When you fall in love, your partner often looks like a dream come true. You cannot imagine feeling annoyed or bored by this person, and every little touch makes your heart race. However, relationships gradually move out of this phase of intense passion, and the loss of constant desire and giddiness can be acutely painful. Bitterness may build, and you may start to wonder whether the other person is right for you after all.
Thankfully, if you can find ways to navigate through the transition in a realistic and productive way, you can develop a deeper, more secure relationship in the end. Here are some of the most significant things that successful relationships have in common.
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A healthy approach to conflict
Lots of people imagine the perfect couple not as two individuals but rather as a kind of unified entity. In truth, successful relationships require both partners to hold onto their own identities, staying fully aware of an autonomous sense of self while maintaining interpersonal closeness at the same time. Since you remain, two distinct individuals, it’s vital to dropping the assumption that the perfect relationship lacks any kind of conflict.
Couples who never argue are often repressing all of their negative emotions and perceptions, unhealthily projecting them onto things outside the relationship. These individuals are typically known by relationship therapists as ‘babes in the wood’ couples, and their inability to tolerate the fact that all people have good and bad traits can eventually be their undoing. However, it is equally problematic to take the opposite approach and cultivate a relationship full of bile, cruelty, and bickering. A successful relationship involves openly discussing problems with a view to resolving them. This process allows the relationship to change and grow.
A willingness to work at intimacy
Contrary to popular belief, successful relationships do not necessarily involve a flawless sex life. To cultivate a good partnership, try to avoid the boredom that naturally comes with repeating the same sexual script every time you sleep together. While you don’t need to go shopping for whips and chains if that doesn’t excite you, it is helpful to be willing to try new things in the bedroom, and your relationship will benefit from a policy that allows you to discuss what makes you feel good. You know your body better than anyone else does, and sharing your wisdom will benefit both you and your partner.
Awareness of positive change
As noted above, putting an excessively rosy spin on life can be insincere and can even amount to a form of repression. On the other hand, many couples are so concerned with what is wrong with their relationship that they do not stop to notice what is going well. Successful couples are conscious of the positive change, with both parties taking time to regularly stop and reflect on how far they have come. For example, you might notice that you are kinder to one another, that you understand each other’s expectations more clearly or that you share greater levels of trust. Try to encourage each other to look at these positive signs of relationship growth.
A strategy for compromising
Living with another person can be hard, especially if you grew up as an only child or have recently enjoyed the freedom that comes with living alone. Your partner may have different views about everything from personal hygiene to how to relax in the evening, and these differences can start to test your patience.
Don’t try to change the other person into your ideal partner, as this tactic is rarely successful. However, it is also a bad idea to force yourself to adopt all of your partner’s preferences and standards, as this approach is equally likely to breed resentment. The trick is to find a middle ground that works for both of you to an acceptable degree.
Where a middle ground cannot be found, bargaining can be successful. For example, you might agree to do less work at home during the weekend while your partner might adopt a more diligent approach to housework.
When you first fall in love, the object of your feelings is a combination of your partner and your own fantasies. In successful relationships, couples gradually let go of the fantasy and accept reality. Of course, that is not to say that you should ‘settle’ for anything less than a loving, satisfying relationship that makes you happy and promotes personal growth. However, you should be aware that your relationship will inevitably go through struggles and that your partner will never be able to read your mind in order to gain instant access to your needs.
If you want to make your love last, you must be prepared to hold onto it in times of crisis and expect that there will be passing moments of doubt.