This article gives you a glimpse of what you can learn with Shortform. Shortform has the world’s best guides to 1000+ nonfiction books, plus other resources to help you accelerate your learning.
Want to learn faster and get smarter? Sign up for a free trial here .
Are you trying to improve your relationship? What’s the best relationship advice for women to take to heart?
Relationships can be difficult, especially when men don’t always express what they want or need. There are also high societal expectations for the role women should fill in a relationship. These issues can be solved by following the best relationship advice for women who want to satisfy both themselves and their partners.
Let’s look at relationship advice for women that promotes a happy, healthy relationship.
Put Yourself First
While it’s important to know what your partner wants in your relationship, it’s just as important to know what you want. There are a lot of expectations for women in a relationship, but it doesn’t mean you have to meet these particular expectations if it means compromising your own happiness.
There are a few pieces of relationship advice for women to ensure happiness and comfort while in a relationship: being true to yourself, making sex more enjoyable for yourself, and identifying when you’re in a toxic relationship.
Be True To Yourself
Foundational to Rachel Hollis’s premise in her book Girl, Stop Apologizing is the notion that society expects women to care for everyone else, and a “good woman” will sacrificially cast aside her own desires.
According to Hollis, the phrase “a good woman” is typically synonymous with “a good wife and mother.” She points out that by societal standards, a woman is deemed to be a good wife if her husband is happy and satisfied. Similarly, women are praised for being good mothers if their children are happy and healthy.
Hollis goes on to say that because society expects women to run the household, they are often looked down upon for having career ambitions.
There’s a double standard to this outdated idea: A woman’s ability to earn money for her family is rarely connected with being a “good woman,” whereas men are often praised for being “good men” if they have a respectable job and provide financial security for their families.
Hollis theorizes that this makes women believe that if they focus on themselves and their own goals (instead of living entirely for other people), they aren’t good women.
This line of thinking (a good woman must always put herself last) is an excuse that women must shed because when you’re being true to yourself, you’re better able to care for those you love.
Keeping your dreams hidden away, even if you’re secretly working on them, is the same as hiding part of yourself—and this takes a toll on your well-being. If you deny what your soul needs, it will manifest in illness, anxiety, and depression.
Regarding the idea of selfishness, Hollis points out that a fulfilled woman will be better in all of her relationships. She’ll be a better partner, a better parent, a better friend, and so on. You have only one life, and you shouldn’t spend it feeling guilty, embarrassed, or shameful about having a dream.
Focus on Your Dreams
So what is Hollis’s relationship advice for women? She says that the only way to live a full and happy life is to be open and honest about your dreams, goals, and desires. Hollis insists that being true to yourself is the most important thing you can do in life. She explains that it doesn’t matter if your dreams are big or small in someone else’s eyes—they just have to be important to you. Some women may dream of being an astronaut, while others may dream of running their own Etsy shop. Hollis says both dreams are equally valid if they feed your soul.
Make Sex More Enjoyable For Yourself
In her other self-help book, Girl, Wash Your Face, Hollis says that making sex enjoyable for yourself can strengthen your relationship. She shares the seven steps she took to create an exceptional sex life:
- Change how you view sex. She decided that sex was going to be a fun experience, more compelling than anything else she could be doing at the moment—watching TV, reading a book. She stopped making sex “second fiddle” and began to look at it as an awesome opportunity—making it more likely she’d choose it.
- Figure out how to enjoy sex more. She realized if you’re not enjoying yourself, you’re not having good sex. The only thing holding you back is you. She opened up to her husband about feeling nervous, shy, and uncomfortable, and they worked through it together.
- Embrace your body, flaws and all. A low opinion of your body kills your ability to enjoy sex because you’re worried your partner is finding fault with you. Practice positive self-talk about how great your body looks, and you’ll start to believe it.
- Commit to your orgasm. Hollis used to feel that orgasms were icing on the cake, but she concluded that orgasms are the cake. Her advice: commit to the idea that sex means having an orgasm. Because pleasing your partner is a source of pleasure, your partner will enjoy this as well.
- Figure out what turns you on. Experiment until you better understand your body and what really excites you.
- Commit to having sex every day for a month. While this challenge can be hard if you have kids and work, it’s worth it. It gives you the chance to experiment and try things out with no pressure—and more sex makes you want more sex.
How to Have Better (and More) Orgasms
Despite the difficulty that many women seem to have with orgasms, sex researcher Emily Nagoski assures us in Come As You Are that there’s hope for women to not only reach orgasm, but also improve and have more of them. Nagosk’s relationship advice for women who are struggling to orgasm is to deactivate the SIS and slowly activate the SES. In other words, we need to eliminate what our brain sees as reasons not to have sex and gradually increase the frequency and intensity of what turns us on.
To create an environment where this is possible, Nagoski insists we must get all of the internal states of our mesolimbic cortex—things like comfort, hunger, and sleepiness—to work together rather than against each other. What this means is that we need to be fully present in the moment, without any of our various internal states trying to pull us away from the goal at hand (the goal is having an orgasm). For example, even if you’re in the comfort of your own bed and relatively energized, you’ll find it difficult to focus on having an orgasm if you haven’t eaten in 8 hours.
Identify a Toxic Relationship
Returning to Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis gives the best relationship advice for women who are in toxic relationships, and don’t know how to fix them or find the strength to get out of them.
In relationships, many women become versions of themselves they don’t recognize, sacrificing their self-worth to keep the love of a man. If a woman isn’t taught to love herself, she may go to great lengths to keep the love of a man.
Dysfunction begins the first time a woman allows herself to be treated badly, sending the message that this is an acceptable way to treat her. Sometimes the blinders of love let this behavior continue.
The truth is, people will treat you with as much or as little respect as you permit. As long as you allow someone to treat you badly, they will keep doing so. If you don’t value yourself, no one else will value you.
Tips on Not Sacrificing Yourself For a Toxic Relationship
Try these strategies to keep you from sacrificing yourself for a bad relationship:
- Find sounding boards and mentors. When yours is the only voice of advice in your head, your judgment is clouded by love.
- Learn self-respect. When you go into a relationship with self-respect, you don’t allow someone to treat you badly.
- Look at the relationship objectively. Imagine someone else describing your relationship to you. Does it sound healthy? If not, take a deeper look.
While there are some cases where toxic relationships can be turned around, some relationships can’t be fixed. Psychiatrist Amir Levine and psychologist Rachel Heller explain in their book Attached that if the following statements ring true, your partnership has become harmful and possibly abusive, and you may need to end it:
- Your partner is kind to everybody else but not to you—in fact, you don’t like to discuss with others how your partner treats you.
- Your partner values others’ opinions more than yours.
- You don’t know much about your partner’s life, so you feel you have to spy on them to find out.
- You don’t know if you can count on your partner to be there for you in an emergency.
Accepting that your partner isn’t good to you anymore is extremely difficult, but acknowledging how toxic your relationship is will make it so much easier to end it and move on.
Understand How Men Love
The most effective way to show men that you care is to pay attention to how they show their care—these actions are what truly mean “love” to them. In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin gives a great example that shows how this relationship advice for women works:
- You may notice that your spouse loves to throw big parties for any of his friends’ big occasions, always sets a fun theme, and thinks of very personal and thoughtful gifts. For his 30th birthday, you organize a huge party with his friends. Everyone dresses as a character from his favorite film franchise, and you gift him a huge scrapbook of pictures and written memories from the past 30 years that everyone contributed to.
There are other ways to understand how men love. By translating his speaking habits and finding compromising ways to solve conflicts the way men would, you’ll understand your partner just a little bit better because you know how they would react in certain situations.
Translate His Language
Because many men use speech as a way to convey only the necessary information, they tend to use abbreviated sentences. In Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, relationship counselor John Gray says to think of it as women and men speaking two different languages: Venusian and Martian, respectively.
Men who learn to translate from Venusian to Martian will know how to respond to the implied request and make their female partner feel truly loved. Likewise, women who learn to translate from Martian to Venusian will know what men really mean to say in these few words and how to make their male partner feel truly loved.
Here are some examples of common phrases used by men, what men actually mean by them, and how women often misinterpret their meaning:
- Men say: “I am OK.”
- Men mean: “I will be OK once I deal with my upset feelings. Thank you for caring, but I don’t need help right now.”
- Women hear: “I’m not upset because I don’t care about this conversation.”
- Men say: “Nothing is wrong.”
- Men mean: “There is nothing wrong that I can’t handle by myself. Please don’t ask me what’s wrong again.”
- Women hear: “I don’t know what’s wrong. I need to talk about it until I figure out what’s going wrong.”
- Men say: “No problem.”
- Men mean: “It is not a problem for me to do this task. It’s my pleasure to do this for you.”
- Women hear: “This shouldn’t be a problem. Why are you asking for help to solve this if it’s not a problem in the first place.”
Can you see why men are often frustrated by their female partners asking them too many questions?
It’s difficult for most women to correctly interpret a man’s abbreviated sentences and recognize his need to process his thoughts alone. But once you take Gray’s relationship advice and translate Martian to Venusian, you’ll know that these phrases are warnings that your partner needs your support while he withdraws into himself to process his thoughts.
Fulfill a Man’s Primary Needs
Gray says the most effective way for a woman to fulfill a man’s primary love needs is to empower him. Showing your man that you love him the way he is makes him feel trusted, accepted, appreciated, admired, approved of, and encouraged.
The most ineffective way to show love to a man is to try and change him. Because men are naturally focused on achievement, your male partner is extremely sensitive to feeling like a failure. Though you might think that you are showing support to your partner by helping him improve, it feels to him like you are saying “I want you to change because you aren’t good enough.”
Here’s Gray’s relationship advice for women who want to fulfill their male partner’s primary love needs of acceptance, trust, appreciation, approval, admiration, and encouragement:
- Remember that he will feel rejected if you try to change him.
- Be patient and trust that he will learn lessons in his own time.
- Reflect on whether you are expressing negative feelings to change his behavior.
- Allow your partner to ask for advice when he wants it.
- Refrain from making decisions on behalf of your partner.
When you empower a man, without suggesting any changes, you fulfill his primary love needs.
Don’t Make Conflicts Worse
Gray says that the most common complaint among women in relationships is that men don’t listen. Sometimes a man will completely ignore a woman when she speaks. Sometimes he checks out after listening for a short time. In either case, a man’s intention is usually to stop listening and start trying to find a solution that will make the woman feel better. He wants to be Mr. Fix-It.
On the other hand, the most common complaint among men in relationships is that women try to change men’s behavior. As stated before, a woman might mean well when she tries to improve her partner, but men don’t see it that way. Regardless, she wants to be his personal Home Improvement Committee.
Unfortunately, because of the natural differences between men and women, Mr. Fix-It and the Home Improvement Committee often lead to conflict in relationships. The best way to avoid these conflicts is for men to learn to listen, and for women to learn to keep their advice to themselves until a better time.
Don’t Be the “Home Improvement Committee”
Women often forget that men are solution-oriented. If something isn’t broken, they don’t feel the need to improve it. So when a man talks about his problems, the best relationship advice for women is to be very careful not to offer their own advice or criticism unless he specifically asks for her opinion, even if she means well. The man will think she is trying to fix him, and (to a man) that insinuates that he must be broken. This is insulting to a man and feels like an attempt to control or change him.
Women should avoid phrases like these, which offer unwanted criticism and come across as controlling or insulting:
- “Are you really going to buy that?”
- “Don’t you think it’s time to cut your hair?”
- “You should have called if you were going to be late.”
Instead, a woman must learn to give up the urge to offer unsolicited advice. Love and support your man by trusting him to solve these problems on his own, or wait for him to come to you for your opinion.
Give Advice the Right Way
Now that you know how important it is to stop giving your partner unsolicited advice or constructive criticism, you might be wondering how to get your partner to change his behaviors that bother you. Just because Gray’s relationship advice for women says to lay back and let your partner handle his own issues, it doesn’t mean you should be a doormat if you have a strong opinion on something.
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus says communication is key to fixing these issues. Let’s say that you aren’t a fan of the way your partner dresses. How can you communicate that to him without coming across as trying to change him?
Remember, the first step is to fulfill his love needs. Empower your partner by showing him acceptance. You might find that once he is secure enough in the relationship, he will begin to ask for your opinions and suggestions when he’s getting dressed.
However, if you have tried patience and acceptance and your partner still hasn’t asked for your advice, you might have to try approaching him with criticism. Follow these steps to avoid conflict:
- Don’t give a lecture. Be brief. Next time he is getting dressed, casually say “That’s not my favorite shirt. Would you try another one tonight?” If he is sensitive to your comment, simply apologize and let it go.
- Come back to it another time. Since he was sensitive the first time you mentioned it, wait a while before trying again. Try saying “Next time you wear your green pants, would you try them with your gray shirt?”
- Be direct. One day, you could ask your partner “Can I take you shopping? I would love to buy you a nice new outfit.” If he says no, don’t try to push him. If he says yes, remember his previous sensitivities and don’t give too much advice while shopping.
- Prepare him for the criticism. Say something like “I really want to tell you something but I don’t want to hurt your feelings. Would you listen to me and let me know how I could say it better?” This way, you’ve prepared your partner for the shock of receiving criticism.
In each of these instances, you should be alone with your partner. Always wait to give your partner criticism until there is no one around for him to be embarrassed in front of. You wouldn’t want the same done to you.
How to Diffuse Conflict
In Attached, Amir Levine and Rachel Heller suggest that learning to fight with respect and calmness can improve your relationship. They explain that while not every couple faces intimacy-related disagreements, even the most secure couples fight about basic, daily-life issues—like who’ll make dinner or take out the trash. However, research indicates that such arguments can actually help couples grow closer. Levine and Heller contend that this is because these couples follow certain rules of communication that let them effectively work through the conflict without destroying their relationship in the process.
So if you’re facing a daily-life conflict, Levine and Heller’s relationship advice for women is to follow these rules to effectively work through it. (Just make sure it’s actually a daily-life conflict: Some conflicts—like whether to vacation together or separately—seem initially like a daily-life conflict but are actually symptomatic of clashing intimacy needs.)
- Prioritize both your and your partner’s happiness. Remember that in a partnership, you’re looking for every conflict to end in a win-win situation.
- Keep the argument centered on the present issue—don’t get sidetracked or expand the argument to include other issues. A conflict about someone leaving the kitchen a mess shouldn’t turn into an argument about who takes on more work in the household.
- Stay focused and don’t distance yourself emotionally or physically. You need to approach the issue head-on until it gets resolved in a mutually agreeable way—even if it takes some arguing to get there.
- Tell your partner exactly what you need and want. No matter how long you’ve been with your partner, they can’t anticipate all your needs.
Keep Family in Mind
The last key piece of relationship advice for women (or for anyone for that matter) is to never ignore the importance of your partner’s family in your relationship. In The Defining Decade, clinical psychologist Dr. Meg Jay says that when choosing a life partner, it is easy to forget that the decision involves more than just the two of you—it involves a future family that includes your partner’s family.
Of course, you shouldn’t settle down with a partner just because you love his parents and siblings. However, you should give your situation serious thought if you are considering settling down with someone from a family you don’t feel comfortable in. Marrying into a family you don’t fit into will affect your happiness down the road. It may also reflect values in your partner you’ve overlooked or convinced yourself not to worry about: emotional distance, for example.
This is, again, not to say that you should reject someone based only on his family. But his family must factor into the decision.
Make Good Impressions With His Family
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by television host Steve Harvey has largely received negative reviews for its misogynistic relationship advice for women that blames them for most of the problems in relationships. However, it does manage to give helpful relationship advice for women who are struggling to connect with their partner’s family.
How you relate to your partner’s family will tell him a lot about who you are and set the stage for your future. His family may eventually become your family, so creating a positive relationship with them is important. Find out about them before you meet for the first time. Be relaxed and be yourself. Your partner has chosen you for a reason, and you have no reason to think they won’t like you. Be respectful in both manner and attire, and make an effort to spend time with the people who are important to him. His mother is his first love and will always be important to him, so take her out to lunch so she can get to know you better. Her endorsement may mean more than you know.
Keep Him From Becoming a Mama’s Boy
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man also manages to give relationship advice for women who are having trouble setting things right with the other woman in a man’s life: his mother.
While it’s important to have a good relationship with your partner’s mother if she’s in his life, some signs indicate his mother might be a little overbearing when another woman comes into his life. Sometimes, your partner will seem okay with this, and it can hinder your relationship.
Every now and then, you’ll come across a man who is considered a “mama’s boy.” The signs that a man is a mama’s boy are obvious:
- He drops everything to do whatever his mother asks of him.
- He never stands up to his mother.
- He puts his mother in front of his responsibilities to his own partner.
- He allows his mother to call the shots in his relationships.
- He spends more time at his mother’s house than yours.
It’s easy to identify a mama’s boy, but it’s hard to know what to do if your man is one. If you want to regain your man’s attention and keep him more focused on you than his mother, you need to understand why he’s a mama’s boy to begin with.
You may want to blame the mother for not giving her son the freedom to be a man. You might assume his mother doesn’t like you or thinks you’re incapable of making her son happy. You may believe your man is immature and likes being babied. Whatever the reason is, you have to stand up for yourself and point out how his mother is getting in between you and your partner.
He wants to love you and love his mother, and if you are silent about your dissatisfaction with her role in his life, he won’t know there’s a problem. Your partner needs to know what your standards are so he can follow them, not his mother’s.
When you become serious with your partner, you must tell him that you expect him to respect you and your wishes, put your needs ahead of those of others, and make sure the people in his life know that these are his priorities.
If you’re with a mama’s boy, you may be afraid to say something and rock the boat. You fear he will choose her over you, that you’ll anger her and ruin your relationship, or that you’ll never be able to compete with her. None of those things really matter to a man. If your partner loves you and knows his mother’s actions make you unhappy, he will do what he can to appease the situation.
Try this relationship advice for women who want to prevent their partner from becoming a mama’s boy:
- Stop trying to compete with her. Your love is different from her love, and he knows that.
- Recognize that you’re not going to separate your man from his mother.
- Accept that your lack of standards makes him free to follow hers.
- Control what you can—the expectations you set for your relationship.
- Let your man know you respect his mother, but he needs to set boundaries for her influence in his life.
- Tell his mother how well your partner protects and provides for you because of the standards she set for him.
Navigating Tense Situations With His Family
Harvey further emphasizes that there’s always the chance that some members of his family just won’t like you. And then there are times when family members like you too much. His mother might want to be your new best friend, or his brother may have a wandering eye. Your relationship with his family can be bumpy at times, so the following tips can help you navigate tense situations successfully.
1. Let your partner know when something isn’t right.
If you have a problem with one of his family members, be honest with him about it right away. The longer you wait, the more uncomfortable you will be. However, if someone is acting inappropriately, such as an uncle who makes suggestive comments, you have every right to ask them to stop.
2. Don’t be afraid to say “enough is enough.”
If members of his family are still being rude or inappropriate with you after he’s talked to them about it, you are in the clear to take matters into your own hands. Politely tell the culprits that you love your partner but will not put up with their behavior. You may ruffle more feathers, but there’s also the chance they might be impressed that you’re willing to stand up for yourself. If they’re not impressed, that’s their own problem.
3. Set boundaries for family time.
His family might be great, but you’re not dating his family. Set limits on how long you will be at certain functions, how many times a month you’ll attend family gatherings, and how long vacations with the family will be. Knowing there’s an end can ease the stress of family time, and your sanity and relationship will thank you.
4. Find quality time for the main players.
Ask his mother to lunch, or take his sister shopping. One-on-one interactions are less overwhelming than everybody at once, and you can both relax and really get to know each other. And if someone hasn’t warmed up to you yet, a private interaction may help them let their guard down a little.
Balancing your own needs and your partner’s needs is a tricky task, but it can be done. If you’re truly happy with your partner and you both want to see your relationship flourish, it’ll be easy to make the two of you equally happy. Using the relationship advice for women above, go out and create a better version of yourself—for you and your relationship’s sake.
Want to fast-track your learning? With Shortform, you’ll gain insights you won't find anywhere else .
Here's what you’ll get when you sign up for Shortform :
- Complicated ideas explained in simple and concise ways
- Smart analysis that connects what you’re reading to other key concepts
- Writing with zero fluff because we know how important your time is