17 Ways to Be A Good Partner
Sunday July 15, 2012

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Every relationship between two people is unique. Personalities, cultures, beliefs, interests, experiences, etc, reveal the infinite possibilities of types of couples. However, there are foundational pieces that foster healthy, lasting relationships no matter what two people are involved.

For those who know me well, you may be asking, “Why is she writing about relationships? She’s so private, she’s newly single and personally, I think she’s too young to know such things.” No matter what your first impression is upon reading the title of today’s post, I decided to write it because I’m passionate about it.

I may not be in a relationship at the moment, but I finally have realized I genuinely want to be, and finally feel I am ready (and able) to be a good partner in a relationship. I may be too young to know of what I write, but I know what hasn’t worked and what has been lacking in my past relationships.  And on the flipside, I know what did work and what made my past relationships times in my life which I do not regret. To add to this, I am fortunate to be around many friends and family who are in loving, committed relationships, and I am either observing them (not in a creepy way, I promise) or bombarding them with questions regarding how they make it work.

So with that said, whether you are in a relationship or wanting to be in one someday, here are 17 ways to become a better partner as you both work to create a healthy, loving, respectful and lasting relationship.

1. Be Secure Within Yourself.

So often in my twenties, I thought I was ready for a lasting relationship, but the main component that was missing was that I wasn’t confident that I had found what I was passionate doing. So I was still searching, willing to move to chase it down and feeling a bit restless. I hadn’t found my outlet that made me feel as though I was contributing what I had to offer to the world. At the same time I was still creating a foundation – a career, a home, etc, and hadn’t yet figured out how to balance it all. Once I discovered an outlet for my passions and talents and an avenue to share them so that I felt productive at the end of each day, I discovered contentment. I began to realize that I could live this thing called life, and live it well which up until that point, I hoped I could, but I wasn’t sure of myself. In other words I had finally discovered what I needed to maintain my balance and feel secure within myself.

2. Know How to Make Yourself Happy First.

Once you feel secure within yourself, you realize you don’t project any expectations of what you need onto your partner. In other words, you aren’t looking at them expecting them to make you happy. After all, it isn’t their job. When two secure individuals come together, while they are able to make themselves happy, they realize that two already complete people can create something even more amazing.

3. Eliminate Unnecessary Selfishness.

Once you have discovered how to create your own happiness, you can then focus on giving to your partner. Now this is a two way street. Both partners should delight in the euphoria of their partner’s joy. “Unnecessary selfishness” is a very subjective phrase, but often times one of the partners gives everything – their time, their energy, letting go of their dreams to support their partner – and is too selfless. A healthy balance must be struck. When both partners are conscious and sensitive to each others feelings, dreams and needs, the wrong type of selfishness can easily be eliminated. An example of selfishness that should be curtailed is telling your partner you are too busy to “spend time together”, “to take a walk together”, to yada, yada, yada. While on the surface, the statement may be true, it also reveals to your partner their place on the priority list. So strike the right balance, make sure your priorities are in order to help maintain a healthy, respectful relationship.

4. Be Honest. Be Trustworthy.

Lies and omissions only rot the possibility of true intimacy with your partner. Make sure you model how you would like to be treated and behave in a manner (whether you are with your partner or not) that is respectful to the commitment you’ve made to each other and continues to build the trust you’ve already created.

5. Be Responsible.

There are going to be good and bad days. There will be days when we get upset or moody. After the emotion has subsided, take time to determine what caused you to become so upset, and take the responsibility of stating the truth behind your emotions. If your partner’s behavior made you feel left out or as though you were the third wheel, let them know. If you feel as though your efforts are being taking advantage of and your partner isn’t doing their share, talk about that. As an adult in a relationship, such conversations aren’t necessarily easy, but they are necessary to create a stronger bond and true understanding of each other’s needs. Many times, it will simply be a misunderstanding, while other times, it’s an opportunity to understand each other better and understand what makes your partner feel comfortable, safe and loved.

6. Be Appreciative.

Showing your appreciation for little things that are tended to each day is a simple way to strengthen your relationship. Whether it is putting the garbage on the curb, making dinner, calling you to let you know when they’ll be home, each one of these seemingly small actions demonstrates thoughtfulness and consideration for the others’ feelings and time.

7. Be Able to Apologize.

If you were grumpy or difficult, and you realize your behavior was unwarranted toward them, apologize. Take responsibility for your actions. No one is perfect, and people make mistakes reacting on emotion instead of thinking rationally at times. By taking responsibility and apologizing sincerely, you help to gain trust and reveal that while you will make mistakes, you don’t want to hurt them. Now, make sure not to make the same mistake, because that’s an entirely different issue that speaks to lack of respect of the relationship and of the person you are involved with.

8. Spend Quality Time Together, Just the Two of You.

When the relationship you are involved in is a priority in your life, you want to spend time together. While there will be instances when you are socializing with others, these time don’t offer moments for intimacy or bonding. Make sure to take the time to just be together – a movie, dinner at your favorite restaurant, hiking, cooking dinner together or simply staying home and enjoying time relaxing.

9. Laugh Together.

As a couple, when you are able to laugh together (not at each other, as a way to demean), you are opening yourself up to your partner, allowing yourself to be vulnerable. In those moments when you are able to laugh at yourself, and they themselves, this also shows trust towards each other that they won’t capitalize, humiliate or judge, but simply enjoy the moment with you.

10. Be Their Number One Fan.

While in life, each one of us is very capable of achieving amazing things on our own volition, I am well aware of the confidence boost I receive when I have people I love standing behind me, supporting me as I work towards my goals. As a partner, come to understand what your partner’s dreams and goals are, and then be there supporting them as they strive to achieve it – in good times and in bad. Let them know that you are always going to be in their corner. Knowing that you have the support of your partner, is an amazing boost. Again, this should be a two-way street.

11. Have Integrity.

It is said that women fall in love with their ears and men fall in love with their eyes. While this is a generality, I do believe that women want to believe what their partner tells them. However, I don’t believe this is exclusive to women. Anybody, when they hear what they want to hear, wants it to be true. The key to any healthy, lasting relationship is that the two people involved follow through with what they say. If you tell your partner that you are going to do something, make sure you do so when you say you will. Be sure to show up on time. If you offer your help, follow through and extend your efforts as previously promised.

12. Respectfully Communicate.

Even when both parties involved have the same intention for the relationship, there will be moments of frustration and growth that need to be navigated through. In order to come out on the other side together and still respecting each other, respectful communication is key. Almost two years ago, I shared a post on how to do just that (click here to read).

Communication will work and will strengthen your relationship (all relationships for that matter) if both parties are willing to work at the art of communication.

13. Be a Good Listener and Observer.

In order to get to know your partner and understand what makes them tick, pay attention. Not only should you listen well to understand who your partner is, what they like, what makes them upset and why, but be observant of how they respond in certain situations, what makes them comfortable, what makes them smile, what makes them nervous, etc. Often you will gain as much insight or more simply by observing their behavior. (Click here to learn how to become a better listener.)

14. Let Them Know They are Special.

It is imperative that both parties feel they are special to their partner. In other words, to feel as though you are irreplaceable and hold a place of priority in their partner’s life that makes it clear you are important in their present and future. For example, when you feel special to someone, you understand that even if you have an argument, it doesn’t threaten the relationship from existing. When you feel special, you know you’d have a much more enjoyable time with them, then without them because their is an intimacy, a comfort, that is provided that no one else can.

15. Don’t Get Lazy in Love.

In time, habits are created and expectations become second-nature with regards to how and what our partner will do. However, don’t assume the behavior that you’ve become accustom to will always be there. If you don’t exercise the muscle of appreciation, love, and adoration, it will wither. Let them know they are missed when they are away on a work trip or you are gone for business. Count your blessings and you will be sure to have more to count.

16. Sexual Intimacy.

Build it. Foster it. Talk about it. Be able to trust one another, so you can be on the same page with one another and fulfill each others needs.

17. Be Committed.

After having looked behind the curtain and learned and come to like who your partner truly is, and realizing you are with someone who has similar values, has similar goals for the future, loves who you are (and visa versa) and both parties want to work and grow together even through the frustrating times, hold fast to this commitment. Understand that there are valleys and hills, but also trust that if you adhere to each of the steps above, more good days and memorable moments are in your future together.

Since I shared my disclaimer above, and also, since I am always wanting to learn, for those of you who have had or currently had successful experiences in the world of love, please do share your advice and insights on what contributes to a healthy and lasting relationship.

20 thoughts on “17 Ways to Be A Good Partner

  1. I think you speak true wisdom. These thing are all essentials in building and maintaining a good and long lasting relationship.

    One important thing to keep in mind as well that I have learned is to not lose yourself in a relationship. Get together with your girlfriends, go to that dance class you always love, pamper yourself and take time for yourself instead of giving it all up to be with someone else.

    It’s important for each partner to keep their interest and hobbies or else risk losing it all.

    1. Sandra,
      Thank you for pointing this out. I think that when we recognize how to make ourselves happy, it is most definitely imperative that we continue with these hobbies, pastimes, friendships even when we enter into a couple. Finding the balance is key and for each person and couple it will be different, but we must always maintain who we are and not get lost. Thank you for sharing this invaluable point.

  2. Thanks for the great list, it’s always helpful to be reminded of these things! Something that has helped me quite a bit is learning to just let things go. Don’t expect perfection, and don’t make a big deal out of little things that don’t really matter. If he leaves dirty socks on the bathroom floor just toss them in the laundry and forget about it. If he smokes up the house while he’s cooking pancakes don’t even mention it. You’ll be so much happier!

  3. How can i even begin to say thank you for this post?

    Although i’ve been in a relationship for the last 2 years, i’m a bit relationship-phobic! I will be adding this post to my list of favourites because it is very necessary.

    Some of the things i already practice, and others i need to groom further 🙂

    As always, stellar posts from you Sharon. You are my blogosphere older sister

    xo Stephanie

  4. What great advice that I am quickly going to share with my daughters. A good relationship requires great love and great work. Thank you for sharing such an excellent list.

  5. Great post! I think it’s important to be able to accept your partner and allow them the room to grow and change. 6 months after my husband and I got married, he was in an accident and shortly thereafter decided to go back to the Catholic church. While I knew he was a Christian (as am I) when we met, this made for a big lifestyle change. It was a difficult transition for me and we had to work through it for several months. I had my moments of doubt and fear, but at the end of the day, I knew I had made a commitment of love to he was the day we married and to who he would become in the future… Our future.

  6. THis is always such a tough topic because there are SO MANY things to work on to make a relationship work. My husband and I have been married 11 years, together for 14, and the first thing we had to learn to do as a married couple was fight right. Let’s face it, conflict and disagreement WILL arise. Learning how to present your case, discuss without yelling, negotiate a mutually satisfying outcome, and resolve conflict when it happens (instead of letting it fester) is challenging, but with time, patience and committment it can be done.

    This is a great list, Shannon, offering excellent insights gleaned from life’s experiences.

  7. I am a wedding officiant and so many couple request custom written ceremonies and vows. This list will be invaluable to me; I see many ways to incorporate your advice into both a ceremony and vows! Thanks! ~B~

  8. After reading all those things. I open up to my boyfriend, he asked me why all of a sudden I talked bout all these things.!
    It helps us strengthen our love for one another.

    I am very thankful.

  9. We differ a lot in many aspects in life. We are just in relationship in less than a year
    We came from different countries with different cultures and practices.
    He has already seen life more than I can imagine.

    Despite of our differences its always been our love that we keep holding on.
    Thank u for extra tips.to be a good partner.

  10. Hi. I’m married 20 years in a transatlantic relationship with 2 lovely kids. Life becomes a roller coaster – its time to stop and check its going in the right direction or at least oil the squeaky wheels. And your finally penned words will help start that. Yours in thanks Adam

  11. Thank you so much for posting this.. I really needed to read something like this. A very mature, brilliantly written article. It has truly inspired me to be a better partner in my three year long relationship; things have been a bit rocky lately with my partner and I, but reading this has given me some hope and confidence to change my attitude and see our relationship differently–of course, in a much more positive outlook. Thank you so much!

  12. All these things are so true. However, as I’m trying to learn how to be a better partner myself, I can’t help but notice that I ended up the way I am because that’s what the guys I’m interested in are interested in. I mean that I finally understand “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift when she sings “boys only want love if it’s torture…” Which, is a total dramatization of my case and words that I totally disagreed with when I first heard them. At first It implied that it’s alright to be abusive, as long as your the woman- but now it kind of brings to light the social fact that a lot of men are attracted to women who are a little “crazy;” who may come off a little dependent or overly lovey… but then turn into someone who freaks out when her boyfriend is on his phone.
    I guess the real question is, how do you fix this in yourself and your partner? Is it all about simply finding peace and being yourself? Sometimes I think I try too hard in my relationship, and that I should just stop worrying if I’m being a good partner or not. I know that he doesn’t think about these things like I do.

  13. You nailed it Shannon! A lasting and loving relationship has to come from a place of happiness with yourself first and then you are able to move beyond self to focus on expressing your love for your spouse. As Wisdom says, do to others (your partner) as you would want him/her to do to you!

  14. thankyou for this article, I am in a relationship for three years now and i always search on internet for such articles so as i can strengthen my relationship to kep it more healthier thankyou once again

  15. Yes have correctly mention that love for both side is equally important to build good relationship. Forceful relationship never works. Therefore going in relationship both should be satisfied with each other. Marriages works only for the love mates.

  16. Nobody can predict the future. You just have to give your all to the relationship you’re in and do your best to take care of your partner, communicate and give them every last drop of love you have. I think one of the most important things in a relationship is caring for your significant other through good times and bad.

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