We often joke that people who have had a ton of failed relationships are “bad” at them or shouldn’t give out advice when it comes to love. But actually, people who have a lot of ex partners sometimes actually know a hell of a lot about what makes relationships work (and what doesn’t). Of course, that all depends on whether they’ve learned to say things before getting into a new relationship and asking for what they want and need.
If you don’t learn from your bad relationships, what’s the point?
Sure, you can go all greeting card maxim and say that “love” is the point, but it’s not really. (Or at least not all of it.) The point of all of your crappy or even your “just OK” relationships is to use the experiences to make your next one better! Success is the best revenge, right? Learning how to communicate your needs and listen to another person’s is essential if you want to make sure that your next relationship is more fulfilling than the last one was.
The scary part? It might not last longer — when you learn how to speak up, you’re giving the person a chance to decide if they can deliver on what you want. But that’s a good thing. We swear.
Here are some things you need to learn to say before you get into a new relationship.
It’s really hard to admit when you’re wrong, but inevitably, you’re going to be sometimes, and it will be a lot easier to navigate if you have the ability to own that. You don’t have to say sorry if you’re not — for small or big things — but conceding a point, or at least making an actual effort to see someone else’s experience is really important.
2“I’m still mat at you.”
Learning how to fight with a partner is a skill. Hopefully, you’re not having knock-down drag-outs every night, but a good fight is necessary sometimes. And learning how to kiss and make up is a part of that. But if you’re still upset about something, you’re not done yet. Maybe that means you keep hashing it out, maybe it means that you still need some time to think about things and cool off. Resentment is not good for your health.
3“I’m really happy.”
You like or love your person, right? Tell them! Count the ways! Don’t be obnoxious (unless you two lovebirds are into that), but let your partner know that you adore them and why. Sometimes people forget why they do this whole relationship thing and having a reminder helps. Everyone loves compliments, and knowing that you’re doing something right tends to improve performance. Plus, you open the door for them to feel comfortable telling you how amazing YOU are. What’s not to love about that?
4“I got plans, baby.”
You need to be really open about what you have in mind for your future. Not your relationship’s future, but your future. Maybe the vision board is a little blurry, but are you totally against kids, or are you counting down the days till you can buy baby Yeezys? Are you planning on eventually moving out of the city you’re in now? Maybe you have no plan at all, and your partner thinks you’re on board with theirs. Whatever it is, don’t hold things in or just follow another person’s lead. You’ll end up hurting yourself in the long run.
5“The sex is not working for me.”
If you are not into the sex you’re having right this very minute, you have to speak up. It might be a little awkward, but there are ways to approach the topic that will take care of the other person’s feelings. Maybe it’s not even something they’re doing! Maybe you want to open the relationship or let them in on your kink. Maybe you just don’t like sex at all. No matter how sex exists in your relationship, you have to be able to talk about it.
6“Knock it off.”
If there’s one thing you should never do, it’s test a partner. Testing a partner means expecting them to change a behavior or do something without you asking for it. If your partner does something that bothers you, you should tell them. You really should give a person a chance to listen to you boundaries and requests. If they don’t respect whatever you’ve told them, you can go ahead and leave them. But don’t just expect that someone will magically change their ways without a conversation.
Relationships take hard work, but once you learn to trust yourself and your partner, talking about things gets easier…and then so does living life as a couple.