Relationships are tough business. Sure, there's the romance, sweet surprises, and giggly pillow talk that make it all worthwhile – but being in a successful relationship means pushing yourself much further than a romantic dinner date for two.
So, what makes a relationship work?
It mostly boils down to communication and mutual respect. Once the parameters have been set, the happiest couples know their boundaries and expectations, and don't have to spend a lot of time talking or thinking about it.
Now, this isn't to say that good relationships are all at a point where they non longer need work – even the greatest relationships need a talk-and-tune-up every now and then. However, once a couple figures these things out, they spend less time parceling out the details, and more time focusing on the business of happiness. #11 is absolutely crucial.
#1. They practice self-care as individuals.
Relationships don’t create joy, they reflect it. Joy comes from within. Relationships are simply mirrors of the combined joy that two people have as individuals. What you see in the mirror is what you see in your relationships. Your disappointments in your partner often reflect your disappointments in yourself. Your acceptance of your partner often reflects your acceptance of yourself. Thus, the first step to having a healthy relationship with someone else is to have a healthy relationship with yourself.
Pedro Ribeiro Simões
#2. They stand together and refuse to let outsiders call the shots.
Relationships don’t always make sense, especially from the outside. So don’t let outsiders run your relationship for you. If you’re having an issue with your partner, work it out with THEM and no one else. You have to live your own lives your own way… that’s all there is to it. Each of us has a unique fire in our heart for that one special person. It’s our duty, and ours alone, to decide if a relationship is right for us. If you and your partner both agree that it is right, IT IS, and it’s worth working on, together.
Pedro Ribeiro Simões
#3. They respect their relationship as being a unique, incomparable bond.
Don’t compare your relationship to anyone else’s – not your parent’s, friend’s, coworker’s, or that random couple whose relationship seems perfect. Every couple makes their own love rules, love agreements, and love habits. Just focus on what you two share, and make your unique bond the best it can be. And keep in mind that all relationships have their ups and downs – they do not ride at a continuous blissful high. Working together through the hard times will make your relationship stronger in the end.
#4. They are intimate about everything.
Sex is not love. Especially in the beginning of a relationship, attraction and pleasure in sex are often mistaken for love. Sex is good, sex is great, but it’s the easy part. Intimacy is what makes relationships last. It requires honest communication and openness about concerns, fears and sadness, as well as hopes, dreams and happiness.
#5. They accept each other, without trying to change each other.
The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated as is. Sometimes we try to be sculptors, constantly carving out of our significant others the image of what we want them to be – what we think we need, love, or desire. But these actions and perceptions are against reality, against their benefit and ours, and always end in disappointment, because it does not fit them. The foundation of love is to let those we care about be unapologetically themselves, and to not distort them to fit our own egotistical ideas of who they should be. Otherwise we fall in love only with our own fantasies, and thus miss out entirely on their true beauty. So save your relationship from needless stress. Instead of trying to change your partner, give them your support and grow together.
#6. They make uninterrupted time for each other.
If you neglect your relationship, your relationship will neglect you too. With busy schedules we often forget to relax and enjoy the great company we have. In relationships distance is not measured in miles, but in affection. Two people can be right next to each other and yet miles apart. So don’t ignore the one you love, because lack of concern often hurts more than angry words.