Probably the most important part of a relationship is communication. Talking to your dating partner honestly about what's going on with you, how you feel, what you want, and whatever else is on your mind is how you can build a stronger connection and grow closer. It's not always easy talking about the serious things, especially in a healthy way.
So we came up with some conversation starters that may be able to help get things going. Use them whatever way feels most comfortable, and most importantly, be confident and be willing to listen.
Some tips for having healthy conversations.
- Talk face to face - so much can be misinterpreted over text, so if you can, try to talk in person. If it helps, make a list of the things you want to say or talk about.
- Find the right time - try to find a time where neither are angry, distracted, or rushed.
- Check your language - be honest with them, 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 your really invested by giving them your full attention.
Let's talk boundaries.
Setting boundaries is so important with a healthy relationship. It's not just about what your dating partner can or cannot do to you, it's really about setting the path for how your relationship will grow and develop. Everyone's boundaries are different and you'll have to take the time to figure out what you *really* want in the relationship. Here are some questions you can ask to get the conversation going.
+ What are your physical boundaries? What are you okay with?
This is important to talk about before anything. You want to establish what you’re okay with during a time where you feel safe and maybe not so controlled by emotions, and you want your partner to feel that same way. Physical intimacy can be great, but only if everyone involved feels they can be honest about what they do and do not want, and still be safe, heard, and respected.
+ What are your digital boundaries? What are you okay with me posting?
Some people love having their relationship details out there, others might not. Maybe they don't want their parents or aunties finding out. Maybe they want the whole island to know. Whichever it is, talk about it together.
+ If we get into a fight or disagreement, what will you need? How would you like me to let you know if something you did hurt or frustrated me?
Maybe one of you needs space where as the other needs to immediately work through the problem. Being aware of how your partner handles their feelings means you can come to determine a way for both of you to deal with your anger.
+ I think it's important that we have time to spend with our friends and family and also ourselves, so what are your expectations for alone time?
It's healthy to be apart sometimes, to be sure to establish with your dating partner your need (and their need) to have space sometimes. This also counts for digital space!
+ How often should we talk?
Constantly communicating over text or facetime may be cool for some, but for others, it can be overwhealming. However you like to communicate is fine, but if your partner is making you check in constantly, or freaks out when you don't respond, it could definitely be a warning sign of an unhealthy relationship. Set your limits, and expect they be respected.
+ Are there any trigger words or phrases I should be aware of?
Some couples are cool saying, "you're a monkey", where as others, not so much. You both had lives before you started dating, and sometimes, the way someone was treated in the past affects them in their current relationship. So be considerate of one another's baggage. Be sure to know what statements are off-limits, and be sure to communicate if you have any trigger words.
I've got 99 problems and tbh you're one of them.
In any relationship, conflict (verbal disagreements or arguing), is pretty much inevitable. And it's actually not a bad thing to have a different opinion than your dating partner! What's important is that you "fight fair" and work through conflict in a healthy way. Being able to effectively work through issues isn't always easy or natural, but it's a really important skill to learn. Here's some things we suggest for addressing conflict in a healthy way.
"I know you probably 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 with your dating partner about how their actions or words made you feel without attacking them and accusing them of something.
"We don't have to share the same opinion on everything. I respect you even if we don't share the same opinion."
Sometimes, it's best to let an issue go if you aren't able to come to an agreement. If it's an issue that you feel you can't drop because it's too important, than you may want to re-evaluate your relationship.
"I understand you're frustrated but I don't deserve to be treated this way."
Even during an argument, you don't deserve to be yelled at, cursed at, made fun of, or threatened.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 of you feel satisfied with the outcome. Just make sure it's not always the same person having to compromise.
So, are we exclusive or nah?
Some people are interested on finding a singular partner, others want to date around, and some just want to cruise by themselves. No matter what you want your relationship status to be, it's important that you communicate with your partner so there's no misunderstandings or deceit.
Not everyone got a side piece.
Jealousy & Insecurity
You're dating partner tells you that they're going to cruise at home tonight, but then you check their story and they ended up going out with their friends. Or maybe, you're scrolling through their feed and you notice that they liked a photo of one of their exes. Chances are, you may feel a hint of jealousy or insecurity. That's normal. It's when these feelings of jealousy or insecurity cause us to want to try and control or change our dating partner that it becomes unhealthy. Here are some ways you can process and address these feelings in a healthy way.
Self reflection & Self confidence
While we may want to immediately confront our partner when we're feeling jealous, the most important thing is to try and figure out where the feeling is coming from. More often than not, insecurity or jealousy is more related to how we feel about ourselves, than what our partner did (or didn't do). Take some time to think about what the root of these feelings is instead of just trying to fix the "problem". If you just try and fix the problem of insecurity or jealousy, you may end up getting clingy or controlling, which isn't what anyone wants. Do what you gotta do to make yourself feel confident in who you are, not who you are in your partner's eyes.
lIST YOUR EVIDENCE
If what you think is just a feeling, then list the reasons why you think that. It's likely you won't actually be able to come up with any evidence supporting it.
- Are they genuinely not paying as much attention to you (or do they maybe just have a new job or activity they're a part of)?
- 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 for all of those question 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 had the chance to reflect back on where these insecurities or feelings of jealousy are coming from, being honest with your partner about how you're feeling is a good idea, as long as it's done in a healthy way. You may want to say something like "I've been thinking about some things and I wanted to share them with you because I care about you and I care about us and I want to keep growing in our relationship."It's not about making them feel guilty or blamed, it's about being honest about how you feel with the understanding, that it may just be a feeling.