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The Essence of a Successful Relationship Lies in These 5 Things

They are also incredibly easy to implement.

By Margaret PanPublished 3 years ago 7 min read
Photo by Wendy Wei in Pexels

Why are relationships so complicated?

Why it’s so difficult to find a partner who’s a good fit for us?

Why so many relationships and marriages end so soon?

Although not all relationships are meant to last, it seems that nowadays, it’s incredibly difficult to form a relationship that can stand the test of time. At least that’s what most people say.

However, the truth is that most of the time, relationships are not as complicated as we think we are. In fact, we are usually the ones who make them complicated.

When two people are a good fit for one another and are willing to put in the necessary effort, a relationship doesn’t need much to succeed. At the end of the day, the essence of a successful relationship lies in the following five things.

1. Not Trying To Change Your Partner

After being in a relationship for a respectful amount of time, most people can’t help but fall into the pit of trying to change their partner.

In other words, after the honeymoon phase is over, and the initial sparks and enthusiasm fade away, they open their eyes to their partner’s faults, quirks, and weird habits — and decide they must do something about them.

I used to be one of these people myself, until I realized that not only trying to change someone is a complete waste of time and energy, but it’s also disrespectful and makes the other person feel pretty bad about themselves.

And although it’s acceptable to try and warn your partner about a destructive behavior of theirs (for example, excessive drinking or smoking), you shouldn’t try to make them fit your standards and your own ideas of what is right/wrong.

As Rob Pascale and Lou Primavera explain in this article in Psychology Today,

“When we try to control another person, we are deciding we know the best way for that person to live. However, our way of thinking or acting might not be the best way for another person. Additionally, while we may believe we have our partner’s interests at heart when we want them to change, we really don’t. We are working from our own interests, and we want them to think and act in a certain way because it fills our own needs, not theirs.”

Friendly tip #1: Keep in mind that if you convince your partner to make an attempt to change for you and not for themselves, they will revert back to their old ways sooner or later.

Friendly tip #2: You gotta accept that, when you’re unable to find common ground with your partner, or simply can’t put up with their behavior/habits, the best thing to do — for both people involved — is to end your relationship and search for someone who fits you better.

2. Not Confusing Enthusiasm/Lust With Love

When you hear things like “I swear, from the moment we kissed I instantly knew he was the one for me; I think I might love him” you know that’s enthusiasm speaking.

Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between enthusiasm/lust and love — especially if you don’t have much experience in relationships.

The problem is that, by confusing these two things you might end up losing a lot of valuable time and emotional energy on people who are a bad fit for you and make bad decisions with unpleasant consequences for your future.

Some examples include staying with someone who’s clearly a bad fit for you, just because you think you love them, or getting married to someone after dating for only a couple of months. I mean, how do people still do that?

Friendly tip #1: Remember, love needs time. You can only start loving someone after you’ve spent a LOT of time with them, seen them at their worst, discovered all of their quirks and weaknesses, and faced hardship together.

Friendly tip #2: Make sure you take some time to contemplate your feelings before making any major decisions about your future (like turning down a great job offer just to be able to spend more time with your partner).

3. Communicating Your Needs To Your Partner

Every time I get into a conversation with any of my friends — both males and females — about their partners, I hear them saying things like:

  • “I can’t believe she/he didn’t know that I wanted *insert a thing*”
  • “There’s no point in discussing it with her/him. I’m sure she/he already knows how I feel.”
  • “I can’t understand why she/he hasn’t done *insert something* for me by now.”

All these sentences stem from a person’s inability to communicate their needs to their partner. And we all know that healthy communication is essential for a relationship’s success.

Unfortunately, the inability to communicate our needs to our partners traps us in an unhealthy and unreasonable behavior pattern: when our significant other doesn’t behave the way we’d like/expect them to, we immediately think that they’re a bad fit for us.

However, your partner cannot always behave how you want them to or make the gestures you expect them to make, because, they cannot read your mind.

A relationship’s success depends on both parties being able to comfortably communicate their feelings, thoughts, fears, and preferences to each other.

Also, when you don’t communicate your needs to your significant other they simply, won’t be able to fulfill them. In your head, you might think that your partner knows exactly what you want and isn’t willing to give it to you, when in reality, they might have no idea what you really want.

Friendly tip #1: You should not expect your partner to know everything that goes on in your head, even if you’ve been together for decades. After all, with time, as your personality changes, your needs might change as well.

Friendly tip #2: Because you can’t read your partner’s mind either, it would be safer if you didn’t make any assumptions about their needs. The best strategy is always asking them what they want/need and how they feel about any situation.

4. Not Using Other People’s Relationships as Examples for Your Own

One of the most harmful things you can do to your relationship is comparing it to those of the people around you.

Of course, since relationships take place within a social context and aren’t isolated experiences, sometimes other relationships may influence the way you approach yours, at least on a subconscious level.

However, that kind of influence can get out of control if you convince yourself that your relationship should follow a specific pattern — which in turn, will result in you subconsciously sabotaging it along the way.

For example:

  • There’s no specific number of dates you should wait before you have sex with someone/introduce them to your friends/make it official with them.
  • You might be in a healthy, successful relationship for years, without getting married, or having kids.
  • Just because your sister’s/best friend’s partner tends to show their love by showering them with gifts doesn’t mean your partner should do the same.

Friendly tip #1: The fact that your relationship develops at a different pace/manner than what you’re used to seeing when it comes to other people’s relationships, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with it.

Friendly tip #2: Don’t let other people’s opinions about your partner and your relationship affect how you view the former and approach the latter. Nowadays, it seems like everyone has something to say about how the people close to them should live their lives and how they should act inside a relationship — believe me, most of the time, their advice does nothing but complicate things.

5. Practicing Active Listening With Your Partner

Active listening means giving your full attention to your partner every time they’re trying to communicate something to you, aiming to truly understand them.

As clinical psychologist Dianne Grande states:

“If we are not listening actively, we are likely to miss the real message.”

She continues, saying that the absence of active listening is one of the most common complaints she hears during couples counseling:

“In my experience as a clinician, the ability to use active listening is essential for the long-term happiness of most couples. Attachment Theory has helped us understand that the most basic emotional needs of human beings include the need to be heard and the need to feel important to our partners (Johnson, 2008). One of the most common complaints that I hear during couples counseling sessions is one partner saying to the other: “You never listen to me!”

Unfortunately, most people rarely pay attention to what their partners are telling them; they just pretend to listen, but in reality, their mind wanders off.

The absence of active listening, however, diminishes the quality of a couple’s communication and level of understanding and creates a lot of unnecessary conflict.

Friendly tip #1: Once you start practicing active listening with your partner, you’ll notice how easier it will be for you to deeper understand their feelings and thoughts.

Friendly tip #2: Active listening requires an open mind. Don’t start interrupting your partner if you disagree with what they’re saying. Let them express their ideas and make an attempt to understand their perspective rather than rushing to change it.

This story was previously published on Medium.


About the Creator

Margaret Pan

Words have power.

I write about relationships, psychology, personal development, and books.

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