5 Self-Improvement Steps to Take Before Starting a Relationship

A healthy, loving relationship is a wonderful thing —there’s much to be said about the psychological and even physical benefits of knowing that someone loves you. However, commitments can be difficult and relationships will involve some effort.

Truth is, we owe our partners the responsibility to prepare for any relationship. We cannot make it another person’s responsibility to lift us up because we would be dragging them down, which is not what love is.  

These are the essential pieces of self-improvement that you need to do before entering into a long term relationship.

1. How to enjoy your own company

It may seem contradictory, but it is important to find a way to love yourself and enjoy your partner before you enter a relationship. Uncomfortable with oneself will eventually lead to anxiety, neediness, and even a loss of love for your partner.

We need to discover our passions and hobbies in order to better understand ourselves. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to be more authentic in the future. Your reasons to be with your partner are based on genuine love and not a desire to satisfy an inner void.

2. Refrain from the urge to indulge in feelings of jealousy

We all have to deal with jealousy at times. It can affect every area of our lives. Learning to manage our feelings of jealousy is an invaluable skill whether we’re talking about romantic relationships, friendships, or even careers. 

In our romantic relationships, extreme cases of jealousy can lead us to become possessive, as we desperately attempt to guard what we perceive as ours from threats —real or imagined. It is possible to forbid our partners from accessing their phones or to make friends with those we consider threats. This can lead to paranoia and a belief that the other person is disloyal.

If we give in to jealousy, we only help to make the worst of our fears. We must resist the temptation to allow jealousy to overcome us. Instead, learn how to respect others’ good fortunes and trust our partners.

“You are essentially who you create yourself to be, and all that occurs in your life is the result of your own making.” ― Stephen Richards

3. Practice Coping Mechanisms For Stressful Situations

Protecting someone is an essential part of our love for them. However, if we are stressed and feel overwhelmed, it can lead to an involuntary or impulsive reaction that is aimed at those close to us. If you’re constantly taking out your frustrations on your partner, you’ll have only yourself to blame when they say enough is enough.

It isn’t how you act in fair weather that determines your loveability, but how you behave during the worst moments. Two ways come to mind for learning to love when we’re stressed and loving is hardest: the first is to gain an understanding of our flaws and harmful tendencies when under pressure, and the second is to learn how to relieve the build-up of stress and pressure before it becomes an issue.

The first method is undoubtedly essential —as it’s impossible to go through life without encountering some form of challenge that will take us to the breaking point. However, it is not easy to identify the bad behaviors that we need to avoid. This can often be done through trial and error as well as self-reflection. You will never be able to perfect it before you get in a committed relationship.

So, to be more loving partners, we can learn how to destress so we don’t get to the point where we’re lashing out unconsciously. A workout or a yoga session, a stroll through the park, or simply a brief diary entry at the end of the day are all healthy ways to relax —find something that works for you.

4. You can check your bag at the door

Your strength is evident. But, despite your own potential beliefs to the contrary, your baggage: prior relationships —traumatic experiences in particular— will have a significant impact on your future relationships.

It is not easy to overcome past trauma. Even if you’re able to identify what past events are impacting your current ability to connect emotionally, it can still be really difficult to make the conscious decision not to let them influence your feelings and actions.

Perhaps you’re still in the midst of your recovery; some pain never really goes away —our capacity to bear it merely increases. However, being aware of what you have to deal with is the first step towards becoming a more loving partner and developing a healthy relationship.

5. Be sincere in your communication

The majority of the above relationship advice is equally helpful in other relationships. This information is not an exception.

No relationship is going to be smooth sailing to the horizon, and no couple lives “happily ever after, full stop.” When a relationship becomes so difficult that you feel like cutting your losses and calling it quits, don’t. This is when we find it difficult to express our feelings or are too hurtful to fully understand. We feel the need for withdrawal or to cause damage with our words.

To have a long-lasting, strong relationship, both partners must be able to communicate freely without being judged or retaliated on. Inadequate communication will lead to more misunderstandings and even more severe problems between the partners. 

The ability to speak freely and without judgement is a wonderful feeling. It’s essential to any type of relationship.

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