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How To Be A Better Partner In A Relationship: 15 Things That Make A Big Difference

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Romantic relationships can be absolutely wonderful for countless reasons, but they take work.

Sure, we’d love to be able to waltz through life with our partners by our sides, without any conflict or miscommunication, but that’s not realistic, is it?

We’re fallible, and we mess up. We can get mired in our own heads, fail to appreciate the things our loved ones do for us, and get frustrated when things don’t go our way.

Unfortunately, when a lot of these issues arise without being curbed, they can take their toll on a relationship.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can seek to improve ourselves, become better people, have better relationships.

Here are some great ways that you can be a better partner in your relationship.

1. Listen: don’t just wait to speak.

It’s awful when we’re trying to express something to the one we love and they respond without acknowledging anything we’ve said.

This often happens when someone is uncomfortable with a conversation. They’ll try to redirect the subject to something they’re more comfortable with, or interject with things that have nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

If you want to be a better partner, try to engage in active listening. Repeat back to them important points that they’ve made, and acknowledge what they’ve been saying before making your own points.

That way, everyone’s viewpoints are heard and respected.

2. Be patient with them.

We’re patient with children because we know they’re experiencing a lot of big stuff for the first time. After all, there’s a lot to learn and navigate in this big world, and they’re pretty new to it all.

So… when is the cut-off age for patience? When are we expected to know all there is to know, have perfect coping mechanisms, and the grace to navigate any situation that unfolds? 18? 30? 45?

When is it appropriate to discard the patience we have for children because older people should “just know better”?

Answer: never.

We’re all on a lifelong learning journey, so please be as patient with your partner as you’d like them to be with you.

This article may help: How To Be Patient In A Relationship: 5 Highly Effective Tips

3. Give them your complete attention.

Put down your phone, pause Netflix, stop what you’re doing.

Give your partner your undivided attention so they know you respect what they have to say, rather than just humoring them and nodding absently to whatever it is they’re saying.

Showing your partner that they’re a priority in your life makes them feel valued. And they’ll make sure to show you that same prioritization in turn.

4. Be honest with them.

Honesty is incredibly important in a relationship, as trust is nearly impossible to re-establish once broken. It can also avoid a lot of discomfort.

To become a better person in a relationship, be as open and honest as you can. Remember that the worst truth is better than the best lie, and you can work through just about anything as long as you’re sincere about it.

5. Make sure there is an equal balance of give and take.

Your partner may go above and beyond to do wonderful things for you, but are you reciprocating the way they need you to?

If they are taking on a large portion of financial responsibilities, are you taking on more of the housework and cooking to create balance?

Be aware of the things they do for you, and measure that against how much you do for them. Then do your best to make sure there’s an equal exchange.

6. Appreciate everything they do.

Does your partner slip notes into your lunch? Or take care of scraping the cat litter boxes so you don’t have to?

Perhaps they get up early to make breakfast for the kids so you can sleep, or bring you coffee in bed every morning.

Make sure that you never, ever take their actions for granted. Even the little ones.

Thank them for everything they do, so they know that they’re appreciated.

This article may help: 30 Fantastic Ways To Show Your Appreciation To Your Partner

7. Try to understand their perspective (even if it’s different from yours).

We’re all very different, and although our ideas, values, and beliefs may harmonize well with our partner’s, they might not all mesh completely.

And that’s okay. 

If you want to be a good partner, try to listen to your partner’s viewpoints without feeling attacked or judged, nor behaving that way toward them.

We can try to understand and appreciate their perspectives, even if we don’t agree with them.

In fact, sharing differing viewpoints can help to expand our own perceptions about the world.

There’s always something new to be learned. We don’t have to accept those viewpoints, nor agree with them, but it can only be beneficial to understand where those perspectives stem from.

8. Communicate your frustrations without being accusatory.

It’s easy to lash out at partners for causing hurt, even if it was unintentional.

We’re not telepathic, and can’t completely understand how our actions and words affect each other.

So try using “I” statements, rather than “you” when communicating how their words or actions affected you.

For example, “I feel ____ way when this happens” instead of “you make me feel _____.”

That way, you’re expressing how their behavior affects you, without attacking them.

9. Step up and do your part.

Basically, don’t expect them to be your parent or your housekeeper.

A lot of people whose parents did everything for them try to re-create those dynamics when in relationships, even subconsciously. That can be seriously damaging.

One way to be the best partner you can be in a relationship is to take on your share of the adulting, whether it’s housework, childcare, shopping, or yard maintenance. 

10. Accept them as they are, not as you’d prefer them to be.

Many people hurt loved ones dearly if they try to change them. This hurt is usually unintentional, as the one making suggestions feels like they’re “just trying to help.”

But it can do a lot of damage over time.

You might think that your partner would look amazing with X hair color, so you might tell them that they should dye their hair that hue.

While you’re thinking “they would look stunning with that color!”, what they’ll hear is “you’re not attractive enough as you are and I want you to change.”

If you really feel like encouraging your partner to explore something different, ask them what interests them, rather than informing them how they should change to suit your ideals.

11. Learn to respond, rather than reacting.

Are you the type of person who rehearses all the various ways you could react/retaliate to a situation?

Like, “if they say X then I’ll say Y, and if they do ___ then I’ll ____,” etc?

How often has any situation unfolded the way you imagined?

Instead of pre-rehearsing your reactions, wait to see what happens, and then respond accordingly.

Not with the actions you anticipated using, but with a response that adequately reflects the situation (and words) at hand.

12. Support their interests (even if they don’t interest you).

You may not be into painting Warhammer 40K miniatures or knitting sweaters for orphaned cats, but if that’s a passion for your partner, try not to belittle them for it.

If you want to be a good partner, you should be supportive of their interests, even if you don’t take part in them.

And hey, paying attention to what they like makes it easier to buy holiday and birthday gifts they’ll actually want to receive.

13. Learn their love language.

Get familiar with the five different love languages, how they’re expressed, and why it’s so important to understand how we all give and receive love.

When we’re unaware of each other’s languages, there can be a lot of unintentional hurt and disappointment, simply because they say tomato, we hear potato.

Or vice versa.

But when we understand how our partners express their love for us and like to receive love from us, we can appreciate their actions and respond in ways they, too, will appreciate.

14. Respect what they have to say.

Many people have knee-jerk reactions to uncomfortable discussions that include dismissal, condescension, or even gaslighting.

These are usually self-defense mechanisms that were developed in childhood or adolescence to protect us against abusive situations.

When it comes to romantic relationships, however, the dynamic is very different. Having those responses to a loved one who’s trying to express hurt or frustration can make a rough situation downright excruciating.

None of us are perfect, and there’s always room for greater understanding. Listen to what your partner has to say, and respect their stance.

You don’t have to agree with them, but recognize that what they’re expressing to you is important to them.

15. Let your actions speak for you.

Words express who a person wants to be, but their actions show who they are.

Telling them that it’s important for them to have a self-care day is wonderful. Getting them a spa day gift certificate or taking the kids to Grandma’s for the weekend is even better.

Be sure to show your partner how much you care: don’t just tell them.


All of these tips to become a better partner in your relationship can help to strengthen your bond with the one you love.

You’ll see and appreciate one another more, and be secure in the awareness that you’re there for one another, no matter what.

These things all take time, effort, and a conscious choice to become habits, so keep working on them until they are second nature. It might help to take one or two things at a time so that you don’t get overwhelmed or forget what it is you are trying to do.

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About The Author

Catherine Winter is an herbalist, INTJ empath, narcissistic abuse survivor, and PTSD warrior currently based in Quebec's Laurentian mountains. In an informal role as confidant and guide, Catherine has helped countless people work through difficult times in their lives and relationships, including divorce, ageing and death journeys, grief, abuse, and trauma recovery, as they navigate their individual paths towards healing and personal peace.