Cheat Sheet

Relationships For Dummies

From Relationships For Dummies by Dr. Kate M. Wachs

Your relationship with that special someone plays a large role in your life. First, you have to find Mr. or Ms. Right and then take the time to develop the skills to build the relationship and keep it going. And, because no relationship is without some conflict, you need to know how to resolve the disagreements that crop up — and using Dr. Kate's Make-A-Deal method, you can actually grow closer as you work things out!

How to Find a Relationship

If you're looking for love, you know it can be hard to meet someone you want to have a relationship with — especially given the constraints of modern life. Use the tips in the following list to determine the best way to meet that special someone given your circumstances:

  • If you have more time than money: Try running a personal ad — offline or online at any of the numerous dating sites. Because you write/post the ad, and contact/screen responses, this process takes time, energy, and good judgment. But it's usually less expensive as a result.

  • If you have more money than time: Try offline dating services — the personal matchmaking type, where someone else does as much of the work for you as possible. The service recruits, interviews, and screens everyone, and based on knowledge of both parties, selects and often arranges the first date to streamline the process and eliminate any rejection hassle.

  • If you have lousy judgment in people or have chosen unwisely in the past: Stick to an offline dating service — the personal matchmaking type, especially one that offers you feedback from your dates and helpful advice. The matchmaker who interviews, screens, and selects potential mates for you may be more objective and effective, and there's an easy-to-follow paper trail for added security and safety.

How to Build a Relationship

Getting involved in a romance is the first step toward building a relationship that lasts. If you're looking for a long-term love, the tips in the following list can help you develop your attraction into something deeper:

  • Keep the relationship reciprocal, especially in the beginning, so you can keep the balance of power — and resulting feelings — even, too.

  • If you're female, try to let your partner lead. If you're male, most women will prefer that you lead — so don't be afraid to do so.

  • Be cautious about sex early in the relationship. Know what you're risking, and if you choose it, go into it with your eyes open.

  • As you get to know and trust one another, move gradually and slowly from being strangers to being lovers. Don't ruin the relationship by trying to make the jump in one — or a few — dates.

  • Use thought-stopping to avoid fantasizing about a future with someone you barely know, and to help you keep your emotional intimacy, sexual intimacy, and time actually spent in the relationship in sync.

How to Make Love Last

Everyone knows that it's much easier to start a relationship than it is to make one last. If you've found your special someone, keep your love alive with the tips in the following list:

  • Make it special and nurture emotional intimacy: Share feelings, thoughts, and experiences with one another that you don't share with others, and keep your communication healthy.

  • Share healthy, fun-filled sexual experiences only with one another to promote sexual intimacy.

  • Remember that good communication is Superglue #1, and good sex is Superglue #2. Use both generously and often to bond tightly with your mate.

How to Use Arguments to Improve Your Relationship

Every relationship has conflict — arguments and disagreements go hand-in-hand with love and affection. But with Dr. Kate's Make-A-Deal technique, you can settle disagreements and grow closer in the process. Just follow these steps:

  1. Make a date to talk about the problem, choosing optimal time and place.

  2. Ask questions about your mate's thoughts and feelings first and throughout discussion: "How do you feel about . . . ?" "Are you saying that . . . ?"

  3. Keep reflecting back as long as your partner shares new info: "It sounds like . . ."

  4. Express empathy and support: "I'm so _____ (happy or sorry) for you." "I hope that everything goes better tomorrow."

  5. Agree with whatever you can agree with: ("I agree that . . ." "I can see that . . .")

    Alternate/take turns doing steps 2–5: reflective listening, asking questions, facilitative agreement, supportive statements, and positive reinforcement.

  6. Deal time! Brainstorm and pick a compromise: "Okay, so it sounds like we've ruled out ______ and ______, and we both seem to like ______ better. Why don't we try that this week, and get back together next week — same time, same place — to see if we're both happy with it?"

  7. Evaluate compromise at a later date and compromise again if necessary.

  8. Agree to disagree or rediscuss if you can't find a suitable compromise: "It seems like we both have strong feelings on this topic, and we're not going to reach any agreement tonight. So why don't we just agree to disagree for now, and get together next week — same time, same place — to talk about it again?"

  9. List agreements and leave on an upbeat, friendly note: "Okay, so we've decided that we're going to ______. Thank you for making time to talk about this and for meeting me halfway. I really appreciate your time and effort tonight. I think we did great!"

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