You’ve decided that you are a couple – dating exclusively – maybe even talking marriage. Great relationships take effort and attention. Despite the fairy tales we heard as children, true love is a product of honesty, kindness and respect. To be one of those couples who care, keep these tips in mind.

Take your time. When you are first falling in love, it’s difficult to take things slow. Everything seems so right, why waste another day without them? In the rush of a new relationship, it’s easy to overlook minor issues or silly annoyances. You think it won’t bother you. Maybe they are just a little quirky, or you think they’ll change once things settle down.

Going slow demonstrates maturity, confidence and independence. Fear and lack of self-esteem masquerades as clingy and needy. Taking time to know each allows you to discover the true personality. Anyone can appear cool, calm and charming for a few hours on a date. A better way to get to know each other would be during a group activity or volunteering together. You can see them interact with others and how they respond to challenges.

Another way to get a good picture of how your potential mate thinks is to pay close attention to how they treat strangers– food servers, parking attendants, store clerks. If they are rude or disrespectful to them, it’s not that unlikely they will eventually behave that way toward you.

Communicating your needs – It’s important than you feel secure enough to communicate your needs from the start. The same goes for your partner. Listen to them, repeat back what you think you heard and give them the freedom to express their feelings. You should be able to do the same. Neither of you should be afraid to suggest a restaurant, or speaking up if the other is doing something that makes them uncomfortable.

Respect boundaries – Taking things slow goes hand in hand with respecting boundaries. It is tempting to snoop in their phone or rummage through the papers on their desk while they are in the shower, but think about it, that is not a relationship built on honesty and respect. Do you want them doing the same to you? As your relationship matures, the time to share more personal information will evolve naturally. 

Self-Esteem – Having a healthy self-esteem makes for a happy couple. It may sound counterintuitive, but don’t rely on someone else to make your life complete. So many people put other aspects of their lives on hold, thinking that once they are in a committed relationship everything else will fall into place. You have to be happy with yourself before adding another person to the mix.  When you are confident, assured and interesting, others will flock to you.  When you are moping around waiting for your Prince or Princess Charming, potential mates will run the other way.

Expectations – Just starting a new relationship is filled with fantasies and expectations. You both may be dreaming of how you think the relationship will be. The trouble with this scenario is that you are thinking one thing, but something entirely different is happening. Communicating your expectations is part of the process in taking it slow.

Give and take – happy couples want to do things to support the other partner. Kind, unexpected gestures, a phone call just to say I’m thinking of you and other efforts communicate how much you care. If a relationship turns into one of ordering the other around and expecting them to do things for you can sour the love relationship. A boyfriend or girlfriend does not mean you now have someone to do your laundry or do your bidding. If you have the attitude of what have you done for me lately, it’s time to call time out and have a conversation about expectations. Each partner should feel loved and appreciated.

Dating – You fell in love while dating. Taking time to focus on just each other, doing activities you enjoyed, or spending a quiet evening talking. Keep it up. Once you’ve decided that you are exclusive doesn’t mean the dating and romance stop. Special times together reminds you both that as a couple you are important and value the relationship.

Having a Healthy and Happy relationship takes effort. You both have to be committed to putting each other first and respecting each other’s feelings. However, I know that being in a relationship can get hard and at times you may need help to figure things out. Don’t worry it’s not just you or your relationship. As a relationship therapist, I see many couples who are having difficulty in their relationship and need to get the right tools so that they can make their relationship better and stronger.

If it seems that you can’t find the right solutions to overcome your relationship challenges, I would recommend you and your partner see a relationship therapist. Going to couples therapy would give you both an opportunity to voice your feelings and get guidance on how to create a relationship where you feel loved and appreciated!

To find a Therapist who provides couples therapy in your area – go to

If you would like to work with me in couples therapy, CLICK HERE.