Being part of a couple can be difficult, but the best relationship tips are really all about maintenance—keeping things fresh, finding time for each other, and coming up with ways to navigate the tricky ups and downs every partnership faces. Of course, it’s all easier said than done, so we’ve asked a few of our favorite relationship experts for their best advice on how to make your relationships even better and stronger.
Not in a serious relationship, but looking for one? We’ve got you covered, too, with tips on everything from first dates and IRL meet-ups to the right way to use dating apps to actually find someone you can connect with. To get real relationship tips and advice you’ll actually use, we tapped the following experts who know a thing or two about modern love: Vinylly founder Rachel Van Nortwick, Hinge Director of Relationship Science Logan Ury, Struck Founder & CEO Rachel Lo, Dating.com VP & Dating Expert Maria Sullivan and Tinder Consumer Communications Manager Dana Balch.
Wondering how to get the ball rolling with your dating app matches? How to deal with jealousy in a relationship, or how to get over a potentially deadly lull? Advice on the aforementioned and so much more awaits you below. Read on for the best relationship tips these experts could muster, and prepare for the best cuffing season of your life.
When You’re Looking For Someone To Date
“Be yourself. No really, be yourself. Play the music you like to play, watch the shows you like to watch, talk about the things that make you you. You aren’t auditioning for a role in a relationship, you are inviting someone to join into your life.” – Rachel Van Nortwick, Vinylly Founder
“Be patient. Some of the best connections come from a slow burn rather than the spark.” – Logan Ury, Hinge Director of Relationship Science
“You can ask your friends, family, and strangers what you should be looking for in the ideal partner until you’re blue in the face, but at the end of the day only you can decide what you want for yourself. Start by finding someone with common interests and values, or better yet, use apps that step in to do that for you (Hello? Did someone say Struck?). Know what’s a dealbreaker, and what’s not–and importantly don’t lie to yourself about these things. People are flexible and can change their opinions on things, but you’re not doing anyone any favors by hiding the fact that you’ve always wanted to be a parent when your partner has definitively expressed their commitment to never procreating. Start identifying times when you’ve masked long term issues with short term solutions or outlooks.” – Rachel Lo, Struck Founder & CEO
“Ask the hard questions earlyish if you are looking for a commitment (religion, kids, ambitions, job roles, The Stones or The Beatles). It is much easier to have awkward conversations early than it is to break up after your heart is invested.” – Rachel Van Nortwick, Vinylly Founder
“Don’t compare and despair. There’s no set amount of time it takes to connect with someone. Your relationship will unfold at its own pace. Don’t get caught up in comparing others around you.” – Logan Ury, Hinge Director of Relationship Science
“Look out for red flags! Often times, someone is so ready to settle down, or likes some personality traits of the person they are dating that they tend to ignore obvious red flags that might harm the relationship. Some red flags might include always taking a rain check on plans, not being ready to settle down, etc. If you start to notice aspects of your partner that you don’t like, don’t ignore it! There is someone out there for you that checks all of your boxes, you just have to find them.” – Maria Sullivan, Dating.com VP & Dating Expert
“Superficial attraction fades. Remember that. Plus, liking and loving someone actually does produce chemical attraction.” – Rachel Van Nortwick, Vinylly Founder
“Build momentum. Relationships always take work, but it’s especially important to invest effort in the beginning. Think of them like jet planes. They burn their greatest energy when taking off, but once they reach cruising altitude, they burn less fuel.” – Logan Ury, Hinge Director of Relationship Science
“Science says that people tend to become more “fixed” in their psychology as they get older. In layman’s terms this just means we become more stubborn and unwilling to compromise. Since people are choosing to partner up and settle down much later in life than past generations, it’s more important than ever to learn the art of compromise. For those things that aren’t dealbreakers (as outlined in the section above), learn to exercise empathy toward your partner’s position. You may not always agree with their rationale, but that’s the beauty of opinions: everyone has their own, and they’re equally valid (in most cases).” – Rachel Lo, Struck Founder & CEO
“Be with someone who you have things in common with. The more the better. It’s actually good to be the couple that does everything together. Opposites attract but it’s much harder to sustain a relationship with someone who you can’t share similar likes and loves with.” – Rachel Van Nortwick, Vinylly Founder
When You’re In A Relationship
“Plan a date night once a week! Date nights are important because it is good to spend quality time with just your partner, giving them your full attention. Daily schedules can get hectic and it might be difficult to have in-depth conversations with your S.O. regularly. By taking time once a week to devote a night just to spending time together and catching up, will help to keep and even strengthen your relationship.” – Maria Sullivan, Dating.com VP & Dating Expert
“Once you have found someone great-it’s ok to keep your time together off social media. You can (really, you can) take a whole trip somewhere without anyone seeing the photos. It will strengthen the bond you have with your partner when you kick the habit of outside validation.” – Rachel Van Nortwick, Vinylly Founder
“Communication is key. Yes, it’s overused, but there’s a reason for that. I’m in the camp that feels most relationships can work out if two people are willing to communicate, learn, and grow together. Making sure you’re on the same page is critical, especially when that page is constantly turning–it’s only natural for people to change over time, after all. It’s important to be able to discuss big issues when they pop up, sure, but better yet, work on communicating about the small things too, before they grow into something bigger. Nipping it in the bud is always a good policy. And remember: communication involves both speaking your truth and listening to theirs.” – Rachel Lo, Struck Founder & CEO
“Compromise, Compromise, Compromise! Compromises are important in relationships because it allows you and your partner to balance each other’s wants and needs. Compromises help to strengthen a relationship because it shows your partner that you are willing to give up part of your desire in order to increase their happiness.” – Maria Sullivan, Dating.com VP & Dating Expert
When It Comes To Dating Apps
“Expand your horizons. No matter where you live, it’s never a bad idea to increase your geographic radius by a couple of miles/kilometers. You never know who you’ll meet if you broaden your parameters.” – Logan Ury, Hinge Director of Relationship Science
“Keep an open mind, and try swiping right on someone who isn’t your usual type. Sometimes the best matches are where you least expect it.” – Dana Balch, Tinder Consumer Communications Manager
“Try a video date! It’s a safe, low-pressure way to connect. You can get a vibe-check of your compatibility and, according to our research, video dates are likely to be way less awkward than you’d expect. In fact, a majority of Hinge users who have tried video chat dating, tell us they plan to make this a permanent step in their dating process, even when it’s safe to meet up in person.” – Logan Ury, Hinge Director of Relationship Science
“Try video-chatting with a match before meeting IRL. Even though zoom first dates have become the norm, consider keeping the practice! Video-chatting before meeting can help you get a better read on their personality and gauge your chemistry.” – Dana Balch, Tinder Consumer Communications Manager
“To avoid ghosting someone, have a go-to message and send it ASAP. 40% of Hinge users say they ghost people because they don’t know how to explain why they don’t want to see the other person again. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. Go to the notes folder on your phone and save this template: “Hey [name] I enjoyed meeting you, but I don’t think we’re a romantic match.” Commit to sending this text as soon as you know you’re not interested in someone. Be firm but kind, and most importantly, don’t ghost!” – Logan Ury, Hinge Director of Relationship Science
“Here’s what to do if you think you’re being ghosted: send a light-hearted text to check in and see what’s going on. For example, you could write, ‘If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was being ghosted.’ There’s a chance that they didn’t mean to ghost you and will reply with an explanation, which you can choose to accept or not. If they don’t reply, move on. Save your energy for someone who will match your effort and interest.” – Logan Ury, Hinge Director of Relationship Science
“Include photos of yourself smiling in your profile. These types of photos have been linked to the perception of being more attractive. Potential matches will be more likely to assign positive traits, like friendliness, to you.” – Dana Balch, Tinder Consumer Communications Manager
“[When you match on an app], send a message as soon as possible. Your best chance at getting a response is within 24 hours of matching.” – Logan Ury, Hinge Director of Relationship Science
“When chatting with new matches, ask questions about who they are and what they like to do. Research shows that talking about yourself stimulates the areas of the brain associated with reward. Engaging in this way motivates your matches to respond in an authentic way.” – Dana Balch, Tinder Consumer Communications Manager
“Use the first few messages to get to know the person more. Ask them questions and start to discover who they are, beyond their profile. After a few back and forth messages, take the initiative and ask the other person on a date. Four to five days of chatting before you initiate the date is often the sweet spot. It gives you enough time to build that foundation of trust, but it’s not so long that the momentum drops off. ” – Logan Ury, Hinge Director of Relationship Science
A version of this article was originally published in November 2013.