Want to take your relationship to the next level? Here’s how to do it01/02/2023
Written by Amy Beecham
Could 2023 be the right time to tackle the big relationship question: “What are we?” Here’s how to approach it (and minimise the awkwardness).
The new year is very nearly upon us, and we’re naturally taking stock of every aspect of our lives and assessing how it serves us. Are we really happy at work or have we actually been quiet quitting? Are we hitting all of our health and fitness goals? Are our friendships balanced or a bit one-sided?
Luckily, there’s no better opportunity than a fresh calendar year to refocus on your goals and lean into your priorities. And if you’re in a relationship, this might mean taking things to the next level.
Whether it’s moving away from a situationship towards something official, moving in together or getting married, even if you know what you want, it can be difficult to convey it. Because how do you know when it is the right time to progress in a relationship anyway?
“Whether it’s taking your relationship to the next level and making it official, moving in together or getting married, knowing when the time is right can be tricky,” acknowledgesAnnabelle Knight, a sex and relationships expert with LoveHoney.
“The answer to these questions largely lies in not only how you feel about one another, but also your visions for the future – not just for what you want to achieve as an individual, but for what you want for your relationship as well.”
As Knight suggests, the first thing to consider is the level of trust in the relationship. “Trust is a key component of any happy and healthy relationship. It’s also something that isn’t earned overnight. If you and your partner can, hand on heart, say that you trust one another then it may be time to progress your relationship,” she explains.
Intimacy, security and support are also important indicators of whether a relationship is strong enough to progress sustainably. “If you can wholeheartedly tick these things off, and know that your partner can do the same, then maybe it’s time to speak to them about taking your relationship to the next level,” Knight adds.
So now you’ve assessed your relationship fairly, how do you go about bringing up a potentially awkward conversation?
How to talk to your partner about relationship progression
According to Knight, there are a few key steps you can take to make it easier on your nerves and set you up for a greater chance of success.
Firstly, you need to dismiss the idea of right and wrong. “When you’re talking to your partner about progressing your relationship to the next level it’s important to remove any notion of ‘winning.’ This is a conversation not with one partner pitted against the other, but rather two people side by side against the world,” Knight shares. Indeed, whatever course the talk takes, it’s important to remember that everyone is on their own timeline, and what works for others won’t always work for you.
Secondly, it’s good to keep your focus.If the conversation begins to spiral or evolve to be about something completely different then agree to take a step back and get back on track. It’s by far the best way to get the results you need, whether it’s the answer you want to hear or not.
Knight says that it’s also important to learn to listen. “More often than not we spend time during deep conversations waiting for our partner to finish their sentence, so we can start ours. This prevents us from really hearing what your other half is trying to say. So, for any important conversations make sure you tune into their words so you can really hear their meaning,” she says.
The conversation, whether it has a positive or negative outcome, is likely to be an emotional event, so it’s important that you process everything properly. After you’ve both said your piece, take some time out to process what’s been said, how it’s made you feel and what you want to do about it. Give yourself adequate space, too –just brushing it under the carpet and moving on is one of the worst things you could do.
Finally, if there’s any part of the conversation you feel didn’t sink in, don’t be afraid to seek clarity and ask your partner to repeat their thoughts. “Moving forward in any relationship relies heavily on understanding your partner, this goes for what they mean when they speak, as well as who they are as a person,” Knight says. Displaying this emotional maturity, even in an uncomfortable situation, will be sure to stand you in good stead inside and outside the relationship.
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