How to Grow Together Instead of Growing Apart

One of the reasons so many couples down make it in the long term is simply that they grow apart. Any healthy, driven, self-reflective person is going to change throughout her life, and we should all aim to do so if we want to grow as people. The key is to change in positive ways while retaining the relationships that feed our souls along the way. Here are some ways to work on growing alongside your man without risking growing apart.

  1. Be honest with each other. Often, especially in the beginning stages of relationships, it seems like you could save a whole lot of drama by not making big things out of all the little things… which is true to a certain extent, unless those “little” things aren’t so little after all. Stuff we bottle up has a tendency to explode under pressure later when the other person is blindsided by it. Addressing things as they come gives your partner the opportunity to understand how to make you happy and vice versa.
  2. Discuss the future. Maybe you’re not discussing your plans for children on the first date, but it is realistic after a while to talk about things like where you both would like to settle down, at what point, and while doing what with your lives. Being on the same page is great, but usually there will be some compromise needed from both parties and it’s better to know what those might be early on. Which brings us to…
  3. Be willing to compromise. The ability to compromise can’t be underrated in a healthy relationship. One day you’re single doing whatever the heck you please and the next day, bam! Someone else is interjecting his opinions, disagreeing with half the things you say and making you question this whole altogether… even though you can’t seem to get enough of him. The simple reason is that two people can’t possible agree on everything all the time, large or small, and you wouldn’t want to because then you’d be the same person. Bore.
  4. Be straightforward with your feelings. You can feel whatever you want to feel, but communicating your emotions usually takes a relationship further. Feeling sensitive for no reason? Fine, let him know so he doesn’t wonder what he did. Feeling overwhelming feelings of love and gratitude for him? Tell him just how much he means to you.
  5. Accept one another’s human qualities. Look, people are people. We’re going to make some terrible choices, have uglier days, and sometimes say ugly things. Punishing someone by holding onto their faults isn’t going to take you anywhere but apart. Trusting someone to do their best also means trusting yourself to do so, as well.
  6. Be good to each other. All the love in the world doesn’t help if someone is hell bend on controlling or playing games. To truly grow together. both people need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable sometimes. It’s not always easy to be vulnerable, or be wrong, or even to change in wonderful ways, but the process will run a lot smoother when you can both demonstrate your mutual respect in physical and emotional ways.
  7. Commit to growing together. There’s a quote that says something about how love isn’t a feeling it’s an action. Relationships of all kinds take work, that’s why some friends drift apart without any drama – your priorities just change. To keep a relationship going in one direction, both people need to be ready to make conscious choices to honor that option. And then stick to it.
Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog and magazine genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Look for article links, updates, (and the occasional joke) on Twitter @KateFerg or @WriterKateFerg, or check out her personal blog