By Steven Zangrillo

With the New Year right around the corner, many of you may be starting to stress about those ten pounds you stacked on courtesy of Grandma Anna’s sugar cookies; or how you’ll manage to get those last minute gifts shipped to your beloved in-laws and cousins you don’t know very well.  Instead, take a deep breath.

Now is a great time to step back, look around and re-evaluate your relationships.  Whether you’re a wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend or in the throes of a fleeting fling, there’s never been a better time to understand your tendencies (good or bad) as a lover and a partner.

Right under our noses lie some of the most common and simple adjustments we can make that will help get you started on the path of relationship improvement.   Take to heart some of these “romantic resolutions” that you may want to put into practice as 2012 approaches:

1. “I will not expect the world of my partner.”

To be clear, you should expect your partner to make the effort to give you the world.  We all want our special someone to feel happy and satisfied at all times, and vice versa.  However, it’s borderline lunacy to expect that person to actually deliver on all of your wildest dreams.  Newsflash: this isn’t an Old Spice commercial, and no, we’re not going to bake you a triple chocolate mousse cake in your dream house kitchen while singing your favorite song.  But we’ll try, or at least give you a great foot massage.

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2. “If they want to go to the movies, then take them to the movies.”

Your significant other loves a hobby that you purely loathe.  It could be going to cheesy romance movies or ridiculous action flicks, blasting gangster rap at earth-shattering volumes from your apartment, or eating at a restaurant that triggers your gag reflex.  If they know you hate these things, they probably shouldn’t make you experience them.  But that’s selfish, wouldn’t you agree?  So stick it out… sit down and watch “The Notebook” with her.  You’ll reap the benefits later when she buys you those Eminem tickets next month.

3. “I will tolerate his or her friends, even if it doesn’t go smoothly at first.”

This is particularly difficult in new relationships where you may not have many mutual friends.  Say you’ve moved to a new city with your flame and just met his friends.  Because they are his or her friends, not yours, territoriality plays an integral role in this situation.

What’s key to remember is that these people care for the person that you love, just like you do — albeit in different ways.  Maybe they aren’t your type of people, but if you treat each other with respect, the relationship with your significant other can grow.  Integrating into each others’ lives will be much smoother if you go into this with an open mind.  And who knows, eventually you may grow to love them.

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4. “I will allow myself to be present when I am away from you.”

Ever have that friend who, whether it’s at the club or in a study group, that is constantly and obnoxiously in contact with their significant other?  You may even be guilty of it yourself.  It’s an all-around annoying disposition.

If you’re always on your cell phone, shutting out the world around you, you are probably aggravating all of the other people that enjoy your company in the process. Don’t be the guy leaning on the bar, texting his girl, while everyone else is having a great time.

Furthermore, this could be a warning sign to you that you don’t trust each other.  Do you really want to be in a relationship where you find yourself having to give a detailed explanation of how dinner is going with your parents?  If not, it’s probably time to shed that relationship.

5. “I will put myself first, but not at the detriment of my partner.  I’ll support everything they are passionate about.”

This rule speaks for itself.  No one worth being in a relationship with would ever make you feel bad for pursuing your interests, on both professional and personal levels.  If the dynamic of your partnership is that of mutual respect and support, your significant other will be your biggest cheerleader.

It is, indeed, easier to give the previous advice than it is to follow it.  However, if you adapt an attitude that incorporates a little bit of everything discussed above, there’s a good chance that you and your lover will have a relationship that will stand the test of time in the New Year!