own YOUR 20s: Love BET­TER

Work to­ward that happy end­ing.

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - CONTENTS -

EVEN IF your dat­ing pro­file boasts that you’re a “damn good plus- one,” there have def been times when you’ve ques­tioned your re­la­tion­ship savvy (“Am I cut out for this?!”), just like ev­ery­one else who’s ever dated. But why won­der when you can eas­ily work on be­ing a kick- butt part­ner while you’re sin­gle? Start now by cul­ti­vat­ing th­ese key skills from psy­chol­ogy re­searcher Robert Ep­stein, PHD, who’s ex­am­ined the re­la­tion­ship suc­cesses of more than 25,000 peo­ple.

1. Say What you think

The abil­ity to talk about your needs calmly and ef­fec­tively (and lis­ten to those of your part­ner) is the best pre­dic­tor of whether you’ll make a great girl­friend, ac­cord­ing to Ep­stein’s re­search. If you hes­i­tate to speak up or dis­agree with oth­ers, then it’s worth work­ing on your com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. You want to get to a point where “there’s a fluid backand-forth and you feel com­fort­able bring­ing up a se­ri­ous topic,” says clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Jill P. We­ber, PHD, au­thor of Build­ing Self-es­teem5steps.

Try this: Write a script for any con­vos that may make you lose it, like con­fronting your friend who flaked or the man­ager who passed you up for a project. Make sure what you write is calm and non­de­fen­sive (“With a boss, you could say, ‘I was hop­ing I’d be on that. How can I be con­sid­ered next time?’” sug­gests We­ber). When the time comes, take a deep breath and say what you re­hearsed. “Once this is a new norm, you’ll at­tract peo­ple who are also good com­mu­ni­ca­tors,” says We­ber.

2. Re­call the lit­tle things

Know­ing per­sonal stuff (like your fu­ture S.O.’S birth­day and Star­bucks or­der) is the sec­ondbest pre­dic­tor of how suc­cess­ful you’ll be in a re­la­tion­ship, per Ep­stein’s re­search. “It was a shock,” says Ep­stein of the find­ing. “The num­bers show it’s more im­por­tant than con­flict res­o­lu­tion or stress man­age­ment. And it’s sim­ple.” He’s right—when you re­mem­ber de­tails about some­one, they feel spe­cial and loved. For now, prac­tice on your bestie: Next time you chat, pick out cer­tain facts you want to re­mem­ber and ask her fol­low-up ques­tions about them. If your pal says she loves Coron, ask about her ear­li­est mem­o­ries in the sand. Putting a de­tail into con­text can help you re­call it in the fu­ture (“Look, Kelly, flights to Coron are on sale. You can go back to that beach!”).

3. Stick it Out

If you bolt at the first sign of a prob­lem or bail on plans, a re­la­tion­ship will be tricky for you. That’s be­cause com­mit­ment is a top trait of peo­ple who rule at ro­mance. It’s what helps you get through tough times, says Ep­stein. With­out it, some­thing as slight as not see­ing each other for two week­ends could tear you apart. But how can you build com­mit­ment skills if you’re not with some­one? Easy. Set other long-term goals that re­quire your time and at­ten­tion. Train for a half­marathon, or keep a lit­tle garden on your win­dowsill. Once you see the re­wards that come with fol­low­ing through, you’ll know to do the same with a fu­ture mate. “Work­ing on your com­mit­ment mus­cle out­side a re­la­tion­ship will make it more nat­u­ral when you’re in one,” says We­ber.

4. Dare to Be Vul­ner­a­ble

Stud­ies show that open­ing up to peo­ple—and let­ting your au­then­tic self shine— is clutch for de­vel­op­ing a deep bond with oth­ers. But let’s say it: Putting your­self out there can be ter­ri­fy­ing AF, es­pe­cially if it means po­ten­tial re­jec­tion (eek!).

To get bet­ter at bar­ing it all, get real with those you know and trust. Ep­stein sug­gests do­ing a “secret swap” with a BFF, where you both re­veal some­thing in­ti­mate. You’ll start to over­come the fear of be­ing ex­posed and feel closer to your friend as a re­sult. Or re­quest a fa­vor. Ask a neigh­bor to pick up soup when you’re sick, or have your brother drive you to the air­port in­stead of Uber­ing. Drop­ping the per­fect, self-suf­fi­cient fa­cade will make it eas­ier for you to be vul­ner­a­ble with a part­ner, says We­ber. It also builds up your tol­er­ance: Af­ter a few “I’m sorry, I can’t!” replies, you’ll re­al­ize you can han­dle a shut­down with­out it ru­in­ing a whole re­la­tion­ship.

“this girl­friend gig? it’s a piece of cake!”

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