San Francisco is a city full of opportunities for romance and connection. But falling for someone is the easiest part of any relationship. There’s a reason burgeoning relationships are referred to as being in the “honeymoon” phase. It’s the time for puppy love, getting to know each other and building something together. Sometimes, these couples realize things aren’t meant to be—whether amicably or more painfully. But the longer a couple has been together, the less likely they are to want to give up on each other. It’s less like picking up our lunch tray to walk away and more like destroying an entire home.
Take a breath together and realize it may not be as bad as it seems. As we form a deeper connection with someone, we learn more about them and become more vulnerable ourselves. Clashes are bound to happen as you learn to reconcile with each other, and your mental health, individually and as a couple, plays a key role. Relationships are meant to be intentional, not passive. To help you strengthen your bond together, let’s take a look at meaningful relationships and how to strengthen them.
Understanding What Makes a Relationship Last
It’s pretty easy to get swept away in the romance and excitement of a new relationship. It doesn’t help that not everyone is given an understanding of the building blocks to form a lasting relationship. Perhaps you came from a home with a strong single mother who wasn’t interested in entering the dating scene. Or you’ve had a traumatic relationship in the past and don’t really know healthy behaviors in a relationship. There’s nothing wrong with not having the information in the beginning; the important thing is to learn and grow with your partner. So let’s take a look at the basic building blocks of a meaningful relationship.
Love is an emotion, but it is also a choice and an intention. As your relationship continues, you need to take a more active approach to loving your partner. Your emotions shouldn’t control who you are; your mind and your heart need to work together. Love is more than a feeling; it’s action. Be purposeful about spending time with them, helping them when they’re sick, or staying with them when things get difficult. Be attentive to their needs. Relationships shouldn’t be 50/50— they should average 100/100, with occasional concessions during difficult times.
Trust is the foundation of a stable relationship, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to understand what may lead to a lack of trust initially, but you should also be actively working to overcome that barrier. When you trust your partner, you feel secure, safe in your relationship. You’re less likely to be jealous of their friendships or feel insecure. And you’re more likely to communicate openly and build intimacy. Many things can happen in our lives that affect our ability to trust or cause our anxiety to spike, but a lack of trust in a relationship can quickly drain you both. Be aware of your mental health to know if you actually distrust your partner or if you are being affected by other things. If it’s your partner who is struggling, be patient with them and find ways to work together to build trust.
Despite what fiction would have us believe, humans cannot read minds. While there are many of us who are more observant of non-verbal communication or can guess moods accurately, others tend to overanalyze and overthink or miss cues— especially when we’re getting to know each other. If you want a strong relationship, you need to be open and communicative with each other. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of San Francisco, so try setting aside time each day to talk without distractions. Talk about any concerns you have, but also share your latest joys. Communicating with each other shouldn’t just be a venting session about the difficulties of life; that can burden your relationship and lead to a sense of apprehension when you get together.
Intimacy is not just physical touch— it’s also an emotional connection. Being vulnerable with each other, so you can come together in difficult times. It means supporting each other and sharing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Creating intimacy takes time, but some couples need a little help to get started. Past experiences can heavily influence our ability to be intimate with someone, and there’s no shame in that.
The Power of Psychotherapy for Couples
Psychotherapists have spent years studying human behavior and mental health. Just like we go to a doctor for our physical health, you can go to a psychotherapist for your mental health. Couples psychotherapy in San Francisco can help you overcome communication and intimacy issues and better understand what’s holding you back in your relationship. Your therapist can help you discover the root causes of any conflict, whether it truly is a clash of the minds or if something from another relationship is influencing how you interpret what your partner is saying.
Couples counseling can be a powerful tool for strengthening relationships and improving your overall mental health. While it’s true there is a stigma attached to the idea of counseling, society is slowly beginning to understand the importance of mental health and see counseling as more of a tool to strengthen individuals and couples at any stage of their life. There is nothing to be ashamed of when seeking help from a professional— it’s no different than going to a cooking class to learn from a professional chef.
Whether you’re starting to build your life together or have been partners for decades, there is no ‘wrong time’ to find a therapist. Take that next intentional step for your relationship, and strengthen your relationship more than ever before.