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8 Things That Make a Successful Relationship (Besides Love)

All you need is love and a few other things

Married couple releasing balloons
Photo by Ivan Cabañas on Unsplash

Dating isn’t all fun and games. You have to be with your partner for both good times and bad times. Every relationship is full of ups and downs. It’s a bumpy road, not a smooth sail. That being said, a successful relationship can be one of the most rewarding experiences that anyone can have.

What makes some thrive while others fail? Why do some people last a lifetime and others only a week? The answer is different for every couple, but every successful relationship has these things in common:

Communication

Relationships are built upon communication. Talking to your significant other and letting them know how you feel is an incredibly essential ingredient for any happy couple. Human beings are emotional creatures who need love, companionship, closure, and acceptance. Communication brings all these things to life.

Furthermore, research shows that couples who argue effectively have longer-lasting and healthier relationships. Let that sink in for a moment. That’s not to say that fighting with your significant other over little things like leaving the television on or not texting back is a good thing. However, conflicts can help both sides appropriately express their emotions, which is far healthier than bottling up your emotions.

However, couples ought to learn how to argue productively. Attack the problem at hand, not each other. Don’t yell or swear and definitely don’t engage in any physical attacks. Listen to the other person’s side and avoid blaming them. Just be honest about how you feel and let the other person know. At the end of the day, you should argue to help resolve things and not to make matters worse.

Interdependency

Counter-dependency is individuality taken to its most extreme. That occurs when one partner doesn’t need the other person for anything at all. They are cold, distant, detached, and aloof because they feel like they don’t need their loved one in their life.

On the other hand, co-dependency can be equally toxic. People who need their partner for every little thing end up becoming way too dependent on their significant other. Many people become clingy out of insecurity or fear of loneliness and end up smothering their partner with constant cries for attention. Interdependency lies somewhere in the middle. This strategy involves a great deal of effort but will help your relationship greatly. Part of interdependency involves emotional vulnerability and empathy. When one person is upset about something, the other listens, gives honest feedback, and tries to remedy the problem.

Another crucial aspect of interdependency is communication. Each partner should be honest about their wants and needs and how the other person helps fulfill those.

Effort

Healthy relationships require a lot of work. People don’t just magically fall in love after starting at each other from across the room like they do in the movies. Similarly to how you can’t get six-pack abs or learn a new language overnight, romances also require dedication to prosper. Your partner should be one of your top priorities in life. Let them know that they are worth your time. You must put in the work to reap the rewards of a happy partnership.

Even the little things require some work. Calling and texting every day, cooking for them, buying gifts, planning events, visiting them, and listening to them all necessitate some degree of effort.

Remember that to be successful in anything, you must first input the work.

Photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash

Gratitude

Dale Carnegie once wrote, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

Both parties should work hard for themselves and their partner. It’s easy to let the little things go unnoticed. They might cook dinner for you, pick you up from work, help pay the rent, or provide a shoulder to cry on. Show your loved one how much you care. Sincerely thank them and give an honest reason why you appreciate what they do for you.

Something as simple as saying “thank you” once a day can add up to a lot of love. Just saying something like, “Thank you for getting me food” or “I appreciate that you were able to help me study” makes a significant difference. You can even pay the favor forward. Treat your loved one out to dinner, give them a massage, or let them pick the movie you’re going to watch. These little things will make them fall in love with you even more.

In a study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, researchers asked people in married heterosexual couples to take turns expressing gratitude for their spouse. Researchers took saliva samples and discovered that couples had strong traces of a gene called CD38 — an oxytocin regular which increases positive feelings. Unsurprisingly, participants reported feeling loving, proud, and peaceful.

Persistence

If you are willing to give up at the first sign of resistance, long-term relationships are not for you. Every wedding vow has the bride and groom swear to be by their partner’s side even through times of doubt and distress. You’ll encounter pitfalls and obstacles that you must work your way through. Don’t throw in the towel just because you two can’t agree what you want to eat for dinner that night. Work together and find a middle ground so both people can be happy.

Healthy relationships involve working through disagreements and conflicts. You must be by your partner’s side as the two of you weather the storm together. Successful couples are each other’s best teammates and willing to put in the effort to make things go their way.

Humility

Someone who thinks they are never at fault and can’t admit any wrongdoing will never have any successful relationships. If a person has so much ego that they never apologize for their behavior, you know that disaster isn’t too far away.

An honest and straightforward apology when you screw up can make a critical difference in your relationship. It shows that you are willing to admit your mistakes and that you want to improve yourself for the better. Nobody is perfect, but everyone can work to change themselves positively. Apologies help rebuild trust in relationships and turn hurt into forgiveness. Everybody makes mistakes and showing that you can acknowledge those mistakes will make you a stronger person.

Respect

Giving someone the respect they deserve is a surefire way to make them like you. Everyone sees themselves as deserving of basic human kindness and sweetness. After all, most people were taught to treat others the same way they would want to be treated.

Respecting your loved one involves much more than merely being kind to them. It also requires honoring your partner’s opinions, no matter how much you disagree. Respectfulness is giving them the benefit of the doubt and listening to what they have to say. It also means not trash talking them behind their back or playing with their emotions.

Photo by Ivan Cabañas on Unsplash

Honesty

Little white lies can create massive damage to your romance. Beating around the bush or telling half-truths means you aren’t completely honest with your loved one. Think about it this way: You might be spending the rest of your life with this person. How many things would you feel comfortable hiding from them for the rest of your days?

You should be honest about your feelings. Did your significant other do something that offended you, but you didn’t want to speak up at the time? Is there something that you wish you could get out of the relationship? Are there worries and insecurities that are eating you up on the inside?

Be open to these concerns. Many people avoid confrontation because they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings. However, the lack of confrontation also slowly deteriorates any love and affection. If you’re worried about upsetting your partner, phrase your words carefully and let them know that you are disclosing the information for the better.

Lastly, you should also be honest with yourself. Do you really love your partner? Why are you in a relationship? Is it because you fear to be lonely or want to avoid an emotional breakup? Would you be better off without them? Only by answering these questions can you honestly be happy.

Conclusion

Healthy relationships require a lot of time and effort. It sounds like a lot of hard work, but nothing in life ever comes easy. Humans are complex creatures full of emotion, passion, conflict, and fear. Pairing two people with different personalities and interests are always bound to cause a few clashes. Both partners need a mixture of the above traits to build a lasting and loving marriage. It’s not an easy thing to do, but what can be better than knowing you’ve established a successful relationship with your loved one?

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