There is a lot of advice in the world about how to have a good relationship. And while a lot of it is advice that I can get behind, like “Respect each other”; there is some that is…less reputable…Wouldn’t it be nice if having a strong, healthy relationship was simple? Good news: It is! Bad news: Simple doesn’t mean easy. However, if you can keep these 3 “Golden Keys” in your inventory, you might just find your way to the intimacy, love, and connection you’re looking for!
Even the good advice out there tends gets lost in the shuffle when blogs post things like 62 relationship tips for men, or 101 relationship tips. It sends the message that relationships are complex machines that require constant, exhausting upkeep to keep working, otherwise they’ll just quit on you.
In truth, relationships are complex machines that require constant upkeep to keep working, or else they’ll wither and eventually die.
But that constant upkeep isn’t about doing 100 things, or even 62. Ultimately, it boils down to three simple relationship hacks that you can put into practice to make sure you get the top score.
Golden Key to Intimacy #1: Be vulnerable
What do I mean when I say vulnerability? I mean that you need to give your partner the opportunity to hurt you, and the confidence that they won’t. When we speak from a place of vulnerability, we give our partners something that can’t be given any other way: trust. So how do we be vulnerable? For starters, stay away from what marriage expert John Gottman calls the Four Horsemen: Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling, because their first victim is vulnerability. In his research, Gottman found that these four behaviors can predict relationship by upwards of 90% by themselves, so it’s a good idea to know them and steer clear!
Next, be honest. We all have stuff that comes up in our lives. If we don’t take opportunities to clear the air with our partners, then the stuff continues to grow and can choke out the relationship. So talk regularly about the stuff that’s going on in your inner world, and trust that your partner is going to be responsible with what you give them.
Golden Key to Intimacy #2: Wear Rose Colored Glasses
What’s the difference between an optimist, a pessimist, and a realist? An optimist sees the world as basically good, a pessimist sees the world as basically bad, and a realist can’t bring himself to admit that he’s a pessimist.
But seriously, I’m not saying that you don’t see your relationship as it is; quite the opposite! I’m saying that “realist” and “optimist” don’t have to be at odds. I often say to “Fight like you love each other,” meaning that even in times of disagreement and conflict it is vital to remember that you have your partner’s best interest at heart.
This goes beyond just the present moment as well. Reminisce together about how you met, when you fell in love, and what drew you together. One of my favorite shows is How I Met Your Mother, because the premise is something I would advise everyone in a relationship to do: Remember as many details as you can about how you and your partner met, and remember it fondly. The way you remember your “meet-cute” (Do people still call it that?) is a huge predictor of your relationship success!
Golden Key to Intimacy #3: Let Yourself Be Influenced
The third key is probably the most difficult of the three. Have you ever noticed how couples that have been together for decades tend to start looking like each other? Aside from being a bit surreal, there is a really powerful metaphor in that process. The more you let your partner influence you, the more connected you will grow.
What do I mean by “influence”?
Influence is inviting our partner alongside our life without demanding it. It is a natural process that occurs when two people are engaged with each other in a supportive way.
The key component of this hack is less about wielding influence, and more about yielding to it. Your willingness to watch Daredevil instead of House of Cards because it’s what your partner wants to do is going to fold back and influence them to watch Kevin Spacey’s machinations too.
So there you have it: three golden keys to make sure yours is the best it can be! Of course, at the end of the day, there are no shortcuts to a good relationship. But if you posture yourself in a vulnerable, positive, and open-minded way, shortcuts won’t matter at all!
I would love to hear your thoughts! What “Golden Keys” have you found to boost intimacy in your relationship?
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