The Ultimate Relationship Guide: 24 Unbiased, Science-Based Facts On What Makes for a Successful Long-Term Couple Relationship
Are you looking to build or maintain a healthy long-term relationship? It’s not easy, but it’s doable. This article provides practical steps and information on how to make your long-term couple bond last.
Every year people spend millions of dollars on relationship books and seminars promising “secrets” to find or keeping love, but sometimes it can be tough to tell what works from what doesn’t. Many authors claim the keys to success are their unique blend of secret techniques and protocols, while others rely on anecdotes that cannot stand up to scientific scrutiny. Others still create infomercial-style self-help books full of vague advice with little evidence behind them.
The good news is that recent research in long-term couple relationships has yielded a body of knowledge that is both academically solid and easily applicable – scientists have actually managed to identify specific steps you can take now, today, to improve your odds for a happier romantic future! But where should you begin? The answer is right here, with the top eight most important science-based facts to know about long-term coupling!
1) New Relationship Energy (NRE) May Not Last Forever
The honeymoon phase, or “new relationship energy” (NRE), can be an awesome time in a new relationship. Everything seems perfect, the excitement is intoxicating, and you feel like you’re “high” on love! But often people mistake this euphoric stage for long-lasting compatibility that will last forever. True compatibility takes effort and commitment to forge over time. While NRE is great while it lasts, don’t let it distract you from identifying red flags about your partner’s behavior patterns…or yours. It may sound cliché patience really is a virtue when it comes to relationships, but this is especially true when you’re in the early stages of coupling up.
2) Be Willing To Work At It!
Nothing in life that’s good, comes easy (I’m looking at you, Mr. Big). The same goes for relationships – no matter how compatible two people are, there will always be work put into forging a successful couple bond! As Dr. John Gottman has demonstrated, it only takes five negative interactions within a 15-minute conversation to predict divorce with 95% accuracy. Luckily if two people are willing to recognize these warning signs and actively work on making their relationship better they can turn things around.
3) Distance May Create A Stronger Bond
One reason couples experience so much NRE when they first fall in love is because they spend a lot of time together. This can be great, but can also lead to complacency and stagnation as couples assume that spending every waking hour with each other will replace the need for intimate conversation or special attention. In fact, long-distance couples often report having stronger relationships than those who live near one another!
4) Don’t Put Your Partner On A Pedestal
One reason relationships can stagnate after a couple has been together for a while is because people tend to make the mistake of putting their partners on pedestals – assuming they are perfect beings incapable of mistakes or wrongdoing. This may sound good on paper, but it creates an unrealistic image your partner cannot live up to, leading them to feel disrespected and resentful when they inevitably fall short.
5) Quality Counts – Quantity Doesn’t!
What this means is that when it comes to building a strong relationship, time spent in interactions matters more than the number of interactions. Think about it this way: you could have 100 conversations with your partner in one day, but if none of them go well or create any meaningful connection between you two, you’d be better off having 2-3 high-quality conversations each week. Our advice? Limit your check-ins/small talk to 4 times per day MAX, then focus on really getting to know each other in 1-on-1 quality time instead.
6) Not All Date Ideas Are Created Equal
Going out on dates is a great way to bond, but if you’re not careful it can also be super expensive and counterproductive. The trick is to make your dates meaningful instead of just fun; that way they will strengthen your relationship even when they don’t feel like it! Here are some tips for turning typical dates into quality interactions:
– Make Dates About Fostering A Skill (Not Just “Fun”)
– Look For Free And Cheap Dates: Use apps like Groupon or LivingSocial to find cheap or free activities in your area. Check out our post on free date ideas for more inspiration.
– Turn Your Date Into An Adventure: Don’t just go eat at the same restaurant you always do – mix it up by doing something different! You could try a cooking class or head to the beach instead.
– Plan A Special Date Just For You And Your Partner: Get out of the house, grab your partner and go see a movie you’ve both been wanting to check out or spend an afternoon at an art museum. Then when you get home invite them to make dinner together or play board games instead of watching TV. This will help foster skills they may not have had before (like cooking!) as well as bring you closer together!
7) Skip The “L” Word
Love is easy to say no matter how long you’ve been with someone – but saying it too soon can cause problems down the road. If you feel like you’re experiencing NRE then hold off on telling your partner you love them until you’re actually ready to follow through. Too often people will say “I love you” and they expect their partner to be able to read their mind and know what comes next. This isn’t fair! Be respectful of your partner’s time and energy by communicating what it is that YOU want, even if that means backing off a bit emotionally.
8) Remember: Gratitude Is Magical What can we say?
We’ve been singing the praises of gratitude ever since we started this blog (see here, here, and here for more info). When it comes to relationships though, gratitude has three powerful benefits: – It reduces stress: according to research published in Emotion, couples who regularly practice gratitude report feeling less stressed. – It strengthens forgiveness: in the same study, gratitude was also shown to help strengthen forgiveness between romantic partners. – It creates emotional security: when you feel like your partner is grateful for what you bring to the table, it makes you feel cared for and validated; this can do wonders for creating emotional security in the relationship!
9) Don’t Let Jealousy Take Over
There’s no question that jealousy can be a big problem in relationships; however, if you find yourself constantly getting jealous without any real cause, then take time to figure out what’s really bothering you. Keep in mind that research shows that people who tend to be more jealous are typically less satisfied with their relationships than those who aren’t – so don’t ignore this feeling when it starts to creep in!
10) Learn To Fight Fair
Fighting is a normal part of any relationship; unfortunately, sometimes the way we fight can actually make things worse instead of better. If you want your bickering to be more productive, then learn how to fight fair by following these simple guidelines: – Talk about the issue, not the person – Don’t bring up past mistakes / don’t expect them to admit guilt – Stick to one topic at a time – Choose a private setting and use “I” statements instead of saying “you” – Avoid personal attacks and name-calling – Speak from your own perspective, not theirs
11) Don’t Leave Your Partner Hanging
Out in limbo is never fun; however, that’s exactly where your partner could end up when you keep them guessing about what’s going on. If you’re not ready for a relationship yet (and they’re making it perfectly clear that they are), then be honest and tell them. They will appreciate the respect and honesty much more than if you stay silent.
12) Love Yourself First
We all know someone who can’t seem to get their life together; whether it’s work, money, relationships, etc. The ironic thing about this person is that even though they can’t figure out their own lives, they claim to have all of the answers to everyone else’s problems. We’re not saying that you need to become obsessed with your own life before you can be healthy in a relationship; however, having some stability and knowing what it is that YOU want (even if it doesn’t involve anyone else), will make you more attractive, confident, understanding and fun to be around.
13) Give Your Partner The Benefit Of the Doubt
Next time your partner does something awkward or even hurtful, try giving them the benefit of the doubt. Assuming that they meant well (even if you aren’t quite sure) can save a lot of stress and problems – not only in your relationship but also in other areas; for example, studies show that people who are more optimistic tend to be more successful at work. It may not always be easy, but it’s definitely worth trying.
14) Look For Things You Have In Common
Naturally, this one seems like an odd one to include on the list; however, staying connected with your partner is key for helping them feel safe and secure with you. While you don’t necessarily have to share everything in common, having a few things to talk about and enjoy together will make your partner feel as though they aren’t completely alone.
15) Make Time To Spend Together
Both parties must put the relationship first by making time for one another every week; it doesn’t matter if that time is spent going out or simply at home relaxing. What’s important is that both of you are willing to schedule a regular date night – even if your lives seem crazy busy!
16) Be Willing To Compromise
If you refuse to compromise on anything, then it’ll be nearly impossible for your partner to please you all the time – so before demanding perfection from them, take a look at yourself and ask if you’re being unreasonable. Chances are if your partner is making a fair request of you, then they’ll be willing to meet you halfway if you do the same.
17) Work On Your Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem may seem to have nothing to do with a relationship; however, it can actually affect just about every aspect of an individual’s life – including their relationships. If your low self-esteem is holding you back from enjoying a healthy and loving relationship, then find a way to improve it by working on yourself from the inside out.
18) Don’t Be Afraid To Make The First Move
Love doesn’t always have to wait for someone else to make the first move; in fact, when two people are compatible, they often find that there’s no need to play games – that they’re just happy being themselves. If you feel ready to take the next step with your partner, then let ’em know by taking the initiative and letting them know how much you care about them.
19) Take The Time To Understand Your Partner
Don’t take everything your partner says at face value; instead, try to dig deeper and take an interest in what makes them tick. When you learn more about who they are as people (as well as where their interests lie), it will be easier for both of you to resonate with each other on a deeper level.
20) Show Appreciation Every Chance You Get
Relationships can often become routine after a few years; however, it’s important that both people keep reminding one another how much they care. Whether you do this through a simple gesture or a romantic date night, showing your partner appreciation will not only remind them why they fell for you in the first place – but it will also encourage them to show their appreciation for you as well!
21) Keep Your Romantic Life Fresh
While stability is key in a relationship, it’s equally important to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. As time goes by, many couples become complacent with the way things are going and stop trying to find new ways of keeping their relationship fresh and exciting. One way around this is introducing different types of dates into your routine; whether these involve staying home or going out on the town, it’s important that both parties continue to have fun and enjoy one another.
22) Be True To Yourself
While a lot of pressure is put on women in regards to being a “good wife”, this doesn’t mean that men should neglect their own needs – as well as those of other people within the relationship. It’s important for everyone to be good role models by living up to their own expectations; otherwise, your partner may start thinking that it’s okay to let you down as well.
23) Don’t Let Your Past Negatively Affect Your Present
The past is exactly that: the past. Yet many couples often allow bad memories to hurt their present relationships; however, before you take something personally or assume your partner will do the same, take a moment to remind yourself that it’s not necessarily true and ask the person involved what the real deal is instead.
24) Remember That Communication Is Key
When problems arise within your relationship, don’t just assume that you’re on the same page as your partner – talk about whatever is bothering you and find out if they feel the same way or not. This is one of the most important ways for couples to understand each other better and figure out how to move forward in their lives together.
There you have it folks, a nice little run down of 24 things to help improve the way you look at yourself and how you relate with others.
I hope you enjoyed it, feel free to share them around if you have good friends who might be in need of a pick me up… Or just send them here so they can be sure. In any case happy dating peeps!