Entering into a new relationship is always fun and exciting. But it’s important to be mindful of certain guidelines to help make the relationship last. Following some time-tested rules can help you establish a foundation of trust, communication, and mutual respect.
As with any relationship, there are some real fundamentals, such as setting clear boundaries, communicating effectively, showing appreciation and gratitude, and prioritizing your relationship. However, there are some rules that are especially important at the outset of a new romantic relationship. We’ve organized this list of relationship rules for new couples that, when applied properly, are sure to help guide you towards a healthy and fulfilling partnership.
1. Keep the Past in the Past
It’s important to leave past relationships and experiences in the past and not bring them into the present situation in any way that would make things awkward and uncomfortable. Holding onto past hurt or other similar baggage can prevent you from fully investing in the current relationship and achieving
personal happiness and self-fulfillment. Definitely never make comparisons to prior boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, or whatever. Every relationship is unique, and it’s important to not compare your current relationship to past ones or to other people’s relationships. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction. Instead, focus on building a strong and fulfilling partnership with your current partner.
2. Respect Each Other’s Individuality
Each person in a relationship is unique, and it’s important to respect and honor each other’s individuality. This includes allowing each other to have personal time and space, as well as supporting each other’s goals and aspirations. Obviously, as a new couple, you will need to get to know each other well before you can really make this happen. One good way to get to know your partner is to ask them about themselves, their likes, dislikes, goals and dreams in life. Get specific, like, “If you could travel
anywhere in the world for a 2-week vacation, where would you go and why?” Then ask more probing questions like what they would do there, who they would want to have with them, have they ever been there before, and try to find out the why to each of these questions. It’s those little nuggets of information you will gain from the follow-on questions that should help you get to know your partner even more.
Make it enjoyable and conversations, of course, so they don’t feel like they’re being interrogated. Another good way to get to know them is if they’re telling you a story about some experience they’ve had, really listen, then ask questions to learn more.First of all, they’ll love you for showing interest in them like this, and second, you’ll really get to know detailed individual qualities about them. You don’t always have to do this, but be cognizant that you’re also not always immediately replying with a similar story about yourself. On the flip side of this, if you’re partner is making the relationship all about them, let them know, and tell them, in a respectful way, how you’d like it to be different.
3. Don’t Embellish the Truth or Brag
Honesty is a fundamental aspect of any healthy relationship. Avoid exaggerating or embellishing the truth or even using the truth to brag, as it can really impact the level of trust and respect in the relationship. There’s an old saying. At the end of the chess match, the kings and the pawns go back into the same box.
I have a friend who met a guy at a bar and they started dating. My wife and I even had the two of them to our house for dinner. After they had been dating for a month or so, our friend found out that the guy she was dating was a total fraud. The night they met at the bar he told her that he went to a certain prestigious college in the area, that he had a career in banking, that he had never been married, etc. Turns out he lied about all three of those things and more.
She found out through his friends inadvertently one night while they were out. When she asked why he lied, he said, “I just wanted you to like me.” She said, “I did like you. I liked you for who you are. I thought you were interesting and fun to be with. I didn’t care where you went to school, or what your job is.” Of course, the relationship immediately ended.
4. Be Vulnerable, Even If You’re Afraid.
“Vulnerability is the essence of romance. It’s the art of being uncalculated, the willingness to look foolish, the courage to say, ‘This is me, and I’m interested in you enough to show you my flaws with the hope that you may embrace me for all that I am but, more important, all that I am not.'” –Ashton Kutcher
Vulnerability is a crucial part of building a strong and intimate relationship. Being open and honest about your feelings, even if it’s uncomfortable, can help to build trust and deepen the connection with your partner. Be mindful not to share too much too soon, but trust your gut.
5. Refrain from Being Needy
Being independent and self-sufficient can help to create a healthy balance in your relationship. Avoid being overly dependent or clingy, as it may lead to an strange dynamic between you and your partner. Give your new partner the appropriate amount of space and time. For example, don’t call or text all the time. And, don’t pry or get suspicious just because they spend some time with other people. On the flip side, if your partner is acting overly needy and it is starting to concern you, let them know quickly and in a respectful way. You can say, “I really like you, but I also like hanging out with my friends sometimes, just me and them. I don’t want to lose the other friendships and relationships I have in my life.”
6. Practice Forgiveness and Gratitude
Bitterness and Resentment are poison to any relationship. Gratitude and Forgiveness are the antidotes that will save the life of the relationship. They will help to build trust and strengthen your relationship.
No one is perfect, and, inevitably, we all make mistakes. It’s important to practice forgiveness and to let go of grudges, or better yet, never even carry grudges. When you forgive your partner, it is a blessing to you both. Both of you will feel the relief of moving past that unhappy, challenging situation. It must be genuine and sincere forgiveness. Sometimes it takes a good amount of time to get all the way to complete forgiveness, but that’s ok.
Even better, if you proactively show gratitude for the good things you love about your partner, it’s like forgiveness in advance. Tell them why you appreciate them. It doesn’t have to be all sappy and sugary-sweet. Say “Thank you” for the ordinary, day-to-day things, like if she drove you home or if he picked something up for you at the store. But, you can also make it big sometimes, and let them know you’re grateful for their special qualities and for choosing you to be with.
7. Work through Conflicts Constructively
Conflicts are a natural part of any relationship, but it’s important to work through them in a constructive manner. This means approaching conflicts with a problem-solving mindset and avoiding blaming or using
language that attacks. Sometimes it’s best to disengage for a while until the strong emotions subside and the two of you can talk to each other reasonably. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to make this a rule of your relationship before a fight occurs: That if emotions ever run too high, one of us can call a truce, and we walk away and don’t try to work it out until we’ve both cooled off.
One additional benefit of walking away and cooling off is you’ll have time to reflect on what happened, think about what your role in the situation was, and see how you may have been responsible for things going awry. Often these situations have more than one cause, and maybe you were mostly to blame, or maybe your partner was, but one of you might realize that you could have acted differently, or communicated more effectively, or been more supportive, or whatever. Ultimately, this cooling off and realization period should lead you both to having a constructive conversation, working through the situation respectfully, then practicing forgiveness and gratitude and getting back to happiness.
8. Look at Actions More Than Words
Actions speak louder than words, and it’s important to pay attention to what your partner does rather than just what they say. Look for consistency in their actions and how they treat you. First of all, do they treat you with respect and talk kindly to you and about you? If not, you need to move on immediately. No one needs that kind of negativity. However, maybe they’re nice to you, but they’re not as into the relationship as you are. Here are some ways to determine if that’s the case.
- Do they keep you in the dark on important things or act evasively, quibbling or not being straight with you?
- Are they reluctant to open up about things a normal couple should share with each other?
- Are they frequently prioritizing other people, activities, or things over being with you?
- Are you going on actual dates or just “hanging out”?
- Have they suggested that the relationship should “stay open”?
- Are they keeping you from meeting their friends, or their family if it’s starting to get a little serious?
- Have you been together for quite a while, but they never put anything on social media about you?
- Along the same lines, have you been together for quite a while, but they are not willing to talk about longer term plans?
If any of the points listed ring true, and you really want to take the relationship to the next level, it’s likely the feeling may not be mutual. It may be time for some deep reflection and maybe a serious, heartfelt conversation with your partner. Or, maybe after some reflection, it’s just time to move on. It may be hard in the moment, but in retrospect you will be glad you moved on when you did.
9. Keep Other Personal Relationships Healthy
While you may want to spend a lot more time you’re your new partner, don’t sacrifice time with family or friends to the detriment of those relationships. Maintaining relationships outside of the romantic partnership is important for personal happiness and self-fulfillment. Make sure to continue spending time with family and friends, and encourage your partner to do the same.
10. Stay in the Moment
I had a teacher in high school who liked to say, “Life is short, but the art is long.” It’s important that you regularly take time to enjoy and appreciate the present moment with your partner. This means forgetting about the past and not worrying about the future for a little while. Being in the moment also means listening attentively while your partner is telling you something. They may be about to say something very important. A few simple ways to do this are going for a little walk or sitting quietly together and just enjoying what’s going on around you. You can also help each other with chores or a personal project. Or, maybe you can get involved in a hobby or other recreational activity that you both enjoy. When you do things to stay in the
moment with your partner you will ensure a fun, healthy relationship, reducing stress, getting in better touch with each other, as well as with yourselves, enjoying the world around you, and making special memories. The only time we have is now, so staying in the moment is critical to the art of living.
By adopting these relationship rules for new couples, you can create the happiness and self-fulfillment that you and your partner are truly seeking. Remember to always communicate openly, respect each other, and prioritize the relationship. But also be true to yourself and the many relationships in your life. With these guidelines in mind, you can build a strong and fulfilling partnership that can truly change your life in so many wonderful ways.