There is a common misconception that a successful relationship should look like a fairy tale or a Romantic Comedy. Two people that are always head over heels happy, never arguing, living in a state of perpetual, passionate bliss where love conquers all and makes everything else fall into place effortlessly.
I’m writing this article to burst that bubble and give it to you straight. Bare with me, I promise there’s a happy ending!
Personally, it took me a while not only to realize these truths, but to accept them. Hopefully this article can help save you some time!
So here come the truth bombs, but before you paint me a pessimist, hear me out:1. Love is NOT Enough.
While love is a very powerful thing, it is not the be all and end all of relationships. It’s a great base to build on, but it takes so much more than just love to make things work. After all, we can be in love with someone who doesn’t necessarily treat us so well.
There are so many parts that make up the whole picture of what can affect a relationship. Things like trust, timing, distance, commitment, family obstacles, level of effort, the list goes on. These all boil down to the need for various areas of compatibility (which is not the same thing as love).2. Communication Is More Than Just Saying What’s on Your Mind.
Communication is an important pillar of any successful relationship, but what about delivery? I can’t stress enough the importance of having open, honest conversations with your partner, even when the topic is sensitive or unpleasant.
Respect & delivery are important here. Attentively and open-mindedly listening to your partner and creating a safe space to talk and be vulnerable is what constructive communication is made of. Otherwise, these conversations just turn into you hurling your thoughts & emotions at one another.3. Fighting is Normal (Even Healthy).
Conflict is unavoidable & typically unpleasant, but It also means that you’re taking steps towards facing issues instead of sweeping them aside. The trick is to get good at it!(E.Q plays a huge part here)
Believe me when I say, you WILL fight and you WILL have moments where you get on each other’s nerves or need space, its NORMAL (BUT if you’re having major 5 round blowouts every other day, you should further explore the underlying issues).
Similarly, If you’re never fighting, you’ll want to explore to make sure that it’s not due to underlying issues being bottled up.
So, since we’ve established that you’re going to fight anyway, let’s make it productive! Here are a few tips to help you get good at it:
· Pick your battles (not everything is worth fighting about!)
· Stick to the facts, avoid insults & defensive behaviors (ex. Stonewalling)
· Avoid bringing up old issues, deal with the current situation.
· Take responsibility when applicable & be forgiving
· Listen to your partner & be open to compromise
· Remember you’re on the same team. It’s not about winning, it’s about solving the problem.4. Your Partner Should NOT be Your Other Half.
You shouldn’t look to your partner to complete you but rather to complement you. In relationships, two halves don’t make a whole. It takes two complete people to make a successful couple.
It’s important for both parties to have their own identity & time for themselves, so as not to lose themselves in the relationship (sacrificing yourself & compromising aren’t the same thing!). You can remain close & connected while still giving each other room to grow and evolve. (checkout my article on how to foster healthier relationships through personal growth)5. Romance Takes Work.
Yes, even if you’re deep in love! When a relationship is new, everything is naturally more exciting but once the novelty wears off, extra effort is needed.
Don’t forget about the little things, affectionate gestures, holding hands, going on dates. In other words, all the little things we tend to forget to keep on doing once the honeymoon phase ends, to make each other feel special and wanted.
Details add up quickly and if neglected, you will end up in a platonic relationship. Lastly, ladies, romance is not all on the shoulders of your man, both partners must do their part to keep that fire burning!6. The Honeymoon Phase Can’t Last Forever.
The Passion & infatuation that happens in the honeymoon phase can be pretty intense & a lot of fun, but it’s not realistic to expect this to last forever. Imagine always living in the emotional roller coaster of that stage. Its not sustainable and ultimately unfulfilling, because you never do more than scratch the surface.
Relationships solely based on sensations are where toxicity starts (always needing the next big high or low to feel engaged). Fear not, when the honeymoon stage subsides it is replaced with better things (deeper intimacy & connection, comfort, stability, and better sex!)
Being in a serious long-term relationship has its less than glamorous moments, you experience the good, the bad and the weird aspects of each other. Being able to be your full weird, silly, vulnerable self with your partner is part of the beauty and the fun.
This only becomes boring or turns into a rut if you neglect to put in the work required to not only maintain the relationship but to make it thrive and grow.
While there is no blueprint for what a relationship should look like, there are some universal truths that are the foundation and backbone for successful ones.
Successful relationships don’t just happen, they take work and nurturing, because even the good ones can get messy and complicated. Happy couples are happy because they consistently put in effort. ALL couples have their issues, the magic is in how they work together to face and overcome them!