8 Ways You Can Be More Present in Your Relationships

We’re all guilty of taking advantage of things from time to time, which is why it’s especially important to focus on staying present in our relationships. When a relationship (whether that’s with an SO, a best friend, or even yourself) gets comfortable it can feel like a pair of perfectly worn slippers: reliable and trusty. Or sometimes life just gets in the way of things and you’re left feeling like you’re not getting the most out of the relationships you’ve worked so hard in. So I’m making it a goal to be more open and available to those we care about. I’m officially banning excuses for putting human relationships on the back burner, and you should too. Being present in our relationships is increasingly critical in this day and age – with so much collective chaos and negativity in our country and world lately, everyone needs and deserves to be present in their friendships and relationships to get the most out of life. I’m no doctor, but being loving and open to receive love will immensely improve your health! I strive to be the kind of person who drops anything to help out a friend in need, whether it’s a big favor or a just a confidence boost. If you want the same, or maybe just to hone in your already-mastered relationship skills, read on.

Make it a point to communicate your needs and desires and always make sure you’re on the same page as the other person. This way, no hidden hurts or feelings will muck up and everything will be out in the open. Of course, no one can ever really know every little thing going on in your mind, and that’s probably a good thing, but to have a successful and thriving relationship with anybody, you need to communicate! I know it can be tricky sometimes to let your messy emotions hang out in the open, but try. Little by little. Voice your thoughts and clear any blockages. The more vulnerable you feel, the more you know it’s working, because we cannot truly be ourselves with another if we can’t communicate our authentic thoughts.

After communicating, make a point to listen. Just sit back. Be a vessel of reflection and a pillar of non-judgment. I know we’re all guilty of zoning out when someone talks, even when it’s someone we love and are close with, but don’t do it! Focus on engaging with the person you’re conversing with. Ask about their day and genuinely hear them. Listen when they’re expressing discontent or complaining about their shitty coworker. Be there to when they had a good day or a bad day. You don’t need to have all the answers, just hear them, and be present. If you commit to building genuine conversation balanced with effective communication and honest listening, I guarantee they will always pay you back with the same kindness.

In these trying times, compassion and consideration are absolutely needed. If you haven’t noticed, our country is in utmost social turmoil. If you flip on the news at any given time, it looks as if hate has won. But even though it can look that way, it’s not the case. Don’t ever believe it! Love has never been stronger. If you pay it forward (to everyone, not just those in your inner circles) with kindness and thoughtfulness, you will cultivate a space of love and warmth. The truth is, we’re all going through personal battles along with this great big universal one. We all have our crises. Always be gentle with those you love — don’t mock, insult, or rudely joke. Treat those you love like royalty! It feels great to show your admiration and affection for someone else. Give when you can and go the extra mile to be there if they’re having a hard time. Stand by them now, because a true relationship cannot go far if it cannot withstand difficult times.

I feel like as I get older, the more I appreciate my ability to be flexible and go with the flow. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy following through with plans or sticking to a schedule, but I have always been pretty good at rolling with the punches. I believe this is a necessary skill to have, especially when working towards being more present in your relationships. Things won’t always go as planned, and that’s okay! Be able to recognize that the reasons for a change are not always about you, which is really quite a freeing notion. In order for a relationship to grow and improve, change is needed. Two people won’t stay the same forever – that’s both boring and impossible. So encourage change and welcome improvement in always remaining flexible!

This is especially important in romantic relationships and the relationship we have with ourselves, but of course it can apply to a friendship as well. How awful does it feel to be compared to someone else? How much more awful do you feel when I say that most of it is self-inflicted? I trust we’re all guilty of it in small ways… sometimes just scrolling through Instagram can spark a jealous rant fueled by subconscious comparison, going from “look how gorgeous this girl is!” to “wow, look how many pairs of expensive shoes she has!” to “how the hell does she afford so many vacations?! I work way more than she does!” Of course it feels rotten to compare yourself to someone else, yet we do it all the time without even realizing. Firstly, it’s absolutely fruitless to compare our lives to anyone else’s. Your experiences are your own, above everything else. How would you react if you realized you were doing this to someone you love? What if you were comparing them to someone else, and projecting your ideals onto them? It would probably hurt and make the both of you feel uncared for, because it’s a deeply uncaring move. The truth is it will improve our relationships so much more if we don’t compare ourselves to anyone else, or compare our loved ones to anyone else. It’s great to admire others, but so foolish to emulate or let our comparisons affect us negatively.

In our society, it can be really easy to get caught up in materialistic things like money, success, and reputation. Sometimes it can be difficult to find value in the small things, but this is really the key to living a contended life. I find the easiest way to mindfully stay grateful is record 5 little things a day that I’m thankful for. It can be the simplest things – good coffee, waking up next to my boyfriend, a text from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a while, a peaceful walk, having time to myself to enjoy a good book… literally anything you are thankful for. Of course, we’re all thankful for the roofs over our heads and food on the table, but go deeper and find little things in each day that make you smile. This will help you become more present in your life overall, but in order to keep relationships thriving, be sure to voice your graciousness to those around you. Say “please” and “thank you” and “I’m so glad you’re here” and “I’m so thankful to have you in my life.” Expressing gratitude feels good and will always make those around you feel good as well.

This one can be difficult. I’m a sensitive soul, so if someone hurts me, I’m pretty much out. Gooooodbye. But sometimes arguments or little disagreements can come up, and crawling back in your shell refusing to see eye-to-eye just does more harm than good. Even if it seems like you’re saving yourself from the drama, you’re only adding more fuel to the fire. Let the arguments happen. Fight. Agree to disagree, but always let it go. Forgive and don’t dwell on it or bring it up 5 years down the line when you’re in another fight. Never keep score! We all make mistakes and we’ve all hurt others, even if it’s the last thing we want. Dwelling on negativity and holding grudges in a relationship will always cause problems, so learn to let some things go.

Out of all relationships we experience, the relationship we have with ourselves is always going to be the most important. In a lot of ways, I really believe that we are all that we have, and we can’t truly love and value another until we love ourselves first. It took me a long time to realize that, and looking back it’s probably why I found myself in a lot of unfulfilling relationships and friendships that didn’t really serve who I was. The relationship you have with yourself can be the best relationship you experience – it probably will be, seeing as you’re kinda stuck with yourself forever and you’re the one who knows yourself the most intimately. If you find you’re lacking in the self-love department, do something nice for yourself. Actually, aim to do something nice for yourself every day. Set aside some time in the day that’s just for you, whether it’s just enough time for a cup of tea, or a good half hour lounging in a bubble bath. Make sure you’re eating enough food and getting enough rest, listening to your needs and desires with a kind and thoughtful ear. Taking good care of your body and soul will only make it easier to thrive in your relationships with others. Loving and valuing yourself is the ultimate power!