Relationships have existed since the beginning of humanity. You would think we have mastered all the secrets to a long, happy relationship, for something that has been around this long.
We haven’t. Many of us still fail to maintain relationships and sometimes have to learn the hard way.
At least I did.
But you do not have to. I’ve had my fair share of short-lived relationships before meeting my prince charming, so, I have some nuggets to share on what makes a relationship last.
We, humans, are made for companionship; we desire to be in fulfilling, long-lasting relationships because it is an innate desire. But why do most of us get it wrong?
Just as we are born with parts of the body that enables us to walk, yet we cannot walk until we learn to do so as babies. It’s the same with relationships. You have the inbuilt foundation for cultivating relationships; you just need to know the skills to maintain a long-lasting one.
So how do you do this?
Communication is the vehicle that gets you to all desired places in your relationship. Do you want great sex life? Communicate.
Do you want to set and maintain boundaries? Communicate. Do you have unmet expectations? Communicate? Do you need to resolve an issue? Communicate.
You get the point.
Communication is not just a matter of verbalizing your thoughts or saying what you want. Experts say that communication usually reveals more than just factual information.
It reveals what we think about the other person and what we think about ourselves.
Author and Neurologist Oliver Sacks says it better in this quote “We speak not only to tell other people what we think but to tell ourselves what we think. Speech is a part of thought.”
Communication also involves gestures and body language. Because of all the layers involved in communication, many of us get it wrong. We hear one thing and decode it entirely differently.
Other times we find it difficult to put our emotions and feelings in words. To have a lasting relationship, both partners must develop excellent communication skills.
Active listening, non-judgemental, and asking the right questions can help couples communicate better.
Couples should be able to open up and discuss every topic, no matter how sensitive the issues might be. A couple that talks is a couple that stays together for long.
Interesting: 5 Underrated Signs of a Great Relationship
Keep the romance alive
This should be the most exciting part of relationships; being intimate. And it usually is, at least for the first couple of months. In relationships where the couple has been together for a long time, romance might get forgotten.
The busyness of life and other aspects of the relationship that need attention might make intimacy feel like a chore.
The bond between couples grows stronger with physical touch and every intimate moment they spend together. Remember the little details about your partner and take advantage of special dates and anniversaries to make them feel special.
Keeping the spark alive in a relationship sometimes requires wooing your partner all over again. Do not assume that just because you are together, you don’t need to go out of your way to do nice things for them.
Appreciate the little things
I once dated a guy who thought it was ridiculous to say “I love you” every day. He said, “ You already know I do, so why do I need to say it every day?”
Unsurprisingly, he did not also appreciate the little things I did for him. Like when I know he’s had a long day, I’d have his favorite meal ready when he comes to visit. There was very little gratitude from him.
The little things usually make the most significant impact. If one does not see it, like this guy I dated, the relationship will not last because the other partner will feel unappreciated and quit the relationship.
Saying “thank you”, “I love you”, “I appreciate how you care for me”, and buying little gifts for each other can go a long way to cement the foundation of a relationship.
Do not take your relationship for granted. Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you, and don’t assume they already know.
Have “me time”
In all my past relationships, I thought the key to staying together longer was constantly being in each other’s company. I wanted to go everywhere and pursue hobbies only as a couple.
This changed during one of my birthdays. The guy I was dating was too busy to be bothered about me. I went out by myself, ate as much ice cream as I wanted, and just had some “me” time.
It was refreshing and gave me a confidence boost. Realizing I could enjoy activities by myself showed me I needed to prioritize doing some things alone. That helped my next relationship.
I realized then that spending every waking moment with a man is unhealthy for the relationship. We both start to feel smothered at some point and think that our happiness depends on the other entirely.
To have a lasting relationship, you should be able to pursue activities that interest you, just for the sake of it. And encourage your partner to do the same. You will have exciting details of your day to share with each other afterward.
Of course, you should still pursue hobbies together, but you must carve out time for personal adventures.
Also read: How to Make Your Relationship Last Long-Term
Challenge each other
We cannot pretend that we are in an oasis where we are unaffected by issues of career and personal ambitions. We do not live in a romance bubble.
One of the ways to have a relationship that lasts is to recognize this and challenge your partner to be a better version of himself and chase after his goals. He should be able to do the same for you.
Couples who chalk successes together in life are more likely to stay together because the traits that make them successful are some of the same needed to maintain a relationship. It is also proven that the support partners receive from each other helps them in dealing with stress at work.
Partners also tend to appreciate those who have been with them through the tough times and wins because they see how loyal you have been.
Birds of a feather flock together.
Don’t hold on to grudges
If you’re thinking of longevity in a relationship, then you must learn to forgive your partner for the hurt and the negative behaviors that they may exhibit.
It is impossible to be with someone for long and not get offended by some behaviors they exhibit. The pain caused by loved ones often cuts deep, so we might be tempted to hold a grudge and mull over the issue repeatedly.
This is unhelpful. It breeds resentment and bitterness, eventually breaking the relationship.
Being able to let go, be tolerant, and be slow to anger is a success factor for long-lasting relationships.
By all means, do not accept abusive behaviors or stay silent when you are hurt. Talk it out in an open, honest, non-judgemental manner with your partner.
In most cases, amends will be made and soon the issue will be a thing of the past.
Seek adventures together
There’s nothing more fun than taking a road trip with your partner or joining a new dance class. The novelty of these activities and the depths it pushes you to add the right amount of excitement to your relationship.
Being in a lasting relationship means that you have probably done many things together, and sometimes you get bored with your routine.
Planning a road trip or a cooking or dance class gives you something new to look forward to. It also opens you up to a new network of people who can expand your horizons. Truly refreshing.
You may not need to plan an adventure. Sometimes all you need is for both of you to get in the car and just drive out of the city.
Maintaining a relationship is easy when you start from a place of love and respect for your partner. Showing each other respect makes you considerate and understanding; you mind your manners and observe the time spent with your partner as sacred.
From this foundation, you do not feel forced to take the necessary steps to make your relationship last. You genuinely want it to; where there’s a will, there are 7 ways.
That said, a relationship is a two-way street. Both you and your partner need to put in the effort to make it last. You can do all of the recommended things, but the relationship will be short-lived if your partner does not care.
As you go into a relationship with full awareness and commitment to make it work, your partner must also do the same.
You deserve love, with equal measure as you give it.