The struggle for you to find real love and a healthy relationship can be a challenge. Love, while seeming simplistic, can end up being complicated when you add two people to the equation. It’s no wonder that it’s difficult to understand how something that starts off so strong can move in a completely different direction so quickly.
It’s quite reasonable to want love in your life, and often your relationship is your roadmap to meet this particular need. But, the question of how to have a successful relationship looms loud. And while most relationships start off on the right foot, many fall off quite quickly.
Love starts quite interestingly, and usually, the following occurs:
When you bond with someone, most of the emotions and feelings you initially have are not based on the way the person communicates to you, but through their body language and the way they speak to you. Looks might not factor into initial attraction as much as you think they do.
Usually, some form of intimacy follows. Once this happens and you are intimate with someone, you experience lust, that period where you cannot get enough of that person physically. This is those feel-good ‘oxytocin’ emotions that cause a rush of adrenaline. Weird that ‘tocin’ is attached to those love feelings!
Your relationship then moves to an attraction where you constantly think about them.
Finally, there is attachment, which is the bond that keeps you together.
All of these sound pretty good, but the more significant challenge lies in how you keep things growing past these initial feelings. No matter how well a relationship begins or develops, these feelings are likely to morph and change. And because of this, this is why it’s vital for you to understand what will help to grow your relationship. As I researched and spoke with people in long-term relationships, I uncovered specific traits which make their relationships work and can work for you too.
If you are in a relationship and you want some ideas of how to have a relationship that is long-lasting, here are some common traits of successful relationships which you can apply to yours:
1. Deep respect for one another. Infidelity, disrespect, and a person doing things that hurt you are indicative of one thing; a lack of respect for you.
When you respect one another in a relationship, you take into account your partner’s feelings, viewpoints, and perspectives. Infidelity, if you are in a committed relationship, is a form of disrespect.
Continually doing things which hurt your significant other and not taking into consideration their feelings or viewpoint on a matter is another form of disrespect. When you respect your partner, you don’t do things that you know will cause irreparable harm to your relationship with them.
2. Open and authentic communication. You can have all of the discussions you want, but if you aren’t willing to be honest about the things that bother you within your relationship, your relationship is doomed for failure.
Talking to your friends, family or others about the problems in your relationship instead of talking to one another is a quick way to build up resentment and create distance with one another. Other people, outside of counselors, which we will address later, cannot solve your relationship problems. Only the two of you can make this happen.
Be willing to have the difficult conversations and trust that your partner has your best interest at heart. If they don’t, you are not in the right relationship. That’s a whole another article which we will discuss later.
In a healthy relationship, here is the difference. Two people can safely be vulnerable with one another without the fear of backlash or knowing that information they share with their partner will not be used against them. Think of it similar to the ‘what happens in Vegas principle, but apply this same concept to your relationship. Cultivate an environment where you value one another too much to let that happen.
3. Come to the relationship complete and be comfortable with who you are as a person. No one can make you happy, well except you. Someone else can add to your happiness. But, no one else is entirely responsible for your happiness, except YOU. Don’t put this pressure on your partner because that is an impossible task.
Knowing this, realize that you cannot get enough of self-development in making yourself a better person. It’s a daily struggle to work on oneself. Everyone is imperfect. But, it’s a struggle that is well worth the effort and investment.
Get your own house in order so that when you are with someone in your life, you compliment who they are and they do the same for you.
4. Spend quality time with one another, but know when to give one another some space too. When you are into someone, you want to be around that person, which is a good thing. Sometimes, the fear is if you give the other person too much space or time away from you, they will lose interest.
But, here’s the balance you have to exhibit in your relationship to keep it healthy. Sometimes when the little things are starting to irk, build or irritate you, taking a little space away from one another, can make these little things even less of a big deal.
Time away from one another gives you both a chance to regroup and recalibrate. And the saying of, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” is true! Taking a little time for yourself or your friends and then coming back to your significant other can make it that much sweeter.
5. Remember the reasons you chose to love this person. It is even more important to do when you are going through a difficult time. It’s easy to focus on the things you don’t like about someone else. And, in a world of overstimulation, it’s damn easy.
When your partner stops stimulating you in the same manner that they initially did, you may want to give up on them. With all of the access to dating apps and social media, giving us what we perceive to be countless partner options, it is often easy to move on to the next thing versus building something substantial within your existing relationship.
When you get frustrated with your partner, quickly think of three things you love about them. Focus your energy on these three traits versus the negatives that you may be overweighing. If those positive traits are outweighing the negative ones, then you are WINNING in your relationship. You have a good person in your life. Being 100% satisfied with someone else is hard and nearly impossible even on a good day. But, if you are close to an 80% satisfaction rate in your relationship, you are on to something pretty good.
6. Be vocal, but fair. It’s ok to have spirited discussions with one another. But do it respectfully. Go back to number one if you feel tempted to cross this line. Lack of respect has led to a downward spiral for many couples.
Couples will disagree and often see things differently. But, this is also the benefit of being in love with someone who is different from you. Combining your different methodologies and approaches in making life decisions or figuring your way through a problem can help you tackle things in more than one way. And often bringing these perspectives together can help create a better than expected outcome.
So when you are vocalizing for the hundredth time that you wish your partner would share in cleaning up the bathroom or helping to walk the dog, try this instead. When you air your grievances, be thoughtful and introspective. Have a two-sided conversation about ways you can work better together or share duties around the house or with your kids.
Often your significant may not knowingly be doing something that intentionally hurts you, but through communication and open dialogue, usually, you can reach a happy medium.
7. Getting some extra help in your relationship is ok. Every relationship has road bumps. Don’t let anyone fool you on this one. Some couples are just better at keeping their issues between the two of them. But, know that everyone goes through something that challenges their relationship.
I asked a couple who have been married for over 28 years, the secret of longevity in their relationship. Their answers were candid and eye-opening. They told me that when things got hard, they went and got help. They went to get marital counseling because they recognized that they couldn’t get past specific issues which were a recurring theme that was causing constant friction between the two of them.
She went on to say that they just couldn’t communicate with one another. And they both realized they needed someone objective outside of their relationship who could help them mediate their issues. She told me it helped stabilize their relationship, improve their communication, and expectations with one another. While it would have been easier for them to walk away, they realized that they had to stay and fight for their relationship.
Your relationship will continually change because the people in the relationship are always growing and evolving. But, keeping these seven things in mind no matter where you are in your relationship will make your relationship healthy and stronger.
Why? Because a relationship built on substance with someone else takes time, effort, and patience. Just because you hit a roadblock doesn’t mean it’s over. Your relationship may have its challenges, but only through addressing them can you make progress to a long-lasting one.
Ready for Next Steps
If you’re still struggling to figure out how to make your relationship better, maybe I can help. Contact me if you’re interested in changing your narrative of love and building a healthy long-lasting relationship.