Relationships can be tricky. No matter if you’re on your first or your twentieth, you’ll have ups and downs. But first relationships are particularly tough. You have to navigate a whole new world of “firsts” that leave your head spinning!
Lucky for you, we’ve gathered the most helpful first relationship tips. Read on to explore how you can level up your first relationship and set yourself up for success!
1. Don’t Jump Into a Relationship Too Quickly
When the hormones are raging, and all you can see are stars around someone, it’s tough to be okay with moving slowly. Even so, do your best to keep a level head. Do you really need to meet their family after the second date? Probably not. Remind yourself that this isn’t a race.
Get to Know Each Other
Ask lots of open-ended, thoughtful questions. Use active listening skills to understand your partner. Be empathetic and curious in your quest to learn about them. Don’t assume anything, either. While you learn about each other, pace it out. Don’t blurt out your life story and deepest secrets immediately, and don’t expect your partner to.
Talk it out! And get to know one another’s communication styles. Set the tone for an honest first relationship by laying everything out on the table. Talk about boundaries and expectations.
Take Things One Step at a Time
How does the lion eat the elephant? If you guessed “one bite at a time,” you’re right. The moral of the story is not to bite off more than you can chew. Also, don’t run before you can walk. Allow your relationship to develop gradually without forcing or rushing anything. This pertains to physical and emotional boundaries.
If you move slowly together, you’ll never have to worry if your new partner is love bombing and ghosting you.
2. Talk About Your Expectations for the Relationship
If your expectations are too low or high, you might set yourself up for failure. So, bring up the topic of expectations. What are you hoping to gain from the relationship? How do you want it to look? Do you want this first relationship to last forever, or are you inclined to break it off eventually due to an upcoming move or life change?
What are your emotional expectations? Do you want to share every detail of your past and future (eventually), or are you okay with keeping skeletons in the closet? Discuss physical boundaries. What makes you uncomfortable, if anything? Are public displays of affection expected by either of you? Social media posts with the two of you? Relationship status updates? Talk to each other about what each of you wants.
3. Awkwardness is Normal
You’ve probably watched one too many romance movies if you think every moment of a first relationship is flawless. It’s natural to have hiccups, embarrassing moments, or feelings of nervousness. Awkward first dates are fine! With first relationships – especially if it’s the first one for both of you – it’s not going to be perfect. Everything from the first kiss to the first video call or at-home date night can have its fair share of awkward moments. Laugh them off! It’s all part of the journey.
4. Make Time for Each Other
First relationships may seem easy in the beginning, but just like any other relationship, they require dedicated effort. You have to carve out time from your schedule to foster the relationship. Of course, you must also make an effort to respond to your partner’s calls or texts. Communication and getting to know one another take time – lots of it!
When you think of compromise, what do you think of? Some may only think of marriage. However, every relationship has a give and take. Some level of compromise will be necessary in your first relationship. One example is stepping away from your studies or a night out with friends to answer your partner’s call or text. Trading your time for your partner is a compromise, in a sense.
Compromises also emerge from disagreements. Let’s say you had one expectation for how a date night should go, and your partner had another. You’ll have to have an open discussion that creates a solution for this issue. The solution will require you two to come together. That’s a compromise.
Compromising requires time and communication skills. You must keep an open mind when trying to meet your partner in the middle. How much are you willing to give up? What part of your idea are you okay with changing? When you offer to compromise, it builds trust and loyalty.
First relationships tend to start with small compromises, like adding your partner’s friends to your next outing when it was your idea to go without them. As you build your connection and dedicate more of your lives to each other, more compromises may be necessary. Think about relenting to move across the city or state to accommodate your partner’s job. That could be a long way down the road, but it’s best to practice compromising early on.
6. Don’t Try to Change the Other Person
It’s not your job to change someone. And you shouldn’t want to. Chances are, you fell in love with your partner because of who they are, not who you wish they were. Your partner has flaws, like everyone else. Don’t try to erase them or even tweak them. Remember that your role in a first relationship is not to be your partner’s mother, therapist, or parole officer.
Trying to change someone creates tension and friction. It’s a stressful situation when you try to convince your partner to believe something different, behave in a certain way, or take an interest in something that’s just not interesting to them. Relationships are beautiful because they involve two unique individuals with two sets of gifts and interests and qualities.
If your partner has deep-rooted values that you do not agree with and conflict with the lifestyle you’re after, do not try to change your partner’s values in order to keep them. Such a case is grounds for splitting up. You can fight tooth and nail for decades to change someone’s core, but it’s not healthy, and it’s not worth it.
7. Spend Quality Time Together
Here’s a tip that’s way more lighthearted than the last one: Have fun together! Explore together. Do things you love. Try new things that neither of you has done. Cross off some bucket list items together or learn something new.
Indulge in exciting restaurants, thrilling events, or soul-nourishing long walks. All of these activities will help you build a foundation of joy and adventure in your first relationship. It’ll help you connect and make memories that last!
8. Be Open and Honest
Clear, honest communication is a must. When you share your true feelings, you set the stage for a safe and open space. Honesty builds love and trust. It can be painful to hear or speak the truth at times, especially in first relationships. But don’t be afraid of open communication. At the same time, let your partner know you will listen to them with an open mind.
The level of intimacy involved in communicating openly may take some getting used to. Your first relationship could be the first time you share certain information about yourself. It will feel great in the long run to grow your trust in your partner as you share thoughts and emotions. Remember, honesty is the best policy.
9. Support Each Other
As you walk through the hills and valleys of your first relationship, you may notice that you’re a team! When you have struggles, your partner should be there to help you, and vice versa. You two are in this together. You create synergy. When you support each other’s goals and dreams, you build trust and collaboration. Lifting your partner up when they feel down is the perfect way to show your love.
10. Respect Each Other
Respect. The great underlying trait of all successful relationships. What’s so powerful about respect that makes it fuel first-time relationships, though? Well, it requires an acceptance of your partner’s opinions, feelings, and beliefs. It sparks your motivation to understand and support your first-ever partner. Respect is required to form healthy boundaries.
Ask anyone for relationship advice, and they’ll be quick to bring up respect. If your partner doesn’t respect you, they may treat you poorly. If you don’t respect them, you might not be inclined to stick around. Respect requires loving action and thoughtful consideration.
Respect leads to gratitude, another essential first relationship requirement. And remember, you must respect yourself before you can learn to respect others. So, if you’re not there yet, then hit “pause” before jumping into your first relationship.
Your First Relationship Will Be Worth It!
When you go into your first relationship with a mindful approach and a positive outlook, you can learn and grow from it, no matter what the outcome. Try to keep the pressure low and communication high. Most of all, enjoy the experience! If you found someone you love and appreciate (and who feels the same about you), see where your path leads.