1. Stop picking fights about things you don't really care about. Screaming about him not really liking your bandage dress is not helping anything, it's just making both of you feel confused about your emotions.
2. Be a generous compliment-giver. No one feels bad when you say they look great today or brag about their promotion in front of your friends. Do it more often.
3. Spend plenty of time with your friends. Yes, even at the beginning when you're totally obsessed with each other and just want to lick faces 24/7. You'll need your friends later and you don't want Jessica to bring up the nine months you ditched her for the rest of your life.
4. Go on dates. If 99 percent of your "dates" have become making dinner together then going home whenever he wakes you up from your couch nap, you need to plan a date. Go dancing. Go to a museum. Go apple picking. Whatever, just get out of the house and do something fun together.
5. Try new things together — even if it's just a new kind of food. To date, one of my favorite nights with my fiancé was the time he took me to an amusement park. Neither of us were ever into roller coasters, but we talked ourselves into going on a kind of small and lame one, and afterward we were both like, "I'M SO EXHILARATED AND I LOVE YOU!"
6. Go to their family/work events if you're invited. It's not that fun, but it's also not that hard and it'll mean a lot to your partner.
7. Get to know their friends in doses. Being in a new relationship means inheriting a whole new set of dude-friends. While that might seem exciting or overwhelming or just terrible, you don't have to put pressure on yourself to get to know everyone super quickly.
8. Make sure you tell them when something really matters to you. You can't be mad that they didn't come to your friend's birthday party if you told them, "My friend Cassie's having a party on Friday if you want to come." Be straight up: "My friend Cassie's having a party on Friday and it's really important to me that you come and meet my friends. Let's meet beforehand and go together." There, I fixed it.
9. Try sex things you've always wanted to try. Maybe you've always wanted to try anal sex or light bondage, but never wanted to bring it up with a casual boyfriend. Now's your time! You have a loving partner who you want to be with for the long haul and a currently missionary-only sex life! Ask him if he'll tie you up.
10. Don't only tell your friends about the negative sides of your relationship. It's easy to just bitch to your friends that JASON IS BEING SO ANNOYING RIGHT NOW, but if that's all you tell them, they'll think you have a pretty terrible partner. Plus talking shit behind his back will get back to him eventually.
11. Know that your partner doesn't have to be your best friend. Being a romantic partner is a lot of pressure. You have to be supportive and loving and also good in bed. Leave the best friend duties to your girlfriends and it'll take a lot of pressure off of him. Also: more time with your girlfriends is never a bad thing.
12. Don't judge their sex habits. It usually takes a while for someone to share their fantasies or porn habits with you. Don't scare them off by making them feel weird about whatever gets them off. Porn and fantasies are fiction.
13. Know that your first fight is not an indication of how it will be forever. Right now you're bickering about him not spending enough time with you. Next month you'll be busy and he'll be a little lonely. Don't stress.
14. Don't snoop. Everyone who snoops finds what they were looking for. If you think he's cheating and you hack into his Facebook, you will find some random message with an old female friend that you could probably construe as cheating somehow. Just don't do it. Even if they accidentally left their Gmail open on your computer and you're drooling to read through it.
15. Apologize when you know you're wrong. Yeah, it probably will blow over after a while, but if you don't solve a fight and just let it simmer it will come to a boil again at some point.
16. If you hit an awkward spot, do something fun together to remind you both of why you started dating in the first place. Sometimes it feels like, "Whyyyy did we ever even start dating we hate each otherrrrr." That's when you plan a fun date that's reminiscent of the stuff you used to do when you first started dating. It'll take your minds off your differences and remind you why you love each other.
Tess Koman covers breaking (food) news, opinion pieces, and features on larger happenings in the food world. She oversees editorial content on Delish. Her work has appeared on Cosmopolitan.com, Elle.com, and Esquire.com.
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