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Keys to Building a Successful Relationship

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All couples have disagreements every now and then. The question is why certain couples break up, while others manage to get over their conflicts. The key is in the way people handle their disagreements. Psychologists have come to the conclusion that couples who become very hostile very quickly during disagreements are far more likely to break up soon, while couples who try to negotiate, manage to find solutions to their conflicts and reconcile. It seems that the ability to remain calm during an argument is the key to having a successful relationship. Emotional self-control is a very useful tool in controlling the emotions of your partner.

Scientists are talking about the so-called mirror neurons, that become active in conflict situations. If you manage to understand the function of those neurons, you will be able to control your partner’s emotions. Mirror neurons are brain cells that react both when a particular action is performed as well as when it is only observed in somebody else. We use those neurons in our interaction with others and they help us understand what another person feels inside, in a certain situation. They help us put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Thus if your partner is happy, you will feel happy too, while when you see him/her suffer, even if you do not know the reason for their suffering, you will feel that sadness, merely because you see the expression of suffering on their face. This is the reason why we can show empathy during social interaction.


Based on those observations, psychologists have concluded that the best way to end a conflict within a relationship is to maintain a calm attitude during the argument, thus subconsciously influencing the arguing partner to imitate this calm attitude, by simply activating their mirror neurons. The decision to stay calm involves the pre-frontal cortex (which deals with the logical decisions), which inhibits the more primitive midbrain (which deals with emotional reactions).

Of course, empathy alone will not end a conflict, although your emotional reactions can stir up or calm down the emotions of your partner. Having the courage to talk about problems is also a very important way of managing a conflict. Behind every conflict, there are some events that have led to it. Understanding the reasons for the conflict helps you solve the problem. It is true that talking about a sensitive issue is not always easy, but again, being logical and not emotional helps a lot. Ask your partner what is bothering them. Do not contradict them, on the contrary, let them give you as many details as possible. Listen carefully and do not lose your temper. It is in your best interest to understand how your partner feels and what is hurting them. Once they have expressed their point of view they will feel understood, and thus become more calm, by the mere fact that you took the time to listen to them. They will feel that they have shared their worries with someone who understands them and is willing to help find a solution. Do not rush, take the time to analyze the point of view of your partner, and then you can find ways to solve the issue.

There are many types of problems in life and this is why there is no unique recipe to solve all of them. There are different strategies available for dealing with various types of problems. Try to adapt to the situation and be always ready to change strategy, if the situation demands it. That is why listening to your partner carefully will help you adapt to their emotions and state of mind so that you can avoid conflicts and react correctly, according to their needs.

Show empathy and flexibility. Be always ready to make compromises. Show your partner that you are a careful listener. Remember details your partner told you the day before, quote them the next day, and you will make your partner feel appreciated and loved. You will make your partner feel that their opinion matters to you.

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Try to understand the personality, the hobbies, the likes and dislikes of your partner. The better you know them, the easier it will be for you to avoid conflict and drive the conversation towards subjects your partner likes, instead of the things that you know bother them.

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