How to Build an Intentional Relationship


How to Build an Intentional Relationship | There’s no exact definition for an “intentional relationship”, but more or less, it comes down to this: what kind of love do you want?

If you’re spending time with someone, you’re building a relationship. Friendship or romantic, when you’re together, you’re investing in something. The way you communicate, show up (or don’t), and what you focus on are all contributing to the future of your relationship.

Intentionality in relationships is arguably just putting purposeful effort in. Choosing to prioritize your significant other, pay attention to what they need, and protecting your relationship rather than just dealing with issues as they come up.

intentional relationships | love purposefully

Love is both a feeling and an action — but without the latter, the feeling won’t last long.

Acting in love can look like a lot of different things, from romantic date nights to making space for hard conversations. Intentionality, while not the “easy way out” is by far the best way to set your relationship up for success. Purposefully pursuing your significant other says more than any grand gesture.

An intentional relationship is pretty well guaranteed to develop deeper trust and a more authentic love. It will form you as a team. Prepare you for challenges. Teach you to love each other in ways that make you both feel loved.

In this post, I’ve compiled a list of 6 easy ways to love your partner intentionally. These are practical, tangible things you can do to build into your relationship. I can attest to the effectiveness of every single one of these, and I’m confident that your relationship will grow so much stronger because of them.

6 Ways to Build an Intentional Relationship

Plan regular date nights

If you’re in a long term relationship, in all likelihood, you’re spending a lot of time together. And while having chill nights in, meal prepping, and just hanging out are important parts of your relationship, don’t stop planning intentional spaces together.

It’s SO easy with the busyness of life to lose track of the value of actually going on dates. While I am strongly of the opinion that just doing life together is really the foundation of a healthy relationship (and if that feels inadequate, you might be with the wrong person), scheduling time to go out and enjoy each other’s company needs to be a regular thing.

I’ve seen firsthand the effects of consistent, intentional date nights, and lack thereof, and can attest to how this plays out long term. If you don’t take this time, you may end up in a position not all that far down the road where you realize you don’t actually know your significant other. That your relationship has been running on convenience rather than choice, and that’s a dangerous place to be.

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Take the time to celebrate life, your relationship, and each other! You don’t need to spend money or go crazy — just getting dressed up & cooking dinner at home can make for a great date night. Light some candles, play some music, dance around the kitchen and keep falling in love.

Ask each other questions — about life, the world, what you’re thinking and where you’re going. Take a break from to-do lists and schedules and just be together.

Know their love language

Your love language is the way that you give or receive love. If you’ve never taken the quiz to determine yours, check it out here. Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Quality Time are the 5 love languages that we may or may not experience.

Because we all have different love languages, you can imagine how important it is to know this about your partner. If your top love language was gifts, and you were in a relationship with someone whose bottom love language was gifts, and you never communicated that, you would probably feel unloved in that area.

Knowing how to love your partner in a way that makes them feel loved can make or break your relationship. Having the same love languages can be convenient, but it’s not necessary.

Take the quiz and ask your partner to do the same! When you know how to love them, it’ll make things a lot easier, and allow you both to build into your relationship in a more meaningful way.

Ask questions instead of making statements

Conflict in relationships, while not fun, is somewhat inevitable. (Note: conflict is inevitable, “fighting” is not.) You’re two different people, with different histories, perspectives, needs, and thought patterns. Because of it, there are going to be times when you just don’t see eye to eye.

One of the most valuable practices I’ve found both in relationships and friendships is choosing to approach these moments by asking questions rather than making statements. If you don’t understand where your person is coming from, try and adjust your position from “you’re insane” or “you’re wrong” to “there must be more to this”, or “they’re looking at this differently than I am”.

You need to be able to believe the best of the person you’re with. Trust their heart, even if you disagree with their strategy. Taking the time to hear each other’s perspective (without planning your rebuttal) and really working to get where they’re coming from will lead to a much easier resolution.

The fish in the sea

Schedule check in points

Shortly after we started dating, my boyfriend & I decided we wanted to schedule “check-in” conversations every three months. We have a date night, nice dinner, open a bottle of wine, and chat about where we’ve been and what’s ahead. We usually try to go through:

  • any unresolved conflict, or things we just haven’t talked about
  • anything coming up that we might need to talk about or plan for
  • the highlights of the last few months.

It creates a space for conversations which, on their own, might not warrant a whole sit-down-and-talk night, but should still be covered. It gives both of us an easy in if we need to get anything out, and best of all, gives us a chance celebrate the good, fun, and exciting. I can honestly tell you this is one of my favourite rhythms in our relationship. It’s comforting to have, fun to look forward to, and a guaranteed way to keep things from building up too long.

Surprise each other

A few months after we’d started dating, I came home one day from being out with friends to find my boyfriend had shown up unexpectedly at my apartment with flowers, pizza, and drinks. There was no occasion, no special-whatever — it was just a “hey, let’s have dinner, I love you”.

It was spontaneous and fun and so sweet, and it meant the world to me. An evening that required no effort, planning, or preparation from me — just a moment where he showed up and loved me.

Entirely catching your s/o off guard may not be possible all the time, but try doing surprise date nights once a month! You can alternate who plans it, and customize it to your budget. The other person only gets instruction on what to wear, and then gets to just show up and enjoy it.

It feels particularly meaningful when someone else orchestrates something just for you — when they know you well enough to plan successfully and are not just willing, but happy to put it together.

Follow the rule of three (if it bothers you, bring it up)

I cannot stress this one enough — especially if you’re an overthinker (hi). Lack of communication kills relationships more than almost anything. If something’s bugging you, not sitting right, or hurting you, you need to talk about it.

It doesn’t matter how much your partner loves you, they can’t read your mind. They may not realize when a joke they made hit a sore point, or they accidentally crossed a line. Maybe someone else overstepped and they simply didn’t notice. Your person might not know what’s wrong if you don’t tell them, and particularly in the beginning of your relationship, that’s not something you can fault them for if you don’t communicate.

The “rule of three” is something I heard years ago, and essentially follows this principle: if it‘s bothering you three days later, bring it up.

Not every minor annoyance needs to be a conversation, that’s simply not fair. But if something’s really weighing on you, it absolutely needs to be addressed.

If you’ve been dating someone long enough, you should be able to adjust slightly to function as: if it will bother me three days later, talk about it now.

There’s definitely merit in taking a moment to clear your head before a hard conversation, but if something small is nagging at you or needs to be clarified, just ask! You wouldn’t believe how many “conflicts” come down to simple misunderstandings that can be resolved in all of 5 minutes. If you don’t bring it up, that’s on you — and all that stress may be for nothing!

The #1 Key to An Intentional Relationship

The best part of mutual intentionality is that it has a lot more to do with effort than it does perfection. You’re not going to nail every date night, or always read your partner’s mind. (Don’t expect that from them either!) But ultimately, the #1 key to an intentional relationship is to just keep showing up.

Ask questions, pursue growth, and commit to working for the kind of love you want. Communicate what you need. Find new ways to love each other, hobbies to try, and adventures to go on. Don’t stop having fun together.

Protect what you love, take care of it, and have grace for each other.

For more on intentional lifestyle, growth, Christian living & relationships, check out my YouTube channel here.

Explore Next

  1. […] My favourite rhythm in my relationship is our check-in conversations. Every few moments, we pick a night to stay in, have a nice dinner, open a bottle of wine, and talk about where we’re at. Any unresolved issues get talked through, and we have a chance to celebrate the best things that have happened since our last check in. For a more in-depth explanation, click here to read my blog post on intentional relationships. […]

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