50 Things to Make Your Girlfriend Happy and Keep Her Interested

Let’s admit it. Men are pigs, and men are also pretty dumb when it comes to love, dating, and relationships. We barely know how to take care of ourselves, let alone care for another person, or nurture a healthy relationship. Okay, that’s an overgeneralization, but you see the point, right? Women do all the figurative heavy lifting in a relationship, and men just sit back and enjoy the ride. Well, the buck stops here. If you’re a man reading this, you will promise me you’ll try at least a few of these 50 things that show you how to make your girlfriend happy and keep her on the edge of her seat, so to speak. If you’re a woman, you will promise to immediately share this brilliant article with your man and insist that he get cracking on item number one. All right. Now that we’ve set the expectations, let’s get started.

50 Ways to Make Your Girlfriend Happy – and Want to Stay with You

#1: Talk to Her – It doesn’t matter whether you’re the talkative kind or she is. Women need to hear as much as they speak, probably more. Just talk about your day if nothing else comes to mind, but do make an effort to really open up about how you feel and what you think. It doesn’t matter what the topic is as long as you’re proactively communicating. You’ll see a world of difference in your relationship when your girlfriend knows that you really talk to her, not talk at her.

#2: Listen to Her – That’s the other side of the coin. Men have become experts at ‘appearing to listen’ to the women in their lives while all the while the one thought occupying their mind is: ‘I wonder what we’re having for dinner?’ or ‘I gotta get that noisy muffler looked at.’ The next time she talks, look into her eyes and make an effort to really listen to her words. She doesn’t always want a ‘fix’ for the issue at hand or even an answer to most questions. Sometimes, she just wants you to listen. That can’t be too hard. Or can it? Just give it the old team effort, make your girlfriend happy, and see the relationship bloom to new levels.

#3: Respect Her – No, I’m not talking about opening the car door or picking up the cheque. That’s chauvinism, not respect, and it doesn’t sit well with most women today. No, I’m talking about giving her space, trusting her instincts, and treating her like an individual rather than something that adorns your arm at parties. Acknowledge her friends even if you don’t like some of them. At least, remember their names! Respecting your girlfriend on that level shows here that you consider her to be your equal rather than ‘the lesser half’ of you. It’s a mistake too many men make, so don’t.

#4: Be Interested in Her Life – Are some things important to her that you couldn’t care less about? Big mistake. You don’t have to love the things she loves; there’s no faking here. What you’re trying to do is to put aside your disinterest or even disdain for the things she values and try to look at it from her perspective. In other words, put yourself in her shoes and try to feel what she feels about a particular part of her life.

#5: Get her Gifts – Who doesn’t love getting gifts? Every opportunity you get, try and buy a little something for your girlfriend. Does it matter how much you spend? Not in the least. A pretty flower you found, a nice-looking pebble, a photo of something you came across that day… it can be practically anything at all. The point of it is that a gift represents a sharing of something, and that goes a long way in strengthening any relationship, including your relationship with your girlfriend.

#6: Call Her Mother – For crying out loud, why can’t you be nice to her mom? What did she ever do to you? Give her a call once in a while and you won’t even have to tell your girlfriend about it. She’ll know. Dropping in on her parents now and then is also a good idea if you know them well enough. Heck, you don’t even have to like them. Just be nice to them. You do that with your boss every day, right?

#7: Use Those Three Words. And Often. – I, love, and you – in that order – are probably the three most valuable words in any relationship. And when it’s a romantic one, it becomes even more important. Unless you grew up in a gushy, huggy, ‘I love you’ type of family, you know exactly how hard it can be to tell someone that you love them. But if this relationship is worth anything to you, you’ll give it the old college try.

#8: Write Love Notes – An easy way to get brownie points with your girlfriend is to leave her little sticky notes with emotional stuff on them in places you know she’ll see them – in her handbag or wallet, on the back of her phone when she’s not looking, on the fridge if you live together… you get the idea. Don’t try to be Shakespeare and don’t shake with fear at the prospect of doing this. A simple note once in a while saying “you mean a lot to me” or “you’re the reason I am what I am” will do. The words aren’t important; it’s the sentiment that counts. Just don’t say “need eggs”!

#9: Chocolates and Flowers – Why leave these until Valentin’s Day or her birthday when you can get in her good books through the year with these magical items? You don’t have to spend a bundle each time to get her an elaborate bouquet or DeLafée of Switzerland’s Gold Chocolate Box. Just her favorite candy and a small bunch of her favorite flowers will do wonders. And if you handpicked the flowers, that’s extra points!

#10: Give of Your Time – The most valuable things you can give a girl are your time and attention, although diamonds have been known to work pretty well, too. Spending time just sitting, holding hands, and chatting gives you the opportunity to bond with your girlfriend. So, the next time you’re together, suggest that both of you turn off your phones for 10 minutes and just be in each other’s presence. She’ll be impressed, I guarantee you, especially if you’re not that kind of person.

#11: Help Her Solve a Problem – When women air their grievances to their boyfriends, they’re not always looking for a solution, a fix, or an answer. Most of the time, they just need a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on. But if you know that something’s been bugging her for a while, you can definitely try to fix it. There’s no law against that, as far as I know. For instance, if she’s having a hard time concentrating on her studies, you can try and set up an exclusive study space for her. It doesn’t cost you anything but a little effort, but the effect of that will be tremendous.

#12: Do Something for Her Parents – So, you called her mom and she was thrilled. What’s next? Try doing something for her parents without being prompted to. You can buy them tickets to a show you know they’ll love and dinner after, and offer to chauffeur them for the night. Or it can be something less elaborate, like fixing that porch light her dad has been meaning to get to for the past three months.

#13: Pamper Her – Treat her to a day at the spa, make that hair appointment she’s been wanting, give her the day off from cooking and cleaning if you live together… what matters is that you let her put her feet up and take care of herself in exchange for everything she does for you on a regular basis.

#14: Give Her the PDA She Craves – If you’re not the touchy-feely type, you’re probably uncomfortable with public displays of affection. Put your aversion aside for a moment and look at it from her perspective. When she’s out with the man she loves (or is at least into), she wants the world to know that he’s all hers. Give her that by holding hands in public, for a start. You can then graduate to other things once you get comfortable with the idea. You might actually like it!

#15: Control Your Temper Around Her – If you’re usually quick to anger, try and rein it in, at least when you’re with her. She’ll see the effort you put in and appreciate it immensely. If you’re constantly flying off the handle and, one day, you suddenly start acting a little calmer, she can’t help but notice the change. Besides, it’s good for you, too.

#16: Keep Your Word – Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and don’t ever break the promises you do make. This is not just for your girlfriend but life in general. Nobody trusts a person who says one thing and does something else on a consistent basis. So, build your trust by building your reputation as a promise-keeper. It applies to simple things as well as the big things in life. If you say you’ll call her at 4 pm, don’t call her at 4.30 pm and say you were busy. And if you do mess up occasionally, do #17.

#17: Make Your Apologies Sincere – When we’ve been around a person for a long time, we tend to start taking them for granted. Don’t. If you screwed up, say you’re sorry and mean it. In order words, apologize and try not to repeat that. We’re not perfect so nobody expects you to never, ever do that again. You will. But the least you can do is try and make an effort not to make a promise if you’re not sure you can keep it. An “I’ll try to be there” might not go down as well as an “I’ll be there” when you’re in the moment, but it will save you a lot of pain when you’re actually not there.

#18: Value Her Opinions – There are too many men out there who are ready to discount a woman’s opinion just because it doesn’t agree with their own. Don’t be that guy. Listen to her point of view and try to appreciate where she’s coming from. Valuing another person’s opinion doesn’t mean agreeing with them; it just means you’re respecting their views as much as you respect yours. You can always agree to disagree.

#19: Get Familiar with Her Interests – Does she love a Netflix show that you can’t stand watching even for five minutes? Just zip your lip and stay tuned until you get to know the storyline and a couple of characters. Then, when she’s talking about the show over dinner, you can bring up an interesting point you noticed about the show or a particular character. It has to be something positive. The effect will be a mix of surprise and pleasure, especially if she knows how much you hate that show. But, you know, there’s something worse than hating what she loves, and that’s being indifferent to it. Avoid that as much as you can by at least learning something about the topic in question.

#20: Take Long Drives or Go on a Road Trip – If you love music while driving, keep it at a low volume as background to something more important – conversation. The whole idea of a road trip or even taking long drives is that you can talk without constant eye contact. Did you know that the reason psychiatrists sit beside the patient rather than in front of them is to allow the patient to open up? The non-confrontational nature of just the two of you being in a car together can have that same effect, allowing both of you to open up to each other. Try it and see. I don’t mean a short drive within the city – take the highway and see where it leads you. Figuratively, I mean. I guarantee you’ll love the journey.

#21: Share your Stuff – Sharing things helps you bond, whether it’s something physical like your shirt or something intangible like your most embarrassing moment as a child. Sharing things makes the relationship more personal and deepens it. Even toddlers share their stuff with people they are drawn to. Of course, that might be the all-day sucker they just dropped on the carpet, but sharing is sharing.

#22: Show Your Loyalty – Defending her in an argument with friends is an example of showing your loyalty, but that’s just one instance. There are a number of ways to show loyalty to a person, such as being monogamous, being nonjudgmental, supporting her views even if you don’t agree with them, forgiving her for things she’s done, and so on. The more loyalty you give, the more you’ll get back. That’s the way it usually works.

#23: Set Date Nights – This is critical if you’ve been in a long-term relationship with a girl. The longer you know each other, the less focus you have on things like going out on a formal date. Make that happen, even if it’s just once a month.

#24: Never Take Her for Granted – This is related to showing her respect as a person, but it also refers to respecting her role in your relationship. She has to know that you acknowledge her contribution to keeping you together, which is often greater than the portion men tend to contribute toward a relationship with their girlfriend.

#25: Even If You Can’t Cook, Cook Anyway – Make her some eggs one morning and see the pleasantly surprised look on her face when she wakes up and comes down to breakfast. If you aren’t living together, make a dish and bring it to her. There’s no dearth of YouTube videos and food blogs that show you step-by-step methods to make practically anything. If you’ve never cooked before, try something simple, to begin with.

#26: Hug Her Often – A hug says a lot, and when it comes out of the blue, it’s even more special. Hugging your girlfriend when she doesn’t see it coming brings on an unexpectedly warm feeling that can strengthen your bond and deepen your affection for each other.

#27: Give Her Compliments – Saying “you look nice” or “I like the way you’ve put up your hair today” isn’t hard for you to say, but it’ll probably put her on cloud nine for the rest of the day. That’s especially true if you’ve been together a long time and have started taking her for granted – there’s that respect angle again.

#28: Get Yourself a Pair of Friendship Lamps Sorry, I just had to slip that in. But, seriously, a Friendship Lamp can go a long way in helping you stay connected, especially if you are in a long-distance relationship or don’t live under the same roof. It’s basically a set of two touch-operated lamps that sync with each other via their respective Wi-Fi connections in two different locations. Once they’re set up, which takes about two minutes, if one of the lamps is touched, the other will light up in a particular color that you picked during the setup process. It’s that simple, but it’s a powerful way to send an “I’m thinking of you right now” message across a room or across the world in an instant. Thousands of couples, families, and friends use it to stay connected across the miles, and here’s what they’re saying.

#29: Text Her Sweet Nothings – How long does it take you to send a quick “I love you” or “Thinking of you” text? About 5 seconds? How long do you think the effect lasts? Several hours to a day is my guess. We all live hectic lives, so it’s a great feeling to know that there’s someone out there thinking about us, and a text is one of the ways to make this happen for your girlfriend.

#30: Thank Her for the Little Things – Did she pick up your favorite latte this morning without your asking? Say thank you. Did she remind you about your dental appointment this week? Say thank you. Get into the habit of saying thank you for the little things – they add up, you know?

#31: Make Her Laugh – Women love guys who make them laugh. Heck, even guys love guys who make them laugh out loud. If you’re not inherently the funny type, put in the effort to learn some jokes and tell them well. Keep adding to your repertoire so you don’t get repetitive. Pretty soon, you’ll see yourself starting to develop or bring out your own humorous side.

#32: Plan for the Future – Most women want to know where the relationship is going, and the only reason some of them don’t ask is that they’re afraid of the answer they’re going to get. Make your girlfriend happy – ecstatic, even – by making plans for a future with her in it, and tell her about these plans.

#33: Plan to be Spontaneous! – If you’re not the spontaneous type, it can be really hard. But not impossible. It’s perfectly okay to plan in advance to be spontaneous at a particular moment because your girlfriend won’t know it’s not truly spontaneous. And that’s all right because you’re not deceiving her. Think of how stand-up comedians work: they plan their jokes well in advance, but their delivery sounds spontaneous, right? Here’s what Wikipedia says: “Comedians give the illusion that they are dialoguing, but in actuality, they are monologuing a grouping of humorous stories, jokes and one-liners, typically called a shtick, routine, act, or set.” And there you have it; you can plan to be spontaneous. Have your own shtick ready for the main event!

#34: Be Her #1 Fan – If your girlfriend is trying to achieve something or make something of her life, support her 100% – and then some. If she’s career-oriented or runs a business of her own, be her loudest cheerleader.

#35: Don’t Be a Drag – If you find yourself becoming too clingy or needy, it’s time for a reality check. it is not healthy for you to become overly dependent on another person, no matter whether that’s your mother, your girlfriend, or even a close buddy. Have a life of your own and let her have hers. She’ll notice you becoming more independent and she’ll appreciate your efforts.

#36: Clean Up – Surveys repeatedly show that women are more attracted to well-groomed men. Didn’t I say men were pigs? If you have facial hair, make sure it’s kept clean and well-groomed all the time. Use deodorants and shower often. Keep your teeth clean. Keep your place clean. Keep your car clean. All these things are more important to a woman that you realize.

#37: Make Compromises – While it’s important for the two of you to live your own lives the way you see fit, it also makes sense to compromise on things that you don’t really care about. Even if there’s something you’re passionate about that is the complete polar opposite of your girlfriend’s views on the matter, it’s okay to give in for the sake of the relationship. Too many relationships suffer because neither side wants to give an inch. Once you start giving in for the little things, she’s going to take the cue and start doing it herself. That’s the only way to move things forward.

#38: Ask for Her Help – Even if you’re known for being a self-sufficient guy, getting your girlfriend to help you with a task once in a while really helps strengthen the relationship. It’s not about you pretending you need her help just to make your girlfriend happy; it’s about letting her participate in your activities in whatever capacity possible.

#39: Give Her the Attention She Deserves – When you’re out with friends, it’s common for a couple to ignore each other or be of the attitude that ‘oh, they’re around here somewhere.’ Don’t make that mistake. That doesn’t mean either of you has to become the other’s coat-tail; all it means is that you publicly identify yourself as a couple. And if you’re the one making the effort, the impact of that on her – at a psychological level –  is very positive.

#40: Give Her a Sense of Security – Women want their guy to be protective, even in subtle ways. If you’re at a party where she doesn’t know anyone, don’t immediately wander off to chat with your buddies. Make sure you introduce her to a few people you’re comfortable with and then excuse yourself. But be sure to be back before she starts feeling awkward again. That’s a kind of psychological security you’re providing, and it also extends to physical security, such as shielding her from the great unwashed when you’re on the subway together, sticking up for her, defending her honor, and things like that.

#41: Show Some Chivalry – Whatever your girlfriend might say to you, she wants to be made to feel special and treated as such. Pull out the chair for her at a restaurant, offer her your coat on a cold night, open the car door for her… these things might sound like they’re out of the ancient ages for some millennials, but they have a charm to them that you just can’t ignore. Do you think Prince Charming rescued the princess and just asked her to Uber it home? No, he gallantly pulled her up on his own horse and they rode off together into the sunset. Or something like that. You don’t have to be Prince Charming but you don’t have to be Mr. Zero Charm, either.

#42: Make Her a Part of Your Life – A lot of guys tend to keep their girlfriends away from their inner circle of friends. If you think this relationship is going somewhere, then make the effort to bring her into that circle so they can all get to know her. If you run a business or have a job, discuss aspects of those with her. In other words, let her in on the life you had before her.

#43: Let Her Know How Lucky You Are – Men don’t tell their women enough that they’re so lucky to have them. Well, it’s true, isn’t it? Aren’t you lucky that your girlfriend agreed to become your girlfriend? Then tell her that, and often. You can’t imagine how special that will make her feel every time you say it.

#44: Cuddle More – If you’re not the spooning type or cuddling type, do it anyway. Not only will physical intimacy of these acts be good for the relationship, but the touch factor will be healthy for you in the long run. Oxytocin is released when a person is happy, and this neurohormone can benefit you in ways you can’t imagine.

#45: Befriend Her Friends – You don’t have to bend over backward to be nice to her friends, but at least try and get to know them. They can’t all be bad, you know? And who knows, you might make a genuine friend. Remember to be courteous, smile, open the door, and do everything for her girlfriends just as you do for her on a social level. When they feel special around you, that’s going to be fed back to her in a later conversation. And who benefits from that? You do!

#46: Write Her Letters – Whether you’re in a long-distance relationship or a live-in relationship, writing letters to each other is a good way to communicate your inner-most thoughts. It helps avoid the awkwardness of a face-to-face conversation about certain things, and it helps you mull stuff over before you put pen to paper. And when I say write a letter, I mean with a pen and paper, not on your laptop. A hand-written letter will get a much, much warmer reception, believe me.

#47: Donate to a Cause Close to Her Heart – Doing this is much more than giving a few dollars to a charity. It shows her that you care about the stuff she cares about. At the very least, it tells her that you’re okay with her being passionate about stuff that doesn’t move you.

#48: Be Emotionally Available – When your girlfriend voices her deepest thoughts and fears to you, don’t switch off. Men do this all too often and invariably come off as being insensitive to the needs of the one they love. If she’s in the mood for a good cry, there’s no need for you to try and end it quickly by making a joke or distracting her. Let her have her moment. Your hand on her shoulder or your arms around her will mean the world to her. And all it costs you is a little ’emotional exposure.’

#49: Set up a Joint Bank Account, aka Make a Commitment – Investing in something together is a great way to say that this trip is going to be a long one. A joint checking account shows you that you trust her with your money and your future, and that says a lot more than you realize. If you’re not ready to make a commitment, then do #50…

#50: Be Upfront about your Relationship – If you’re not ready to make a commitment, it’s absolutely okay. But if you’re sure that this is not something that will last, the decent thing to do is man up and break it off rather than keep leading her on. If it’s purely a casual thing, let her know. Then let her make up her mind whether that’s okay for her or not. If not, be ready to move on. In the end, both of you will be happier for it.

How Do I Fix a Broken Relationship?

Most of us aren’t relationship gurus who know the exact path to a healthy relationship. For that matter, even gurus base their relationship advice on broad assumptions and inferences from what they’ve seen or studied about in psychology books. A rare few teach from personal experience but those experiences are unique to them and may not help everyone. So, how do we arrive at a rational set of tips to fix broken relationships when there’s very little out there?

While there’s no exact science to fixing a broken relationship, there is plenty of common-sense and anecdotal evidence that supports some approaches over others. Such advice about how to heal a broken relationship with a lover, spouse, friend, or even a family member can be invaluable because it is universal. It’s invaluable because you can take it and mold it into something that works for you, hence the broadness of its nature as well as its appeal. You already know these things, which is why the rest of this article is more of a reflection about what you know deep inside rather than about eye-opening concepts. But if your eyes suddenly open, all the better!

Communicate

Rule #1 in any type of relationship is to keep the lines of communication open or open them up if needs be. If there is no communication, there can be no meaningful relationship. Period. There’s no way around this. Of course, the type of communication doesn’t always have to be verbal, either, although that helps quite a bit. In certain cases, though, all it takes is a look and some body language to get the conversation going. In fact, a lot of our verbal face-to-face conversations are heavily complemented by body language, tone, and other verbal cues.

If you’re in a broken relationship where the lines of communication are still open but maybe terse or perfunctory, you’re already ahead! On the other hand, if you’re not speaking to each other for some reason, it’s a little harder to light the conversation spark. That doesn’t mean there’s no chance there; it merely means you’ll have to use other methods of communication in order to get things started again.

Act – Actions Speak Louder

Although communication is the first step, action often precedes it. It’s almost like a preamble to the constitution. Every constitution has a preamble, which sets the tone and conveys the purpose of what’s to come. Although the preamble always preceded the constitution, the latter is more substantial and specific. In fact, it is laid out as clearly as possible to avoid legal misinterpretation.

Action and communication have a similar association when you’re trying to fix a broken relationship. If communication has come to a standstill, the best way to revive it is to first set the tone and convey the purpose of what’s to come. The communication that follows must then be as clear and straightforward as possible; no egos, no digs at the past, nothing. Just clean and well-intentioned communication.

So, what type of action can you use to set the tone for communication to resume? That’s up to you, of course, but make sure it’s something that triggers an emotion. That’s the crucial part. It can be a thoughtful act, a meaningful gift, a problem you handled for them, etc. What you want is an action that can set off a chain reaction of positive emotions that eventually lead to the lines of communication opening up again.

In a long-distance relationship, this is a lot harder to do because of the physical distance. But there are ways to get around that. As an example, if you’re looking to rekindle a long-distance love that sort of fizzled out, a simple “hey there” text might be good enough to get the conversation going again. On the other hand, if the reason the relationship is broken is that you messed up in some way, it’s going to take a lot more, like maybe actually trying to remember their birthday this time and sending a gift!

Active Participation

This is the next logical step in fixing a broken relationship with a long-distance lover, assuming you took the action required to start communicating, of course. This time around, don’t make the mistakes you did the last time. You may have been insensitive or not attentive enough, or maybe you just started taking the relationship for granted, as is very often the case when you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a long time.

Never forget that love is not a passive thing; it is a highly energetic and active emotion – and one that merits a like amount of effort from both sides. If your relationship broke because the kind of love you gave (or received) was passive (well, we’re together, aren’t we?), then it’s time for a reality check. Even if the fault was not your own, remember that you’re the one that wants to get back together. That’s why it’s crucial to really think about whether you want to fix the relationship in the first place, and what you want out of it. It’s time to be a little selfish and ask the old WIIFM question: what’s in it for me?

Even more importantly, do you know if that’s what he or she wants as well? You don’t want to be stuck in a one-sided relationship. There’s no give without take and vice versa. If it isn’t a two-way street, it’s very likely just infatuation on one side and toleration on the other. I know that’s a very harsh way to put it, but that’s all the more reason why you need to be sure that this isn’t what’s happening with the two of you.

But if you’re clear about what you want and you know for certain that the other person wants it, too, then your path – or course of action – will be equally clear. This time, it’s up to you to make the relationship work, but you’ll have all the help you need.

Conclusion – or the Beginning?

Frankly speaking, that’s basically all the advice you need. Act, communicate and keep the action part going. You can fix nearly any broken relationship with just these three guiding principles. This is how countries reconcile with each other; it is how broken marriages are fixed; it is also how friends-turned-enemies become friends-for-life. How you interpret them is what ultimately matters because you’re the one who’s going to execute the steps. Everything else is just talk.

Remember what I said at the beginning about the ideas here being universal? That’s exactly what they are. Apply them to fix a broken relationship with a long-distance lover or apply them with a belligerent boss – the effect is much the same.

If you choose therapy or professional advice over plain horse sense, I can’t stop you. And I won’t even try. But all you really need is this simple common-sense formula of Act –> Communicate –> Actively Participate to fix a broken relationship or even create a healthy relationship out of one that you may be struggling with at the moment.

Online Dating Advice for Millennials and Generation Z-ers: Beyond the First Date

When it comes to online dating advice or assistance of any kind on the dating front, Millennials and generation Z-ers have always turned to the Internet over asking a confidant(e), or even a close friend or family member. The fact that millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen Z-ers (born in 1997 or later) all had access to the Internet from their teen years has led them to be highly dependent on online information. In fact, millennials were probably the first generation ever to hook up and break up through instant messaging! With app-based dating being a popular way to meet potential partners, it’s imperative that you get the best online dating advice if you want that first date to be the beginning of something beautiful.

Why? The Numbers behind Online Dating

To validate the assumption that online dating is a popular method of meeting up with someone, we looked at some studies and surveys around this. Here’s what we found:

  • 48% of younger millennials and Gen Z-ers have used a dating app or website at least once
  • Within this group, 55% of LGB individuals said that they have used an online dating portal
  • Nearly 60% of those who have engaged in online dating said they had a positive experience
  • Education seems to matter, too: 63% of college graduates have had positive experiences, against 47% for those with a high school diploma or less
  • 71% of online dating service users said they found someone they were physically attracted to, while 64% found someone with similar interests and hobbies

That’s a great starting point because it’s clear that online dating works. But the bulk of online dating advice and online relationship advice on the Internet only focuses on the digital aspects and preparing for the first date itself. In sharp contrast, we believe that online dating is no different from regular dating. The modalities of communication and early-stage aspects might differ but the relationship part is essentially the same. That’s why the core values of a healthy relationship will apply here as much as in the non-digital realm. This is not online dating advice to help you create a great profile or what to say on your first date. This piece looks at what to do beyond that first date.

Online Dating Advice from a ‘Core Values’ Perspective

So, what are the core values of any strong and healthy relationship? Let’s list and discuss them:

  • Attraction

  • Trust

  • Respect

  • Love

  • Freedom

These are the foundations of every mature and growing relationship. Whether the relationship starting with online dating or physically asking someone out, these values need to be at the heart of it if you want to take things to any serious level.

Attraction

Above all else, there has to be the initial attraction for you to want to take it forward. And it has to be mutual, else you end up with a lopsided relationship that’s not healthy for either of you. The attraction, though usually so, doesn’t need to be merely physical. Look for a connection that goes deeper than that. It could be hobbies or interests that you share or things you both dislike. What matters is making the connection. This is what sets the foundation to build all the other values into your relationship.

This foundation is not optional, by the way. There’s really no way that trust, respect, love, and freedom can be yours in a relationship if this first cornerstone called attraction is not in place. Too many relationships end up in breakups and divorce because there was no lasting attraction. Physical attraction wanes quickly, as does any kind of connection based on initial impressions. Unless it goes deeper than that, it’s probably not a good idea to keep going down that road. That might sound harsh, but it’s better to break something off during the early stages than be led on to what will most likely be a bitter end.

But if you have that basic attraction as a solid platform, you can build a fantastic relationship with that person. Remember that this is online dating advice as much as it is a word to the wise on all forms of relationship. In fact, it probably applies more to online dating because face-to-face contact is removed from the equation in the early stages. Therefore, it is easier to find levels of connection before you even meet.

Trust

The next stage of a healthy relationship is trust. Like attraction, there needs to be a level of trust for you to take things forward. It doesn’t matter if it starts small; in fact, it probably should. Here are some tips on building trust quickly in a relationship:

  • Keep your word in small things, like being on time for a date or calling at the agreed time
  • Earn trust without expecting the other person to do the same; they eventually will, but it can’t be forced
  • Never say ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’; learn to say ‘no’ even if the other person is disappointed
  • Engage in active listening, with lots of eye contact
  • It’s okay to bare your emotions; it shows the other person that you trust them with your innermost feelings
  • Live up to the values you talk about, such as honesty or straightforwardness
  • Disagree with respect; you can’t agree on everything, obviously, but never be dismissive or belittling

Trust is important in any kind of interaction, not just in relationships. For instance, as a customer, you need to trust the salesperson if you’re going to take their advice to make a purchase decision. In traffic, we need to trust that a red light will make cars stop. We constantly trust restaurants to give us food that’s not gone bad. Trust is integral to our society in many ways, and it is even more important in a relationship.

A relationship without attraction and trust can’t be called a real relationship. We see this type of thing constantly at work. You don’t like your boss and you don’t trust her; well, the feeling may well be mutual. When a boss-worker relationship doesn’t have some level of likeability and trust, the job may still get done but it won’t be the best that you or your boss can deliver. In addition, it will foster a kind of animosity that can only end badly for you in the long run. Granted, not many people love their bosses, but unless they have something that attracts you to them and encourages you to trust them, things won’t go to the next level, which is respect. Just like in the workplace, respect is the next foundational aspect of a healthy relationship.

Respect

Whether it’s a good piece of online dating advice or general advice to someone starting out on a new relationship journey, respect for others should come naturally. But respect can only come if you first have the foundation of attraction and trust to plant your feet on. In this context, we’re not talking about a generic or vague kind of respect that you should have for all human beings and living creatures. It’s very specific to that person, and this can only happen if the first two cornerstones are in place.

Once there is attraction and a level of trust has been built between the two of you, it’s easy to add the ‘respect’ element. So, what does it mean to respect someone? Let’s dive into that a little bit.

Respect is at the very heart of human civilization. Respect for life, respect for property, respect for the law, respect for authority, etc. are central to any civilized society. In many ways, respect helps us draw the line between right and wrong. And such is the case with relationships, too.

In any interpersonal relationship, respect is essentially a hat tip to the fact that the other person is a living, breathing individual worthy of being acknowledged on their own merits. Respect is shown in many ways: through active listening, speaking openly, confiding in the other person, giving them space, valuing their opinions, talking about them positively to others, and so on.

This foundation of respect also means not taking each other for granted. This often happens in mature relationships and is a major pitfall. And it can creep up in subtle ways with the simple assumptions and judgments we make about a person. It might start out innocently enough, with an ‘Oh, he won’t mind that’ or ‘she’d be cool with that’; but it can begin to undermine and erode the trust that you’ve built between each other. It can also hurt you in far more negative ways if it becomes the cause of resentment.

In an online dating scenario, whether it continues as an exclusively digital or long-distance relationship or you take it to the physical stage, you’re equally susceptible to a lack of mutual respect slowly destroying any effort you put into making the relationship stronger.

Now that the three crucial building blocks of any relationship are in place, you can finally get to the fun part!

Love

Attraction is not the same as love and neither are trust or respect. Although all three elements are contained in the concept of love, it’s a lot more than that. Love takes you into deeper realms of sacrifice and selflessness. It makes you want to be a better person for the sake of your relationship. Love is almost impossible to define but equally impossible not to recognize. It is this innate contradictory nature of love that has fascinated mankind for millennia.

We’re not here to try and define what love means. That’s the beauty of it. It means different things to different people. So, what does it mean to you? And are you living up to the standards that you’ve set for a relationship where love plays a major part? Are you even willing to commit to loving the other person?

If you’re at that stage of the relationship where love is still in question, it’s time to take a long, hard look and whether you want to forge ahead or call it a day. It’s a very hard decision, especially since you’ve put a lot of effort into building trust, earning the other person’s respect, and making sure your attraction to them is real. But this is where the rubber meets the road and also your point of no return. This is the commitment stage – the chance to put all your eggs into one figurative basket, as it were. If you back out now, you can still have a healthy friendship. Beyond this point, it’s going to be very hard to part amicably because both of you will be fully invested in the relationship.

But if you’ve decided to jump in with both feet, then the best piece of advice here would be to double down and dig in for the ride of your life. There’s nothing that compares to a loving relationship that’s built on a foundation of attraction, trust, and respect. But there’s still one element that crowns such a relationship and makes it even more rewarding. And it is called FREEDOM!

Freedom

The last component of a strong and lifelong relationship is freedom. This is not very different from the kind of freedom you experience when you are single, but it comes to you in an entirely different form because you now have a deep connection, a foundation of trust, the element of mutual respect, and the strength of the love that you have committed to.

The kind of freedom we’re referring to is the freedom to now build your life and your career to a higher purpose because you have a man or woman by your side who is as committed as you to make things work. You have someone to fall back on in bad times; there’s someone to trust when nobody else trusts you; there’s the privilege of being with your soulmate; and, you’ve been given the freedom to explore new possibilities as you make your life together.

The freedom you experience as a loving couple who have built their relationship on these core values is like nothing else you’ve ever had in your life. But what does this freedom mean?

  • It means re-committing yourself over and over because this is an ongoing and lifelong process
  • It means letting the other person have their space when they need it, and respecting their wishes even if it goes against your own gut feeling
  • It means being an active participant in whatever dream they want to fulfill in their life
  • It means contributing in equal part to making sure that the relationship doesn’t erode because of things like doubt, fear, etc.
  • It means never taking the person for granted even though you have the freedom to make a lot of assumptions about them as you move forward in life
  • It means fighting for them and backing them up when life throws its inevitable curveballs
  • It means giving them the confidence to fight their own fights and trusting them to do what’s best for both of you in any situation
  • It means trusting them to speak for you as a couple without second-guessing them
  • It means making them look good and uplifting and edifying them to others and in public and in private
  • It means loving their deficiencies as much as you love their strengths
  • It means forgiving them for things you perceive as offensive and directed at you
  • It means giving more than 100% of yourself to the relationship
  • Above all, it means making a lifetime commitment to support and nurture each other no matter what hurdles come your way

All these meanings of freedom define your relationship and how it will mature in the years to come. It will define your legacy and what your heirs perceive as the founding principles of your entire clan 40, 50, 60 years from now, and well beyond. So, don’t take it lightly. The effort you put now has to last several generations.

“All this heavy stuff when all I wanted was some online dating advice,” you ask? Well, in for a penny, in for a pound… or thousand. The best dating advice you’ll ever receive is not the bolt-on nuggets of wisdom. That will only get you so far. It should be a roadmap for the future, not merely a static map of what landmines to avoid in the present. Remember – any relationship advice for you, as a millennial or Gen Z-er, is only as good as the longevity of its effectiveness. If it can’t help you beyond the first or second date, throw it away. You need something that will carry the relationship forward into something that lasts a lifetime. Anything less than that is simply not worth it; it’s just entertainment.

If entertainment was what you’re looking for, you wouldn’t have gotten this far down the article. The fact that you’re reading this sentence means you want something better. You want something more serious than a one night stand. If you’re after something more permanent, what precedes this paragraph is possibly the best online dating advice – or any kind of meaningful dating advice – you are likely to find on the Internet or anywhere else.

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Do you know what a Friendship Lamp is? Find Out More

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“Soulmate” Meaning: Have You Found Yours Yet?

You look longingly at the couple in the booth over in the corner, obviously married for ages and ages, but they still only have eyes for each other. The shared smiles, the casual caresses, the knowing looks, the obvious body language showing how comfortable they are when they’re together. We’ve all seen it. And at some point, we’ve all felt a tinge of envy at people we know in our hearts are soulmates. The word soulmate, meaning someone with whom you’re connected for life – or even eternity, if you believe it – doesn’t really have a standard or even useful definition.

Soulmate Meaning and Definition

Oxford Languages, which is the official provider of content for the Google English Dictionary, calls it: “a person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner.”

The Urban Dictionary doesn’t even offer a soulmate meaning; it merely talks about ‘soul mates’, which isn’t very helpful.

The Cambridge Dictionary comes in with a slightly more solid: “someone, usually your romantic or sexual partner, who you have a special relationship with, and who you know and love very much.”

Merriam-Webster’s two-pronged definition: “a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament,” and “a person who strongly resembles another in attitudes or beliefs.” The latter has more of a colloquial usage context rather than being a clear definition.

So, what do we have so far in terms of ‘soulmate’ meaning? We have key phrases like “ideally suited”, “close friend”, “romantic partner”, “romantic or sexual partner”, “special relationship”, “who you know and love very much”, “perfectly suited in temperament”, and “strongly resembles.”

Do those give us a clear picture of what the definition of a soulmate is? I think not, because these soulmate definitions are leaving out the most important part: two souls connected deeply and inextricably across time and space. Remember this because we’ll come back to it later.

Such a definition sets a framework, yet allows us to answer questions like these:

Does your soulmate have to be of the opposite sex?

The answer: No, they don’t. Same-sex soulmates, however, are believed to be emotionally and spiritually akin to a man and a woman, each bearing the distinct characteristics of one sex.

Does each of us only have one soulmate in this world?

The answer: No, we can have multiple soul-connections. One school of thought lists at least 5 different types of soulmates a person can have: a friend, a teacher, a lover, a past life soulmate, and a spiritual twin or twin flame.

Unfortunately, not many sources are helpful when it comes to answering that all-important question: Have I found my soulmate yet?

There are plenty of answers out there, of course, but they’re not very useful. For example, one of the most common pieces of “sage advice” that even respectable websites give when someone asks that question is to say “you will know when you meet your soulmate.”

“That’s a load of rubbish!” is my first reaction. Why would you ask that question if you already knew the answer? Or does the fact that you’re asking the question itself prove that you haven’t?

A more realistic – and helpful – answer to that question might be: You may have already met your soulmate, but maybe you’re not seeing the signs. Look for the signs and you’ll find your soulmate.

Signs that You’ve Already Found a Soulmate

So, what are these signs? Well, as a starting point, let’s use clues from those key phrases we picked out of popular definitions.

“ideally suited”, “perfectly suited in temperament”:

On the surface, this indicator appears to be weak and vague. How you do know if someone is ‘perfectly suited’ to you? But this definition is not completely useless; there’s some precision in its ambiguity, if that makes any sense.

‘Ideally suited’ can be interpreted as someone who tends to get along well with you; perhaps it’s someone who has the same likes and dislikes as you and usually goes along with your decisions, or you with theirs. In this context, it would be someone very much like you.

In contrast, it could even be someone who, through conflict, brings out the best in you. Have you ever known someone like that? Someone who argues your strongest beliefs and makes you re-evaluate them and feel good about it? That could be your soulmate.

Ideally suited can even mean someone you’re comfortable being around. Most of us wear masks when we’re in public; with an easy-to-be-with person, we can shed those masks and reveal our true selves without fear of being criticized for who we really are. In fact, this could be the best soulmate meaning we’ve come across here.

Additionally, someone could be perfectly suited to you because you learn so much from them and they fill in the knowledge and experience gaps you have in your own life. This is often the case between a person and their role model or a mentor, in which case they would fit into the ‘teacher soulmate’ category.

“close friend”:

In typical usage, a ‘soulmate’ in this context often refers to a ‘soul’s mate’ – a friend to your soul. This could be a close confidant (female: confidante), a childhood buddy who you’re still very close to, or even a relative you have a special connection with, like the grandmother who understands you better than your parents and even better than you understand yourself.

A close friend is not necessarily – and not usually – part of your inner circle of Facebook or Instagram pals. It’s that special friend with whom you share a deep connection even outside of social media – or specifically outside of social media! It could be someone who constantly and unhesitatingly comes to your aid whenever you’re in trouble. It could be the friend who unfailingly gives you the most sound advice in any given situation.

What’s important here is that you feel the special connection so you can identify the ‘soulmate nature’ of this relationship and hold on to it for dear life. It is a rare and, therefore, valuable thing.

“romantic partner”, “romantic or sexual partner”:

This is probably the most common interpretation of the ‘soulmate’ meaning. So many books, movies, plays, and TV series have been throwing this in our face that many of us think this is the only kind of soulmate that’s worth having. Could that be why friends and family are so underrated? That’s something worth contemplating.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t preclude romantic relationships from qualifying as soulmate relationships. The lucky few of us who have found a soulmate in our life partner know that nothing can separate us. In a way, it cuts through all the trust issues, doubt, uncertainty, and other aspects that prevent you from having a healthy relationship.

The signs here should be clear enough – you can’t stand being apart, you’re constantly thinking of each other in every context or situation possible, when you’re together you somehow feel ‘complete’, you might be finishing off each other’s sentences, you might say the exact same thing together at the exact same time, and so on.

This particular version of a soulmate is probably the rarest of all. Very few of us are likely to find our romantic soulmate, sadly, which is probably why there has been so much literature and pop culture around this theme since the dawn of recorded history.

“special relationship”:

This one falls somewhere between a friend soulmate and a lover soulmate. You can’t put your finger on it but you know there’s something special that goes beyond friendship but hasn’t matured into a full-blown romance. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t, but the suspense of this is what keeps this sort of relationship alive, and it can be a very long time before the two of you figure out where each of you stands.

Another interpretation of a ‘special relationship’ is the close bond between members of a family. It could be a sibling, a cousin, or a grandchild. There’s a mental, emotional, and spiritual connection that makes your relationship with this person stronger than any of the other relationships you have with family members. It could be your dad or your daughter; your son or your mother. It could be a distant relative who you only see at family gatherings.

The signs of this type of soulmate are clear: You tend to share things with them that even other close friends or relatives don’t know, you feel very positive around each other, you tend to go to that person when you’re feeling low or need someone to just listen and not immediately spout advice or offer to ‘fix the problem’, and when a good thing happens in your life, they’re the ones you want to share the news with first because you know there will only be genuine goodwill.

“who you know and love very much”:

This one’s a little obvious. But is it, though? Sometimes, we miss the forest for the trees. The ones we truly love are most likely to be our soulmates, but we’re often too close to them to realize it. So, what are the signs?

Similar to the signs in a ‘special relationship’, the signs here are clear. You talk a lot and often, you never seem to get bored with each other’s company, they’re the ones you want to share the good news with, and they’re very likely the ones that are the most supportive of your goals and ambitions.

In fact, this is the type of soulmate that gives the word soulmate its true meaning. They’re the friends of your self, and they help you grow spiritually. These are the ones to hang on to.

“strongly resembles you in attitudes and beliefs”: 

This type of soulmate is similar to the “ideally suited” one. This person thinks like you and shares your values. They likely belong to the same circle of friends that you do. It’s almost like a cult thing when it’s taken to the extreme. But it can also be an enriching relationship, which brings us to what actually qualifies as a soulmate relationship.

Qualifications of a Soulmate

Maybe the subheading there is too formal, like a job description. But the truth is, soulmate status is not one that’s easily achieved. A soulmate relationship, by definition, should come naturally. It is never contrived, it is always reviving, and it takes your mind to a higher plane. Above all else, a soulmate relationship is a ‘net positive’ one. That means, even though conflicts and challenges might come your way, the end result is happiness and fulfillment. So what are the qualifiers of soulmate status?

  1. Security: The first indication that a relationship with someone is of soulmate caliber is the feeling of safety and comfort that accompanies being with that person.
  2. Greater eye contact: Soulmates will look at each other in the eye more often, when communicating. Eye contact shows acknowledgment of and interest in what the other person is saying, and these are intrinsic to being soulmates.
  3. Happiness and confidence: When you’re with a soulmate, a natural exuberance comes out because you’re confident about the company you’re with. You smile more, laugh more, and possibly even talk more about your normally-hidden feelings and desires.
  4. In-sync mental wavelengths: You tend to think alike, you might finish each other’s sentences or start the same sentence together quite often, and you’re generally in a state of emotional and mental synchronization with the other person.
  5. Protective thoughts: You worry that the other person might be hurt by something or someone’s words, and you rush to their defense if that ever happens.
  6. Heightened instincts: Remember the definition I offered before: two souls connected deeply and inextricably across time and space. When such a connection is established, time and space are no longer considered boundaries. In such a relationship, your sixth sense about that other person kicks in. You might be hoping for a phone call and voila – the phone rings! You become super-sensitive to the other person’s experiences; you cry when they’re sad, you’re inexplicably happy when something good happens to them that has nothing to do with you.
  7. Things unspoken: There’s a deep understanding between soulmates that often makes speech redundant. A lot can be left unsaid because it is felt by both.

Have you noticed any of these signs and indicators in your relationships with certain people? It doesn’t matter whether they’re friends, family members, or even someone you just met. If an overwhelming number of these indicators ring a bell as far as one person is concerned, maybe you’ve found at least one soulmate. Congratulations! If you haven’t, don’t give up. There’s someone out there for everyone. Quite probably more than one.

Have a soulmate who’s far away? Check out our Friendship Lamps and stay connected to them across the miles.

Relationship Quotes to Sound Smart and Impress People

Want to be a relationship guru? Easy, just learn some of these carefully curated tidbits of wisdom from some of the world’s most famous people and impress friends, relatives, and lovers alike. Relationship quotes are aplenty, so we had to crawl and trawl through thousands of them – well, hundreds of them; actually, dozens of them; ahem, okay, we read about fifty, alright – to find the ones that don’t sound like they’re directly from the mouths of Lord Byron or Sir Shakespeare. These wonderful and witty quotations from equally famous personalities have a personal touch to them so they’re easy to make them your own. Thankfully, attribution is rarely required when you’re saying them out loud, which means you can freely impart the words of the wise – and anyone who hears them will be none the wiser.

Let’s begin with our list of relationship quotes that can make you sound wise behind the ears. Sorry, beyond your years.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao-Tzu

We loved this one as soon as we set our eyes on it. It’s so true because being the object of love might make you stronger but being the giver of that love gives you unmatched confidence and boldness. It’s also aligned with the philosophy that ‘love given is better than love received,’ which echoes the bard’s famous lines as delivered by Olivia in the Twelfth Night: “Love sought is good, but given unsought better.” If you love someone more than you love yourself, you are a tremendously brave and courageous person because love takes courage to give, whether it’s a sibling, a friend, or a partner in a relationship.

Customize this to your own style of delivery when you plan to use it. You can say something like: “The love you have for me gives me strength, but the love I have for you makes me brave.” Practice it so it doesn’t sound unnatural or, worse, corny. In fact, you don’t even have to use the exact words.

Simple version: “My love for you makes me stronger.”

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

An adorable and so-true quote from the equally adorable Winnie the Pooh, a ‘silly old bear’ that won the hearts of millions of children – and adults – worldwide. It perfectly fits the context of long-distance relationships, where the pain of physical separation is often too much to “bear.”

Long-distance relationships are truly challenging and not made for most of us. You need a tremendous amount of resolve to stay the distance when it comes to a long-distance relationship. And the strength to stay resolute often comes from our imagination; in other words, our dreams. Dreams are not just the ones that you get while you sleep. Some dreams, like the idea of one day being together with your long-distance love, keep us awake and keep us alive. They are forward-looking dreams that make us anticipate each day with excitement because it’s one day closer to our goals.

This kind of positive thinking is crucial in any type of relationship, especially for LDRs or long-distance relationships. However, it is equally valuable in a PR or proximity relationship because it helps keep our eyes on what the future holds in store for us. It gives us the one thing that has gotten humanity through the worst of times throughout history – hope.

Simple version: “You’re with me all the time. In my dreams.”

“There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The man who single-handedly brought the British Empire to its knees and set the ball rolling for India’s independence uttered these timeless words. It’s an ideal quote for a friend you’re saying farewell to, but it also works for a relationship that ends amicably.

The essence of this quote can be found in many saying from cultures across the world and from sources as diverse as can be:

“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.” – Persian poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

“Goodbyes are not forever, are not the end” – Unknown

“Saying goodbye doesn’t mean anything. It’s the time we spent together that matters, not how we left it.” – Trey Parker, co-creator of South Park

All of these reflect the sentiment that goodbyes are merely devices to deal with separation, and that they have little to do with reality.

What keeps someone alive is the memory of them, not their physical selves. Why do you think we don’t spare even a second to think about the majority of people we come across on a daily basis? It’s because they don’t really exist for us; in other words, they don’t form a part of our active and conscious memories. By contrast, a very close friend you haven’t seen in a long time is as close to you as they ever were despite the time and distance separating you. More often than not, it’s the memory that counts.

Simple version: “Goodbye is a comma, not a period.”

“All relationships go through hell but real relationships get through it.” – Unknown

Wow! That packs a punch, doesn’t it? And there’s no denying the truth of it, either. Every relationship goes through a period of turbulence – or five hundred. But meaningful relationships get past the noise and make it back into the sunlight where they first originated.

A good relationship requires several things. We’ve covered that in more detail in this article titled: 4 Pillars to Strengthen Any Relationship. We highly recommend that you read it. The link opens in a new tab so you can continue reading here.

In real life, that’s the test of a true relationship. Will you still be in ‘puppy love’ when you’re both in your 80s? We don’t mean the immature kind of puppy love where you only have eyes (and hands) for each other in public and in private; we’re talking about a truly mature relationship where there is trust, respect, and all that good stuff.

Many couples stay married for 30, 40, 50 years but choose to (yes, choose to) stay in hell all their lives. If each of them could just give in a little every once in a while, it’ll make the trip through hell much faster. Everyone goes through hell in a relationship, and everyone wants to come out on the other side; few actually do. For many of us, it remains a wish or a dream until the day we die.

Simple version: None!

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” – Arthur L. Williams Jr.

This one just resonates so much with what’s going on in the world today. Did you know (you probably do) that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce? Statistically speaking, for every 6.5 marriages per 1,000 population, there are 2.9 divorces per 1,000 population. That’s 44.6% of all marriages ending in a divorce. For God’s sake, why?

According to Couple Family Psychology, a research paper published several years ago, the top reason for divorce is lack of commitment. The second reason was infidelity. The third reason was too much conflict.

Top reasons for divorce - relationship quotes

If you boil it down to its essentials, the top three reasons are actually one reason – the going wasn’t easy and one or both of them gave up. Doesn’t that quote ring so true now? No relationship is easy. There are certainly commitment issues and doubts that crop up, there’s temptation at every turn, and there are often egg-shell egos involved. Unless both of you double down on making the relationship work, it only has a 50-50 chance. Is it a coincidence that this is almost exactly the ongoing divorce rate? We think not.

So, with respect to that quote, another way to put it would be that “anything worth your while is worth the effort.” Think about this for a moment. If everyone were as serious about their relationships as they are about their jobs, where do you think the divorce rate might be? As a corollary, if everyone expected their job to be as easy as their relationship to be, how often would a person have to look for a new job? You’d have half the country constantly switching jobs, wouldn’t you?

If your job is that important and you take great care to keep the one you have, why not put the same effort into relationships?

Back to our quote.

Simple version: The health of a relationship is directly proportionate to the effort you put in.

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A parting thought to give you something to mull over: Quoting someone is easy. The hard part is putting it into practice in your own life. Don’t think you can make people think you’re smart by spewing platitudes. That’ll probably work with acquaintances and random party guests but not with the people who really know you. If you’re going to be using any of these quotes to sound smarter, make sure you put the effort to imbibe their wisdom into your own life. If not, they’re just words that disappear into thin air the moment they’re spoken.

Relationship Advice Online: 7 Top Websites to Help Make your Relationship Work

Getting relationship advice online is probably the best way to open your mind to possibilities you didn’t know existed – from the comfort of your own home. While a lot of relationship and dating experts offer such online services for lonely hearts, very few are based on real-world experience and evidence-based information. That’s why it’s important that you only get online relationship advice from sites you can trust. Here, we list 7 top websites that can give you valuable and personalized tips and techniques to make your relationship work, whether it’s a long-distance relationship (LDR) or a geographically close relationship (GCR.)

But first, a fun section about how this all got started in the first place!

A History of “Agony Aunt” Columns

If you’ve never heard of the term, an Agony Aunt column is a popular inclusion in print publications from the past. Appearing in journals, magazines, and even daily newspapers, it was essentially a collection of questions from readers who would write in, and corresponding responses from the resident expert at the publication. It wasn’t unusual for a newspaper or magazine to hire a psychologist or other sort of professional as the in-house columnist providing such advice.

As such, these agony aunt columns for different types of relationship advice were around as early as the 17th century. Look at this report about such a column, which appeared in a 1692 edition of the Athenian Mercury, a biweekly periodical:

Complaints in the Athenian Mercury about a ‘Knot of Apprentices’ misbehaving with a ‘Servant Maid, of no good Reputation’ were frequent. The Athenian Society warned apprentices that such behavior risked ‘scandal and danger‘ to their reputations. The termination of an indenture could be ruinous to a young man’s prospects, and such conduct threatened his ‘Fame, Estate, Body, and ’tis to be fear’d Soul and all’. (March, 1692)

The advice column format itself is said to be the creation of John Dunton, who was the editor-in-chief of the Athenian Mercury. Here’s how they solicited letters from their readers:

All Persons whatever may be resolved gratis in any Question that their own satisfaction or curiosity shall prompt ’em to, if they send their Questions by a Penny Post letter to Mr. Smith at his Coffee-house in Stocks Market in the Poultry, where orders are given for the reception of such Letters, and care shall be taken for their Resolution by the next Weekly Paper after their sending.

Although the advice column was originally a generic one for any type of query, it set the tone for agony aunt columns in the following centuries. At its peak, which is generally considered to be around the 1960s, there were literally dozens of newspapers, periodicals, and magazines that published their own versions of the expert advice column, and it eventually became more specialized into advice for relationships, personal finance, medical problems, work-related queries, and so on.

So, how has this phenomenon been around for so long and why is it more popular today than ever? That’s the next question we’ll try to answer before we get into our list.

Why Look for Relationship Advice Online?

One of the reasons these columns were so popular is obviously because of the level of demand they enjoyed. And that demand stemmed from the fact that even so-called modern societies tend to be highly repressed when it comes to matters of a personal nature. With these columns, an avenue was created for readers to ask questions that were important to them.

That’s also why professional and online forums get high traffic for relationship advice online – because we often find it hard to communicate our feelings to our closest family members. Sadly, this sentiment that has been around for centuries hasn’t changed a bit. That speaks poorly about our collective ability to communicate our real feelings in public, doesn’t it?

Moreover, not everyone has a cool sibling or an understanding aunt who is also a qualified relationship expert. For these reasons, relationship advice websites have flourished in the age of the Internet. Some of the best ones are listed below.

Top 7 Websites for Relationship Advice Online

Reddit

Surprisingly, Reddit has emerged as one of the leading forums for people to ask any kind of relationship question they’re looking for an answer to. The main benefit of this, however, is also its biggest weakness: not everything you read is from experts. However, there are some subreddits, such as r/relationship_advice, that offer genuine and serious solutions, tips, and techniques to complicated relationship problems. One key feature is that specific comments can be upvoted by other readers, giving the person posting the question some indication of popular consensus for different solutions.

Pros

  • Crowdsourced solutions to personal relationship problems
  • Free for everyone
  • Option to remain anonymous

Cons

  • Not necessarily expert advice in the traditional sense
  • Too many comments to go through
  • Chance of being trolled

Quora

Another popular crowd-sourcing platform for personal questions is Quora, a highly regarded site. As with Reddit, the upvoting feature allows the questioner to sift through loads of responses and tag one as the best possible answer. Moreover, people who regularly get their responses upvoted by readers are eventually considered “experts” in specific categories where they are most active.

Pros

  • Free to use
  • Anonymity maintained
  • Upvoting offers a sort of filter to help sift through dozens of answers

Cons

  • Wide variations in the quality of answers offered
  • Not a forum for true experts on the subject
  • Wrong advice might end up getting upvoted

April Masini

Relationship expert April Masini has been covered by top media names such as The New York Times and Men’s Health magazine. Her approach is warm but she’s known for her directness and no-nonsense style. Her blog, AskApril.com, offers Relationship Advice, Relationship Issues, and various other categories where you can get answers to a wide range of relationship questions. For personalized answers, you’ll need to go to her Advice Forum on AprilMasini.com.

Pros

  • Expert advice
  • Well-known author and relationship expert

Cons

  • Ms. Masini has recently begun another project and may not be actively responding

Love is Respect

The loveisrespect.org website is an initiative started by the National Domestic Violence Hotline and focuses on violence in dating and relationships. It is primarily focused on teens and young adults who face physical, emotional, and other types of violence. The benefit here is the live 24/7 support for any related advice and the additional information for involving law enforcement officials if the situation warrants it. The site itself covers a wide range of topics such as consent, conflict resolution, setting boundaries, types of abuse, etc. that are important to the younger generation.

Pros

  • Expert advice with 24/7 live support
  • Rich with useful resources
  • Highly informational
  • Highlights awareness and provides education for others involved in the relationship, such as family and friends

Cons

  • Skews toward young adults and teens
  • Primarily focused on abuse in a relationship

BetterHelp

This site takes a different approach and focuses on relationship therapy. It offers personalized advice from licensed and registered therapists and support staff. It’s not free but is advertised as being affordable and convenient. Per the website: “The cost of counseling through BetterHelp ranges from $40 to $70 per week (billed monthly). You can cancel your membership at any time for any reason.”

Pros

  • Guaranteed expert advice
  • Wide range of issues covered for relationships, including marriage
  • Various options to connect – phone, chat, video, and texting

Cons

  • Need to pay before being connected with a therapist
  • No definite time-frame will be provided for resolution, which means paying weekly until you cancel

GayForum

A relatively mature site that’s been around for a few years, gayforum.org offers relationship advice for same-sex couples. You can post a new thread or have a discussion about your own issues in a related thread, and community members will chip in with their thoughts and advice.

Pros

  • Comments are given +1s so you can see if others agree with the advice given
  • Good site for same-sex couples to get advice on specific relationship topics
  • Decent range of issues covered

Cons

  • Not very well known or highly promoted
  • No expert advice available

eNotAlone

This is a lot like Quora and Reddit but not as popular. Still, it covers a lot of useful areas for various types of relationships, such as those with family members. It even offers community-based advice on personal growth and fulfillment, divorce, and other topics that are hard to talk about with people you know.

Pros

  • Free for everyone
  • Advice from a good range of age groups
  • Anonymous platform

Cons

  • No expert advice available

The Importance of Seeking Relationship Advice Online or Offline

We’ve covered several aspects of relationship advice online and where to get it. One key factor we’ve yet to discuss is the reason for seeking such advice. When we try to “fix” problems ourselves, we often tend to make them even more complicated. Even worse, getting the wrong sort of advice can hurt or even end a close relationship. That’s why getting advice from the right source is often critical to making a relationship work or saving it.

But getting relationship advice online is certainly not the only avenue open to you. Sometimes, there can be no replacement for formal therapy sessions with a licensed practitioner. However, it can be prohibitively expensive in most cases. That’s why people search for more affordable and even free avenues to ask the questions they wouldn’t dare ask a close friend or a family member.

Other Options for the Best Relationship Advice

Apart from these and other similar websites, there are also other avenues for you to explore:

  • Group therapy with a support group is a good alternative if you don’t mind the traditional “offline” method.
  • There are also several chat forums for relationship advice online where someone is usually available right through the day and night.
  • Social media. This might not be for everyone because it throws open your private life to practically everyone you’re connected to online. However, you can make your post private or just invite a few close friends and have a discussion about your relationship issue. Warning: Not every friend on social media is a real friend. You need to earn those, not just accept friend requests!
  • Some sites offer virtual or physical Meetup sessions with people in your area, which are similar to group therapy sessions but for very specific relationship issues.
  • You can also search for relationship quotes from famous personalities. A lot of websites aggregate and organize such quotes so you can search with specific keywords. Something might set off a spark in your brain that eventually solves your problem.
  • Podcasts are another way to get expert relationship advice. One such channel is Dr. Brian Rzepczynski’s The Gay Love Coach podcast, which you can find on Apple iTunes or the new Apple Podcasts app, which was introduced when iTunes was deprecated in macOS Catalina.
  • Internet radio is another place for great relationship advice, and you can privately listen to your favorite channels with Bluetooth earplugs so nobody knows what you’re listening to.
  • Talk to a friend or family member. You might not feel comfortable at first, but try broaching the subject with a close confidant or family member you’re especially close to. Sometimes, the best relationship advice comes from the people who know and understand you better than a complete stranger.
  • Talk to your partner. This is actually the first thing you should do before seeking any sort of relationship advice, especially if it’s something that’s been bothering you for a while. Open and honest communication are the hallmarks of any great relationship, and you’ll only get there if you start to make the effort.

Getting relationship advice online or offline is great when it’s from an expert or even a group of people with similar experiences, but two-way communication is always a better option. That way, you can get into details of your issue and dig deeper until you find the solution. If you want to know the recipe for a healthy relationship, we suggest you read this article as well.

Friendship Lamps to Strengthen a Long-distance Relationship – Check it Out!

Relationship Killers: Japan’s Thriving “Breakup Service” Exposed

We’ve all heard of private investigators being hired to spy on cheating spouses, but have you ever heard of a private agent that you can hire to seduce your partner and help you break off a relationship or file for divorce? Such services have been available in Japan for more than two decades now. People can engage a ‘wakaresaseya’ to woo their partners, seduce them, and have a colleague take compromising pictures to make a case to file for a divorce. And that’s the best-case scenario, where a simple threat of exposure can often get the job done. But not in every case.

The wakaresaseya network (the word literally means “break-uppers”) became globally newsworthy when one of its members ended up killing the woman he was hired to seduce. Takeshi Kuwabara was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder of Rie Isohata, whose husband had hired Kuwabara to deliberately entrap his wife in a compromising situation. Photographs were taken and were to be used to file for divorce. Unfortunately, things never got that far.

The death of Isohata had opened a can of worms, and the wakaresaseya networks had to face a slew of regulatory restrictions and the consequences of having their operational methods thrown wide open for everyone to see. The public became warier after this and the network struggled to carry out their operations. They almost became obsolete at that point. But only almost.

This was back in 2010. A decade down the road, such networks are once again surfacing. One count suggests that there are at least 270 such “agencies” who offer their services online to niche customers. The practice itself is naturally considered to be less-than-honorable by most people in Japan, but there are still those who engage the services of these unscrupulous operators for their own benefit.

And the service is not cheap, as you can imagine. Some of the more seasoned operators can charge as much as $5,000 for a “regular” case. Special cases are often charged to the tune of $150,000 or more.

There are even consultancies that guide clients to different agencies, collecting a commission from them for each signed-up client.

Contrary to what might seem obvious to most of us – that most people hire a wakaresaseya to break up their marriage – the fact is that many clients actually do this to try and break up an affair they suspect their spouse is having with someone else. The process is very complex and involves three or four other agents, all of whom have a specific role to play.

It begins with someone hiring a wakaresaseya to spy on their spouse to confirm the affair. Once confirmed, a colleague of the wakaresaseya befriends the target, and another colleague befriends the target’s lover. After months of painstaking efforts to coordinate movements and plans, a dinner party is arranged, where the target and the lover are invited by the people who befriended them. A fourth colleague now enters the scene to seduce the lover away from the target. The job is complete when the affair breaks up, but sources say the client often comes back because their spouse is having another affair with someone else, and the cycle starts all over again.

It’s almost like a spy movie where the enemy is infiltrated and then sabotaged from the inside. But in this case, hearts are broken and relationships ruined.

The industry itself is quite large in Japan and has been around since long before the Kuwabara-Isohata case. As early as in 2020, The Los Angeles Times did a report on such agencies where it was reported that a handful of agencies operating in Tokyo could be making tens of millions of dollars in revenue with hundreds of clients. And some of these agencies say that even though breaking up a couple is a tough challenge, they are able to boast of success rates of up to 90% in many cases.

Legitimate agencies claim that their agents are well-versed in Japanese law and never break them in the course of their work. That’s possibly why the Kuwabara case received so much attention. It led to the worst crime of all. Murder. However, it is not entirely unknown for an agency to blackmail a target, threatening to expose sensitive information if they objected to the divorce or threatened action against the agency. It works because Japanese culture places great importance on modesty and honor, especially where women are concerned but it is equally true for men, albeit in lesser measure.

In one particular case, an accountant husband was the target of a wife who wanted to be with her old college lover. The strategy was to lead the husband to be infected with an embarrassing venereal disease and then blackmail him to voluntarily divorce her by threatening to release his medical records to his company. Such cases are not unusual and clearly show that not everything is above board in this industry despite what the agencies claim.

Today, the industry is thriving like it was before the gruesome incident in 2010. And the James Bond-like excitement of the job profile attracts many well-to-do professionals who want to work as agents because they’re bored with their lives. It’s not unusual to see resumes and applications from lawyers, stockbrokers, doctors, and other professionals, according to reports from agencies offering this service.

There’s a huge market in Japan – and even other countries – for companies offering “relationship services” like this one. It is possibly one of the most dishonorable extensions to already-seedy reputations that private investigators have. Whatever happened to simply spying on someone to catch them in an act of infidelity? Sigh, I miss the good old days.

Are You in a Healthy Relationship? 4 Pillars to Strengthen Any Relationship

Relationships are hard – blood or otherwise. But the hardest relationships are often the ones we choose to get into, not the ones we’re born into. Perhaps it’s because we tend to take our blood relationships for granted, or because we give a lot of leeway and discounts to family members; or perhaps it’s because there’s an unbreakable bond even between estranged members of the same family that we can never really shake off or leave behind. The real challenge is in keeping a healthy relationship with people that we’re not obligated to. That means friends, lovers, spouses, life partners, and soulmates.

Now, obviously, we’re not talking about relationships like those between an employer and a worker or a business owner and their customer. Those aren’t relationships; they’re merely functional units of society that we need for baser purposes, like putting food on the table or paying the light bill. Even a nurse-patient or doctor-patient relationship is not part of the category of relationships that we cover here. Those, too, are social interdependencies rather than true relationships. However, they are broadly called relationships because they involve some sort of interaction between two or more parties.

Back to our point, most of us go through life just ‘maintaining’ relationships instead of nurturing them and caring for them. Like delicate saplings, relationships, too, need their own versions of food, water, sunlight, and space to grow. That brings us to the four pillars of a healthy relationship and how to strengthen and fortify them so the relationship grows stronger, not weaker, with time.

The Four Pillars of a Healthy Relationship

The First Pillar: Love, the Basic Food of Every Relationship

Love in its many shapes forms the foundation of any relationship. Unfortunately, the word has been so abused over the years that it has lost its true meaning. Love is not about physical intimacy or even being on the same mental wavelength. It goes beyond that, into the realm where ‘the self’ is forgotten and a deeper connection between souls is established. The physical part of love is what’s being focused on now because of Hollywood and its version of “what people want.”

In truth, love begins in a realm where souls are inexplicably connected to each other by a bond that goes beyond blood, beyond similar backgrounds, and beyond any physical aspect. There can be true love between friends of the same sex with no hint of sexuality, which is antithetical to what is usually depicted in movies and other forms of media entertainment. Well, that’s not entirely true. There’s ‘bromance’, for one. The point is, love is the basis of any relationship. Everything else – respect, admiration, sacrifice, even obsession, is born from love.

As such, love is the first pillar of any relationship. Indeed, we can go so far as to say that no relationship can exist without love.

The Second Pillar: Trust, the Water of a Relationship

Trust is the water that carries the essential nutrients to feed a healthy relationship. Without love, there is no trust; and without trust, there is nothing else. Communication arises from trust – or, at least, the hope of trusting and being trusted. Communication itself cannot exist if there is no trust. That’s what happened in the Cold War Era between the Western and Eastern Bloc nations post World War II. Neither side was able to trust the other, so communication eventually deteriorated into a situation where espionage was the only way to get any reliable information about what was going on on the other side.

Relationships are like that as well. If there is no trust, there can be no meaningful communication. That’s why we invented small talk! It allows us to socially engage with people we barely know and still remain civil. In a relationship of any kind, the element of trust allows us to let down our guard and reveal our true selves, just like water nourishes a sapling and allows it to spread its leaves and gather the sun’s rays rather than shrink and wither away into nothingness.

Trust is much more important than you might think it is. Just like love, it is one of the four pillars that keep a relationship upright and growing. And, just like that plant, if a relationship isn’t growing, it’s dying. There’s no such thing as a relationship that has already achieved its highest purpose; it is an evolutionary process that is ongoing. Therefore, love and trust are the food and water of any healthy relationship. And these form the first two pillars of a healthy relationship.

The Third Pillar: Acknowledgment, the Sunlight that Enriches a Relationship

Call it what you will: recognition, respect, admiration, adulation, appreciation, etc. The fact remains that healthy relationships need both parties to acknowledge the value that each brings to the relationship. It can take different forms, but what it is is a recognition of what the other person is contributing toward making the relationship work.

The interesting part is, this acknowledgment needs to be explicit, not implicit. In many relationships, one or the other partner tends to take the position of ‘he knows I respect him’ or ‘she knows I value her opinions.’ Unfortunately, the other person seldom knows. That’s why it is important to make your respect or admiration known to the other person. It can be directed to that person or even alluded to in a conversation with someone else. The point is, it must come through in a perceptible form.

In a recent article we wrote about celebrities who have successfully navigated the murky waters of long-distance relationships, we noted that respect for the other person was amply visible in their behavior and their words. In several interviews and conversations, Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband Matthew Broderick clearly complemented each other’s positive traits. That’s what couples, friends, and family members in any healthy relationship do. They ‘edify’ each other regardless of whether the other person is present to witness it or not. This is the third pillar of a healthy relationship.

The Fourth Pillar: Independence, the Space to Grow

Even with love, trust, and acknowledgment, a relationship is like a wobbly three-legged stool. In order to achieve greater stability, there must also be independence and space for the relationship to grow even stronger. Many relationships we know, or are a part of, have the first three pillars figured out, but the relationship still struggles because we stifle each other, not allowing each other the space to stretch and explore new avenues without us.

Love, trust, and acknowledgment are not enough without giving each other room to experience new possibilities and pursuits. Most of us tend to stay within our comfort zones because of the fear that the other person won’t give their blessings or approval, or even acceptance. It is often the missing piece of the puzzle in a relationship where everything else seems to be in place but it doesn’t appear to form a whole picture.

If you think about it, this aspect is missing in most of our relationships. Maybe that’s why it’s called a bond – because it’s like being tied to something. If we can recognize and overcome this fear that giving the other person the freedom to explore their surroundings will somehow make us lose them, it will go a long way in strengthening the relationship. Remember that beautiful saying: “if you love something, set it free; if it comes back to you, it’s yours; if it doesn’t, it never was”? Remember that one? That’s exactly what the fourth pillar of a healthy relationship is about. It’s about having the faith to let go, and the confidence in the strength of the relationship. And that confidence can only come when the first three pillars are firmly in place.

In conclusion, every relationship that is founded on these four pillars eventually becomes a thing of beauty. Just like that little sapling that you watered, nourished, planted under ample sunlight, and gave adequate space to grow ultimately became a towering structure that benefited the environment around it in a myriad of ways, your relationship will eventually turn into a healthy one that others will admire and, hopefully, try to emulate in their own lives.

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