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Artist: Mat Pal, Sydney

Make Your Relationships Healthier

The information in this tab is not for relationships that are unsafe. If you feel unsafe or as though you are “walking on eggshells” in any of your relationships, please go to Are You Being Abused? or Getting Help for more information.

If you’re already in a good relationship, but want to be a better partner and make your relationships healthier, check out our tried and true ‘tips’ for a rock solid relationship.

Feeling Secure

woman dancing and being supported by her partner
Artist: Mat Pal, Sydney

Feeling secure does not mean knowing you will be together until the day you die and that you will never, ever upset each other or let each other down.

Feeling secure means knowing that your partner considers your happiness and wellbeing a priority and you consider theirs a priority as well.

How to Improve Security in Your Relationship

Provide a safe space for your partner to be themselves and to be vulnerable in front of you without fear of judgement.

Remember that no one is perfect, not your partner and not you, so be realistic about your expectations of them and don’t judge them for small flaws or mistakes. You don’t have to agree with everything they do, but if they did something that was “not right”, it doesn’t make them “not right”.

Be there for them when they need you. If your partner needs you to listen, make some time for them. You don’t always need to come up with a solution, just be present for them.

Follow through on your promises. When you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you blow off a promise or simply forget about it, your behaviour can systematically destroy trust, regardless of intention. Remember that relationships need trust in order to thrive.

Support your partner to make positive changes. It shows them you care about their wellbeing and their future.

Compliments and nice words/messages go a long way. Tell them you think they are handsome, beautiful or sexy. Tell them you are looking forward to seeing them. A random message, a note left on their pillow, or a nice word can go a long way.

Spend quality time together. Try something new, go somewhere special, get out of the house together. Relationships need shared experiences to grow.

Help them out – you can offer to make dinner, help them with an errand or give them a massage.

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Communicating Better

gay couple fighting and making up
Artist: Mat Pal, Sydney

Be realistic. Every relationship has disagreements and days when you want it to end. If you want to stay in the relationship, talk about problems and make the conscious choice to work through them instead of letting issues and resentment fester.

Admit your mistakes. If you know you’ve done something to hurt your partner, intentionally or not, own it. Be brave and look at your part in a problem. Be sincere and honest and don’t make excuses or justifications like “I was stressed” or “you annoyed me first”. You are responsible for your actions, words and emotions, and you have no right to make anyone else feel guilty for what you did or didn’t do.

Listen to your partner. Being a good listener is all about paying attention to what they’re saying. Ask questions if you don’t understand. Listening will help you resolve differences without arguing, explore each other’s personalities more deeply and figure out what makes each other happy.

Share. If you have a problem then let them know – preferably in a clear and calm way. Chances are your partner is not a mind reader.

Practice communicating better. The way you talk to people does have an effect. Try to keep phrases like “you should” or “you can’t” out of your conversation. Try not to generalise and say things like “you always” or “you never”. If you expect your partner to do something, say it. Being clear about what you want gives your partner a fair shot at succeeding.

Be polite. Say “please” and “thank you.” You should be able to let loose around your partner, so there’s no need to worry about having impeccable manners. The exception to this is asking for things nicely and expressing gratitude when your partner does something for you.

Be fair. Go into an argument wanting to resolve it, not win! It doesn’t matter how angry or upset you are, you can still get your point across in a respectful way that doesn’t hurt your partner. If you feel like you can’t engage with them calmly, take time out and revisit the conversation later when you’ve both had a chance to cool down.

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Better Sex

gay man thinks he's too fat but his partner reassures him by telling him he's perfect
Artist: Mat Pal, Sydney

Exploring your sexuality can be fun, exciting and liberating, so long as it is safe and consensual.

Consent is ESSENTIAL in every sexual encounter. Saying no, being reluctant and/or feeling pressure is not consent. Not everyone consents verbally, so you need to not only pay attention to words, but also notice to your sexual partner’s body language, facial expressions. Make an effort to pick up on their feelings. Indecision is not a consensual yes.

Talk about no-go zones outside of the moment, not during or right before sex. Discuss it in mutual territory when no one is vulnerable and not in the heat of the moment when you may be distracted. Tell them the definite no-go zones and turnoffs and ask about theirs. You can also tell them what you do want and what turns you on, as well as finding out how to please them. The bonus of this conversation is that it can turn into foreplay.

Setting boundaries is especially important when engaging in BDSM, role plays, kink and when discussing safe sex.

Make sure you are on the same page – the best way to do this is to talk about it. Explore the reasons behind any barriers – you both might learn something about your own boundaries, or about the person you are sleeping with. Sex and desire can be hard to talk about, but sweeping these topics under the rug can make things worse for everyone involved.

If you’re uncomfortable, make an agreement before the conversation that neither of you will judge the other person. Even though you feel uncomfortable, have the conversation anyway. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.

If your desires are in conflict with each other, be creative in a compromise. For example, if one of you wants to have sex in public but the other doesn’t, consider somewhere semi-public (as long as you both eagerly agree).

If you are presenting your partner with an idea that is new to them, be respectful and patient. Give them time to consider it fully before making a decision.

Be creative with foreplay. It can start after your last orgasm and go for an hour, a week, a month, or even a year.

Be aware that what people want, what they need and what works for them can evolve and change overtime. Just because what you are doing turned your partner on one year ago doesn’t mean that it still will today.

Only in the movies do two partners orgasm at the exact same time with the exact same intensity. Every individual’s wants are different and can change every time you have sex. As a general rule, everyone involved is having sex to get something out of it, so make sure that every attempt is made for all involved to leave feeling good (as long as you are still within your boundaries).

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Keep it Exciting

lesbian couple trying bondage
Artist: Mat Pal, Sydney

Do something for your partner that you know they will truly appreciate. Whether it means getting up early to drive them to work, doing the washing or baking them treats, it’s often the little favours that say the most.

Don’t be afraid to show physical affection, at least every once in a while. Loving relationships can feed off of the little gestures like kissing, hugging, and touching.

Do the unexpected. It’s the thought that counts, so putting in a little effort can deliver huge returns.

Give them some space. Everyone needs their own privacy and some freedom, so don’t constantly watch everything they do. Everyone hates to be watched, stifled and controlled.

Revive date-night. Going on dates, even if you’ve been in a relationship for years, is still important. In fact, it’s especially important for couples who have been together long enough to grow comfortable.

Do something new and exciting. Doing something that gets your blood flowing and your heart rate up enhances feelings of togetherness between partners.

Laugh together. Laughter can be comforting, infectious, an aphrodisiac, and many things in between. Don’t forget to laugh.

Break the routine. If you always eat at the same restaurant, try a new one. If you always have sex in bed, try the kitchen floor or a public place. If you never spend time together, agree to both skip work for a day and go to a theme park instead.

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Showing Respect

Gay couple flirting and being affectionate
Artist: Mat Pal, Sydney

Commit to changing your behaviour. If you notice yourself apologising for the same mistake over and over, it’s a sign you need to make some changes.

Tell your partner that you recognise this mistake keeps happening and you want to train yourself to stop. Request help and ask for them to gently point it out to you when you’re making this mistake again. When they do, don’t get defensive or angry. Instead, thank them for bringing to your attention and reflect on the behaviour and how you could manage it differently in the future.

Review your expectations. Do you see your partner realistically – with both winning qualities and flaws – or as someone you expect to be perfect? If your expectations are so high that no one could live up to them 100% of the time, you’re setting up your relationship for failure. Learn to embrace their differences. You can learn a lot from them and it is important to have your own identities and your own interests.

A solid relationship should be based on mutual respect. If you are constantly trying to pull your partner down with you, this means you don`t respect them enough to want them to be happy. If you are dealing with stress, depression, drug or alcohol abuse, or other issues, don’t pull another person into your problems.

Practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is a decision of letting go of the past and focusing on the present. It’s about taking control of your current situation, and you must offer it to your partner as much as you demand it from them.

Remember who forgiveness really benefits. Forgiving your partner absolves them, but it also frees you from carrying around anger and resentment. Don’t view it as an entirely altruistic act, it’s something you’re doing for both of you. Knowing when to forgive someone and when not to depends on the circumstances. Forgiving someone for forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning is very different to forgiving someone for being violent and abusive. Think about the intent behind their actions, the damage done and how hard they are working to change.

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It’s Not Just Them

lesbian asks her partner how she looks before going out and is complimented
Artist: Mat Pal, Sydney

Being really into someone can feel great, but you can feel that way without losing your individual sense of identity and without a fear of being alone. In other words, once you have found someone you really like and/or when you are in a relationship, don’t lose touch with your own interests, desires, thoughts and feelings.

People who lose themselves in a relationship tend to constantly try to please the other person and stop doing the things they used to enjoy. They often don’t know what they want to do anymore, hate the thought of being alone, are very fearful of rejection, don’t set boundaries and have trouble admitting when there are problems with their relationship. What’s more, doing this can put the relationship at a high risk of turning stale and developing problems.

To avoid this, make sure you regularly:

  • Spend time alone
  • Spend time with other people, both with and without your partner
  • Actively do the things that interest you
  • Go periods of time (at least a half or whole day) without texting or calling them
  • Ask yourself: ‘What do I want and how do I feel?’

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