Goal Setting in Relationships

Setting goals with your partner can be a double-edged sword. On one end, when you achieve them you feel joy and exhilaration for having realized a dream or aspiration. On the other hand, when you fail to meet them, you may face disappointment as you are forced to reevaluate your ambitions. When it comes to your relationship, setting achievable goals with a tone of collaboration can help enrich each other’s lives and support the bond between you and your partner.

The Anatomy of Relationships

No relationship is the same, and just like people change over time, so does a relationship. According to Donald Peterson, contributing author of “Goal Concepts in Personality and Social Psychology,” there are five general stages that can be distinguished in the development of close relationships: acquaintance, buildup, continuation, deterioration and ending. Obviously not all relationships go through all stages, but the changes in goals from one stage to another are critical in determining the course a relationship will follow.

Stephen John Read and Lynn Carol Miller, also contributing authors of “Goal Concepts in Personality and Social Psychology,” recount how individuals may base their projections of what a relationship might be like with someone in part on how each other’s life goals will mesh with one other. The idea that “opposites attract” has been debunked by research showing how “most married couples tend to be more alike than different in regards to life goals, interests, values and personality dispositions, as well as education, economic status, and other sociological variables.” In other words, when evaluating a prospective partner, people look at how they can accomplish goals in common, for example having intellectually stimulating conversations, having children, etc.

 

Goal-Setting Strategies

Relationship goals can cover the gamut, including areas such as problem solving, emotional support, financial goals, creating a family, etc. One way to set goals in your relationship is by having a weekly meeting with your significant other to go over the upcoming week and set a ‘to-do’ list of items for each other. Then, review those same items from the past week and move forward anything still needing to be completed. As part of this process, share three positive things big or small that your partner did that you liked in the past week, and one negative thing you would like them to consider working on. In time, you will have created a habit of openly talking about where things are with your relationship, and where you want them to be.

Another way to set goals with your significant other is by applying some of the guidelines set forth in “Goal Setting: How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Goals.” Authors Susan B. Wilson and Michael S. Dobson recommend writing them down in specific measurable terms, so that you can visualize and achieve them with realistic deadlines. As part of defining these goals, make sure to keep them manageable and actionable, as well as include a regular review of their progress. Reward desired behavior, reinforce successes however big or small and provide feedback when correction is needed. When correcting, do so in private and be specific, focusing on the error and not the person to avoid grudges and keep a healthy outlook. Develop objectives for both the short and long term.

 

From Extrinsic to Intrinsic Motivation

In a study published in the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,” researchers examined the connection between relationship satisfaction and self-regulation. “Individuals experiencing higher levels of satisfaction in their relationship exhibit higher levels of perceived control, goal focus, perceived partner support, and positive affect during goal pursuit.” This results in higher rates of daily progress on personal goals. In other words, as your relationship satisfaction increases, so does your motivation to effectively self-regulate your actions and progress toward achieving your goals.

According to Peterson, goals between partners tend to converge to the extent that transformations occur mutually. For example, “a person who initially stopped smoking to please a partner may genuinely come to find smoking abhorrent.” Changes in personal dispositions of this kind are independent of the relationship, and when they occur they can reduce the demands for accommodation by shifting the motivation from an extrinsic to an intrinsic place. Keep in mind that any union is limited by the biological needs and personal goals of the individuals in the relationship, so revisiting them on a regular basis can keep interests and values aligned in the long term.

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From: Live Strong by Raquel Villareal

Why You Accidentally Ruin Your Relationships, Based On Your Love Language

Words Of Affirmation

You send good morning texts the second you rise from your sleep. You say I love you with zero hesitation. You brag to your friends about how you’ve found the perfect person for you. You are always talking about how much you like your person, but words aren’t enough. You have to follow through on what you say. Your actions need to match your voice. Telling someone you want to spend the weekend together or take a vacation upstate doesn’t actually mean anything if you back out of plans when the time comes. You have to keep your promises. You have to prove that your word means something.

Quality Time

When you like someone, you want to spend as much time with them as possible. You text them from morning until night. You invite them over every weekend. You expect to see them whenever you find free time in your schedule. Sometimes, without even realizing what you’re doing, you suffocate people. You make them feel like they aren’t allowed to hang out with their own friends and need to check in with you constantly. Sometimes, they will even feel like you don’t trust them. Like you keep such close tabs on them because you’re worried they are up to something. That miscommunication can put a strain on the relationship.

Receiving Gifts

You might not show someone your burning love for them on a daily basis, but when the holidays come around, you are the best gift giver in town. You show your affection by spending hours browsing through websites for a present that fits them perfectly. Because of that, some people mistakenly believe that you are materialistic. Shallow. That you only care about money. They don’t look close enough at your presents to see how sentimental they are, how much thought you put into them. They wish you would show your love through your daily actions instead of only through material items on special occasions.

Acts Of Service

You will buy groceries for someone who is low on cash. You will drive miles to pick someone up at the airport. You will risk getting in trouble at work to answer important texts. When it comes down to it, you’re too nice. You go out of your way to help people before they even ask and end up getting walked over. That’s why, sometimes, you feel like you’re already in a relationship when you’re not. You get invested in people, you try to save people, and find yourself in yet another almost relationship.

Physical Touch

You love holding hands while you walk. Resting a hand on their thigh beneath the table. Cuddling during movie dates. Getting touchy underneath the covers. Since you are so hands-on, some people mistakenly believe you are only interested in physical intimacy. They question whether you really like them or whether you are only using them as a warm body to press up against while you sleep. They need reassurance that you like their personality, too. That you aren’t only with them because you’re lonely and would get close to anyone who offered their affection.

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From Thought Catalog by Holly Riordan

Why Surprises Will Never Get Old

My partner knows I love anything sweet so it was such a surprise to see him pull out two boxes of chocolate cupcakes and butterscotch fudge from the passengers’ seat as soon as I sat in his car. It was just unexpected and it really made a difference in changing my week! (I had been working extra HARD!) It was a small gesture that radiated with so much thoughtfulness, which I’ve been told tend to be rare in long term relationships. Has being thoughtful become so underrated?

It got me thinking of my clients and friends who share that their significant others have become complacent after dating for awhile. And I always tell them that this isn’t a problem (unless you make it to be) but it does make a world of a difference in keeping the spark alive. The little things go a long way in securing happiness. Taken together, it gives you a little something more to live for.

To me, when you do little surprises for your partner (it doesn’t have to be grand), it gives the message that when you’re apart, (or even when you’re together), you’re thinking of him/ her. It’s a win win situation because the receiver has an opportunity to show his/her appreciation towards such a pleasant act. The real problem in most relationships, especially coming from the men, is that they complain that their wives aren’t appreciative enough. This is usually the reason why they seem not to care anymore. It’s a sad situation but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be fixed!

All it takes is a little bit of creativity and thoughtfulness to bring joy to your relationship again. Pay attention to what your significant other likes and doesn’t like. I have a friend who is terrified of clowns. When her husband sees a clown walking or if he sees a clown trailer/movie coming up on TV, he covers her eyes or leads her the other way. It’s a simple gesture, but it shows that your partner that you feel he/she matters. If she likes chocolates… get them for her. If she likes wine… get her a bottle to drink at the end of a long day. (The wine is always a good idea! Trust me). No matter who is pleasing or surprising who, don’t forget to show your appreciation at the end of the day!

xoxo,

Cristine

10 Relationship Facts I Wish I Knew Sooner

Here are 10 important relationship facts which, if you understand and practice them, give you a much greater chance of securing a long term happy and fulfilling relationship instead of it become just another “experience”.

Contrary to what you’ll see at the movies, relationships take work. We’re not talking “hard work” due to incompatibility issues or fundamental differences in important values – but making your partner feel valued so that he or she wants to stay with you and deepens their commitment to you, does require effort.

Studies have shown that intimate relationships between best friends is one of the surest ways to ensure that it’s likely to last. The honeymoon phases with its “high levels of passionate love” and “intense feelings of attraction and ecstasy, as well as an idealization of one’s partner”, doesn’t last forever, according to Monmouth University psychologist Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. There must be something more going on – and at the end of the day, being “best friends” first, just might be the key.

Relationship Facts that Everyone Should Know

1.  If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks.

“Making mistakes” doesn’t mean cheating.  What it does mean is, doing things within the boundaries of the relationship with good intentions but if it turns out that they were not healthy, you take responsibility for them.  Without mistakes, there is no growth.  So this process simulates change and growth.  The bonding comes from taking risks and making mistakes as a couple, then learning from them and becoming stronger as a team.

2.  Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.

Many believe relationships should just come naturally, like the rush of dopamine that shot into your brain when you both first met.  Actually, to be in a monogamous relationship where you are constantly challenged to look at yourself and compromise your wants / needs is unnatural.  It goes against our natural human instincts.  In order for us to adapt and embrace this, it takes time – a long time.  If you’re patient, then with the passing of time you will both adapt to each other so that ultimately, by sheer force of habit, it will feel more “natural”.

3.  Work very, very hard.

Nothing of value comes easy! There are some people who understand this principle when it comes to achieving financial security and success but for some reason, somehow imagine that all the happiness and fulfillment of a great relationship will just “come to them” like winning the lottery. There are those who are very proactive at investing time and energy into the relationship while “the chase” is on, or even into the early stages, but once they feel  secure with their partner, imagine that they can take them for granted – and yet – still hold him or her accountable to them for exclusivity and faithfulness. Nobody wants to be someone’s prisoner.

I think many underestimate how much work it takes to make a relationship successful. Referring to the heading again, most tune out after the first “very”.  So what does “very very” hard work look like?  It’s different for everyone.  But you will know because of that giant mountain you see in front of you, the one you’ve always avoided climbing.  The second “very” means self examination.

4.  Ask for opportunities.

Since we think we know our partner so well, we stop asking.  Instead, we assume.  The thing is people change.   If you want something, ask for it.  Their answer may be different today than it would have been yesterday.  If you don’t ask, you’ll never get.  It’s a basic rule of life.  And it also applies in relationships.  I believe this process of asking / communicating creates opportunities to get to know each other better.

5.  Finish what you start.

I’m referring to arguments.  Many start an argument but don’t finish it because it gets too heated.  They walk away and never come back to it.  Issues don’t get resolved.  Instead, people are not heard and there’s anger and resentment.  If you walk away from a fight without consent or getting things resolved, you’re leaving the relationship for that period.  One day, there will be no one to come back to.

6.  Say yes to almost everything.

Assuming it’s healthy and the intent is good, what’s the worst that could happen?  You get out pushed out of your comfort zone?  That’s called an opportunity for growth.  I think we say no too much in relationships.  We don’t like feeling uncomfortable.  If you want more yeses in your life, this is where to start.

7.  Busy is a decision.

Just because you’re in love doesn’t mean it’s time to stop life.  Each should have their own life.  This means making a choice to be busy and working on your own container.  I think many get into a relationship and stop or slow down their own personal busyness.

8.  Don’t censor your dreams before you actually dream.

What ever dreams you had when you were single shouldn’t change because you are now in a relationship, unless it happens organically and honestly.  Many give up their dreams because the relationship doesn’t allow them.  Your dreams can change but don’t censor your dreams for anyone.

9.  In order to strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide you want one.

I think the key word there is you not you guys.  I think many lose themselves in their relationship because they forget about their own wants, needs, and paths.  Remarkable can still happen when you’re in a committed relationship.  But you have to decide you want remarkable and you’re not willing to negotiate that.

10.  It is only a failure if you accept defeat.

We should fight for our relationship.  Always.  Not in our relationship, for our relationship.  There’s you.  There’s your partner.  Then there’s the relationship.  If you accept defeat, you are not fighting for the relationship.  Admitting that you are wrong is not accepting defeat.  Admitting that you are wrong is actually fighting for the relationship.

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From: Happy Relationship Guide

The Truth About Meeting Someone At The Wrong Time

 

By: Heidi Priebe

Timing is something that none of us can seem to get quite right with relationships. We meet the person of our dreams the month before they leave to go study abroad. We form an incredibly close friendship with an attractive person who is already taken. One relationship ends because our partner isn’t ready to get serious and another ends because they’re getting serious too soon.

“It would be perfect,” We moan to our friends, “If only this were five years from now/eight years sooner/some indistinct time in the future where all our problems would take care of themselves.” Timing seems to be the invariable third party in all of our relationships. And yet we never stop to consider why we let timing play such a drastic role in our lives.

Timing is a bitch, yes. But it’s only a bitch if we let it be. Here’s a simple truth that I think we all need to face up to: the people we meet at the wrong time are actually just the wrong people.

You never meet the right people at the wrong time because the right people are timeless. The right people make you want to throw away the plans you originally had for one and follow them into the hazy, unknown future without a glance backwards. The right people don’t make you hmm and haw about whether or not you want to be with them; you just know. You know that any adventure you had originally planned out for your future isn’t going to be half as incredible as the adventures you could have by their side. That no matter what you thought you wanted before, this is better. Everything is better since they came along.

When you are with the right person, time falls away. You don’t worry about fitting them into your complicated schedule, because they become a part of that schedule. They become the backbone of it. Your happiness becomes your priority and so long as they are contributing to it, you can work around the rest.

The right people don’t stand in the way of the things you once wanted and make you choose them over them. The right people encourage you: To try harder, dream bigger, do better. They bring out the most incredible parts of yourself and make you want to fight harder than ever before. The right people don’t impose limits on your time or your dreams or your abilities. They want to tackle those mountains with you, and they don’t care how much time it takes. With the right person, you have all of the time in the world.

The truth is, when we pass someone up because the timing is wrong, what we are really saying is that we don’t care to spend our time on that person. There will never be a magical time when everything falls into place and fixes all our broken relationships. But there may someday be a person who makes the issue of timing irrelevant.

Because when someone is right for us, we make the time to let them into our lives. And that kind of timing is always right.

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From Thought Catalog by Heidi Priebe

How to Keep the Girl You Love

Lately I am hearing so many stories about heartbreak. The stories seem the same… a girl leaves a broken relationship. She feels like he is crushing her spirit, he is no longer passionate about her, he says critical and hurtful words, he treats her like an option, and the list of reasons goes on. What surprises me the most is that when the girl finally walks away from all the hurt the guy is often surprised. What he doesn’t realize is that she left a dozen warnings maybe more that she was broken, that she could not fight anymore, that he has crushed her spirit. Instead of fighting for her he lets her walk away.

What guys don’t realize is that it is often quite simple to keep the girl you love. Of course there are the obvious things like being faithful, honesty, and just don’t be a big jerk! However there are little things that you can do to make her feel your love and devotion. When you do these things you are more likely to keep her then lose her and the relationship will strengthen. In the end you may even experience the most amazing relationship of your life.

1. It’s the little things that matter. It’s the gentle touch of your hand, how you wipe the hair out of her eyes, how you stare into her eyes, the random hug or kiss throughout the day, the simple text letting her know you are thinking about her. Text her every morning to say Good Morning Beautiful! You don’t have to do all these things every single day but most definitely make sure you are doing random little ‘I love you’s, I see you, I acknowledge your beauty things’ everyday.

2. Make her feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. That she is your dream woman. That you want to runaway with her. Women want to feel beautiful. We especially want to feel beautiful by the man we love.

3. Remember what is special to her. Show her you care about these things. Ask questions about her family, her children, her work, whatever she is passionate about. When you genuinely take an interest in her life her heart opens and love flows.

4. Notice the small things. How you think it’s cute how she looks when she wakes up, how her nail polish has sock marks in it or how she works hard to accomplish her latest goal. These things may seem unimportant but it truly is the small things that you notice that matter.

5. Have fun together and act silly! Jump off the boat and do cannon balls, playfully tease her or tell her how she makes you smile every time you think of her. Life should be enjoyed so why not do it together!

6. Kiss her Passionately. Grab her and kiss her like you can’t get enough of her. When you kiss tell her it was better than you dreamed it would be. There should always be a little romance sprinkled into your relationship.

7. Don’t take her spark away. A woman’s spirit is gentle, treat it with respect and love. You can either crush her spirit or encourage it. Critical and harsh words crush the spark within the spirit. Be careful with your tongue. Don’t let it blow out the beautiful and inspiring spirit that women contain. When you help this spark grow you can experience the greatest passion you will ever know. The men that crush this gentle spirit never experience all the beauty she has to offer.

A girl will move mountains for a man that adores, appreciates and truly loves her. A woman can sense a fake so don’t do these things without pure intentions in your heart. An authentic man that does these things creates a passionate and pure love within the woman he loves. Of course there are a lot more factors that determine if someone stays or not. Choose to do your best at loving your beautiful lady. Choose her daily and see the difference it makes in your relationship.

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From: Huffington Post by Amanda Rose

Phubbing: the #1 Habit Killing Relationships

Phubbing is the practice of snubbing others in favor of our mobile phones. We’ve all been there, as either victim or perpetrator. We may no longer even notice when we’ve been phubbed (or are phubbing), it has become such a normal part of life. However, research studies are revealing the profound impact phubbing can have on our relationships and well-being.

There’s an irony in phubbing. When we’re staring at our phones, we’re often connecting with someone on social media or through texting. Sometimes, we’re flipping through our pictures the way we once turned the pages of photo albums, remembering moments with people we love. Unfortunately, however, this can severely disrupt our actual, present-moment, in-person relationships, which also tend to be our most important ones.

The research shows that phubbing isn’t harmless—but the studies to date also point the way to a healthier relationship with our phones and with each other.

 

What phubbing does to us

In a study poignantly titled, “My life has become a major distraction from my cell phone,” Meredith David and James Roberts suggest that phubbing can lead to a decline in one of the most important relationships we can have as an adult: the one with our life partner.

According to their study of 145 adults, phubbing decreases marital satisfaction, in part because it leads to conflict over phone use. The scientists found that phubbing, by lowering marital satisfaction, affected a partner’s depression and satisfaction with life. A follow-up study by Chinese scientists assessed 243 married adults with similar results: Partner phubbing, because it was associated with lower marital satisfaction, contributed to greater feelings of depression.

Phubbing also shapes our casual friendships. Not surprisingly to anyone who has been phubbed, phone users are generally seen as less polite and attentive. Let’s not forget that we are extremely attuned to people. When someone’s eyes wander, we intuitively know what brain studies also show: The mind is wandering. We feel unheard, disrespected, disregarded.

A set of studies actually showed that just having a phone out and present during a conversation (say, on the table between you) interferes with your sense of connection to the other person, the feelings of closeness experienced, and the quality of the conversation. This phenomenon is especially the case during meaningful conversations—you lose the opportunity for true and authentic connection to another person, the core tenet of any friendship or relationship.

In fact, many of the problems with mobile interaction relate to distraction from the physical presence of other people. According to these studies, conversations with no smartphones present are rated as significantly higher quality than those with smartphones around, regardless of people’s age, ethnicity, gender, or mood. We feel more empathy when smartphones are put away.

This makes sense. When we are on our phones, we are not looking at other people and not reading their facial expressions (tears in their eyes, frowns, smiles). We don’t hear the nuances in their tone of voice (was it shaky with anxiety?), or notice their body posture (slumped and sad? or excited and enthusiastic?).

No wonder phubbing harms relationships.

The way of the phubbed

What do “phubbed” people tend do?

According to a study published in March of this year, they themselves start to turn to social media. Presumably, they do so to seek inclusion. They may turn to their cell phone to distract themselves from the very painful feelings of being socially neglected. We know from brain-imaging research that being excluded registers as actual physical pain in the brain. Phubbed people in turn become more likely to attach themselves to their phones in unhealthy ways, thereby increasing their own feelings of stress and depression.

A Facebook study shows that how we interact on Facebook affects whether it makes us feel good or bad. When we use social media just to passively view others’ posts, our happiness decreases. Another study showed that social media actually makes us more lonely.

“It is ironic that cell phones, originally designed as a communication tool, may actually hinder rather than foster interpersonal connectedness,” write David and Roberts in their study, “Phubbed and Alone.” Their results suggest the creation of a vicious circle: A phubbed individual turns to social media and their compulsive behavior presumably leads them to phub others—perpetuating and normalizing the practice and problem of “phubbing.”

It is ironic that cell phones, originally designed as a communication tool, may actually hinder rather than foster interpersonal connectedness―Meredith David and James Roberts

Why do people get into the phubbing habit in the first place? Not surprisingly, fear of missing out and lack of self-control predict phubbing. However, the most important predictor is addiction—to social media, to the cell phone, and to the Internet. Internet addiction has similar brain correlates to physiological forms like addiction to heroine and other recreational drugs. The impact of this addiction is particularly worrisome for children whose brain and social skills are still under development.

Nicholas Kardaras, former Stony Brook Medicine clinical professor and author of Glow Kids, goes so far as to liken screen time to digital cocaine. Consider this: The urge to check social media is stronger than the urge for sex, according to research by Chicago University’s Wilhelm Hoffman.

These findings come as no surprise—decades of research have shown that our greatest need after food and shelter is for positive social connections with other people. We are profoundly social people for whom connection and a sense of belonging are crucial for health and happiness. (In fact, lack thereof is worse for you than smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity.) So, we err sometimes. We look for connection on social media at the cost of face-to-face opportunities for true intimacy.

How to stop phubbing people

To prevent phubbing, awareness is the only solution. Know that what drives you and others is to connect and to belong. While you may not be able to control the behavior of others, you yourself have opportunities to model something different.

Research by Barbara Fredrickson, beautifully described in her book Love 2.0, suggests that intimacy happens in micro-moments: talking over breakfast, the exchange with the UPS guy, the smile of a child. The key is to be present and mindful. A revealing study showed that we are happiest when we are present, no matter what we are doing. Can we be present with the person in front of us right now, no matter who it is?

Studies by Paula Niedenthal reveal that the most essential and intimate form of connection is eye contact. Yet social media is primarily verbal. Research conducted by scientists like the GGSC’s Dacher Keltner and others have shown that posture and the most minute facial expressions (the tightening of our lips, the crow’s feet of smiling eyes, upturned eyebrows in sympathy or apology) communicate more than our words.

Most importantly, they are at the root of empathy—the ability to sense what another person is feeling—which is so critical to authentic human connection. Research shows that altruism and compassion also make us happier and healthier, and can even lengthen our lives. True connection thrives on presence, openness, observation, compassion, and, as Brené Brown has so beautifully shared in her TED talk and her bestselling book Daring Greatly, vulnerability. It takes courage to connect with another person authentically, yet it is also the key to fulfillment.

What to do if you are phubbed

What if you are phubbed? Patience and compassion are key here. Understand that the phubber is probably not doing it with malicious intent, but rather is following an impulse (sometimes irresistible) to connect. Just like you or I, their goal is not to exclude. To the contrary, they are looking for a feeling of inclusion. After all, a telling sociological study shows that loneliness is rising at an alarming rate in our society.

What’s more, age and gender play a role in people’s reactions to phubbing. According to studies, older participants and women advocate for more restricted phone use in most social situations. Men differ from women in that they viewed phone calls as more appropriate in virtually all environments including—and this is quite shocking—intimate settings. Similarly, in classrooms, male students find phubbing far less disturbing than their female counterparts.

Perhaps even worse than disconnecting from others, however, Internet addiction and phubbing disconnect us from ourselves. Plunged into a virtual world, we hunch over a screen, strain our eyes unnecessarily, and tune out completely from our own needs—for sleep, exercise, even food. A disturbing study indicates that for every minute we spend online for leisure, we’re not just compromising our relationships, we are also losing precious self-care time (e.g., sleep, household activities) and productivity.

So, the next time you’re with another human and you feel tempted to pull out your phone—stop. Put it away. Look them in the eyes, and listen to what they have to say. Do it for them, do it for yourself, do it to make the world a better place.

 

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By:  Emma M. Seppälä