- Make Sure Your Relationship Lasts by Doing These 7 Things
- 1. Be present
- 2. Get ready to work for it
- 3. Keep the fire alive
- 4. Keep it fun
- 5. Remember the good
- 6. Learn to compromise
- 7. Don’t compare yourself too much to others
- How to Make a Long-Term Relationship Work in Your Twenties
- THE ‘SPARK’
- DOUBT DAYS
- SINGLE PEOPLE
- THEIR FRIENDS
- THEIR FAMILY
- MOVING IN
- THE INVISIBLE TIMELINE
- 10 Ways to Make Any Relationship Last
- 1. Take your partner’s breath away.
- 2. Do something special on a regular basis.
- 3. Engage in lots of eye contact.
- 4. Learn what pleases your partner sexually.
- 5. Teach your partner what you like.
- 6. Boost lasting love with sexual novelty.
- 7. Do something edgy.
- 8. Do something great for someone your partner loves.
- 9. Summarize and immortalize loving moments.
- 10. Boost the love chemicals.
- 12 Ways To Improve Your Love Life, According To Science
- 1. Wear Red
- 2. Drink Red
- 3. Avoid Fighting Via Text
- 4. Use The Power Of Writing
- 5. Spend A Night In Watching Movies Together
- 6. Divvy Up Household Chores
- 7. Get Enough Sleep
- 8. Decorate The Bedroom With Purple
- 9. Say You’re Sorry — And Mean It
- 10. Get Your Workout On
- 11. Be As Positive As Possible
- 12. Don’t Forget The Little Things
- 1. Send a supportive text to your partner
- 2. Break a sweat together
- 3. Make eye contact
- 4. Try cognitive reappraisal
- 5. Do your own thing, and be passionate about your life
- 6. Use the countdown rule to make decisions
- 7. Create a “hello” and “goodbye” ritual
- 8. Say “Thank You”
- 9. Listen to music
- 10. Schedule couple time
- 11. Hold hands
- 12. Write out relationship doubts and insecurities
- Schedule time for sex
- Avoid the ‘chasing dynamic’
- How to keep the fizz from fizzling out in your relationship
- Stop focusing on sex
- See a sex therapist
- MORE RELATIONSHIP ADVICE
- How To Make A Relationship Last
- “Communication” is not the secret
- “Communication” gets you statements like:
- OPTION 1: A GOOD RELATIONSHIP, WHILE IT LASTS
- Develop (Your Own) Emotional Maturity
- Emotional Boundaries
- Conflict resolution
- OPTION 2: A “FOREVER” LOVE
- Step 1. Develop (Your Own) Emotional Maturity
- Step 2. Reset Your Expectations (Of Love & Feelings)
- Hard Reality #1: Our feelings for our partners will ebb and flow
- Hard Reality #2: We will feel attracted to others
- Step 3. Commit (Yourself, To Your Partner)
- Put In The Work
- Love so damn hard
- Keep Choosing and “Dating” Your Partner — Every Day
- Wondering How To Make Your Relationship Last Forever? Do These 9 Things
Make Sure Your Relationship Lasts by Doing These 7 Things
If you’ve been in a serious relationship for awhile, nothing will scare you more than watching other couples you looked up to calling it quits, or your favorite couple friends trying to piece a broken relationship back together.When this happens, you may start to question your own relationship.
But instead of fearfully questioning everything, give yourself a moment to ensure your relationship is worth working for. Then, kick it into high gear and put in the extra effort to ensure your relationship isn’t the next one to end up in the dumps.
1. Be present
Try to always be present. | iStock.com
This one may seem easy, but in a world of constant communication and endless social media notifications, being present with your partner may be easier said than done. How often is your partner in the middle of telling you about their day when you get a text or absentmindedly realize you haven’t checked your Instagram feed all day? When this happens, your mind is elsewhere, leaving your partner high and dry as they spill on the drama of the day. To be present, you must fully engage with each other and in the moment.
2. Get ready to work for it
Like all great things, an amazing relationship will not come easy. | iStock.com/oneinchpunch
Just because you love each other doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a long, happy life together. Relationships take a lot of work. That means some days will be an uphill struggle where you’re constantly bickering or busy being hurt about something your partner did to offend you. If you’re both aware that relationships are hard, but you see the value in what you have, you’ll have the stamina to work at keeping the relationship alive when it gets tough.
3. Keep the fire alive
Keep things alive by switching it up. | iStock.com
Not only do relationships require time spent connecting emotionally with your partner, but you’ll need to make sure that your sexual connection is alive and well. This may be easy at first. When you’ve first started dating, getting naked may be all you can think about, but over time your sex life may take a backseat to stresses at work, arguments, and just getting too busy.
Take the time to learn what pleases your partner sexually. Talk about it. Ask what he or she likes and be open to experimenting. Likewise, be verbal about what you do and don’t like. If you’re going to make it in the long run, it’s vital you know how to please each other.
4. Keep it fun
Have fun together. | iStock.com/Carlos Davila
If you consistently make dinner at home, watch a movie together, and go to bed, you’ll quickly become bored. Put in the effort to make the time you spend together fun. Switch it up so that when you do stay in with a homemade dinner and a movie, it feels new and exciting. Explore new things and be open to different activities like going to concerts, taking salsa lessons, or going hiking over the weekend. Time spent together allows you to hit the refresh button on your relationship, so put in the effort to make that time fun for both parties.
5. Remember the good
Remember why you fell in love. | iStock.com
When you first fall in love, you’re focused on your partner’s positive qualities. You may swoon over their musical ability or the ways that they challenge you to improve yourself. Over time, these qualities slowly become overshadowed as you start to dwell on your partner’s lacking qualities. Especially during a relationship’s rough patch, it is important to acknowledge what’s working and give credit for all the things that go well even in the midst of conflict.
Remember that for every negative feeling or interaction, there are five positive ones. Focusing on the good in the relationship and in each other is important in a lasting relationship.
6. Learn to compromise
Compromise is a big one — but it can be easier said than done. | iStock.com/ArthurHidden
One of the biggest challenges serious couples face is resolving an argument when neither of you wants to back down from your opinions. Long-lasting happy relationships consist of compromise — the ability to step back and acknowledge your significant others opposing view. Sure, you don’t want to be a doormat for your partner to walk on. However, your relationship will stay alive longer if both of you learn to not be too stubborn.
When you are having extra trouble resolving an issue, step back, take a deep breath, and try to come at it from a more constructive angle. The goal isn’t about you being right and your partner being wrong — it’s about finding common ground.
7. Don’t compare yourself too much to others
Whether on social media or with friends, don’t compare yourself. | iStock.com/nicoletaionescu
As we said in the very beginning, breakups around you may make you question your own relationship. While that is a totally natural reaction, you also have to remember not to get too wrapped up in comparing your relationship to others. At the end of the day, your relationship with your partner is unique and does not consist the exact same components as someone else’s union.
Remember how we said to stay present? That applies here too. Make sure you are keeping focus on what’s happening in your own relationship, and it will likely last longer.
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Photo by Lotte Meijer
It’s always a sweet sight to see old couples who are still enjoying their lives in the comfort of each other’s arms. You couldn’t help but be in awe and astonishment whenever you see a couple celebrating their golden anniversary (others even older), as this means that they have definitely stood the test of time, patience, and faith. And these days, it’s rare to see couples lasting for several years, even when on the outset they were seen to be the strongest pairs ever.
So yes, if you think that your current relationship is the one for keeps, then you must know how to make it last. Below are 8 ways that may help:
1. Communication is key.
Communication is key to any lasting relationship. As a couple, you and your partner have to talk things out, and these include everything, from your joys to your qualms, your issues to your disagreements. You also have to talk about your own personal aspirations, so that you are able to understand each other in different aspects.
Discussing things that involve the both of you and your relationship as a whole is very important, as this keeps your bond alive. You may not agree on everything all the time, but through communication, you are able to channel your opinions in such ways that you come up with a compromise that allows you two to continue life together.
ALSO READ: 8 Ways to Solve Communication Problems in Your Relationship
2. Acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Many couples end breaking up because they fail to acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They either feel like they are competing against each other, or that either of them is weaker and can be a burden anytime soon. Relationships are not like that. They are not created out of convenience; they are formed out of love, trust, friendship, and respect.
When you are in a relationship, you should be brave enough to accept your partner’s flaws and work your way from there (and vice versa). By doing so, you get to inspire each other into becoming better partners and better individuals, thus allowing your relationship to grow.
3. Get out of the box.
People often think that affairs are the root cause of a couple’s breakup. In some cases, yes, but oftentimes having an affair is just a product of something even darker. Or to put it bluntly, something bland: boredom.
It’s human nature for us to get bored. We get bored of the daily routine, the usual activities, the time to go to bed and the time to wake up. When boredom finally strikes, it leads us to think and do crazy things that shock our partners, sometimes to the point that they feel like they don’t know us anymore. Hence, they leave.
So yes, going out of your usual couple’s routine helps a lot in cheering up your relationship. Surprise each other. Travel to places you’ve never thought about, learn a new skill together, and try different things that intend to spice up your bond. Without the spontaneity and occasional shock value, your relationship will definitely end up in a limbo.
ALSO READ: 10 Fun Ways to Overcome Boredom in Your Relationship
4. Maintain the sweetness.
Sweet nothings always give a breath of fresh air for every couple. It’s because they add color to your dullest days as a couple. And they don’t cost a thing most of the time.
You may want to write a letter to your partner saying how much you love and appreciate their efforts, and give it at a time they least expect it. If you want to be more romantic, you may surprise your significant other with flowers or simple presents even when there’s no occasion to celebrate. But seriously, the simplest actions would do.
5. Respect each other’s “me” time.
One thing about couples these days is that they make it a point to cling together like there’s no tomorrow, and being away from each other brews the opportunity for unnecessary suspicion. If this is how you feel in your relationship, then it’s time to make some major changes.
It is very important to learn to respect each other’s “me” time, because even while you are in a relationship together, you two are still separate, different individuals. Your partner has their own friends and you have yours, each of you have individual dreams to fulfill, but at the end of the day you still choose to hold each other’s hands and face the future together. With that said, don’t wallow over your time apart. Think of it as your time to grow individually, but still together in heart and soul.
ALSO READ: 10 Ways to Build and Maintain Trust in a Relationship
6. Touch each other.
Did you know that touching tells a lot more words than mere speaking up? It is because when you hold hands, hug, or kiss, you get to channel your emotions to each other. You immediately know when something is wrong or amiss, and that serves as your queue to communicate. Touching is also a way of comfort, as releases feel-good endorphins every time you give your partner a pat on the shoulder, a squeeze in the hand, or a kiss on the forehead. The feeling of assurance brought about by touching is powerful enough to heal wounds brought by harsh words and arguments you’ve had with your significant other earlier during the day.
7. Avoid the blame game.
Blaming each other for things that have gone wrong is a catalyst for breakup. This is because there’s no need to find faults in each other for the sole reason that you two are in this together. Hence, whatever takes place in your relationship, good or bad, is a product of both your actions.
Rather, you may want to talk things out with your partner and see the brighter side of things. Discuss your takeaways and lessons learned from what you think are mistakes and mishaps, and find ways to compromise. This way, it would be easier to solve problems, not only because you agreed on roles and responsibilities, but because you are resolving them on the basis of trust.
ALSO READ: 9 Effective Ways to Help Couples Solve Relationship Problems
Lastly, when working towards a long lasting relationship, you should be always willing to listen. You not only hear your partner’s voice, but pay attention to every detail. It is because when you listen, you not just take into account your partner’s side, you provide time, patience, and the heart to understand where they are coming from.
By listening you learn what’s in your partner’s heart, and they learn what’s in yours. You two then find ways on how to improve your relationship, slowly but surely, through the years.
Making it for keeps is probably the primary goal of every couple. It wouldn’t be surprising to know if this is also your ultimate relationship goal, because who wouldn’t want love to last a lifetime, right? And mind you, it’s not an impossible dream. All you have to do is know how to do it right.
ALSO READ: 12 Inspirational Tips for Finding True Love and Long-lasting Relationship
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When not on the road, Fae Marie Esperas writes about life’s adventures as she sees them. She likes her coffee with mint, and owns a cat named Ramon.
How to Make a Long-Term Relationship Work in Your Twenties
There are exactly two types of long-term relationship. The first: where you’re best friends who can make each other orgasm without it getting weird. And the second: where you both know that all you’re really doing is watching each other die. Their jokes no longer make you laugh; their alcohol dependency isn’t as fun as it used to be; their personality, it turns out, is extremely bad. You are the couple sitting opposite one another in Bella Italia: clinically silent, the reason the child watching you from across the room will one day develop serious commitment issues.
The good thing, though, is that 42 percent of marriages end in divorce. So the reasoning goes that plenty of couples—and I’m lumping together spouses and long-termers here—may well get a do-over. And that’s heartwarming, because while the long-term relationship (LTR) might be testing—there are only so many times you can witness someone get truly red-in-the-face angry with subpar Domino’s service and not scream at them to just fucking chill out—it can also be a very rewarding thing.
But how does one ensure this is the case? How, when long-termers are shaped by years of varied interactions unique to you and whoever you’re in an LTR with, can one catch-all guide apply to your deeply personal relationship?
Read on and you’ll find out.
The thing about arguments is that they’re mostly completely stupid and can be solved incredibly easily. Unless your partner* has “done a Judas” and betrayed you—or got really into drowning cats, or something—the vast majority of squabbles can be solved by stopping and thinking: Am I being a dick right now? Because the answer will almost always be: yes.
The problem with being an adult is that, if you’re in the wrong and you’re being chastised for being in the wrong, you will lash out, because that scenario reminds you of being a child. But you’re not a child any more, are you? You’re a big bad grown-up. You have a contactless card. You could order 17 drinks, smoke 17 cigarettes, and set off 17 fireworks indoors all at once if you wanted to. But don’t let that pride get in the way of common sense: if you know you’re being a dick, just apologize and that’ll be the end of it. No more slammed doors, no more tears, no more having to maintain the act that you’re annoyed when really all you want to do is just be normal again, because being pissed off is actually incredibly boring.
*We used “partner” there to keep it gender/orientation-neutral, but be aware that, depending on how deep in you are, you may soon be using that word earnestly to describe the other person in your relationship 🙁
The “spark” is a very nebulous concept. What does it mean? Is it just a thing in Match.com adverts? If you feel like the “spark” is missing, it’s probably because you’re easing into a new phase of your relationship; there’s only so long you can keep sneaking off during parties to do hand stuff in cupboards, or flirt all day on GChat, or get shitfaced on $15 cocktails every time you see each other. At some point, the hangovers will begin to seriously affect your cognitive function, and your work will start to suffer, and an emergency HR meeting will be called, and your employer will trawl your chat history and find literally hundreds of examples of you using the phrase: “All I want to do tonight is snuggle and bone.” Which is just an excruciating thing to go through for everyone involved.
Part of being in a long-termer is becoming basically co-dependent. Alongside the joy you feel upon seeing your partner, you’ll also start to notice a creeping sense of fear and sadness that one day they might not be there any more, the spark mellowing gradually into a humming log fire. This is no bad thing; do not let it freak you out—remain chill and it means you’ve successfully transitioned into what’s arguably a much more meaningful stage of your relationship.
If you crave unfamiliarity and novelty to the point of holding a destructive obsession with preserving the “spark,” then grab the Clearasil and studded belt my friend, because you are quite clearly a child.
Sometimes you’ll get those horribly intense self-reflective mind-fogs that make you examine everything about your life and question, among other things, if your relationship is actually a good idea. That’s normal. If you don’t like yourself all the time, how can you be expected to always like somebody who still regularly Dutch ovens you four years into a relationship?
But again: don’t freak out. Quietly wait until it passes, or until you can think rationally about what you really want, and don’t do anything dumb in the meantime.
Photo by Michael Segalov
What are you, five years old? Can’t resist the chocolate bar resting on the kitchen counter? Grow up. The grass is always greener, and a sloppy drunken kiss is not worth the overwhelming, all-pervading sense of guilt you’ll feel for the weeks, months, and years after.
The thing with single people is you’ll sometimes look at them with longing and envy: don’t they seem so happy in their aloneness? Aren’t they just so much less tied down than you? They can stay up at the party an extra six hours doing keys. They can do that short-notice trip to Amsterdam with the guys. They can go on Tinder and have casual sex at any moment. They can spend an entire weekend growing stagnant in their own dirt, watching 100 consecutive episodes of Gilmore Girls and rolling thin little blunts. Nobody is going to make them go shopping. Nobody is going to tell them to shower and have brunch.
However: single people are largely unhappy and broken. That’s why they complain about being single all the time. A universally-acknowledged truth: everyone else seems happy, but isn’t. That’s why we all inherently hate our lives so much. But finding a good partner to hate your life with alleviates that feeling somewhat. Remember that.
Photo by Ed Zipco
Get a partner, get a partner’s friends: that’s the rule. Partner’s friends always want to make a big thing about going to a bar and having a big group roast. Partner’s friends always want to “quiz you” on “whether you’re good enough for them.” Frequently, partner’s friends are dicks and shitheads. Partner’s friends make you call into question everything you thought you know about your partner.
But everyone has bad friends, don’t they? Everyone has some snobby girl called Jocasta who they hate but lives nearby. Everyone has some friend from high school who still talks about high school all the time and how good high school was. This is why you have to get along well with your other half’s friends, even if they’re a shower of total cunts: nobody is perfect, and even fewer people have good taste.
It’s important to avoid pressuring each other into integrating, unless that’s what you both want. You don’t have to show them off at the bar like a surgery scar. Leave them to their own devices. Unless you’re some gross, controlling maniac who constantly tracks their movements on Find My Friends, their independence is probably what drew you to them in the first place, right?
Most people enjoy the company of at least one of their parents once they drag themselves out of the emotional mire of puberty, so they’ll make a big deal about you meeting them.
You might have to meet a quiet stern dad who judges you exclusively on your posture and how well you can drink a pint. You may have to meet a zany mom who seems exceptionally sweet until you accidentally put your feet on some forbidden sofa and she starts crying. The relationship between a partner’s parents and yourself is often an odd one: fraught, high stakes, underpinned by a sort of begrudging search for likable traits about one another, grey areas of small talk to revert to over silent lunches.
But generally, don’t worry too much about “meeting the parents”—they’re just old people like you see in the butcher or on a train platform. Main tip: don’t be shy. Try to strike up a bit of PG banter to get everything going—the last thing they want is to think their child is entering into a 20-year pact with a flavorless oat cake.
Unless you’re one of those self-conscious couples who schedule in regular joyless sex sessions solely to keep the numbers up, you’re going to end up having less sex deep into an LTR than you did when you started. It’s an inevitability, but it’s not necessarily an issue: if the sex is still good, there’s a bit of variation going on, and everyone’s still regularly #climaxing, then there’s surely nothing wrong with slowing things down a bit.
Equally, if the sex starts to get a little stale, here’s a quick fix: talk about it. Say, “I want to do weirder shit,” or, “I want you to press my anus with your thumb a bit,” or, “It would be great if we could try some foot stuff.” By the time your sex is becoming tiresome, you’ll most likely have been together long enough that you should be able to talk openly and honestly about whatever’s on your mind.
This is something people generally stress over way too much. You know how you’ve basically spent every night for the past two years sleeping over, while also paying rent on your own apartment? You know how you really enjoy waking up together on a Saturday and splitting the cost of a Seamless so you don’t feel so repulsive for spending $28.80 on two juices and a breakfast pizza? You know how mindlessly dull texting hourly updates to each other about what you’re watching on TV can be?
Easy remedy: move in with each other.
Yes, you’ll probably have some space issues and a few little quandaries to work out, but when the timing’s right, suck it up and make it work: if you intend to stay with this person for the long haul, moving in is part and parcel.
THE INVISIBLE TIMELINE
We’ve had it drilled into our subconscious that, although it’s totally fine to live your own way, you’re a total idiot if you do because there are magic moves that need to be played at the correct time if you don’t want to fuck up your one shot at happiness. Thank everything we’ve grown up with our entire lives for that: comedies starring relatable horny single people who are HOPELESS at relationships, passive-aggressive think-pieces telling us the “Ten Reasons You Should Be Single In Your Twenties”; and, if you have a womb, the constant reminder that your fertility and time are inversely proportional.
And so an invisible timeline works its way into your subconscious: in your late teens you have a serious relationship that teaches you how to do sex; you fuck everything you can in your early-twenties; and then, between around 26 to 28, you meet the love of your life because you still want to look fit when you get married and be young enough to not have to splurge your pitiful disposable income on IVF.
The more you allow the invisible timeline to drift into your consciousness unchallenged, the more you will question everything. Don’t get into this neurotic spiral. If you’re happy in a relationship in your early twenties, who gives a fuck? If things don’t work out, you can always slut around in your thirties or forties or fifties. In fact, by staying in an LTR in your twenties, you’re doing just about the most subversive thing you could do.
10 Ways to Make Any Relationship Last
Love that lasts is the result of partners embedding themselves in each other’s brains in a positive way. Memory circuits and pleasure get all wound up together so that the other person becomes integral to the very structure of your brain, and you become part of the structure of theirs. (Here’s more on what happens to your brain when you’re in love.)
Here are some steps toward making your love last:
1. Take your partner’s breath away.
Do something amazingly thoughtful and out of the ordinary and try to incorporate an element of surprise to it: a loving note tucked into a pocket. A special dinner on an otherwise ordinary night. A playlist made up with his favorite songs. These thoughtful acts will embed you in your partner’s memory.
2. Do something special on a regular basis.
Call them every day just to touch base for a few minutes. Make their favorite meal once a week. Once they begin to expect these things, you will always be close to their awareness.
3. Engage in lots of eye contact.
New couples seem to do this naturally, but don’t drop this strong bonding behavior just because the relationship has progressed. This is one way to keep the “romance alive”, as they say, and is especially powerful when making love. (Need inspo? These hot-and-heavy sex positions could spark joy in your sex life.)
4. Learn what pleases your partner sexually.
Make it clear that their pleasure is your pleasure, and you want to discover everything about what turns them on. They’ll be happy to have you experiment with them while making love.
5. Teach your partner what you like.
Likewise, making you happy will make your partner feel good. And research shows that the sexual pleasure of one partner increases the pleasure of the other partner. (Figure out what you like using these 13 tips for a mind-blowing masturbation session.)
6. Boost lasting love with sexual novelty.
When things get humdrum and routine, there is not going to be as much of a hormonal/neurotransmitter reaction, and arousal is lessened. While you don’t have to break out the whips and chains, a little novelty while you’re making love can increase anticipation, which means that more hormones are secreted. The result? Hotter, more thrilling sex for both of you. (You can start with one of these vibrators.)
7. Do something edgy.
If you get your partner’s heart rate up, they may associate the feeling of excitement with you and may develop more powerful feelings for you. Going on a roller-coaster ride, taking a balloon trip, shooting the rapids-anything with a touch of danger to it-can make them fall more deeply in love with you. (This couple tried learning trapeze together.)
Image zoom Photo: Laetizia Haessig/EyeEm/Getty images
8. Do something great for someone your partner loves.
If you show kindness and love for someone they love, you’ll earn major points. When you enter a relationship, you also enter a relationship with all their family and friends. Show them that the people who are important to them are important to you.
9. Summarize and immortalize loving moments.
Don’t be afraid to give voice to your love. Tell them how you feel. Write a loving note or poem. Lovers have been doing this from the beginning of time because it works.
10. Boost the love chemicals.
There are many brain chemicals that go into the feeling of love and attachment. Oxytocin is known as the bonding, trust, and cuddle hormone. Oxytocin is enhanced by watching romantic movies together, holding hands, cuddling, and long, loving eye contact. (And kissing, which has a bunch of other health benefits!) Women usually have more oxytocin than men, but according to one study, a man’s level of oxytocin goes up 500 percent after making love. Being too busy to make love pushes couples apart.
More on eHarmony:
Online Dating Safety Tips Every Woman Should Know
How to Avoid Being Catfished
- By By Daniel G. Amen for eHarmony.com
Relationships aren’t easy and whoever tells you otherwise clearly has no idea about what he’s talking about.
Just like everything else, a relationship requires both work and dedication. Love is paramount but never really enough!
Some people might make relationships seem like a cakewalk, but it’s not easy for them either. They’ve just unraveled the secrets of having long-lasting relationships faster than the others!
In case you’re still wondering how to make it work, here is a cheat sheet to lend you some help:
1. Treat each other like it started just today and you wish to keep it forever.
2. Keep the romance alive. Surprise each other once in a while.
3. Be open to compromises.
4. It’s okay to be vulnerable. Let your partner know the real you.
5. Never take your partner for granted.
6. Don’t bottle up feelings and emotions. Talk it out!
7. Don’t let the bitter past dictate the fate of your relationship.
8. Say goodbye to unrealistic expectations.
9. Don’t compare your partner or relationship with others.
10. Keep jealousy and insecurity at bay.
11. If a discussion turns into a fight, take a breath and think if it’s worth it.
12. Don’t take it out on them when things go wrong.
13. Granting space when needed is the key.
14. Accept them, don’t try to change them.
15. Take interest in their passion and work. Support them. Encourage them.
16. Honesty is the foundation.
17. No matter what, never ever do or say anything to put them down.
18. Have some ‘me time’ too. Don’t rely on them for all your happiness.
19. Try to connect with your partner’s family.
20. Pay attention when they share their thoughts and feelings.
21. Be patient and forgiving when they confess or apologize.
22. Make efforts to take out time for each other.
23. Don’t wait around expecting them to figure out what you want. Speak up.
24. For any major decision, consult them and explain your stance.
25. Make them feel valued. Tell them they make your life better from time to time.
26. Even if you think an issue is not as important as your partner feels, hear them out.
27. Don’t be indifferent to future plans.
28. Try to remember little details such as likes and dislikes of your partner.
29. In the face of difficulties, don’t bring up separation as an option.
30. Take pride in your partner. Treasure them for loving you through thick and thin.
Building a life together takes a lot more than love. Internalize these points and invest in your relationship to have a happily-ever-after.
When you’re still in the stage of your relationship where you have sex every time you see each other and fall asleep spooning every night, a small part of you might wonder (and worry) if this great thing in your life will actually last. The nightly marathon sex probably won’t, but as time goes on and you get to see each other as flawed-but-somehow-even-more-wonderful people, there are definitely some signs that will point to “together for a long-ass time”. I spoke with Dr. Suzanne Degges-White, Chair and Professor of Counseling and Counselor Education at Northern Illinois University about what makes a couple really last:
1. Above all else, you’re really great friends.
“If a couple does not consider themselves to be friends, the relationship is not going to last long term,” says Degges-White. “If it’s all about passion, drama, sex, and excitement, the relationship won’t last past many anniversaries.”
Obviously, everyone feels like they have to declare their S.O. their BFF, but it should come from a place of really feeling like your unfiltered feelings are valued. Real best friends are more than just an exhilarating new person to spend time with – even on the worst days, they always have your back.
2. You each have your own thing going on.
So here’s the catch: while it’s important that your partner is a very close friend, it’s also important that they’re not your ONLY close friend, or that dates together aren’t the one thing you look forward to every week.
“Self-intimacy is essential in order to build healthy intimacy with a partner,” says Degges-White. “We need to grow our own selves and this can’t be done if we are constantly in the company of another. We not only benefit from some extra-relational friendships, we also need time for solitude and alone time.” Having a partner who not only gets your need for space but also asks for their own means that you’re not codependent (plus, you’ll have so much more to talk about at dinner).
3. You agree on the non-negotiable things.
Erase every rom-com plot that ends with two opposites attracting each other. IRL, dating a sporadic texter who parties on weekdays isn’t going to work if you crave reliable communication and an early bed time.
“Couples that have similar values are a lot more likely to make it long-term just as are couples that share similar goals,” says Dr. Degges-White. “When values clash, it can create financial or personal conflicts.” No amount of current unbridled sexual attraction will keep you together when you have completely different visions for your future.
4. You’re not stuck in a routine.
“While vegging out and catching up with your favorite shows can be way to bond and develop routines as a couple, the relationship might grow a little too predictable and start to feel stale,” says Degges-White. “Every couple should integrate activities that are different than what together.”
There’s a reason every movie about overworked parents involves them scrambling to find a babysitter and non-wrinkled business casual wear for “date night.” It’s necessary, and if all you have to leave behind is another night of Netflix, you have no excuse.
5. You’re not afraid to really talk about sex.
Every long-term relationship experiences sexual ups and downs (unless you’re Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan – I stand convinced that those two have five-hour tantric ballet sex every night). For the rest of us mortals, sex is something that needs to be talked about from time to time.
“Telling your partner what you need greatly improves the odds that you’ll get what you want,” says Degges-White. Whether it’s kindly addressing the lack of sex lately, or the desire to mix it up with some toys, making sure that you’re both satisfied intimately is crucial. “Research continues to show that happy couples enjoy sexual intimacy on a regular basis – and as long as both partners are happy with the frequency, it really doesn’t matter if it’s twice a day or twice a year. Seriously.”
6. Your arguments actually bring you closer.
Arguing in a healthy way can be so hard, especially if you grew up in families who had toxic ways of dealing with conflict and have to actively unlearn all of it). But, in general, a good tell that you’re on the right track is that it never is about proving the other person wrong.
“When fighting is about power, not resolutions, then the fighting has lost any use as a tool,” says Degges-White. “Fighting fair means that neither partner is belittled, disrespected, or disempowered in the discussion. And when an exchange feels more like a ‘fight’ than a ‘disagreement’,” that’s a sign that someone’s gone too far.”
7. You’re not insecure about each other’s successes.
Whether it’s your S.O. having a cooler job than you or making way more money (or both), feeling unequal can lead to a lot of problems down the line. “If one member of a couple resents a partner’s success or dwells on financial inequities either real or perceived, it can doom a relationship unless action is taken to work through these issues,” says Dr. Degges-White.
8. You forgive each others’ bad days.
Being lectured for acting snippy after you’ve had a trash-fire day is a surefire path to feeling so much worse. And being the partner who feels like an emotional dart board all night when you looked forward to dinner together is also no good.
“Although we all have days when we come home from work and the last thing we want to do is have to be ‘on’ for someone, in relationships, we do have to be civil and respectful of our partners,” says Degges-White. “This also means that when your partner comes home snarling and cranky, we should be kind enough not to ask them for more than they’re capable of giving at that moment.”
9. You’re growing together, not apart.
“Who we are the day we meet a partner is different than who we’ll be in one year, five years, or ten years,” says Degges-White. “If your relationship cannot flex and grow as you and your partner flex and grow, it’s going to crack open and you’ll be left to decide whether you want to pick up the pieces and rebuild or leave them behind and move on.”
A long-lasting relationship has nothing to with discussing your dream wedding or your perfect future life. It’s about accepting that you’re both changing all the time, and making the choice every day to stay in it and adapt to each other.
10. Your life has majorly improved since dating them.
Your most-liked Instagram ever aside, how has being a couple actually made you better? “One good way to get a feel for the resilience of your relationship is to ask yourself where you think you would be now if you and your partner had not met,” says Degges-White. “Would you want it to be different today? How might your partner respond if you decided to explore a career path or educational path different than the one you’ve been on?”
Sacrifices and compromise are important to relationships, but if it feels like you’ve given up a regrettable chunk of yourself for them, that relationship shouldn’t keep going if you ever intend on being happy.
11. You can talk to them even when you doubt the relationship.
Ok, so you read this list and maybe agree with all of it, but one or two points are worrying you. No, it doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed, because having some doubts is 110 percent more normal and healthy than jumping headfirst into commitment without any at all.
“When you feel something isn’t just right in your relationship, always trust your intuition – and give yourself permission to explore your feelings a little more closely,” says Degges-White. “If you feel it’s warranted, open up a dialogue with your partner about your concerns. Our gut intuition is as reliable an emotional bellwether as we have.” Being able to talk through your doubts without fearing an immediate and explosive breakup is key. If they’re in it for the long-haul, they won’t mind at all.
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Julia Pugachevsky Sex and Relationships Editor I’m a Sex and Relationships Editor for Cosmo’s Snapchat Discover, which you should definitely subscribe to :).
12 Ways To Improve Your Love Life, According To Science
Ask your friends and likely they’ll have hundreds of things to say about ways to improve your love life. They’ll tell you about how they fixed their broken relationship with John, or how they successfully managed to land Samantha, or how great their relationship with Marshall has always been because of this one little trick. Perhaps you’ve taken all of their advice, but none of it has worked for you. The bottom line is that various methods work for various people and some of those tactics might not be right for you. So, after you’ve hounded your friends for advice, what’s left to do? Turn to science, of course.
As you can imagine, a lot of research has been done on relationships over the years. Researchers have looked at endless aspects of what makes and doesn’t make a relationship work, and I’ve rounded up some of the top tips for improving your love life based on some of those very findings. These tips are relevant for those who are looking for a SO, those who are already in relationships, and for those who are in more established marriages and are trying to pinpoint ways to keep things cheery (or to get things back to a happy place). In a world where advice on love is flying at your from seemingly every angle, let’s rely on scientific research to guide us in setting things on the right track. Here are 12 ways to improve your love life, according to science:
1. Wear Red
If you happen to be heterosexual and in the process of trying to attract that person of your dreams, it could all be in the color you’re wearing (or the color that the other person is wearing). According to a University of Rochester study, men rated women who wore a shade of red as more attractive to their non-red-wearing counterparts. Oppositely, in a separate study led by the same university, female participants showed they were innately more attracted to a male wearing red, as well.
2. Drink Red
Sip red wine to boost your sex life? Sign me up. According to a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, women who consumed one to two glasses of red wine daily had a higher sex drive than those who didn’t drink at all.
3. Avoid Fighting Via Text
To improve your established relationship, wait to have an argument until you and your SO are face-to-face, rather than fighting over text. According to a study published by the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, couples who have fights via text messaging have a lower relationship quality and reported unhappiness in their relationship versus couples who have face-to-face conversations instead.
4. Use The Power Of Writing
You don’t need to be an expert writer to have your love life excel, but if you put pen to paper every now and then, it could prove beneficial. Glamour reported on research out of Northwestern University that asked half of the study’s participants to consider a disagreement they’d recently had with their partner and write about it from the perspective of a neutral third party. This was repeated with participants every four months for two years. Over the long term, the experiment proved relationship satisfaction was better off for those having been assigned the writing assignments.
5. Spend A Night In Watching Movies Together
Grab that tub of popcorn and watch some movies tonight to enhance your love life — it’s scientifically recommended. According to a study out of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, divorce rates were half as much for couples who watched relationship-focused movies together and discussed them afterwards. According to the study, this allowed the couples to see what they were doing right or wrong in their relationship, and work on skills that could continue or eliminate that behavior.
6. Divvy Up Household Chores
Pass the basket of dirty laundry to your SO — it can keep you both feeling happier about your relationship, according to UCLA research. The study followed several couples over a 4-year period and could those who evenly disperse chores were happier than those who did not.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Likely you’ve heard the many health benefits of getting a good night of sleep, but it can also positively affect your relationship, too. According to researchers from UC Berkeley, in a study of young adults in romantic relationships it was found that more conflict in a relationship was reported following a bad night of sleep. So, encourage your partner to join you in getting those necessary Zs tonight.
8. Decorate The Bedroom With Purple
If you’re looking to spice up your love life in the bedroom, no need to try anything too crazy. Just add some purple décor, according to a British survey reported on by The Sun. The survey showed those who had purple bedding or furniture in their bedroom had the most sex per week compared to other colors (with gray sparking the least amount of sex, just FYI). Buying new bedding? The survey speaks for fabric too, and found the most sexual encounters happen per week in silk bedding.
9. Say You’re Sorry — And Mean It
Saying you’re sorry to your partner is one thing — actually meaning it is quite another. To benefit your love life though, apologize genuinely. According to a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the more you apologize for wrongdoings and accept responsibility for them in a relationship, the happier the partnership will be. The same goes for your partner, too, so pass along that info.
10. Get Your Workout On
According to research published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, working out can benefit your relationship. The study showed those in excellent or good health and involved in fitness activities have better relationships (including better sex) than those who are not healthy. So maybe before you start that movie night we talked about earlier, put on your workout gear and go for a quick run.
11. Be As Positive As Possible
Looking on the bright side is another way we can keep our relationships on the up and up. According to a study from The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, how positively couples react to their SO’s good news can speak volumes to how strong of a bond they’ll hold with one another. The study showed those who responded positively to their partner’s victories had the strongest relationships compared to others whose reactions were more indifferent.
12. Don’t Forget The Little Things
After all is said and done, it’s the little things that can improve a relationship significantly. It doesn’t need to be anything huge — try just cooking your SO their favorite meal tonight. According to a survey out of the U.K., it’s the simple acts of kindness like this that are most appreciated, and therefore make for the happiest partnership.
Science has taught us a lot today about improving our love lives, so let’s jump on board with these tricks. We could start achieving happier and healthier love lives before we know it.
Images: Pexels (3); (10)
Whether you’re single and ready to mingle, in a relationship that has its normal ups and downs, or in a marriage that borders on “roommate” territory from time to time, you probably see that there could be some improvement in your love life. Don’t be discouraged — even the best relationships and the happiest daters could always get better in the game of love.
But romantics, rejoice! – you don’t have to have time for long walks on the beach or the energy to produce a rom-com-worthy grand romantic gesture to get the relationship you want (does anyone have that kind of time or energy???).
Here are 12 things you can do today, this week, or this month to immediately improve your love life. Since relationships are not one-size-fits-all like a pair of Barefoot Dreams socks (just a side note, as I’m wearing them right now, and they are so cozy, I quite literally cannot get them off my brain), select the hacks that are right for you and try them out. In no time, you’ll have the relationship that fits you like a glove (or, you know, like a pair of really cozy socks).
1. Send a supportive text to your partner
If you’re in a LTR, your iMessage chain might look something like, “Can you pick up almond milk on your way home?” “Meeting ran long. going to be 15 minutes late” and “Have you seen my white sneakers? Can’t find them anywhere…” Ah, the joys of going through everyday drudgeries with your significant other! But letting your partner know you’re thinking of them throughout the day can improve the support and “teammate” mentality in your relationship. Try “good luck at the meeting!” or “how’d the presentation go?” to let your partner know you care and to be a part of even their minor victories and downfalls.
2. Break a sweat together
If you’re newly dating, forego the usual coffee date or dinner and a movie for a sunset hike or a new boxing class. Not only will it show off your oh-so-attractive adventurous side, but exercise will release feel-good endorphins that make you happy while you’re together, bringing you closer. No matter how long or little you’ve been dating, working out with your significant other can actually increase romantic attraction.
3. Make eye contact
As silly and simple as it sounds, you can build trust and establish positive feelings just by looking someone in the eye. Make it a habit to put your phone down, take your eyes off your Instagram Story scroll, and look your partner in the eyes when asking them a question or listening to what they’re saying. If you’re currently looking for a partner, you should also be mindful about eye contact — it’s a potential sign of attraction, so keeping eye contact subconsciously shows another person that you’re interested.
4. Try cognitive reappraisal
The OG love life hack, called “The Marriage Hack,” became a viral sensation for a reason. Essentially, this emotional reappraisal (or “Marriage Hack”) means viewing conflicts and disagreements through the eyes of a third party who wants the best for all involved and realizing the obstacles each person faces when trying to think from a different perspective. It lessens the emotions of a situation by reframing it in a way that allows you to not only understand your partner but how to solve the problem – it’s like DIY couples therapy! Eli Finkel, a professor of psychology at Northwestern, argues that doing a cognitive reappraisal exercise just once a year can sustain quality in your relationship.
5. Do your own thing, and be passionate about your life
Let’s be honest. Regardless of how much we focus on the way we look, a well done smokey eye and a good hair day can only do so much. It sounds like a paragraph from a self-help book, but it’s the truth – confidence will always be more attractive than physical appearance. If you’re looking for a partner, first be confident about your life without one.
When you do find someone worth foregoing your singledom for, make sure you keep up your own friendships, hobbies, and interests apart from your partner. Depending on your significant other for everything is not a healthy relationship. Have a Carrie Bradshaw moment and think about whether or not you spend too much time with your significant other (or are too co-dependent). Schedule drinks with your girlfriend, take a painting class, read a book for your career, or pick back up your scrapbooking hobby. Bonus: spending time apart might help to build up energy and excitement for your relationship (and don’t you want something new to talk about??).
6. Use the countdown rule to make decisions
You know those nights where you and your partner cannot agree on a restaurant to eat at, and it causes a fight because one or both of you got hangry? Or how picking a movie feels as difficult as choosing a paint color for your walls? If you and your partner struggle with making small decisions together, ease the tension and prevent the argument by using the countdown rule, 5-3-1. One person selects five options, and from there the other person narrows it down to three, and so on.
7. Create a “hello” and “goodbye” ritual
Parting ways – leaving for work, heading to the grocery store, going on a business trip – is just a daily occurrence. But that simple, daily moment is extremely important. It can be quick, meaningless, and full of spilled-over tension from workday stress, OR it can be the best 60 seconds of your day. No matter what’s going on, create a ritual when you greet each other and when you say goodbye that signals closeness. Give a hug or kiss (or both!), and ask “how was your day?” or say “I’ll miss you!” before they leave. And here’s the key: mean it. Don’t let your ritual become routine – put meaning into your actions and use every “hello” and “goodbye” as a way to feel closer.
8. Say “Thank You”
Gratitude is arguably the most important trait of happy couples. Gratitude is not necessarily profound or new (Oprah has had people journaling their gratitude for years!), but it can make all the difference in your love life. To feel more gratitude, write out a list of some things your partner has done to invest in the relationship, or to make your life better, whether it’s a compliment, a surprise, or a chore they did not need to do but did. To allow your partner to feel appreciated, express a random “thank you” when they don’t expect it.
9. Listen to music
Haven’t you had those moments where your mood totally changes based on the music you listen to? The right playlist can truly take your everyday life into rom-com territory (the soundtrack to Father of the Bride will make you laugh, cry, and fall in love, guaranteed). Play some music that puts you in the mood for love (or just “in the mood” – that improves your love life too!) on your commute home, while making dinner, or in the background while you work. Whether it’s the song you danced to at your wedding or your favorite love song playlist (I’m partial to The Everygirl Date Night playlist), music is the quickest way to make you feel more loving towards your partner.
10. Schedule couple time
Take quality time off of your to-do list (where it will never happen) and onto your calendar. If you don’t have time for a date night out with your busy schedule, look ahead at the week and figure out different times you can have short intervals of quality time together – get coffee before work, do your daily workouts together instead of separate (see #2), or have a glass of wine after the kids go to bed one night. Scheduling quality time might not feel romantic, but spending alone time together is too important to leave up to spontaneity.
11. Hold hands
No matter your love language, physical touch has been proven to boost closeness between two people; a study found that holding hands actually causes relational-cognitive changes and neurobiological changes. In less science-y words, holding hands can improve your confidence in your partner’s love and support for you and improves overall closeness of the relationship. Think of hand-holding as an immediate means to grow closer. If you’re not a fan of PDA, hold hands in the car, on the couch while bingeing Game of Thrones, or under the table when dining out (bonus points for sneakiness!).
12. Write out relationship doubts and insecurities
If your insecurities have you thinking negatively on your love life (whether you’re single or in an LTR), write down the immediate thought, and then what your logic tells you is the truth. For example, if your partner doesn’t call when they say they will, your immediate thought might be to blame a permanent character flaw (“They’re too selfish to think of me”) or reason into self-doubt (“They forgot about me because they don’t love me enough”). Then, think of the actual logical explanation (“It’s an unusually busy day at work, so they didn’t have time to call”). Writing down thoughts will allow you to notice and change unhealthy thought patterns. Logic your way out of illogical reasoning, and don’t jump to negative conclusions in your love life.
Romance novels, porn, role play, lingerie. They’re all great ways to turn on your sexual accelerator, but usually aren’t enough, according to Emily Nagoski, PhD, a sex educator and author of the best-selling book “Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life”.
“Those things are great if you like them, go ahead, but it turns out that people are struggling usually not because there’s not enough stimulation to the accelerator — it’s that there is too much stimulation to the brake,” Nagoski tells NBC News BETTER.
Nothing triggers your brake more than stress, according to Nagoski.
“Stress is a survival mechanism to help you when your body is sending you signals that say you are not safe right now,” Nagoski says, “and if you’re not safe right now, is that a good moment to be having sex?”
No matter how much you’re trying to pump the accelerator, chronic stress can completely squelch your sex drive, says Nagoski. Work, childcare, and reduced sleep are just a few things that can step on the brake, she says.
For many long-term couples, the pressure to maintain a consistent sex life is a great source of stress, says the author, and, ironically, is often the reason they’re not having it consistently.
Here are some techniques couples can use to get their accelerator going, according to Nagoski.
Schedule time for sex
Couples who stay in long-term, happy relationships usually prioritize sex and even put it on their calendars, says Nagoski.
“Some people hear that and think, ‘Well that’s not really romantic, how much can your partner want you if they have to schedule it?’” she says. “But is there anything we do in our lives that’s important to us that we don’t schedule?”
Nagoski says scheduling sex gives you time to eliminate any stressors that are hitting your brake, whether it’s work-related stress or making sure the house is clean.
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“There is preparation time where you can do whatever it takes for you to reduce your stress levels or get your accelerator warmed up,” she says.
Avoid the ‘chasing dynamic’
You want sex. Your partner doesn’t. Or so it seems. Often, when one partner wants sex, it isn’t about a desire for pleasure — it’s about a need for intimacy, she says.
“They want the connection, they want the acceptance, they want to feel wanted by their partner, and it can feel scary when your partner continues to say ‘no.’ What are they saying no to? Are they just saying no to the sex or are they saying no to all of me?”
If your partner doesn’t seem interested, don’t assume it’s because they aren’t attracted to you, says Nagoski. Chances are, they’re just overwhelmed.
“It absolutely is not the case that a partner is saying no because they’re not attracted,” she explains. “Usually, it begins in a place of ‘I’m just stressed out and exhausted and I’m not interested right now,’ and then it turns into what I call ‘the chasing dynamic.’”
If your relationship lacks sex, the worst thing you can do is chase your partner, Nagoski explains. Chasing them will increase their stress and slam on their brake, she says.
How to keep the fizz from fizzling out in your relationship
May 21, 201802:05
Stop focusing on sex
If you want to accelerate your sex life, you need to stop making sex the goal, Nagoski says. Instead, she says to focus on building intimacy.
Agree that you and your partner will go for a certain period of time without having sex, she says. Once the pressure is off, you’ll have space to be more intimate in other ways.
While you’re on your sex break, make time each day for cuddling and kissing (Nagoski recommends the six-second kiss by relationship therapist John Gottman). Hugging and kissing may seem trivial, she says, but they are a great way to build intimacy. What’s more, they will reduce stress levels and get you both in the mood to have sex, she says.
“It reinforces the bond and the idea that you are safe and affectionate with this person,” she says. “It also creates physical affection in the relationship that is not initiation.”
See a sex therapist
Couples who have a strong friendship should be able to do these exercises to rebuild intimacy, says Nagoski. If you and your partner find it difficult, Nagoski recommends seeing a therapist who can help.
“My first recommendation is always to find a sex therapist,” Nagoski says, “because we are all so tender and sensitive around sexuality, and it can be difficult to talk with each other about it in a way that is never blaming and never hurtful.”
MORE RELATIONSHIP ADVICE
- How one couple saved their marriage by asking this simple question
- How to use sexting to improve your marriage
- How thoughtful communication can improve your marriage, according to a divorce attorney
- Why this marriage counselor says a “good enough marriage” is one that lasts a lifetime
Want more tips like these? NBC News BETTER is obsessed with finding easier, healthier and smarter ways to live. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
How To Make A Relationship Last
If you ask people what “the key to making a relationship last” is, one of the most common answers you’ll get is:
(That, as well as “trust,” or “respect,” or whatever…)
But the thing is…
“Communication” is not the secret
And whoever thinks it is needs to do a real gut-check on this one.
Folks who think this do so because they struggle with it. They struggle with emotional boundaries — what’s theirs, what’s their partner’s, what they should own, what their partner is to blame for. They think “sharing” is the same as “solving,” as though “talking about it” means things are going to be “fixed.” They also struggle with anxiety and passive-aggressiveness — especially when, shocker, “communication” alone doesn’t work.
And, yeah, a point of personal growth for them is definitely “communication.”
But that doesn’t make “communication” the key to a lasting relationship.
“Communication” gets you statements like:
“I truly and deeply loathe you sometimes”
“There are moments I regret marrying you”
“I have sexual fantasies about your best friend”
“I sometimes I think about cheating on you”
Which may seem like an exaggeration. But it’s not far from:
“I need ___”
“I want ___”
“I feel __ ”
“You make me feel___”
If you’re thinking: “what’s wrong with the second set?”
The same thing that’s wrong with the first set: it’s poor emotional boundaries.
I know “experts” everywhere say that “communication” is the solution, but it’s not. And sure, if you struggle to share, or get passive aggressive, then yeah, work on that — but as a “you” thing. Not as “the secret” to making a relationship work. Because sharing is great, but relationships are about much more than handing off our feelings, wants and needs to our partners.
If you’re thinking: “uh… I would definitely want to know the first set!”
Sweetie. no you would not. All of it is super common, and saying it out loud causes more problems than it solves. It’s not our partner’s problem. It’s not even really ours. It’s just a reality for us to handle and move through.
So. Beyond “communication”…
Depending on what you want out of a relationship, you have two options:
OPTION 1: A GOOD RELATIONSHIP, WHILE IT LASTS
— however long that is.
This is you if: you’re not necessarily hellbent on staying together “til death do you part.” You understand that people change, and needs and wants and values change, so relationships change and, either upfront or deep down inside, you’re okay with that. You just want it to be good in the meantime.
Okay. Fine. Respect.
But. This is also you if: you think staying together “forever” means “you’ll always feel exactly the same.”
If you’re the sort of person who insists on defining “love” as a “feeling” rather than a “choice,” then you are, in fact, also exactly the sort of person who intends to stay together only for as long as that lasts.
(And that’s what this post is about.)
But either way, here’s how to do “Option 1” and make it good while it lasts:
Develop (Your Own) Emotional Maturity
This includes other words people use to describe a good partner: kind, respectful, trustworthy, honest. (As one person put it: “reasonable and rational and not selfish or petty.”)
Uh, yeah… “emotionally mature.” Y’all mean “emotionally mature.”
But it’s not just about finding someone who is — because we don’t control other people.
It’s also about being someone who is.
I wrote about this recently. But effectively,
Love is acceptance — just as much as ourselves as others. Loving and caring for ourselves first means that we develop the self-respect and strength necessary that we don’t bury our self-worth in others, either in subjugating them or “winning” their affections.
I mean, duh.
“When divorced couples are asked what would have made it work. They say communication. Married couples (over 10 years) when asked what makes it work. Say respect.” — the_obstinate_maw
I write about this A LOT. It’s the number one thing you need to understand to make a relationship work, and if you’re not getting it, you are going to fail (or suffer so hard, which frankly is still “failing,” breakup/divorce or not.)
Take responsibility for your own emotions, wants, and needs. Take ownership of your own happiness (or unhappiness), and don’t hang it on your partner.
Neither person is the “alpha” in a healthy relationship. Neither “wins” (or “loses”) a “fight,” because “fights” aren’t what they have. Mature couples have discussions, or disagreements. Not verbal boxing matches or duels of the wit.
a.) Healthy couples don’t “fight” — not because they “avoid” conflict, but because they discuss, or disagree. They both seek to understand before being understood, listen, show compassion, etc. They both hear their partner’s side as much as sharing their own. They both know the difference between a mature, adult “discussion,” and an immature “fight” with a winner and loser.
b.) Understand how to apologize. (Note: “I’m sorry that you — ” and “I’m sorry, but — ” are not apologies. Those are bullshit, emotionally immature statements.)
And all of that? That will get you “a good thing” — for as long as it lasts.
OPTION 2: A “FOREVER” LOVE
A love that truly lasts a lifetime.
This is what most of us say we want, but most of us don’t actually know how to make it happen.
If you define “love” as a “feeling” rather than a “choice,” then you are also directly putting love at risk of not lasting “forever.”
Here’s what “forever” actually requires:
Step 1. Develop (Your Own) Emotional Maturity
Step 2. Reset Your Expectations (Of Love & Feelings)
I am continually amazed at the number of people who end their marriages or longterm relationships because they “fell out of love” or “developed feelings for someone else.”
Because, like… duh…!
People are messy, imperfect human beings.
And, over the course of years:
Hard Reality #1: Our feelings for our partners will ebb and flow
And/but: they usually come back again.
You have to be patient. And compassionate. And mature. Real love is not the eyeball-bursting, heart-struck romance we see in rom-coms and experienced in the beginning.
Love changes. And good love grows.
If you’re relying primarily on “staying in love” to stay together, you’re banking your “forever” on something inherently fluid. Many people think their feelings now will go on lasting forever (or just get better, wee!), but they’re wrong.
If your gameplan is to always feel the same, then you are in denial of how humans work.
When I was 18, I went to a 50th wedding anniversary party. After dinner, the couple stood up and said:
“Sometimes people ask us how we stayed together for so long…”
They chuckled to themselves, then said:
“The real secret is: we never fell out of love at the same time.”
And that’s it. All of it — including the very real, unpleasant implications, which are: sometimes, one of you will fall out of love.
Sometimes it will be you. Sometimes it will be them. And sometimes it can last for months, or a year — not days.
There will be tough times and sour notes and shit years in your relationship. There just will be. If you want it all at the end, you have to stick through it.
“Feelings” come and go, and we have to decide whether we’re going to chase the highs and temptations and relinquish our relationship, or relinquish the chokehold that “feelings” have on us and hold our relationship together.
Hard Reality #2: We will feel attracted to others
Human beings are messy! And as Winton from Five Year Engagement put it:
“Underneath all that polite bullshit we’re all running on caveman software”
One woman (and seriously, respect, sister ❤) was faithful for decades. She resisted temptation and stood by her vows,
“Married 20+ years… happy normal ups and downs like any marriage. Children are in college… I love my husband and have never ever considered cheating. I have had many offers over the years but have always refused. I have never even been tempted… I am still happy in my marriage; I am not angry or upset with my husband… I have NEVER planned this, I didn’t look for this, I did not seek this out I never had any intention of ever cheating.”
But then she felt something. From the moment she met the guy:
“I was flooded with a feeling I had not had before… This man completely took my breath away. I felt like a teenager again. My stomach was in knots and my mouth was dry I was blushing constantly and could barely form a coherent sentence. Oh I wanted him so bad but I refused. I… told him I was married and just could not do this…
Eventually… he kissed me. I said I couldn’t but then just went with it. Needless to say we never left the house. We talked and played for hours, the best part was just being in his arms and talking, I wanted to stay there forever.
I have not been able to stop thinking about him. He pops into my head out of the blue and I catch my breath and get butterflies. I can’t explain it and I figure in time this will stop and these feelings will go away, but they never do, it has been a year.
I started seeing a therapist because I felt so guilty… I am happy and comfortable… why can’t I stop thinking about this man?
Why would I be so stupid as to ruin a perfectly good and until now happy marriage, risk everything, and in the end hurt my family and possibly wind up alone?… On the other hand we only have one life to lead so why shouldn’t I take this chance and possibly end up with someone who makes me so happy and who I want to make happy in return?”
And look… guys, at its core, that is beautiful. It really is.
In a vacuum, all by itself, that is some real beautiful emotion right there. So many people go through life never having that, and if you thought you did but then experienced a whole new level of “happiness,” I feel you. I get it. It sounds a lot like the “love” we’re all taught to revere.
And that is my damn point.
If your plan for staying together forever — your insurance against a divorce/breakup — is to never develop feelings or attraction for anyone else, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Because, statistically speaking, you almost certainly will.
So the real thing is: you have to choose. You have to reset expectations. You have to redefine what it is you want.
From a guy who’s been married for over 20 years:
“Be on guard with our hearts, and eyes, so as to not have an affair of the heart or physical affair.” — Oldschool52
If you build a relationship based entirely off of “feelings” and expect to stay together, you are mistaken. The couples who stay together for decades know this. They last not because they were never tempted, or never fell out of love, but because they valued their commitment more…
Step 3. Commit (Yourself, To Your Partner)
Because: see above.
If you want to be together forever, YOU HAVE TO DELIBERATELY CHOOSE. Every day.
Even when you’re not “feelin’ it,” or are feeling somethin’ for someone else.
Love is a choice, an investment, something of which we are the active agent — not something we “feel” or “fall into.”
Because if you define your love and your relationship by how you feel, you’re gonna “fall” out of it at some point. If you want to stay together, you have to commit even when you don’t “feel” it at times.
There will be times when your “feelings” directly challenge your commitment.
If you ask people the secret to a happy, longterm relationship, younger couples, divorced couples, and unhappy couples will all say “communication.”
But older couples and long-haul couples all say:
This is a huge wake-up call to a lot of people. But successful couples know…
“Contrary to popular belief, being married isn’t ‘happily ever after.’ It takes a great deal of work.” — thehumanscott
“Marriage is rarely two strong people, it’s about taking turns being strong for each other.” — sdub99
“You must contribute more than a paycheck and not cheating. You have to proactively work to better your marriage by doing things around the house without being asked and conceiving of kindnesses on your own intentionally and spontaneously. In first marriage I traded my mom for another mom, my wife didn’t want to be my mom and resented having to act like one.” — TocchetRocket
“Marriage done well is hard work.” — OldSchool52
Put In The Work
If anything, a long-term relationship means you put in more energy, not less.
“We have to unpack the baggage of our youth… We have to allow our spouse the space to grow as a person and this many times takes patience and understanding.” — oldschool54
“Over the years, I have dated my spouse regularly, gone on trips with just her… and marriage retreats together to be better people and spouses. Marriage is like a see saw, it is either going up or down.” — oldschool54
“The work of keeping a marriage solid should be split 80/20 with both sides doing 80%. Super cheesy right? Totally works.” — squizzix
But really, the ratio always changes. So the real secret is: just put in work.
“Marriage isn’t always a 50/50 partnership. Sometimes, it’s 70/30. Sometimes it’s 80/20. Sometimes it’s 100/0.”
Do the work.
Not resentfully. Not passive aggressively. Not on auto-pilot, or to check a box, or just to “safeguard.” That’s not the point. The point is love, remember?
And just… damn, guys — love so hard.
Love so damn hard
But I don’t mean “hot,” which offers an excuse to go “cool.”
Don’t love “hot and cold.” Love warm. Love consistent. Love everyday. Make the choice.
Love is a choice and an action — not a “feeling.”
Make that choice every single day.
Keep Choosing and “Dating” Your Partner — Every Day
I’d give specific examples here, but frankly I don’t have any, because it differs by person — and couple. But one thing is true: keep on doing it.
Very often, marriage and longterm relationships creates what I call:
“The Gremlin Effect”
The “Gremlin Effect” is that phenomenon where people just kind of change once they’ve been together a while. They change their effort, or their expectations. Sometimes they change both. They stop trying.
If you’re not actively growing and building your relationship and your love, then you’re actively letting it die.
Keep dating the person they grow into, not the person from x years ago, whom you wish they’d stay. This goes back to the previous point on realistic and healthy expectations.
And love means changing, too — hopefully in the same direction.
“As your partner changes, you need to learn to appreciate and fall in love with the new person they become. Most simply become resentful and hurt. “You used to….” Avoid any thought that begins with those words. They are poison. Focus on love, appreciation and getting to know your partner over and over.” — kuzushi_
Wondering How To Make Your Relationship Last Forever? Do These 9 Things
Being in a committed relationship is one of the coolest things in life. Having a best friend forever that you can both talk to about anything and kiss and cuddle all the time is pretty great.
People in successful relationships often display some common behaviors. Although being in a relationship is wonderful, being in a truly bonded partnership is even better.
If you’re in a new relationship and think that you might have found the person you want to be with forever, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to keep your relationship healthy, happy, and lasting long-term.
The following nine behaviors are great things to do to make sure your partner wants to stay in it for the long haul:
1. Accept Them For Who They Are
Those in successful couplings each accept the other for exactly who they are, with no desire or attempt to change their partner.
I don’t have exclusively good habits, of course. We’re all guilty of being less than our best selves sometimes. I can be a little moody when I’m hungry or sleepless, and I can be a bit careless sometimes, too. I’m also just generally pretty weird.
The important thing is that none of that matters to my husband. He accepts me completely and it’s awesome.
We all want that. By showing your partner unconditional love and acceptance, you’ll ensure that they feel great with you and never want to let go.
2. Give Them Space Without You
Too many of us fall into what I like to call the “constant togetherness” trap of relationships. We think that a healthy relationship means that we do everything with our partner.
A good relationship should have a lot of together time, of course, but it should also leave space for each person in the relationship to continue to be their own individual self.
Space is critical to me, so I let my husband know early on I wanted us to prioritize our individuality in our marriage. He felt the same way, and we’ve built a great relationship where we get to be “married,” but then we also get to be ourselves.
Giving your partner space without you, confidently and respectfully, will be like a breath of fresh air for them. It’ll keep your relationship strong over the long haul so they want to be with you forever.
3. Appreciate Them
A simple “thank you” goes a long way, but many of us are guilty of forgetting to thank our partner for the little things.
It doesn’t matter if your partner does the same household duties every day or if they just did something really special for you; being appreciated never gets old. I thank my husband for folding the laundry every time he does it, even though he does it every week. It’s just nice to remind your partner that you see their contributions and value them.
If you truly want your partner to not be able to imagine life without you, make sure you appreciate them every chance you get.
4. Let Them Get Upset
It may not be something you think of about successful relationships, but the happiest couples tend to accept all of their partner’s emotions, including anger or upsetness.
My husband and I don’t fight at all, but that doesn’t mean that I’m still not a cranky jerk sometimes. It can be just that my favorite chocolate isn’t at the store or that I didn’t get enough sleep the night before, and I’ll end up walking around grumpy and huffy.
Even if the reason is stupid (which it often is), my husband lets me be upset and is there with me for it.
Letting your partner have whatever emotions they want to will make them feel even more loved and will make them want to stick around.
5. Apologize When You’re Wrong (And When You’re Not)
Relationships aren’t about keeping score, they are about keeping the love.
It’s important to apologize in situations where you are wrong. But that said, it’s also important to apologize when you’re not. Apologies aren’t exclusive to who was right and wrong in an argument, they are about acknowledging mistakes you might have made in the communication or interaction.
If you are humble enough to apologize in your relationship, it’ll last forever.
6. Keep Your Relationship Sacred
In the age of social media and brunch with besties, not too many of us place a high premium on keeping our relationships sacred.
Although I really do love sharing photos of my husband on my Facebook and Instagram, we also had a very serious talk before we got married where I told him it was important to me to keep our relationship sacred. What I meant by this was that I never wanted to be the couple badmouthing each other to our friends, even just in jest. I wanted to be a united team, at all times, and make sure other people knew it.
Your partner will appreciate it if you choose to keep your relationship close to your heart, and they’ll never want to let you go.
7. Take Care Of Yourself
Taking care of ourselves sometimes gets lost when we’re trying to take care of our relationships. But it’s just as important, if not more, and shouldn’t be forgotten.
No matter what else is going on, I make sure I hop out of bed at 5 a.m. for the first part of my workout (sometimes I do the second part later in the day). I also pay close to attention to whether I’m continuing to do the things that nurture me, like reading alone and journaling. It helps nurture my marriage because I’m continuing to nurture myself.
Taking care of yourself should be something you remember to do every day. If your partner sees your commitment to bettering yourself, they’ll love you even more and want to be with you forever.
8. Use Their Love Language
Realizing that we don’t all love and want to be loved the same exact way is really important in long-term relationships.
Love Languages are a tool to help you and your partner discover the ways each of you communicates best in love. There are five different styles: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Essentially, the love languages help each of you better connect in your relationship by providing love in the way that it’s needed.
My husband and I took the love languages test early on in our relationship. His primary love language is physical touch, which means he likes to be cuddled and close all the time. Mine is words of affirmation, which means I like hearing him say nice things. It’s helped us understand each other tremendously.
By learning your partner’s love language, you’ll show that you truly want to know as much about them as possible and give them what they needed emotionally.
9. Grow With Them
No relationship stays static over time, so one of the best ways to make sure your partner wants to be with you for the long haul is to continue to grow with them.
Growing with your partner means continuing to do the things they’re interested in, supporting their new hobbies and habits, and constantly putting yourselves in new and different situations so that you have things to adapt to and talk about.
My husband and I are big fans of doing anything wild that comes our way, from a body painting adventure we did to our next international trip. It keeps our marriage fresh, alive, and consistently moving forward.
Growing in the relationship will make your partner feel like they have a true companion in life and it’ll ensure they want to hold on to you forever.
Every couple is different, but the happiest and most successful couples have a lot in common. Doing these things will make your partner feel loved, accepted, supported, and valued, and it’ll help you keep a long and happy relationship with them.