After six months of dating my partner sat me down to have a conversation. Although it couldn’t have been easy, he decided to be completely transparent with me about his feelings in regards to how I had gotten a bit… lazy in our relationship.
It was extremely difficult to hear but… he was right. I had been taking him for granted. I hadn’t been pulling my weight, and I was expecting him to pick up the slack.
My partner described our relationship as having a “bucket” that we could both pour into. Whether it was doing acts of service, seeking quality time, or making the other person feel special, we both needed to put in the effort to make our relationship work.
Based on my own trial-and-error, here are the qualities I believe that you need to bring to your relationship bucket.
#1. A willingness to compromise
When I reflect on my parent's relationship growing up there were compromises, but both people weren’t making them. Only one person was doing what needed to be done to make things work.
My mother gave everything up for my father. She compromised her dreams and sense of self to make him happy. Countless hours she worked to help keep a roof over our head while he explored his hobbies. Eventually, she had nothing left to give and walked away from him.
Observing their example helped me learn at a very young age that compromise only works in a relationship if both parties are willing to do it.
#2. A willingness to listen
My eyes were glazing over and my mind had gone to a completely different place.
“You aren’t listening.”
Immediately I snapped back to reality but it was too late. My partner was frustrated and felt completely unheard. It wasn’t the first time that I had allowed my mind to wander and I justified it in my mind. Perhaps I couldn’t pay attention because when he is talking the stories can be long and drawn out.
However, at that moment the realization hit me that if I stopped listening, my partner would eventually stop talking. I made an effort to pay attention even when the topic wasn’t one I was personally interested in.
#3. A willingness to support your partner’s dreams
My boyfriend is extremely driven and has started several businesses. It makes me sad to look back on how much I failed to support him in the beginning stages of our relationship.
My insecurities caused me to consider his ambition as a threat in the sense that he wouldn’t have enough time for me if he went down a certain career path.
Finally, he said something that hit home. Throughout our entire relationship, he has done nothing but support me and help me achieve my goals. Why was I not returning the favor and placing myself as a roadblock instead of helping him put his gas on the pedal to go speeding forward?
Immediately I began working through why I felt insecure about his ambition, and in our relationship today it is one of the traits I admire most about him.
#4. A willingness to show appreciation for your partner
In my experience, there is nothing that quite builds resentment up as much as failing to show your partner appreciation.
This normally happens because we can end up taking our partner for granted. There have been times when I get frustrated because my partner can forget to show appreciation until I’m past the point of no return.
It’s something he has gotten so much better at especially because showing someone appreciation takes no time. Verbalizing it or doing a sweet act of service for them can mean a whole world of difference. Even though it may seem self-explanatory there is nothing like a quick verbal affirmation to remind your partner that you are noticing and appreciating their efforts.
#5. A willingness to stop keeping score
Years ago I was at a restaurant with my ex-boyfriend. Something I said upset him while we were eating our appetizer and he brought up the designer watch he had given me for my birthday.
“I shouldn’t have even gotten you the watch. Your gift for my last birthday wasn’t even a fourth of the price.”
That was only one example but throughout our relationship, my ex would always keep score and I was the one losing.
It’s impossible to have things completely equal between two people. There are going to be times when your partner is busier than you are, and vice-versa. There are going to be birthdays/Christmases where one person may go overboard with the gifts/plan something more extravagant. There is nothing wrong with that unless either person is doing it to keep score.
Dating is far from easy but when you and your partner are both contributing and ensuring that you are putting equal effort into your relationship, it will make it a much more enjoyable ride.