Have you ever wondered what relationship skills you need for a healthy relationship? The truth is that relationships can be complicated at times. Though we may be madly in love with our partner, there are inevitable bumps in the road that can challenge even the strongest relationships.
No relationship, and no person, is perfect, but it doesn’t have to be either. Striving for perfection is an unrealistic goal that is sure to lead to disappointment.
Instead of having the perfect relationship or being the perfect partner, the best thing you can do for yourself and the person you love is to be the best you can be. That doesn’t mean being perfect; it means making an honest effort to be there for your partner, to let them know who and how you are, and to get to know them as much as they would like you to.
This article has outlined some of the most important and effective relationship skills that will help you keep your romantic bond strong and healthy.
What skills do I need for healthy relationships?
Relationship skills matter to build and maintain stronger relationships. Here are some of them:
1. Positive Communication Skills
Good communication is undoubtedly one of the most important interpersonal relationship skills, whether you’ve just started dating or you’ve been married for 20 years. Likewise, poor communication is a relationship killer.
Positive communication skills is the ability to convey your feelings to your partner – where you’re at mentally and emotionally, what your needs are, and whether or not you believe those needs are being met. Establishing open communication with your partner makes it easier to get your needs met and maintains a strong connection between you.
“How you communicate your wants, needs, and desires to your partner and how they receive that, and vice versa, is the foundation of your relationship,” says New York-based psychologist Dr. Vijayeta Sinh.
Communicating in healthy ways with your partner is not just about what you say. How you communicate nonverbally is equally important to consider. Your actions and behavior, the way you move, even the way you touch your partner say more than words can ever achieve.
Mutual respect must be present, whether you are communicating verbally or non-verbally.
2. Active Listening
Good communication is a two-way street. One partner will express their feelings and perspectives to the other, but if the second partner doesn’t know how to listen, their first partner’s efforts to connect will fall on deaf ears.
If you want to build or maintain a strong relationship, you have to be able to listen to your partner intently. Listening is about a lot more than simply hearing the words they’re saying – it’s about imagining what it would be like to be that person speaking those words.
It’s about connecting with the feelings behind those words and the feelings that lie behind their non-verbal communication. What is their body language telling you? What about their tone of voice?
‘We think we listen,’ says renowned psychologist Carl Rogers, ‘but rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces of change that I know.‘
Just because you’ve been with your partner for a while, that doesn’t mean you know everything about them. We are all complex beings.
Our personalities have multiple facets that may never be fully known by another person. As such, there is always more you can learn about your partner.
As much as you can, try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Understand how things seem to them, what feelings they may have, and how they are likely to react in different situations.
Remember that even though you two may be very close, they are still an independent person with a background of unique experiences, so the way they see things may not always align with your views.
If you want to understand your partner and have a happy, healthy, and mutually beneficial relationship, you must first understand yourself. Self-awareness is a crucial skill to have for good relationships and life in general.
A healthy amount of self-awareness allows you to improve your romantic relationships and interpersonal relationships, such as those within your family, your co-workers, and your social circle.
“Your relationship with yourself is and always will be directly reflected in all your relationships with others,” explains Vironika Tugaleva, author of The Love Mindset.
Benefits of self-awareness
Self-awareness benefits relationships because it helps you understand your feelings and emotions. When you are in touch with yourself on a deep level, you are less likely to project your negative feelings onto your partner or expect them to fulfill a need that you’re not working on by yourself.
Before you try to share your energy, space, and time with someone else, make sure you’re comfortable with those things by yourself. We often look to romantic partners to help us feel safe and validate our feelings, but if we don’t try to do that for ourselves, any help from someone else will be futile.
Self-awareness helps you check in with yourself and see which needs are being neglected, which are being fulfilled, and if you’re living your life as healthily, positively, and growth-oriented as possible.
4. Honesty and conflict resolution skills
Honesty is a highly valuable skill for any relationship – romantic, professional, familial, or social. In this context, the term honesty is interchangeable with authenticity.
When you bring honesty and authenticity to your relationships, people are likely to trust you, communicate with you, and be vulnerable with you.
Honesty is related to another relationship skill – self-awareness. When you cultivate real self-awareness, you can’t help but be honest with yourself.
That means being honest about how you feel about the relationship and whether you’re really happy with your partner or just relying on them for company because you’d rather not be alone.
Honesty also means that you don’t lie to your partner or hold back on important information.
Lies and deception are often used to avoid conflict. Still, the truth comes out eventually, so lying or being dishonest is a surefire way to damage, and even lose, the relationship.
5. Openness to feedback and social emotional learning
Not taking things personally and being able to take healthy criticism and feedback is a crucial relationship skill. Many of us get defensive when someone calls us out on our behavior because we tend to believe we’re supposed to defend our integrity or protect our ego.
Of course, it’s important to stand up for yourself and correct someone if they make a wrong judgment about you, but if your partner comments on your behavior, it’s worth taking a second to consider if they have a point.
If they really love you, they’re not trying to hurt you or offend you by calling you out on something you’re doing that’s bothering them or affecting the relationship. They may be trying to reach out and ask you to work together to improve the relationship.
Being open and receptive to feedback is one of the most underrated relationship skills. If a partner confronts us about something, we have an opportunity to strengthen the bond.
Instead of going on the defensive, try to use your listening skills and really hear what your partner is trying to tell you, then vow to make the changes necessary to keep both your health and the health of the relationships in check.
Further, the more open to feedback and willing to listen that you are, the more likely they will do the same.
The Bottom Line
“I can do nothing for you but work on myself… you can do nothing for me but work on yourself.”Ram Dass
The best thing you can do for your relationship with your partner is to work on your relationship with yourself. That means developing the skills necessary to practice gratitude, communicate, listen, collaborate, take feedback effectively and work on conflict resolution.
Healthy relationships can bring us a lot of joy, love, positive emotions and hope. With the skills outlined above, you have a great chance of forming or maintaining loving, attuned relationships that will stand the test of time.