If you search "millennials and romantic relationships" your get results like, Millennials Are Killing Relationships and We Should Be Concerned, Why Millennials Are Failing to Shack Up, and my personal favorite: Are Millennials a Generation Losing the Ability to Love?
And while I agree that we can be paralyzed by our seemingly endless options, imagining that the perfect person for us actually exists, and thinking that as long as we keep swiping right on Tinder we'll eventually find "The One" -- the Forever One -- I call bullshit.
I'm a firm believer that people rise to the expectations people set for them. And if the majority of the world thinks we suck at love and can't commit, or that we refuse to grow up, we'll end up doing exactly that -- while complaining from our carton of Ben & Jerry's that we're horribly alone, everybody sucks, and wondering where the hell all our options ran off to.
A Better Conversation About Millennials and Relationships
I want to have a different conversation about millennials and relationships. Instead of telling you that we're all shitty at love, I want to talk about what millennials can do to make love work.
Enter Robyn D'Angelo. Robyn is the founder and creator of The Happy Couple Expert. She's a licensed marriage and family therapist and a specialist in anxiety disorder. She works with couples to help them create the fulfilling relationships they've been looking for.
She does a lot of her work with millennials, and has a passion helping a specific type of couple that's been gaining popularity since the 1980s: the Dual Income No Kids couple, or DINKs.
Recently, D'Angelo shared with me some quick and easy things that you can do to make your relationship even better.
The Biggest Problem Millennials Face in Relationships
When it comes to our relationships, we can all identify a few little things that we think are wrong. Maybe your partner can't seem to figure out that the dishwasher is just to the right of the sink. Maybe your partner doesn't realize that the floor isn't actually the largest shelf in your whole house. Or maybe you're still trying to show your partner that if she just parked her car a whole damn inch to the left, you could both fit your cars in the garage -- which is why you bought the house in the first place.
What you're saying when you say nothing.
But by far, D'Angelo says that the biggest problem people think they have is that they can't communicate, but that's not actually the problem.
Instead, she tells them, "You can communicate, you're just not doing it well... even when you shut down, you're still sending a message."
Fights are going to happen. It's inevitable. You might even fight about something stupid like laundry. But how you communicate when you fight can be the basis for a wonderful and growing relationship -- or one headed for disaster.
D'Angelo suggests one small change to make your fights more productive and end faster.
The difference between growing closer -- or falling apart.
Show your partner that you do see and hear them, before telling them your side of it of the argument.
That can mean showing that you're listening to what they said by repeating it back to them. You can let them know that you see they're upset and respect that they're angry. You can even ask if they need some time to process before finishing the argument.
Feeling seen, heard, and accepted by your partner will bring you closer together because it allows you to find a solution, instead of both of you screaming at each other until one person gives up and walks away.
Which brings me to the next thing...
How Are You Fighting?
Fights happen for a myriad of reasons: many times just because you caught your partner at the wrong time of day or in a moment when they couldn't handle any more stress.
When that happens, it's easy to get upset and consider just saying the comeback that's on the tip of your tongue. But, when you feel like that's about to happen, pause for a minute before you say anything.
Take 10 seconds to ask yourself, "Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?"
If you answered, "I want to be happy," then you're on the right track to having better fights.
How to change a fight from destructive to productive.
Instead of getting defensive, get curious. Ask your partner, "What's happening right now? What's going on?"
By asking this question, it shows our partner that we understand they're going through a difficult moment, and that we acknowledge that there's something else that needs to be discussed.
It communicates to them that you see and hear them, and that you're interested in working through the issue -- and not just in having the last word or protecting a bruised ego.
How Happy Are You in Your Relationship?
D'Angelo says that to be happy in relationships, you have to be seen, supported, and understood.
Deep down, I think we know this. We all want someone to know how we feel, to understand us better than we understand ourselves, and too look at us like they just get it. So how can you do this?
The happiest couples all have this in common.
D'Angelo says that the happiest couples she's seen all have one thing in common.
They do little things for one another to show their partner that they're loved and appreciated. They choose their partner each and every day by putting in the effort to show they care.
She says that the best way to do this is to know your partner's love language, so that you can show your love for them in a way that they'll appreciate most. You can take the free 5 Love Languages Quiz, and have your partner take it, too.
And it doesn't have to be huge gestures or gifts. It can be small things that you know your partner appreciates: sending a text to let them know you're thinking about them, bringing them a treat when you've been out all day, or tidying up just so they don't have to.
The little things add up, and set a foundation that lets your partner know that they're at the forefront of your mind.
Next Steps to Build Your Happy, Lasting Relationship
If you're looking to make your relationship even better, check out D'Angelo's interview series, Creating EPIC Relationships for Wildly Successful Child-Free Couples starting Monday, April 11th.
In this summit, D'Angelo talks with experts from all over the world to provide resources ranging from investment advice to real-estate to travel -- specifically for child-free couples. It's packed with great information and fun tips that you can use to create an epic relationship.
(Disclosure: I give travel advice for couples in this interview series, since my partner and I have been on the road now for about 15 months straight!)
Your turn to show the love.
Why did you choose your partner? And what's one small thing you can do today to show them that you love and appreciate them today? Share the love in the comments!