Growing up, many of us were bombarded with images and ideas of what a relationship “should” look like. A lot of this is thanks to societal ideas, media, and our various cultures. These kinds of influences can sometimes make you feel like you’re doing something wrong if your relationships don’t match what you’ve been led to believe is “right”. You might be feeling external and internal pressure to go about your relationships in a certain way that doesn’t necessarily feel natural to you.
The thing is, there’s no one right way to go about relationships. Humans are so different, with so many different needs, and our relationships will reflect that, whether they’re romantic, friendships, or familial. We’re here to normalize every part of being human, including our relationships. So how do you approach relationships? Let’s explore what that means.
A lot of what influences our approach to relationships is examined through psychological theories. One of the first things that come to mind when talking about approaches to relationships is attachment theory. Simply put, this is a theory that aims to explain why different people form different kinds of attachments. These typically evolve during childhood but carry over into our adult relationships, especially romantic ones.
The main styles of attachment in adults are:
- Secure attachment
- Anxious-avoidant attachment
- Anxious-resistant attachment
These attachment styles can change over time, especially after going to therapy or other types of healing. Another relationship theory to consider is the “love languages”. These are the ways that people give and receive love and affection. Knowing your and your partner’s dominant love language or languages can help shape your relationship and feel more secure in it.
The main love languages are:
- Words of affirmation
- Receiving gifts
- Physical touch
- Quality time
- Acts of service
Sometimes the way we approach relationships is a result of different traumas or unhealthy patterns we’re repeating as a way of protecting ourselves. This might show up in feeling mistrustful, insecure, or avoidant in relationships.
What Are Your Needs?
Everyone needs different things in relationships, but the biggest underlying themes are support, community, pleasure, connection, and security. That being said, we have different varying needs within our relationships. For most people, sexual satisfaction is a huge part of that. People who are interested in exploring kink or other forms of sexual activities might have that at the front and center of their relationships. There are many different types of relationships too. People who are non-monogamous or polyamorous will have different dating styles than people who are monogamous.
Some people prioritize adventure in their relationships while others might want to focus on creativity or stability – or all of the above. When you start seeing someone, there are slow burners or people who prefer to establish friendships and get to know someone before diving in. Then some people seem to know right away or like the passion and heat of a fiery new relationship. And everywhere in between. Your needs in relationships are totally valid, and it’s important to honor them and communicate if they’re not being met.
Communication is Key
It’s important to know how you approach relationships, but it’s also important to know how your partner or people you’re dating do. One of the best ways you can do this is through clear communication. Communication is the building block to a healthy relationship and to understanding how the other works and may work together. Communicating allows you to share your needs, feelings, and backgrounds, build intimacy, and help you have mindblowing sex!
So Many Ways to Love
Variety is the spice of life. This is definitely true when it comes to our relationships. There are a lot of different factors that influence how we approach love, dating, and relationships overall, but the most important thing to remember is that there’s no one right way. Keep in mind that as you grow and evolve as a person, your approach to relationships might change, even within the same relationship.
If you feel like your approach to relationships is limiting, not the healthiest, or not working for you – there are things you can do to change it. This is especially true if you find yourself in repeated relationships that aren’t working or giving you what you need. Self-examination and work outside of your relationships in turn change how you approach them. This can be done through meditation, therapy, and journaling. If you’re looking to grow and change within your relationship, you can consider going to couples therapy together.
Evaluating your relationship style brings mindfulness to one of the most important areas in life. It can help you examine what you’ve been doing, and what you can change so that you can have a relationship that feels healthy and fulfilling, and that you can grow. What matters is that you feel empowered, secure, and comfortable in your relationships, and feel like your needs are being met.