You know the feeling: catching his eyes in a sea of people, hearing his key turn in the lock, watching him fall asleep after a long day. It's the feeling of coming home, even if he's the one opening the door to find you. Chemistry and physical attraction are might give way to that first spark, yes, but what makes a relationship pass the test of time? We can all agree the answer isn’t found in one big secret, but rather in all the little simple details.
- Love as a Verb
While we all appreciate a well-placed “I love you”, those words remain hollow unless they are put into action every day. And there is nothing more romantic in the world than action. Love is shown through physical touch and true words, but it’s also remembering the little things, showing up, and going out of our way. To love someone is to show how much you value them every day. How glad you are that they exist and that they actively choose to exist alongside you.
2. Friendship as Foundation
Whether or not you knew each other as friends first, the strongest relationships prioritizes friendship. When you are good friends with your significant other, you know each other well and are better able to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Seeing your partner outside of the context of your relationship gives you a richer, layered understanding of him as a whole human being, and not just as someone defined by his relationship to you. Encourage him to do the same and you’ve got a recipe for success!
- Listening and Understanding
Communication is the nuts and bolts of every relationship, but everything comes together in the listening. Life can get busy, and but it should never be too noisy to listen. When you make a practice out of hearing what your partner has to say without interrupting, you also move him to do the same. Commit to regularly check in with each other and reserve one date night a week to look forward to.
- Being Present is the Best Present
In our digital world today, the number one courtesy you can extend to your loved ones is your raw, undivided attention. Whether you’re out having lunch, cuddling up for a movie at home, or out about town, choose to be in the moment - this is your life! Lead by example: make a real effort to put away your electronics and he will take notice.
Taking care of your relationship also means taking care of yourself. As two people who have chosen to combine their independently rich lives, you should not neglect your own space and freedom. Not all of your interests will overlap, and that’s natural. Encourage each other to cultivate friendships and a life outside of your relationship, knowing it’ll only enrich your appreciation of each other. You’ll never run out of things to talk about!
- Mutual Trust
While you’re both out cultivating friends and hobbies outside of your relationship, it’s equally important to maintain a show of trust. Each person should believe that their partner has the relationship’s best interest at heart and would not do anything to jeopardize it. Communicate feelings without micromanaging or jumping to conclusions. Resist the urge to violate each other’s privacy.
Beyond just the physical, intimacy is emotional, too. It’s each person feeling seen and understood by the other, and it’s feeling safe in each other’s presence without fear of judgment. This level of comfort can really only be built over time as you continue to learn more about your partner, so being consistent is key.
- Sense of Humor
Where would we be without it? Life comes with ups and downs, and laughter is necessary to keep things light. This calls upon some humility and the willingness to make fun of ourselves. When we’re able to laugh at our own quirks and shortcomings, we also give our partners permission to do the same.
No matter how much you may have in common with your partner, there will always be differences. They’re part of what makes us unique and ultimately interesting to each other, even though they sometimes cause us to disagree. By agreeing to disagree, you don’t become hung up on who is right or wrong. A willingness to soften our egos lets our partners know we think of their interests too.
As clumsy humans navigating the world and given only 24 hours in a day to divide between sleep, making a living, and making a life--and we all fall short sometimes. It’s not always possible to meet everyone’s expectations, as much as we’d like to. As two people in a relationship, extending a little extra kindness and forgiveness in a hard world can go a long way. That kind of gesture could only inspire us to be better!
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