Building a new relationship, seeking out partnership, and strengthening an existing relationship all take some basic but powerful mindsets in order for the individuals involved to continuously connect and celebrate one another. While it can be easy for generally positive, forward-thinking couples to view their relationship with optimism, these five relationship mindsets are essential for long-term success.
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck studied the effects that mindsets play in families, friendships, and couples. She found that those who operated within a fixed mindset tended to idealize love in ways that stifled any potential relationship discovery. Those with stagnant mindsets look for someone that checks all of their boxes rather than seeks to build and grow with another person. Often, these people will desire relationships that already feel “perfect” and like they’ve found “the one” quickly, rather than invest time in recognizing where they and someone may be able to evolve a match, together.
In contrast, those with a growth mindset are willing to spend some time giving a relationship adequate room for prosperity. These people often understand the importance of communication, boundaries, and trust, allowing their partners the grace to grow and change as well.
Relationships made up of two people with growth mindsets have strong potential to allow both parties to continuously improve and seek fulfillment in life as well as in love. Because those with a growth mindset are more likely to accept changes within their partner, as long as their base values remain the same, both individuals will feel supported, celebrated, and cherished.
While not everyone is in the right mindset for a relationship, starting with the development of a growth mindset can put anyone in the dating scene leagues ahead of those looking to check some boxes. Dating someone with a fixed mindset or a relationship mentality that doesn’t match your own can be frustrating. Love and mindset go hand and hand, and pairing a growth mindset with the others on this list are the best ways to build the internal strength and explorative mentality needed to find and build upon relationships.
Recognizing if you have more of a fixed or growth mindset can be difficult, particularly if you have so much going on in your day-to-day life that you forget to prioritize cultivating self-awareness. What is self-awareness? According to Dr. Tasha Eurich, there are two types of self-awareness.
Internal self-awareness represents how clearly we understand our own reactions to feelings and how thoroughly we are able to understand our values, aspirations, and impact on others. She found that those with internal self-awareness are more likely to enjoy their jobs, feel content with their friendships, and practice gratitude. When it comes to romantic partnerships, self-awareness allows us to gather ourselves together and find a way to stand up for ourselves without putting others down. This means disagreements remain respectful and both parties can learn from each other rather than giving up at the slightest inconvenience.
External self-awareness comes from understanding how other people respond to our goals and personality traits. Dr. Eurich’s research showed that people who know how others see them are more empathetic and accepting of constructive criticism. Recognizing how your potential partner talks about their exes, for example, can prevent you from attaching yourself to someone who has narcissistic or selfish tendencies.
External self-awareness can help you have a similar mindset to your partner’s, increase communication, and increase the fun in your mentality. Internal self-awareness can give you the mental fortitude to accept healthy criticism about who you are as a partner and encourage your relationship to be built on gratitude and growth. Seeking out self-awareness examples is a great place to start in building this skillset.
This idea is slightly more applicable to those seeking a new relationship but can be applied to those hoping to strengthen their existing relationship as well. Dealing with rejection is one of the most emotionally taxing aspects of dating, period. It can be difficult not to take rejection personally when the forward momentum of a new partnership is cut off due to a lost or missing connection.
It is important to remember that rejection isn’t a personal failure, it’s just feedback. The person who decided not to respond to your direct message or go out for a second date is likely simply not right for you and you can choose to grow from the experience rather than let it shrink you. Rejection from one relationship brings you one step closer to the relationship that is meant for you.
Rejection can also occur in a smaller way in long-term relationships. Whether it’s denying time in favor of getting more work done or negative feedback about something you did in the bedroom, rejection in these small ways present space for communication and evolution. Take it as a redirection opportunity to see how you can assist your partner in taking some work off their plate so they can give you their attention or to experiment with new tactics in bed that actually excites them.
Rejection is an opportunity, not a loss.
When we prioritize curiosity over making assumptions, we open up opportunities to learn from our perspective and current partners. Being curious in relationships encourages your partner to open up, consider real vulnerability, and feel confident asking you to do the same.
Think about it, isn’t it attractive when someone is curious about you?
Curiosity is a building block of intimacy, jumping off of the thrill of the unknown and landing in the daily, more average, questions and building blocks that keep a relationship interesting. Couples can be together for years without learning crucial pieces of one another’s stories due to a lack of curiosity. This not only makes the individuals in the relationship feel dull but can make the entire partnership feel stale.
When couples assume that they can predict their partner’s thoughts, emotions, and reactions, curiosity can fade. While knowing someone is comforting, postulating that you know everything about them even with their fluid goals, changes, and interests is dangerous. It’s one thing to know how your partner likes their coffee and another when you assume they’re exactly the same person you fell for years ago.
Curiosity can increase the potential for recognizing the likes and dislikes of your partner, something the Gottman Institute identifies as Love Maps, and healthy relationships have both a healthy dose of each person feeling known and feeling enthralling to their loved one.
Your significant other might be your best friend. Even in friendships, independence is critically important if you want to enjoy that person’s presence in your life for the long term. You may confide everything to this person, choose them as your date for every event, and spend each evening cuddled up with them on the couch.
While there is nothing wrong with devoting lots of time and care to a relationship, independence has huge benefits in a romantic relationship, too. Co-dependence is something to avoid because the most healthy relationships star two independent people who decide to share their lives and form a relationship together while still prioritizing their own ambitions and desired lifestyles.
Too much independence in a relationship, even a committed relationship, can also cause problems, though. The goal is to hold space for both alone time to work towards goals and time together, strengthening a mutually beneficial bond. Balancing independence and marriage or partnership is something that takes practice. Maintaining yourself and allowing your partner to be fully themselves can be worked towards by communicating thoughtfully about wants and needs and purposefully discussing examples of independence in a relationship.
When seeking a new relationship or working towards the strength of an existing partnership, these mindsets will increase your likelihood of ease in positive vulnerability, personal growth, and overall success. Each relationship is different, but these basic mentalities can be applied to each aspect of your life and passed on by both conversation and example.
Hi, I’m Raghed!
Founder and lead relationship coach at HeartAppeal.
Our blog will be your new favorite place to go for advice, laughs, and comfort through all the stages of dating. We stay up-to-date on all the latest dating trends, so you don’t have to. Have a topic you’d like us to cover or a story you’d like to share with our community? Send me an email; we’d love to include it!