Sometimes the key to having a happy and healthy relationship is to ignore all that relationship advice out there! Well… not all of it. But often the cliché tips you’ve heard a million times from friends, family, or women’s magazines don’t apply to your particular situation. There might be some universal truths about relationships, but there’s rarely a one-size-fits-all prescription for a given couple or situation.
Plus, we all learn a lot about what makes a relationship work best by being in one and taking things as they comes. So, here are 11 pieces of relationship advice you likely never hear, but should definitely know.
Actually, it’s OK to Go to Bed Angry
Sometimes you just might be too tired or stressed to talk about a sensitive issue or work out a fight at the end of a long day—and that’s OK. In fact, often getting some sleep will make it easier for you to have an important conversation, says psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Laura Ciel. “This doesn’t mean yelling at them or getting a last verbal attack in and then shutting down. It means letting your partner know that you will return to the issue when you’re ready the next day and reassuring them how much you love them and/or how much you care about them and the relationship.” Don’t make the fight bigger than the relationship!
Just Love Isn’t Enough
It’s not just about love—it’s about connection. “Connection is what pulls love along with you wherever you go,” says love and relationship coach, Jessica Elizabeth Opert. “We can indeed pile an entire amazing life into the cart of love, however, without the connection to pull it, the cart stops and love dies, so focus less on how to create more love, and instead, ask yourself, how can I connect more with my partner?” Connection is strengthened when you share activities, go through challenges together, and honestly communicate with each other.
Take a Break from Talking
You can’t seem to read or hear about any relationship advice without being told how important communication is, right? That’s true, but it doesn’t always mean talking about things over and over to resolve it perfectly. “Sometimes the best thing you can do is STOP talking, breathe, go for a walk and remember why your relationship matters so much to you,” says Ciel. “Reconnecting with the bigger picture of your love for this person can help you filter out the unnecessary words and zero in on what you really want to say from a place of love.”
Lying (Occasionally) is Fine
It’s important to be honest on the whole, but there’s a difference between being honest and hurtful. White lies involve omitting the truth to spare someone’s feelings. For example, if your partner worked hard to make you a nice meal and the food wasn’t so great, you might say the meal was good if asked in order to avoid hurting them, says relationship therapist Kimberly Hershenson. “White lies are not okay if something is consistently bothering you. For instance, if every holiday season your partner buys you a gift you don’t like, instead of smiling and saying how much you like it, communicate how you feel.”
Dreaming and imagining is great when you do it with your partner about your future together, or do it yourself and then share. But don’t waste any time wishing and hoping for something you’re not willing to say out loud to your partner. “Stop waiting for your partner to read your mind and start asking for what you want,” says Ciel. “This applies in the bedroom, as well as other areas of your life. Once you’re clear on what you hope for, share it!”
Go Easy on the Gifts
Make an agreement with each other to minimize gift exchanging and get into the habit of spending money on experiences you can do together instead, suggests sexpert Bethany Ricciardi. “I’m not saying he/she doesn’t love the jewelry and new Nikes, but doing things like trying a new restaurant, going to concerts, or taking classes are things that you’re actually going to remember and appreciate more, since you’ll be creating memories together.”
You Don’t Need to Be Best Friends
We’re practically spoon-fed the message that we should be dating and/or marrying our best friend—but it’s simply not true. “It’s perfectly normal to have a best friend that you call often, confide in, and spend time with who is not your partner,” says licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Racine Henry. “Be clear about the boundaries of that friendship so that you’re not disrespecting your relationship, but don’t expect your partner to play the role of BFF either.” There are just some things that your partner won’t be interested in hearing about that you can only talk to a close friend about.
Don’t Tell Your Friends and Family Everything
Parents and close friends are always going to ask about your relationship, and while you might be inclined to dish to them about bedroom issues you’re having or seek their advice on other annoyances, try to keep it general rather than spilling all the dirt. Hershenson says it’s important not to share these personal details of your relationship with others—especially fights or your sex life (a.k.a. the juiciest stuff you really want to talk about). This can cause you to get the wrong advice from those who might be a little biased towards either you or your partner, which can only make things worse. Talk to a therapist or someone impartial instead.
Finances Matter… a Lot
People who don’t share core values and a shared mindset around money make for terrible partners. “One of the top causes of divorce is a lack of alignment around money,” says Opert. “That can mean spending the money, saving the money, sharing the money, and how we emotionally value money. Financial talk can lead to more arguments and disconnection in relationships, which is why it’s one of the most important parts of creating a happy, fulfilled, and sustainable relationship.” So talk out any concerns or differences you might have ASAP.
Dirty Compliments Can Do Wonders
Saying you love his ass or her tits isn’t as traditional as saying how much you love that new outfit, but it brings flirting to an entirely new and sexy level, says Ricciardi. “Send her a text that says, ‘Just want to tell you how much I love your clit… I was just thinking about it,’ or ‘Can’t stop thinking about your cock,’ in the middle of the day will make your partner smile—guaranteed. Couples end up loving it, and I find it just keeps things interesting and exciting.”
Your S.O.’s Friends and Family Don’t Have to Love You
Ideally, it kind of makes things easier when your partner’s friends and family think you’re awesome and love having you around. But it’s certainly not a requirement for a successful relationship. “If you and your partner’s best friend or relative don’t get along, that’s OK. As long as there’s an understanding of mutual respect and your partner isn’t influenced by that person’s feelings about you, there’s no need to be fake or force a friendship,” says Henry. People sometimes don’t click and as long as that person is not treating you badly, all you need to do is coexist politely when necessary.