top of page
  • Writer's pictureNomsa Clara Mncube

Healthy Dating & Relationship Tips

Updated: Feb 14

In this guide, the Dating and Relationships content discussed focuses on traditional male/female relationships.

For supplemental material and resources regarding significant others in same-gender relationships, simply key in words or phrases related to the information you seek into your favorite search engine directory.

This guide presents an overall look at the basics of relationships and dating, both in the real world and online. Since the latest reports show that nearly everyone can learn the most important social skills needed for relationship building, this guide focuses on the ABCs of Healthy Relationships.


And so that you can be alerted to possible problem areas, the ABCs of unhealthy relationships are also covered.

For help, support, a shoulder to cry on, for fun, and to meet new people and interact with others, sections follow that offer support groups, organizations, programs, tips, self-help, and other resources.

Since Dating and Relationships are such a large, important part of everyday life, these dating tips strive to help clear up myths from facts and present an overview of surrounding issues.

It includes information along with a variety of helpful tips and resources available based on the most recent studies, research, reports, articles, findings, products, and services available, so that you can learn more about Dating and Relationships.

Note that the contents here are not presented by a medical practitioner, and any and all health care planning should be made under the guidance of your own medical and health practitioners.

The content within only presents an overview of Dating and Relationships research for educational purposes and does not replace medical advice from a professional physician.

Back to Basics

Let’s take a peek at some of the more common concepts above “love” relationships and see if they are myths or based on reality.

“All we need is love.” Myth or not? Since love does seem to be able to overcome anything and everything, at least on television and at the movies, this seems like a reality. However, the truth is, making relationships work takes skill and hard work, regardless of the “love” factor. This is a myth here. Just like in fairy tales, once true love is found, people live happily ever after. Truth or myth? Granted, couples can look into each other’s eyes and have those warm fuzzy feelings. However, the truth is, all couples will have their ups and downs. “Happily ever after” seems to imply a perfect, problem-less relationship when, in reality, those don’t exist.

It has to be “love at first sight” to work long-term. Myth or truth? While this can be true for some, it certainly doesn’t have to be for all couples in long-term relationships. Many people grow together over time.

Since practically anyone can learn the nuts and bolts of relationship building, focusing on some basic techniques that can be learned is a must.

The main ones, in no particular order, are

Read: “Read” people well.

Rapport: Develop rapport with others well.

Finesse: Have some finesse; i.e. handle conversations and activities in a cordial manner

Conflict Resolution: Resolve negative issues and conflicts without too much friction –

Support Co-Op: Gain the support and cooperation in working towards a common goal. Let’s take a little closer look at each and what learning is involved.

READING PEOPLE: BODY LANGUAGE BRIEFING

Body language is the meaning behind the words or the “unspoken” language. Surprisingly, studies show that only up to an estimated 10 percent of our communication is verbal. The majority of the rest of communication is unspoken. This unspoken language isn’t rocket science. However, there are some generalizations or basic interpretations that can be applied to help with the understanding or translating of these unspoken meanings. Here are some basics below.

Smile – People like warm smiles. Think of a heartfelt warm-fussy, maybe your favorite pet, and smile.

Eyes – If you don’t look someone in the eyes while speaking, this can be interpreted as dishonesty or hiding something. Likewise, shifting eye movement or rapid changing of focus/direction can translate similarly. If more than one person is present in a group, look each person in the eye as you speak, slowly turning to face the next person and acknowledge him or her with eye contact as well. Continue on so that each person has felt your warm, trusting glance. Some suggest beginning with one person and moving clockwise around the group so that no one is missed, and so that you are not darting around, seemingly glaring at people.

Attention Span / Attitude – Other people can tell what type of attitude you have by your attention span. If you quickly lose focus on the other person and what is being said, and if your attention span wanders, this shows through and makes you seem disinterested, bored, possibly even uncaring.

Attention Direction – If you sit or stand so that you are blocking another in the party, say someone is behind you, this can be interpreted as rude or thoughtless. So be sure to turn so that everyone is included in the conversation or angle of view, or turn gently, at ease and slowly, while talking, so that everyone is incorporated, recognized, and involved in the conversation. Again, some suggest the clockwise movement when working a group.

Arms Folded / Legs Crossed – This can be seen as defensive or an end to the conversation. So have arms hang freely or hold a glass of water, a business card, or note-taking instruments while communicating with others. Be open with open arms. Note: If you need to cross legs, cross at your ankles and not your knees. Sitting tightly folded up says that you are closed to communications.

Head Shaking – This is fairly accurate. If people are shaking their heads while you speak, they are in agreement. If they are shaking, “no,” disagreement reigns in their minds.

Space / Distance – On the whole, people like their own personal body space. Give people room and keep out of their space. Entering too close can be intrusive and viewed as aggressive.

Leaning – Sitting or standing, leaning is viewed as interest. In other words, an interested listener leans toward the speaker. Note others’ body language – While you are with others, note how their bodies read. If a person suddenly folds his arms across his chest and begins shaking his head “no,” you’ve probably lost him. Might try taking a step back and picking up where the conversation began this turn for the negative and regroup. It’s all about strategic planning!

DEVELOPING RAPPORT

Now let’s take a quick peek at the basics of developing rapport with others. In a nutshell, what it takes is to ask questions, have a positive, open attitude, encourage an open exchange of communications (both verbal and unspoken), listen to verbal and unspoken communications, and share positive feedback. Here are a few details on each step.

Ask Questions – Building rapport is similar to interviewing someone for a job opening, or it can be like a reporter seeking information for an article. Relax and get to know the other person with a goal of finding common ground or things of interest.

You can begin by simply commenting on the other person’s choice of attire, if in person, or about their computer, if online, and following up with related questions. For example, in person, you could compliment the other person on their color choice and maybe a pin, ring, or another piece of jewelry and ask where it came from. In online communications, you could compliment the other person’s font, smile faces, or whatever they use, mention that the communication style seems relaxed, and ask if he or she writes a lot.

Then basically follow up, steering clear of topics that could entice or cause arguing, while gradually leading the person to common ground you’d like to discuss.

Attitude – have a positive attitude and leave social labels at home (or in a drawer if you’re at home). Many people can tell instantly if you have a negative attitude or if you feel superior. So treat other people as you would like to be treated. And give each person a chance.

Open Exchange – Do encourage others to share with you. Some people are shy, scared, or inexperienced in communicating and welcome an opportunity to share. So both with body language and verbal communication invite an exchange. Face the other person with your arms open, eyes looking into theirs gently (not glaring or staring), and encourage a conversation with a warm smile.

Listen – Be an active listener. Don’t focus your thoughts on what YOU will say next. Listen to what the other person is saying and take your cues from there, while also noting the body language. For example, if the other person folds his arms and sounds upset, you may need to change the subject or let him have some space and distance; maybe even try approaching him later on and excusing yourself to go make a phone call (or head to the buffet table or somewhere to escape).

On the other hand, if the other person is leaning towards you, following your every word and communicating with you as if you were old friends, BINGO. You’ve built rapport!

Share – People like compliments. So hand them out freely without overdoing it. Leaving a nice part of yourself like a compliment is a good memory for the other person to recall – numerous times. That’s good rapport. But do be sincere! False compliments aren’t easily disguised.


FUNDAMENTALS OF FINESSE - Basically, using finesse in handling relationships means using subtle skill, tact, or diplomacy when handling a situation. This doesn’t mean you need to use fancy, flowery phrases or lengthy 10-letter words or anything. It means focusing on the positive in a friendly way and not embarrassing the other person.

For instance, finesse means not telling a host that he or she has body odor or that his or her house looks and smells like a trash dump. Instead, it means politely excusing yourself upon entering, informing the host of an unplanned meeting that came up or a family member who dropped by unexpectedly, and that you wanted to drop by for a quick “Hello” to thank the host for the invitation before rushing off to your appointment. Keep things simple here, smile, and think “James Bond” with that English gentleman concept.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION

How do you handle conflicts? If you can put your ego aside pretty much and try to keep friction to a minimum, your relationships should move along fairly smoothly. Where you feel disagreement, if you can “agree” to disagree on certain things with the other party involved, that will help, too. In short, conflict resolution means to pretty much deal with others as you would want them to deal with you.

For example, let’s look at fictitious John and Mary, out on their first date at a restaurant. A drunk man passes by their table and accidentally spills Mary’s glass of water. John gets upset and says something along the lines of, “That makes me mad! I hate drunks. They should all be put in jail.” Mary, on the other hand, who has an alcoholic father (unknown as this point to John), may feel embarrassed and saddened by John’s revelation and get quiet, giving only brief “yes” or “no” answers from that point on. Hopefully, John picks up on this. He can use finesse and conflict resolution and say, “Mary, I’m sorry for my outburst and really didn’t mean that. Actually, a drunk driver caused an accident that I read about recently, and I’d really like to learn about alcoholism and understand it more.” A statement like this could help ease the conversation into a more productive stage. Then instead of having an argument about social versus addictive drinking and possibly ending or breaking up the relationship because of conflict, the relationship between two people could actually develop a little farther along or deepen. And John and Mary could both learn more about each other and broaden their perspectives in the process.

SUPPORT CO-OP

Relationships may begin with just two people, but more people eventually become involved. Work friends and associates, family members, old school chums, and various other assorted persons interact daily, so gaining the support and cooperation in working towards a common goal is a plus in relationship building.

To put this into perspective, we can look at John and Mary again. If John gets along fine with Mary but can’t be in a room for 10 minutes with her dad or the rest of her family and friends, the relationship will probably eventually bottom out; i.e. not grow. However, if John can help build some type of relationship with them as Mary does, like joining and participating in a holiday meal celebration, that is a plus and can help build and grow a more solid relationship.

In summary, by learning to use more of these “nuts and bolts” of relationship building, focusing on some of these basic techniques can help build and grow relationships. More can be learned about each technique by simply heading to the local library or typing in the technique into your favorite search engine. Forget that, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” saying. We’re not dogs. And humans CAN learn – at any age!

ABC’s of Healthy, Happy Relationships

For Healthy, Happy Relationships, here are some basic guidelines for reference. They are in alphabetical order only, not order of importance.

Acceptance – Don’t try to change someone. This is a must. If a person really wants to change, that person will need to be motivated and take action. Period. Also regarding acceptance, accept limitations. He is not Superman; you are not Wonder woman. No one is perfect; so do not expect perfection. Accept the little flaws that come with each person. You accept theirs; they accept yours. That’s life!

Bonding – Bonding with another person generally does take time.

Communicate – Talk, listen, share the good and the bad, ask questions, compliment instead of nag or insult. In short, be a friend; make a friend. That is healthy. If this bonding is lacking, it may mean professional help is needed (like a counselor or therapist) or it may be time to move on to healthier relationships.

Communications – Be open to the other person. Check judgmental attitudes at the door. And give chances. Be fair, flexible, and friendly. If and when things get out of hand and it is your fault, apologize and ask forgiveness and move on. Similarly, be acceptable to apologies and grant forgiveness, too. Life is too short to stay focused on the negative too long. No need to deny it; face it, deal with it, and move on past it to improve and strengthen your relationships.

Dependable – Be a friend; i.e. be dependable. Things happen from time to time, and cancellations are a part of life. But on the whole, if you say you’ll do something, do it. Take responsibility for your actions.

Expectations – Movies, romance novels, and television shows often portray life, especially human relationships, very differently than it is in the real world – this is no secret. How many people really always look like movie stars, have zero health ailments, endless income without hardly ever going to work, fabulous cars and homes, friends and family who totally adore them and come to their beckon call, no long-term problems because they all end so quickly, etc.? And who can battle serious issues like one person having an affair with someone else, and wrap the whole storyline up in two hours? Get real. Expect a little less than the media portray and learn more about humans by joining the real-world scenario.

Flexible – Keep a little mystery in the relationship. Juggle your schedule and invite the other person to a surprise picnic or walk at a local public park area.

Goals – People usually have some goals together over time. Develop some together. Toss what no longer works, what you outgrew, or what may no longer seem important or is finished. And then inherit or create new goals. Working toward a common cause like saving for an annual vacation or a new garden area can help people grow together.

Health – Take care of your own health and encourage others, too. Even in this day and age of cable television with movies and the Internet available 24 / 7, it’s still amazing the number of people out there who can’t “Just say no” to unhealthy behaviors like smoking and drug abuse. Don’t be afraid to share your healthy views and encourage healthy choices and living.

Intimacy – Closeness with a person takes time to develop. And there’s more to intimacy than physical contact. Intimacy can mean a hug during a tough time, a smile of encouragement in the face of adversity, and compassion when you least feel like giving. Don’t abuse or take advantage or the other person. And don’t let yourself be abused or taken advantage of. Intimacy takes commitment and sharing.

Just say no – You don’t always have to be voiceless or agree with someone in a relationship. Be able to say, “No” and be an individual, too.

Keep in Touch – Don’t let life separate you too long. With technology today, you can stay in touch with cell phones and email. No need to overdo it and be obsessive and controlling, but do stay in touch off and on throughout the day with quick “Hellos” and “How are things going?”

Lemonade –

Make lemonade out of those relationship lemons. And “yes” there will be some since life is not perfect!

For example, when your partner is late and you miss a movie date or restaurant reservation, don’t make it a night of terror and destroy what’s left when you finally do get together.

Do something else instead, like relax at home with a video and scented candles, and order subs (and lemonade!)

Make the Honeymoon Last –

Remember how you felt when you first got together? Do those little things that you did at the beginning and make the honeymoon last.

Bring home fresh flowers, shut off the television, turn on some music and dance with your mate, compliment your mate, make dates to go to places you used to frequent (the old neighborhood pizza parlor, a local drive-in, a hotel you went to on your honeymoon, etc.)

Nuts and Bolts –

Don’t focus so much on the “nuts and bolts” of who said what, when, how often and why they were wrong…. In other words, sometimes during an argument, try losing your memory of who did what, when, and how many times in the past.

Instead, humble yourself, apologize for having messed up and hug your mate!

Open –

Open windows when doors close. If you feel you’ve been pushed to the limit and don’t want to try one more time, close the door on that angle of the issue. Take a walk, get some ice cream and cool off (literally). Then return relaxed and refreshed, and open a window to air differences.

Parental Issues –

Even the best of relationships deal with someone’s past parental issues from time to time. Counseling can help, yes, but something out of the blue can still trigger a parental issue that someone struggles to deal with regardless of age, it seems. In these cases, just realizing and stating that it’s normal, may never get resolved and is okay to move on, can work wonders – for both parties.

Quality –

With hectic schedules, quality time is important. So even if you can only meet to watch a 30-minute comedy together every evening, make and keep that date. You’ll probably be especially glad you did when times get tough and have the wonderful memories to help get you by.

Respect –

Respect not only each other but each other’s property, friendships, time, job and …everything. Remember you are sharing life together and need to be courteous to one another and all the affects you.

Sharing –

Likewise share and don’t be stingy. “You reap what you sow,” and “You can’t take it with you” when you die, as the sayings go.

Trust –

Healthy relationships involve people who trust one another. One person doesn’t get involved in unhealthy risks with a third party or lie to the other. There is an open, positive exchange of trust. So if this is lacking, seek help from a professional counselor, if necessary, and see what’s wrong.

Understanding –

Happy, healthy couples try to understand each other even if it means joining a self-help group, reading library books about something foreign or unknown, or taking time to research and delve into an issue. In other words, take time to gain knowledge and wisdom before jumping the gun on something you may not really understand.

Violence –

Violence is not welcome. Period. Don’t accept it. Don’t dish it out. Anger Management is not just a movie term today. There really is help out there if you or your mate needs it.

Warning Signs –

Healthy people are generally alert to warning signs of trouble and head them. Denial isn’t part of their life.

X-Ray –

Happy people in healthy relationships generally don’t look at each other as they look at x-rays. They don’t see close-ups of each flaw and character make up. They learn to look beyond the bare essentials and see the whole person.

Youthful Attitude –

A youthful attitude can go far in relationships. Old outlooks can spawn resentment, skepticism and other negative connotations. A little dose of daily humor (reading comics, watching or listening to comedy, etc.) and keeping in touch with youth (church activities, neighborhood / social non-profit functions and events, etc.) can help maintain a fresh, youthful outlook.

Zombie –

Don’t go through life like you’re a zombie! It’s not up to your mate to fulfill your life. You need to take charge yourself! Certainly! Here's the corrected formatting for the given text:

ABC’s of Unhealthy, Sad Relationships

Unhealthy, Sad Relationships have some general notable characteristics in common. Here are some basic guidelines for reference. They are in alphabetical order only, not order of importance.

Avoidance –

Many people in unhealthy relationships simply avoid facing reality. There are many reasons for this. For instance, deep down inside, the people involved may be trying to make themselves appear superior. Or perhaps they don’t want to face the fact that their mates really aren’t who they say they are. For example, Person A might cover up and make excuses for his mate, Person B, who is always late coming home from work and almost always misses family functions. Person A could be trying to avoid reality and make up excuses to cover up an affair that Person B is involved in so that it doesn’t destroy their “perfect image” in everyone’s eyes. Or Person A could be avoiding the fact that Person B is a workaholic.

Burnout –

Although many can carry out romance throughout their entire relationships, the actual honeymoon period does have to end, in reality. And those who can keep the “love” fires burning, not 24 / 7 but off and on regularly during their relationship, have better chances of healthier relationships than those who suffer burnout and don’t know where to turn or who turn to unhealthy solutions. In short, every relationship has its highs and lows. During the low times, like maybe when one person begins to feel disillusioned with marriage, or maybe trapped, tired, helpless, depressed or let down, if this person reaches out to unhealthy alternatives, like getting a fake substitution – maybe seeking another mate in secret, getting “high,” or some other negative behaviour, once-healthy relationships can suffer. Instead, the couple needs to face issues together; add some new goals to the relationship, do some fun things together more, talk more, etc.

Compatibility Issues –

Opposites attract; or do they? Sure, it’s great to have some “spice” in your life. But relationships are about getting your needs met – at least on some level. And constant negativity can certainly hinder intimacy. So those who have a difficult time focusing on what attracted them to their mates in the first place can suffer unhealthy, sad relationships, constantly in conflict over issues with which they can’t agree.

Devotional Void –

A lack of commitment or ardent love can make for unhappy relationships. Being friends or roommates is one thing. Being committed, loving soul mates is another. Being “in love” 24/7 doesn’t necessarily have to be a requirement but being in a “loving” committed relationship can make the difference.

Enthusiasm Dwindles –

If you don’t add in some spice once in a while, you can get the same old, same old. Couples caught up in routines can lose that spark of enthusiasm, i.e. zest of life in their relationships if they forget to be spontaneous once in a while or forget to flavor their relationship with fun, adventure, romance.

Forgiveness Void –

No one is perfect. Mistakes are a part of life. Those unwilling or unable to forgive can pretty much count on having more unhealthy relationships over time. Relationships based or growing on anger, spite, disgust, resentment or other negative feelings associated with lack of forgiveness are like wilted flowers. They need tending to or they’ll die.

Guise –

Simulated relationships or those under the guise of having a solid, happy relationship are not destined for success, on the whole. Or rather false is as false does, as Forrest Gump might say. Pretending wears thin and doesn’t last long.

Harm –

Harmful thoughts, words, and actions can sure lead to unhealthy relationships. An occasional outbreak during a stressful moment might be considered normal like swearing; i.e. if someone hasn’t been raped, battered (or other severe trauma has occurred) by the other party. However, harmful, violent actions such as those and repeated verbal negativity are abusive and not healthy in relationships – or life.

Indulgence –

Instant gratification or indulgence of unhealthy behaviors is a sign of trouble. Grabbing chocolate to satisfy a craving is one thing. Grabbing illicit drugs or another mate in secrecy is another. Yielding to unhealthy temptations and desires is a pathway to unhealthy relationships.

Just say yes –

Not being able to draw boundaries or sustain limits is another possible path to sad relationships. For example, if one person in the relationship has a difficult time saying “No” and setting limits, his or her mate could always come in second, third or forth – – rarely first in the other person’s eyes and agenda. And while it’s fine to take a back seat once in a while, people make time for priorities and in healthy relationships, both parties feel and share the value of being number one with one another.

Kick the Dog –

Kicking the dog, not in a literal sense (although that would be negative, too!) is characteristic of unhealthy relationships. For example, if a person comes home angry and passes this anger on to the dog by kicking it, that is not a healthy release of anger. The unhealthier people are, the unhealthier they generally deal with stress.

2 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page