Text: Ophelia Wu
'All you need is love'. Really?
Every February seems to be a lovey-dovey month. Whatever your status, there is something and someone to love you and your life. But let's take a healthy and light approach to navigate this relationship/situation/whatever-ship we find ourselves in at some point.
While I'm not a therapist or psychologist, I can only share from experience and constant learning. It might not resonate with everyone, but here are six key takeaways I've found very useful - take what you need!
1. Have fun
Remember to have fun, no matter which stage of your relationship. Not in a disrespectfully using each other kind of way, but genuinely enjoying each other's company and having fun. Go out and explore something new together, take it lightly, let yourself have some fun and go with the flow.
2. Be intentional
Being intentional about all the what's and why's when you're dating or in a relationship or a marriage. Always ask and check in with yourself regularly; what is it that you want from this connection? Are you ready and willing to put in the effort? How do you feel about yourself when you're together? All the important questions to answer before making any decisions, especially at the beginning of dating. If you want something that heads towards marriage, be intentional about the potential partner you are willing to commit to.
3. Be mindful
Being mindful is also important - it boils down to taking care of your and your partner's emotional needs. With all the stress in life, it is easy to fall into an auto-pilot place, and in the dating scene, it would mean that you're not fully present with your date or partner. Being mindful is as simple as putting the phone aside while you're on a date, giving full attention and being mentally and emotionally there for each other - enjoying every moment. It can also mean that if you have a busy work period and can't spend as much time with your date or partner, be mindful of their feelings and be upfront about how you'd be temporarily unavailable.
4. Speak and act with kindness and compassion
This applies to every scenario in life. When you speak and act with kindness and compassion, you're coming from a place where you are careful with and mindful of each other's emotional well-being, meaning you're respectful of each other. Gaslighting, passive-aggressiveness, withdrawal, stonewalling and silent punishment will only build resentment and misunderstanding. Ask for clarifications instead of making assumptions; be curious and grateful instead of taking each other for granted. A simple thank you and a little understanding go a long way.
5. Seek to understand
It's not always smooth sailing in a relationship. Whenever a conflict or disagreement arises, seek to understand each other's point of view rather than allowing it to turn into a full-blown argument. When we seek to understand, we become curious about the bigger story we might not have been aware of. The lack of information can be crucial to deescalate any disagreement. It also creates a safe space to become vulnerable and bond with each other. From there on, you'll realise your connection with each other has progressed and shifted into a more secure and intimate space.
6. Communicate and voice your needs
Can't stress enough the importance of communicating and voicing your needs. No one can ever know exactly what you want and need in a relationship if you don't say it. Leave all the mind games or tactics aside, be honest and open, and do all the above-mentioned things when you communicate your needs. Instead of holding a grudge and secretly being resentful and angry at your partner for not doing what you would like, say, 'I would really like for you to do this and that, would you be happy to do so?' and not 'up to you.' Or 'it's ok'. Please don't say it's ok when you are not. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you give a seemingly kind answer like 'up to you' but have a certain hope of outcome in your mind, say it and ask for it. Be genuinely ok with whatever the outcome is, even if it's a no when you say, 'up to you'. You're only going to set yourself up for heartbreak, anger, and a trap your partner will fall into.
Love is not enough to sustain a relationship or a connection - it takes a lot more on both sides. But if everything is done from a place of love, it makes life easier. So choose people who choose you.