Psychologist Joan Davila at Stony Brook University in New York with colleagues studies romantic competence. It is the ability to act effectively at all stages of a relationship: understand your needs, choose the right partner, build a strong bond, and end unhealthy interactions. After reviewing the research, Davila identified three key skills in romantic competence.

1. Analysis

Analysis of the situation allows us to realize what is happening to us and learn some lesson for ourselves. With its help, we better understand ourselves, our needs and desires, the reasons for our actions.

Let’s say you’ve been getting irritated with your partner lately. If you analyze the situation, you can see that it’s not his behavior, it’s just that you have serious stress at work. So, now you need not to quarrel, but to find a way to relax so that work stress does not spill over into your personal life.

Develop this skill to anticipate the positive and negative consequences of your actions, understand your partner and adequately respond to his actions. For example, you made an appointment, and he is late. Before taking this as a personal insult, think about the reasons. Maybe this person is constantly unable to calculate the time or is late at work to finish everything. The skill of analysis will protect you from unnecessary worries.

2. Ability to speak about needs

You need to remember that both of you have needs and they are all important. Learn to speak clearly about your own and listen to others. Then there will be more chances that both of you will be satisfied. Let’s say you need to meet relatives with whom you have a tense relationship, and you want your partner to come with you. Don’t expect a loved one to guess, say directly: “It will be a lot of stress for me. It would help me a lot if you were there. Can you come with me?”

In addition, this skill helps to make joint decisions. For example, one of you has received a good promotion offer, but understands that he will have to work more and spend less time with his family, and the latter is very important for both of you. In this case, it is important to say something about it, for example: “I would really like to accept this offer, but I understand that it will change our life together. We will spend less time together. If I promise to devote part of my time to you regularly, will you support my choice?”

Remember, when you appreciate each other’s needs and feel free to talk about them, there will be less quarrels and misunderstandings.

3. Emotion regulation

This skill helps to remain calm in stressful situations and soberly assess the situation. For example, you are waiting for a response from your partner to your message. Time passes, and he is silent. You start to get nervous, angry, check your phone every minute. But if you have learned to regulate your emotions, then you will say to yourself: “Calm down, you will be answered. It makes no sense to look at the phone every five seconds. I’ll put it aside and get on with other things.”

The ability to deal with emotions is generally useful in any relationship. It helps to survive unpleasant feelings while maintaining self-respect.

Romantic competence seems like hard work, but the rewards are enormous. According to Davila, more romantically competent men and women feel more confident in relationships. They make better choices, are able to support a partner and are more willing to ask for what they need.