1. Learn each other’s Myers-Briggs personality type.
Sometimes it can seem as if the person you love is literally speaking a different language, or acting like an absolute idiot for no good reason. Every couple is susceptible to the kind of talk-over-each-other, hamster wheel type fighting that ensues when two people just don’t understand each other because each of us has different needs, different methods of handling our emotions, and different ways of seeing the world. But you can reduce the misunderstandings that lead to relationship strife by doing your best to unravel the complex inner workings of your own mind, and your partner’s. One way to do this is by agreeing to take the Myers-Briggs personality test so you can share your results and learn as much as possible about each other’s types. Understanding your boyfriend or girlfriend’s personality will help you appreciate their fundamental needs, behavioral tendencies, and cognitive processes (i.e., how and why they act the way they do). When two people understand how each other’s brains are wired—when they can actually see things from the other person’s perspective—they’re better positioned to navigate the inevitable ups and downs that mark all relationships.
2. Learn each other’s love language, too.
Even when you’re dating someone who truly respects you, it’s possible to feel less loved than you’d like. But feeling unloved by your significant other doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not taking measures to demonstrate their heartfelt affection. According to relationship expert Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages, we each rely on one of five different methods of emotional communication. The five love languages are: gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch. Since we’re programmed to demonstrate our love in the manner we like to receive it, and we don’t all speak the same language, a lot is often lost in translation. For instance, if someone fluent in the language of gift giving relies on showering their partner, who appreciates quality time above all, with thoughtful presents as a means of expressing their love, both parties are bound to end up frustrated over time. Once you’re aware of your partner’s love language, however, you can learn how to speak their native tongue and start catering to them more mindfully. You don’t even have to read Chapman’s book to figure out your love language! You just have to fill out a short online survey.
3. Exchange “This Is Why I Love You” Lists.
“Why do you love me?” is a question we all ask our partners at some point—out of pure curiosity and/or insecurity. No matter how strongly you feel about a person, you’re bound to doubt the relationship on occasion. After all, loving someone requires being vulnerable to another human, which is terrifying. But things are a little less scary if both parties are committed to answering the why me? question without prompting. Every so often, be proactive about writing out a list of the things you love about your significant other, including their most lovable quirks as well as specific examples of noteworthy acts from your recent history as a couple. This exercise will remind you why you’re still in love (or not, in which case your broken relationship probably isn’t worth saving), and the thoughtful listicle will provide your partner with the reassurance they covet before they even ask for it. This is also a super fun way to maintain an unofficial record of your coupledom as it evolves.
4. Set Synchronized “Think Of Me” Alarms.
The sound that wakes you up every morning is annoying as hell, but an alarm that rings midday to remind you that you’re loved by your significant other will make you smile wider than a swollen river. Even if you’re only able to ponder the beauty of your relationship for a mere few seconds, it’s comforting to know that your partner is spending the same few brief moments thinking of you from wherever they are. You can even get creative with your daily reminders, taking turns drafting the text that appears at the agreed upon time. Whether you cite an inside joke, get a little sexy, or go with the simple “I love you,” a daily joint alarm is an easy to implement, effective method of ensuring an ongoing sense of closeness.
5. Leave Your Phones Behind.
There are always a million reasons to bring your phone on a date: You need the internet to Google the best Thai place in the neighborhood you’re heading to after the movie, your sense of direction sucks so you rely on GPS to get you everywhere, you’re expecting an important email, etc. But you can’t give someone your undivided attention with a phone in your handbag or back pocket. Here’s a fun fact: People have long been able to fend for themselves without the help of a smart phone. Ditch the digital ball and chain and pay full attention to your mate on occasion. There’s a lot of value in disconnecting together. You’ll feel isolated in your very own, non-tech bubble.