Relationship agreements: What they are and why you need one
One of the most common tools I share with my counseling clients is the creation of relationship agreements. At their core, relationship agreements are your ways of being and interacting with someone you’re in a relationship with. Exactly what they look like varies drastically, from contracts in some kink and BDSM relationships to how you and your beau(s) schedule your time.
Here’s everything you need to know about these intimacy-boosting tools and how to incorporate them into all of your relationships.
Every relationship has agreements—explicit or otherwise
Whether you’re aware of and chose the agreements or not, they’re there. Often, outside of BDSM and kink, these agreements are assumed instead of established together. To use a common example, in heterosexual relationships, women perform a larger portion of the household chores and management than men.
The little things you do every day are more important than grand gestures
Relationship agreements often attend to little things in your relationship, like how you greet each other or how you divvy up chores. That doesn’t mean they can’t be grand (still laughing over this one), but rather that they support the most important part of your relationship(s): what you do regularly.
How to create your own relationship agreements
Reflect on the habits in your relationship (if you’re non-monogamous, choose one to get started). How do you and your partner interact day-to-day? What roles do you each play in your relationship? In the bedroom? Who does what around the house, if you live together?
Once you’ve mapped out the agreements you already have, explore your feelings for them. Did you choose these? Are you satisfied with them? Do they bring you pleasure? If there’s an agreement that’s bugging you, regardless of whether it’s how things have always been or something you previously chose, talk to your beau about it.
13 Relationship Agreements to Try
- Take 30-60 seconds to hug every time you go your separate ways and when you see each other again
- Alternate who initiates sex
- Spend at least four minutes a day practicing eye gazing. Sit facing one another, holding hands, and focus on each other’s left eye
- If you’re on the couch, your bodies must touch each other
- Start turning the lights down in your space at least an hour before bed
- Schedule regular “State of Our Union” meetings where you have space to talk about what’s working in your relationship and what needs support or refreshing
- Check-in with each other around the same time during every work shift
- Split up chores based on who enjoys and abhors doing what, and remember that balance is key. For example, whoever cooks doesn’t do the dishes
- Whoever wakes up first brings the sleeping partner their favorite morning beverage
- Regardless of your schedules, choose one chunk of time each week that’s just for you
- If one or both of you struggle with physical or mental health issues, establish a plan for communicating the issue and supporting each other through it
- Gift each other three, heartfelt compliments as the end of each day.
- Designate phone-free spaces and times. For us, that’s during meals
Relationship agreements aren’t just for romantic partners
For example, my closest friends and I have a system for when my mental health isn’t doing well. They know what the signs are and will reach out. With one, we even have a color code! This helps us show up for each other and ourselves more fully. Plus, establishing these systems deepened our intimacy.
Relationship agreements can add more pleasure and intimacy to every part of your relationship
You can literally create an agreement for any part of your relationship. One of my favorite examples comes from my friend and colleague Sarah (who you should totally follow if you struggle with infertility). She and her husband both have different ways of folding towels. Instead of going back and forth over whose is superior, they decided on their couple’s way of folding towels. This makes laundry days easier and lets them do laundry for each other without bickering.
They’re both practical and powerful.
Leave a comment below and tell us about one of your relationship agreements.
Author Bio Kait Scalisi, MPH, is an advocate for the revolutionary power of pleasure inside the bedroom and out. Through her public workshops, private counselling, and online platform Passion By Kait, she harnesses her science education, social justice insight, and radical empathy to empower folx to get more in tune with their bodies, discover what brings them pleasure, and integrate it into their lives and relationships in ways that are both practical and powerful. Learn more and find #freedominpleasure at PassionbyKait.com, Instagram and Twitter @PassionbyKait, and Facebook www.facebook.com/PassionbyKait.