Life throws up plenty of situations requiring good communication and empathy. Use these expert-approved techniques to deliver more than a casual brush-off.
She says: “You don’t appreciate me enough.”
Do this: share your origin story. When a friend asks, “How’d you meet?” be quick to jump in. “Hearing your mate reflect on what it was like to meet you can be very intimate,” says Dr James Cordova, professor of psychology at Clark University. So be honest and end on a high note by describing the exact moment you knew you were hooked.
She asks: “How does this dress look on me?”
Do this: Yes, she may be fishing for a compliment, says relationship therapist Dr Paul Hokemeyer. “Respond by elaborating on the truth.” Tell her how great she looks, and then share it on Instagram and Facebook. Think self-deprecating hashtags (#ImNotWorthy #battingoutofmyleague).
She says: “C’mon, lighten up a little.”
Do this: that’s her way of saying you’re being too polite. So tease her – especially when you’re just dating. For instance, inject playful innuendo (“Can you stop checking out my arse? I’m not a piece of meat!”). That’s called affiliative, or bonding, humour, the kind linked to romantic happiness, says clinical psychologist Dr Sara Caird. It’s also known as taking the piss.
She says: “I’m so tired of arguing all the time.”
Do this: talk it out immediately. But when you start feeling overwhelmed, say you need a break – even if that means sleeping on it and re-engaging in the morning, says Cordova. “You have to negotiate the things about each other that you find challenging. That way you’ll both feel comfortable being totally authentic, allowing your relationship to evolve.”
She says: “I need to know more about what you like and dislike.”
Do this: Share your Netflix queues. Keep your hair on; it’s not like it’s your credit card PIN. For couples, sharing is all upside. It’s a subtle way of conveying commitment: it says, “ I trust you enough to reveal my daily life”, says Dr Timothy Loving, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin.
She says: “I’m not sure where this is going.”
Do this: plan ahead – way ahead. Preempt this conversation by filling your calendar with fun stuff you like to do together, says relationship coach DeAnna Lorraine. Enthusiasm is key. If you’re just casual, keep the talk light: make it a game (“If we were to pick up and go on holiday right now, where would we go?”)
She says: “We used to have more fun.”
Do this: inject the relationship with a shot of adrenaline. Plan side-by-side activities that let you both connect, like a weekend rafting trip, or check out a rock climbing gym. “In that excitement, you excite each other,” explains Dr Stan Tatkin, author of Wired for Love.
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