“I like you.”
You probably have mantras for working out (“No pain, no gain!” — OK, that's not the best one), self-indulgence (“Treat yo'self!”), and dealing with your boyfriend’s pass aggro mom (“Serenity now!”).
But what about mantras for your relationship? I’m a huge fan of relationship mantras: simple little sayings that break the tension, remind us to be better partners, or force us to be accountable for our actions. After all, relationships require a lot of work, much of which is tough, tiring, and complicated.
Saying a 3-word mantra in the midst of an awkward moment? Easy as pie.
1. “Read the room.”
Living with another person is tricky; there’s just no way around it. Combining two different people’s moods, habits, energy levels, wants, and needs into something that resembles a cohesive and harmonious shared life requires constant compromise and adjustment.
Case in point: One Sunday afternoon, Nick got home from work while I was reading quietly on the couch. He had a ton of energy from a good work day, but I was feeling calm, quiet, and introverted. He entered the room with all the subtlety of a high school marching band, talking loudly and excitedly, making a ton of noise.
I looked up at him and said, “Nick, I love you, and I’m excited to hear about your day, but dude, read the room.”
He instantly realized he’d kind of energetically plowed over me and toned it down. We ended up having a great talk — a calmer, slower talk. Now we use the phrase “read the room” all the time as a check-in when our moods or energy levels are mismatched and we need to adjust. It’s ridiculously helpful.
2. “I like you.”
Hopefully you say “I love you” to your partner as often as possible. But how often do you tell them you like them?
Because as much as we might take loving each other for granted, liking each other isn’t always guaranteed — and it’s rarely vocalized.
It’s so nice to remind your partner that, in addition to those very serious matters of undying love and commitment, you just, y'know, really LIKE them.
3. “Check your vibes.”
What are “vibes” (besides a popular Kardashian Instagram caption)?
Vibes are the energy we’re putting out. It's a combination of our overall mood, our inner state, the way we’re acting, the things we’re saying, and the things we’re NOT saying.
So when your partner kindly asks you to check your vibes, they’re asking you to be aware of the energy you’re giving off.
A vibe check is a good thing. It might make us realize that we’ve said nothing but negative comments for the past hour and need to give ourselves a positivity reset. It might be just the check-in we need to take accountability for our mood.
Everyone can benefit from a vibe check.
4. “I’m playing my drama queen card.”
OK, so, that's not three words, but bear with me. How many fights have been started and prolonged because one member of a relationship is just in a cranky, dramatic mood and wants to stir things up?
There’s no way to rationally resolve conflicts like this — because the conflict isn’t rooted in anything beyond a bad mood or a momentary need for some drama.
In these situations, if you can summon up the self-awareness and humility to admit to what you’re doing: playing the drama queen card. It lets your partner know where they stand and that this situation doesn’t have to descend into a horrible fight. It gives them the chance to decide whether they want to play along and indulge you or give you some space to play your card solo.
Since it’s much less fun to play a drama queen card solo, this usually causes the drama to dissipate fairly quickly.