All our life, we’re all bombarded with messages about romantic relationships, both explicit and implied. We’re taught that we should want a relationship, what kind of relationship we should want, and made to believe that having a long-term, romantic relationship is one of the most important things we should seek.
Yet, at the same time, we’re not really taught how to make a relationship work. In fact, if we were to believe mainstream media, we’d think that relationships just magically work when they’re meant to be and that things will be perfect when you just find your “true love,” your “soul mate,” your “other half.”
The reality is that relationships are not easy or perfect. If you want them to work, you’ve got to put in the effort. Building and sustaining a fulfilling long-term relationship requires a lot from both partners. Here are three of the things you should try to do:
Be on a Team
A lot of the time, when you disagree with your partner (which you will), it turns into a battle between the two of you. It’s a fight with you on one side and them on the other, and one of you will win and one of you will lose. That, my friends, is a terrible approach to an argument. It creates distance at best and resentment at worse, and one person will always walk away feeling like they’ve failed.
Instead, try to frame your disputes as both of you – as a team – against the problem. Rather than fighting each other, you’re both trying to solve the issue that you’re facing at that particular moment. Unlike the “me against you” approach, this will actually strengthen your bond and assure that you’ll both be happy when things are over.
It’ll also help you understand if you’re fighting about an actual, real problem or just bickering about nothing, in which case it’s probably for the best for you to just take a breath and get some space until you simmer down.
When you commit yourself to being with someone, you have to accept them wholeheartedly for exactly who they are. You can’t pick and choose pieces of their personality, and you can’t expect them to change for you. Do your very best never to judge your partner, which is just the death of trust in a relationship.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t bring up problems or try to improve on the relationship itself. It doesn’t mean you can’t suggest your partner make a change in their life or mindset. But when it comes to who they are, their identity – accept all of it. If you can’t, that might be a sign that you’re with the wrong person.
A strong relationship is built off of trust. And trust can’t work if you’re dishonest. This idea is so simple, yet so many couples tell each other lies both big and small on a regular basis. And that just leads to suspicion, doubt, hesitation, and ultimately, unhappiness.
So be honest with yourself and be honest with your partner. Because what’s the value in a lifelong relationship filled with secrets and deception? If you want a real, authentic, genuine relationship, it’s up to you to put the “true” in true love.
What? I can get cheesy too.