Whether you buy into the “show-me-how-much-you-love-me” mentality of Valentine’s Day or take a pass on the flowers and chocolates, relationship goals are a real thing.

Most people understand that relationships are important for our health and wellbeing. But do they know how to foster them?

Whether you buy into the “show-me-how-much-you-love-me” mentality of Valentine’s Day or take a pass on the flowers and chocolates, relationship goals are a real thing.

Most people understand that relationships are important for our health and wellbeing. But do they know how to foster them?

“Good relationships take time, thought, trust, respect, love and care,” says Serina Neumann, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at EVMS. “They grow over time and it is normal to have some ups and downs.” 

But exactly how do you set relationship goals that are healthy? Try starting with these five tips:

Talk, talk, talk

Keep communication open even when the topics are difficult or cause conflict.  It builds love and trust.  With romantic relationships, Dr. Neumann says, touch base often and make sure you spend a few minutes each day talking about something together — without distraction— at a deeper level that helps you to know one another better.

Never assume

Reflection is a must.  Be sure to summarize what each other is saying in order to make sure assumptions are not being made.

Try new things

One important key is to keep things interesting, Dr. Neumann says. Try new things together, like taking a new class, tasting new foods, listing to music, exploring art or undertaking a project.

Find balance

There are such things as not enough and too much of a good thing. It’s important that couples find a good balance between giving each other space and spending time together. This is a learning process and can be different for each couple, Dr. Neumann says, so make sure to check in with each other to ensure you both understand what balance looks like in your relationship.

Don’t shy away

Conflict is not uncommon in relationships and needs to be discussed calmly. Enter into these conversations with a goal to increase each other’s understanding of the situation. It should never be a win-lose or placing blame type of discussion, Dr. Neumann says.