5 Phrases Caring Partners Use Often Cover

5 Phrases Caring Partners Use Often

The best way to have a caring partner is to be one yourself. This isn’t always easy, but it’s simple.

For years, I used to wish someone would make me feel cared for and thus safe and loved. They wouldn’t have to fix all my problems, just show real interest, concern, and actually listen. As it turns out, much of receiving these feelings of affection, understanding, and respect was in my hands all along.

I’m in a relationship now, and the number one thing I’ve learned so far is this: If you want to feel cared for, care deeply for others. Reciprocity is a powerful force. When the giving is honest, it feels natural to want to give back, not forced or manipulative.

Lately, I paid attention which phrases my girlfriend uses that make me feel cared for, respected, and loved. Now, I’m making an effort to use them more often. I’m not perfect, but it feels good to say and mean them — and to frequently hear them in return.


1. “Take all the time you need.”

In my last relationship, I constantly felt bad for wanting to work. I was just starting as an entrepreneur, and though I didn’t put in Bill-Gates-like hours, the usual 40 of a common job just didn’t cut it.

My girlfriend at the time was a student. She had more time on her hands, and she often asked: “When are you done? Can we hang out now?” I was always excited to spend time with her after work, but these constant check-ins made me feel guilty despite the fact that I loved my work.

In my current relationship, hearing the words, “Take all the time you need” gives me huge relief. Whenever one of us has to finish something before we talk on Zoom or make dinner together, the other tells them to move on their own schedule, and it’s liberating. It makes me want to get my work done faster — minus the guilt.

Being in a relationship doesn’t handcuff you to your partner, but sometimes, we put the shackles on ourselves — usually out of fear. We’re afraid we’re being selfish if we pursue our own interests, and that they might reject us if we don’t spend every second with them. Ironically, often, both partners have this fear, making it wholly unfounded.

Your partner is their own person. They’re busy. They want to do many things and, a lot of them, they’ll have to do on their own. Let them. In a healthy relationship, one of the best gifts you’ll ever give — and receive — is space.

Don’t incessantly text your partner with real-time updates, and don’t expect them to do the same in return. Only if you’re apart will you learn what it’s like to miss them. You’ll appreciate them and the time you spend together so much more if you allow yourself this feeling in healthy doses.

2. “Are you ok? You looked worried.”

In the music video for their song “Family” the Chainsmokers tell the story of Rory, their cameraman. Rory joined them when they were still unknown, and then, like the band, he became famous.

Eventually, he became so successful that he lost himself, and, after a bad car accident, he fell into a spiral of negative thoughts. The band, his friends, his family, they all continued to make time for him and helped him get back on track. Had they not, he might not be here today.

The video ends with a simple message: it’s cool to check up on your friends.

When it comes to your partner, checking in on them isn’t just cool, it’s necessary. When they appear or sound worried to you, tell them. Let them know you’re under the impression that they feel a certain way: sad, angry, scared, anxious — whatever the emotion might be, shine a light on it.

Notice how different this is from saying, “You’re angry.” The truth is you can’t actually know. You don’t know how anyone is feeling except yourself. But you can make an educated guess, and if you deliver that guess in kind, people will thank you for it.

Sometimes, it’s better to do this a few hours after the fact because it gives both you and your partner time to reflect on what’s going on, but “Hey, you looked worried earlier, you ok?” often goes a long way.

3. “Do you want to talk about this now or later?”

Making room for what’s important to your partner is a two-part job: First, you have to create a safe space for them to share how they feel. Then, there also needs to be time to talk through those feelings and, eventually, help them figure out what to do about them.

“Do you want to talk about this now or later?” is a great sign of commitment and dedication. It shows you’re willing to take a break from whatever you’re doing to listen to your better half.

The phrase also accepts that they might not be ready to talk about this problem, either because they’re busy or because they need to think more about it on their own. It signals you’re open and willing to help, not just now, but whenever they feel like they need it the most.

When it comes to not only our intimate relationships but also our friendships, few actions are more powerful than letting them know you have their back.

4. “How do you feel about this?”

I think on some level, everyone can relate to Rory’s story: Sometimes, I get so busy that I forget to even consider how I feel about things. That’s how we bottle up emotions. We don’t mean to. It just happens. That’s why it’s nice to get a reminder from time to time.

You can’t have a real-time check-in for every emotionally challenging situation, but making them a habit can prevent a minor situation from becoming a major headache. Like all things under pressure, we gain stability from letting off a little steam every now and then.

“How do you feel about this?” is a universal phrase. It doesn’t just allow your partner to pause and think about their feelings towards what they’ve just experienced, it can also be a chance for you to get their opinion on a story or idea you’ve shared.

Proactively asking your partner for their opinion or how they feel about your plans eliminates many uncomfortable conversations down the line. No one wants to tell the person they love that they think an idea of theirs is bad — but sometimes, we’ll have to. Them asking us this simple question first is a great sign of humility.

5. “How did you sleep?”

If you’re with your partner for 30 years, you’ll spend 10 years next to each other — sleeping. Just because you’re not awake does not mean that it’s not time spent together.

Asking your partner how they experience this time is a simple courtesy, but it adds up — and so does a lack of it. Imagine waking up with a huge headache, and all your partner has to say is, “I slept great, let’s go!!”

Rather than waking up and immediately facing our days alone, we should use our mornings to show up to the starting line as a team. After all, what does it matter if we arrive at the finish line when we don’t do it together?


As you may have noticed, all of these phrases are simple. That’s another lesson I’ve learned in my new relationship: Being a caring partner isn’t about using big words. It’s about using the right ones — and saying them at the right time.

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To Stay Creative, Remember to Breathe

“I sometimes disappear for weeks or even months at a time. When I do this, I’m not abandoning my work or being lazy. I’m just trying to breathe.”

So writes Matthew Inman, creator of the web comic The Oatmeal, in a post titled Creativity is like breathing. To explain the analogy, Inman writes: “When you make stuff, you’re exhaling. But you can’t exhale forever. Eventually, you have to breathe in. Or you’ll be dead.”

That’s why Inman spends lots of time reading books, being outdoors, and jumping from project to project, he says. They’re all forms of breathing, and they don’t just make him better at his job, they’re also reasons why he loves his job. It’s the beauty of being a creative: Everything you do is fuel for your work.

When your job is to make things, your whole life is your canvas. You can have a brilliant idea over a bowl of cereal, write about what happened on vacation, even the bad stuff, like going through a breakup, you can work into your creative output. In fact, you’ll both have to and want to.

Whatever happens in your life impacts your emotions, your thoughts, and, as a result, what the outcome looks like when you put those thoughts and emotions on paper — or any other medium. Why do you think I just used “a bowl of cereal” as an example? It’s because, for the past two days, I’ve been staring at a comic called The Oatmeal. That’s how the human mind works.

While there’s nothing you can do about your intelligence running under the influence of many biases, you likely won’t mind once you realize there’s an active benefit on top of this more passive dynamic when creating: You consciously get to work through the events in your life. Writing about a positive experience makes it better. Sharing your business failure on a podcast mellows the pain.

Soon, you’ll process your whole life in real-time through the lens of creativity — and it’s one of the most powerful forms of self-healing there is. You’ll constantly learn, evolve, and challenge yourself to accept your past by creating something others can use in the future. As wonderful as it is to find this kind of outlet, there’s a downside: Your work can become addicting.

When everything is input, it’s natural to consistently want to form output. You’ll feel like you should shape and release all your experiences and ideas, which, of course, is impossible. What’s more, not all input is created equal. Some stories will have more value to your audience than others. This is another, less appealing part of the artist’s job: You have to curate your work and select what’s most worth sharing. This is where it helps “to breathe.”

As Zat Rana put it in The Philosophical Argument for Working Less, part of respecting your work is accepting that it’s “just one part of life, not the whole thing:”

Even if you love your work more than you love anything else, you are likely to find it more complete and fulfilling if you step away from it, time to time.

Eventually, you have to breathe in — or you’ll be dead. If you’ve ever hit creator’s block after a long stretch of releasing a lot of work, you may have realized: It’s not that you can’t publish daily, it’s that your posts start to feel stale. You’re panting. Short, choppy breaths, out, out, out. You need time to breathe in — literally, and then figuratively. Beyond our own desire to insta-journal about our lives, there’s also a component of societal pressure, Zat says:

There seems to be a certain guilt in our current culture associated with just taking time to do nothing, to relax, to leisure, to waste time, and to simply have no plans. But the truth is that, without these things, you are not going to get the most out of your work anyway.

When you feel tired, sleep. When you lack good analogies, watch a movie. Don’t feel bad about taking a vacation from time to time. Leisure creates its own form of productivity. If you allow your experiences to ripen, more of them will mix. Your subconscious will add its own kind of seasoning, and, soon, it’ll send a powerful insight back to the surface.

Once that great idea strikes like lightning, you won’t be able to not act on it. A breath of truly fresh air is so empowering, you’ll have to direct it somewhere. Well-rested and fired up, you’ll rush back to your chair, ready to put out the next comic. Who knows what brilliant metaphor you’ll write about. Maybe something like, “Creativity is like breathing.”

How To Be A Successful Student: The 80/20 Of Student Productivity

It’s the second week of classes of the Spring term here at Technical University of Munich. The weather’s picking up, materials are slow to emerge and exams are a long way away.

However, judging by the first week alone, I can tell there will be a lot of faces filled with regret at the end of this semester. Exams will be postponed, grades will be worse than expected and credits will be missing.

I realize not everyone wants to make an all-encompassing commitment to work like me. But even if you just want to be a normal, full-time student, get decent grades and secure a solid job, there are certain things you can do. So this week, I decided to go super practical and ask myself:

If I could recommend only three good habits to students, what would they be?

Here are the three rules I’ve come up with.

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You Still Have Time To Make 2017 The Best Year Of Your Life

13 Ways to Get Your Grip On Life Back

With each passing year, I find more and more truth in this:

“The days are long, but the years are short.” — Gretchen Rubin


It’s that time of the year again. Tax day’s got you throwing your hands up in frustration, your New Year’s resolutions have long vaporized into thin air and you feel like your hold on 2017 is getting weaker and weaker.

I’m here to tell you: You still have time. Read More

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Liquid Sleep: How To Get More Out Of Life By Staying Up Longer

Last June I bought a Garmin Vivosmart HR activity tracker, primarily for two reasons:

  1. My daily step count is visually present to me at all times, which makes me more likely to get those 10,000 steps.
  2. If I sit for longer than an hour, it vibrates and nags me to get up and move. Since sitting is the new smoking, I think moving regularly might be more important than moving a lot.

While I happily would’ve shelled out 125 € for just those two features alone, there are a few other perks to wearing one of these around the clock. One of them is sleep tracking.

What I’m about to say as a result of it is not going to be popular and it’s definitely not politically correct. At the very least though, it’s food for thought.

For the past five months, I’ve been sleeping less and I think it’s the right choice. Let’s put that into context.

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7 Toxic Habits to Let Go Before 9 AM

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” — Buddha

When you wake up, does your brain go straight into overdrive? Do you feel tempted to snooze? Do you think about all the things you have to do today and start worrying about what could go wrong?

Not long ago, I didn’t want to leave my bed either. I’d browse the web on my phone, read some emails, and procrastinate. Often, this meant I’d already be late by the time I finally did get up. I would rush into the shower, get angry about stubbing my toe somewhere, and end up with no time to eat.

When I arrived at work for my internship, I was already feeling behind, so the best I could do was spend the rest of my day trying to “catch up.” That’s not the frame of mind you want to operate in.

Now, however, I know exactly what the first hour of my day looks like. I don’t even have to think about it because it’s a set routine, and that’s wonderful. My internship is over, and so are my chaotic morning — because I made a deliberate change.

My morning routine makes starting the day easy, and it sets me up for success. There’s no perfect day, but if you’re prepared to have a good day — every day — that’s a great place to start. How you spend the first hour of your day determines how you spend the rest of it.

Before you can add new, good habits, however, you must let go of the bad ones. Here are seven toxic habits you can drop. Don’t bother with these, especially not before 9 AM. Doing so will make you feel calm and happy as you start your day.


1. Let Go of Hitting the Snooze Button

Hitting the snooze button in the morning feels great at first. You know you still have time and drift back to sleep.

But when your alarm rings again 7, 9 or 15 minutes later you were actually just about to enter a deep sleep phase. That means the snooze button interrupts your sleep at the worst time, making you feel more groggy and tired as you were before.

What’s more, every time you hit the snooze button you tell yourself subconsciously: “I don’t really want to get up. I want to stay in bed. I don’t want to start this day and face what lies ahead.” That’s not a very good mantra.

Even when you have to get up with an alarm, as soon as you wake up, rise and shine! Be excited for the day, get up, have a glass of water, start moving around.

Brush your teeth, read, do something that makes you excited about getting up.

Don’t drag yourself from snooze to snooze, as it will make you drag yourself through the rest of the day as well.

You snooze, you lose!


2. Let Go of Overthinking

This is what I call “monkey mind”. I still fall for this from time to time.

Right upon waking up I start thinking. And I think a lot. My brain starts racing down a never-ending train of thoughts.

“Okay, let me check what time it is. 6:07. That’s good. I can start work right at 7:00. What will I start with? Oh yeah, that guest post I want to write for Marc and Angel. I’ll spend 30 minutes on that. Then I’ll do some client work. But what do I eat for breakfast? This cereal I bought yesterday? Or the one I have leftover. Damn, I don’t have any milk!”

That’s what the first 30 seconds of my day can look like. Terrible, right?

So be sure to practice a form of conscious silence in the morning. Lie in bed, close your eyes once more before you get up and just feel everything. The blanket on your skin. Your head resting on the pillow.

You can also do a short meditation by just sitting upright and cross-legged on the floor and focusing on your breath for one minute.

Notice the rhythm of your breathing as you inhale and exhale.

What also helps me is standing under the shower, just letting the water run over my head and only listen to the sounds of the water.

Don’t go from zero to overdrive right upon waking up. Practice a little bit of silence for your mind and you’ll feel much calmer for the entire day.


3. Let Go of Consuming Bad Things

We all draw a line when it comes to consuming toxic food, drinks and drugs. For some the line is marijuana, for others it’s alcohol, others draw it at coffee, or even soda and fast food.

Wherever you’ve drawn your line before, chances are you need to draw it again. Because what is true for food is also true for thoughts.

You can spend your mornings watching the news and Youtube videos, reading gossip, chatting in WhatsApp groups and reading the obituary section of the newspaper.

Or you can read a book that will help you create a better life, let yourself be inspired by classic poetry or a good novel.

You can eat pancakes with bacon for breakfast. Or you can have oatmeal with an apple and cinnamon.

You can drink lemonade from the store or brew your own coffee fresh from home ground beans.

What comes out of your mouth and brain in terms of speech and thought can only be as good as what you put into it in terms of food and knowledge.

Take a stand. Draw a line and make a choice to only consume what’s good for you in the morning.


4. Let Go of Negative Self-talk

Remember that hitting the snooze button is like subconsciously telling yourself you don’t want to wake up? I’m willing to bet you also do this on a much more conscious level.

You worry about what the day will bring. You tell yourself you might not have what it takes to deal with the day’s challenges.

“Will Joe approve my presentation?”

“Can I get all my housekeeping done?”

“I’m not sure I can make that call today.”

Instead of already talking yourself into failure, why not boost your confidence? Create a small set of affirmation that you can tell yourself. It can be as short as one sentence:

“I will do great today.”

“I will give my best to make this day successful.”

“I believe in myself.”

Before you brush your teeth, stand in the mirror, look yourself in the eye and tell yourself something encouraging.

Be your own Dad, your own Mum, your own partner, your own friend and do what all these would do: motivate you by telling you that you can do it.

A tiny adjustment that can change the entire trajectory of your day.


5. Let Go of Getting Angry at Little Mistakes

Yes, not all mornings will go smoothly. Sometimes you will have to rush, get stuck in traffic, or hit your elbow on the door.

But don’t start yelling. Every day the world throws many opportunities at you to get angry — and many of them deserve your anger.

The little hiccups in the morning are not one of them. Don’t focus on what goes wrong, focus on what you do great.

The 5 pushups you did. The glass of water you drank. That smoothie you made for yourself. The way you motivated yourself by saying something positive. A chapter in a book you read that made you feel inspired.

Remember that silence in the morning is important to make you feel emotionally calm. So when you hit a bump in your early morning road, take a deep breath, remember all the good things about your morning and move on.


6. Let Go of Rushing

There is a Japanese proverb that goes like this:

“When you are in a hurry go slowly.”

It means that it is especially important to take enough time to do things right when they are urgent.

A classic game played at kids’ birthdays is balancing an egg on a tablespoon while walking from one end of the room to the other.

Who wins that game?

The kid who tries to walk very fast, but eventually drops the egg and has to go back to the start multiple times (or breaks the egg altogether), or the kid who just walks very slowly, but reaches the finish line in one go?

The more you rush the more mistakes will happen. Slow down, do everything once, but do it right.

The best idea is to give yourself plenty of time in the morning. I usually give myself an hour to an hour and a half before I get started on work.

Yes, that means waking up earlier, but the time is spent so well it is absolutely worth it.

You’ll have time to visualize the tasks of your day. For example, just picturing yourself typing when you want to write a novel has been scientifically proven to make it more likely you’ll actually start writing (and enjoy the process!).

A journal is also a great way to spend the extra time and get some structure. I usually write into my one-sentence-journal before I start work.

I just answer one question: “How do you feel right now?”

It helps me make sure I’m ready to go and don’t start when I don’t feel good.

So even when you don’t have much time in the morning. Don’t. Rush.

As famous basketball coach John Wooden said:

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”


7. Let Go of Your Comfort Zone

Imagine a typical morning of the average person:

Waking up in a bed with a comfortable mattress and a warm blanket, artificial light on the nightstand, waiting till the last minute, then jumping into a warm, hot shower.

Afterward a quick pre-processed meal for breakfast while watching a video on a smartphone, before they’re off to the next comfortable, modern amenity: their car. With air conditioning, radio and a seat warmer.

All of these modern conveniences are great, but they have detached us from what’s natural.

Our ancestors woke up outside, on the ground, with the rise of the sun. The first thing they saw in the morning was sunlight. The first thing they heard was the sound of the birds.

There was no rush. They got up, started moving around, stretching.

If it was cold, they would move more, if it was warm a little less. They ate what they had gathered the day before or had to go look for food.

If your day often feels challenging, that might lie in you not challenging yourself at all. We’re not used to being challenged.

We’re not responsible for creating our own food, furniture, gadgets, and hot water. We don’t even have to move if we don’t want to!

Which is why exercise is a great start.

Give up a little of the comfort you indulge yourself in every morning.

When you get up, do some exercise. Do a set of pushups. Try some squats. Do pull-ups on your door. Go outside and run around the block, or at least walk. Get up, get moving, get some blood flowing.

Prepare yourself a meal that takes effort, but is healthy. Just sit and eat in silence, without technology to distract you.

Open a window, let in the fresh air, listen to the birds and the hum of the city as it starts to wake.

Walk to work. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Have a cold shower.

Let go of huddling up inside your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. Just a little bit. Every morning.

It will leave you prepared for what the world throws at you during the rest of the day.


Final Words

The morning is the greatest time of the day. There are so many opportunities to set yourself up for success.

But a beautiful morning doesn’t happen by accident. You have to work for it. You have to create it.

Try to let go of one of these toxic habits today. Then another one. And another one.

Soon, you’ll have plenty of space to create a magical morning routine.