but only if those involved are safe, respected, and can be honest about what they want.
+ What are your digital boundaries? What is okay to post online?
Some people love having their relationship details shared on social media, while others do not. Some teens don't want their parents or family to know about about the relationship; others want the whole world to know. Talk together about your digital boundaries!
+ If we get into a fight, what should I do? How do I communicate if something has hurt me?
Couples have different needs. Perhaps one partner needs space whereas the other needs to immediately work through their problems. Being aware of how a partner handles their feelings can help solve problems without getting angry.
+ It's important to spend with our friends, family, and also ourselves. What are your expectations for alone time?
It's healthy to be apart at times. Be sure to establish your needs (and their needs) for space. This also counts for digital space!
+ How often should we talk?
Communicating over text or facetime is cool for some, but can be overwhealming for others. If your partner is making you check-in constantly, or freaks out when you don't respond; it could be a warning sign of an unhealthy relationship. Respect each others limits in the relationship.
+ Are there any trigger words or phrases I should be aware of?
Remember that both partners have experienced life in the past, and these situations can affect our current relationship. Be considerate of each other's baggage, and be sure to know what statements are off-limits. Communicate any trigger words, so a partner can speak respectfully to us.
I've got 99 problems and tbh you're one of them.
Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. It's not bad to have different opinions, but remember to "fight fair." This means working through conflict in a healthy way. Here’s some suggestions for addressing conflict in a healthy way:
"I know you didn't mean to make me feel that way, but this is how it made me feel."
This is a great way to be honest about how your dating partner made you feel without attacking or accusing them.
"We don't have to share the same opinion and I can still respect you."
Sometimes, it's best to let an issue go if you aren't able to come to an agreement. If it's an issue you can't drop because it's too important, then you may want to re-evaluate your relationship.
"I understand you're frustrated but I don't deserve to be treated this way."
You don't deserve to be yelled at, cursed at, made fun of, or threatened, even during an argument. If your dating partner does any of these things, tell them to stop and walk away.
"I care about you and I want to work this out. How can we come to a compromise?"
Try your best to find a middle ground where both partners feel satisfied with the outcome. Be sure it's not always the same person doing the compromising.
Not everyone has a side piece.
Jealousy & Insecurity
It’s easy to feel jealous if your dating partner tells you they're staying home tonight, but then they go out with friends. Or maybe you're scrolling their feed and notice that they liked a photo of their ex. You may feel a hint of jealousy or insecurity. That's normal. However, it becomes unhealthy when these feelings of jealousy or insecurity cause us to control or change our dating partner.
Here are some tips to process and address our feelings in a healthy way:
Self-reflection & Self-confidence
When we're feeling jealous, we may want to confront our partner immediately. But first, we should determine why we feel the way we do. Oftentimes, our insecurity or jealousy is related to how we feel about ourselves.
Take time to think about the root cause of these feelings. Do what you can to feel confident in who you are, not only who you are in your partner's eyes.
lIST YOUR EVIDENCE
Can you come up with any evidence to support your feelings of jealousy?
Is your partner genuinely ignoring you, or do they have a new job or activity that requires their attention?
Are they purposefully making less available time for you?
Are they criticizing or being more critical of you?
Are they avoiding conversations?
If the answer to all of these questions is no, then the feeling of insecurity or jealousy is just that: a feeling. And these feelings have nothing to do with what your dating partner actually feels about you.
Talk through it
After you've reflected on why you feel jealous, communicate these feelings in a healthy way. You can say, "This relationship is important to me, and I want to share my thoughts with you. Do you have time to talk?"
The goal is not to blame your partner or make them feel guilty, but to be honest about your feelings.
So are we exclusive or nah?
Defining the Relationship.
Some people are interested in finding a singular partner, others want to date around, and some just want to cruise on their own. No matter what relationship status you desire, it's important to communicate with your partner to avoid misunderstandings or deceit.
Is cheating abusive?
Cheating is definitely an unhealthy behavior in a relationship, stemming from a lack of communication, honesty, and trust. Cheating can also have long-lasting effects, and cause feelings of jealousy or make it difficult to trust in future relationships.
To prevent deceitfulness or dishonesty, we must communicate our feelings, wants, and desires with each other. it feels horrible to have our trust betrayed, so make sure both partners are on the same page about the relationship.
So like, what are we?
Don't assume the relationship is exclusive or that you're in a relationship at all. The only way to be clear about your dating status is to talk about it. There's no perfect time to bring it up, but if it's important to get clarification, then talk about it.
Take your time and feel the vibe.
Prepare yourself. If we enter into a conversation about our dating expectations, we must be aware that our partner may see things differently. They may disagree about the seriousness of the relationship, or have other goals in mind. It’s okay to see things differently, but we need to respect each others’ wishes and find a mutual understanding.
Above all, be flexible and open to conversations without rules or expectations
If you're feeling tempted to cheat (whether physically or emotionally), be sure to really reflect on your dating relationship. It's better to be honest with each other rather than break their trust.
In the end, the relationship may not work out. This can hurt a lot! We might have thought this person was the one. But if we’re honest with our partner about our wants and needs, and practice open and true communication throughout the relationship; we’ll be able to enjoy the relationship while it lasts.
What you mean
When you want to break up
You’ve given the dating relationship a chance, and you’ve decided you’re ready to make a change. It’s time to explore being single again or search out new relationships. How do you navigate the break up, and come to a mutual agreement with your former dating partner? How can you communicate your wants and needs while establishing healthy boundaries?
Allow your partner time to grieve, but do not be hurt if and when they decide to date someone else
Don’t spread rumors or talk derogatively about your former dating partner
If you remain friends on social media, be aware that this can present problems in the future if your ex-partner is not over the relationship
Allow yourself time to heal and process the relationship before jumping into a new one
Address any trauma that may exist from the relationship, and seek out counseling or advocacy services if needed
Surround yourself with trusted and healthy individuals who can reaffirm your values and worth
Fill your life with people, places, and things that fulfill your needs
Show yourself love and remember your self-worth
Communicate your feelings to the dating partner
Rather than stating what the partner has done wrong, use “I” statements to share your thoughts
Focus on the present, and abstain from dredging up the past
Reassure the partner that this is best for both people in the relationship
Remind the partner that there were good times, but it’s in the best interest of both people that the relationship ends
Don’t give the partner false hope about getting back together. If it’s meant to be, let time tell
If you feel unsafe, encourage friends or family to be nearby when breaking up
Have a safety plan in place should the partner become violent or unwilling to accept the break up
When you just got dumped
What do you do when you’ve been dumped from a dating relationship? The feelings are raw, you think it's your fault or that you weren't good enough, and you’re missing the other person. A part of you hopes this is just a phase and that your partner will realize you’re the one and come running back to you. But what if this is it? What if your relationship has truly come to an end? How can you manage these feelings in a healthy way?
Seek out counseling or other trusted individuals to help you through this transition
Reintegrate any hobbies, sports, or activities you may have put on hold during the relationship
Do not spread rumors or derogative comments about your former dating partner
Do not use social media to track or stalk your ex
Keep a journal to address your feelings of hurt, but don’t obsess over the relationship. This will make it harder to let go or move on
Surround yourself with healthy individuals, activities, and places
Show yourself love, and reaffirm your self-worth
Allow yourself time to grieve the end of the relationship
Process your feelings in a healthy way
Show yourself love, and remember you’re worthy of being loved
Abstain from using drugs or alcohol to manage your feelings or pain
Give the other person space and time away from the relationship
Tend to your own needs
Make healthy choices
Explore nature or somewhere that helps you feel solace