The concept of a soulmate is truly amazing. Someone perfect for you, complete with an unbreakable emotional connection and unconditional support? Sign us up! The romcoms, kdramas, and books have painted a flawless picture of romance. From showing a perfectly timed first meeting to an adorable first date, the pressure to have the romance of a lifetime is higher than ever. Whether you truly believe in love at first sight, soulmates, or true love, there is no denying that the media has set the standards so high that disappointment is almost inevitable. What no one seems to tell you is that relationships are imperfect, sometimes frustrating, and, most of all, require major work. A successful relationship isn’t about being picture-perfect or adorable all the time, but it is about patience and understanding. There are many common mindsets, behaviors, and habits of truly healthy relationships that the movies simply don’t show. Whether you’re in a relationship looking to improve it or single wondering about successful relationships, these 9 key elements of one are sure to help you!
1. A commitment to giving time, energy, and care
Commitment sounds scary! You may think of wedding bells or meeting someone’s parents at the sound of it, but put simply, every long-lasting relationship starts with a basic commitment to give someone your time, energy, and care. The rest comes later when you’re ready for it. Just keep in mind that you get what you put into a relationship, so if you want someone to care deeply about you and spend their time and energy on you, you have to do so as well!
2. A commitment to self-care
Being in a relationship is a big responsibility, so before having someone else to care for and commit to, you have to be able to care for yourself. Learning about your own emotional needs makes you better able to determine how to balance them with another person’s. It also will help you be able to recognize when you need some time to prioritize and take care of yourself.
3. A sense of purpose separate from the relationship
Having your own goals, hobbies, and interests outside of your relationship helps you be a more balanced and well-rounded person. It also keeps you from fixating and obsessing over your partner and relationship too much, which can be a problem for new relationships. By having a life outside of your partner, you not only keep your relationship from falling into the classic pitfall of, “you already know how my day was since you were with me all day,” but you have a more fulfilling life as well!
4. Vulnerability and transparency
It may be hard but being open and vulnerable with your partner helps build your emotional connection and understanding of each other. Of course, you can build trust first and take it slow until you’re ready since some of us may not be comfortable with being vulnerable. The basic idea is that in all successful relationships, both partners try to be open and honest with their feelings to foster compassion, comfort, and intimacy.
5. Shared responsibility for the relationship
A relationship shouldn’t be unbalanced in any way. No one person should be making all the compromises or taking all the blame.
Compromise is a tricky thing to get right. How much you should compromise and when is something for you to decide since it varies greatly depending on the situation. Regardless, the bottom line is that both people should be compromising. Learning and practicing how to manage your differences is a key part of relationships that both partners are responsible for. After all, two people meeting in the middle saves both of you half the trip.
When things go wrong, it’s easy to blame other factors. Whether it be the weather, circumstances, or another person, no one likes to admit fault. However, a relationship isn’t about seeming flawless and never making mistakes; rather, it’s about taking responsibility for you and your actions. A relationship isn’t a blame game or a he said she said screaming match. Trying to make something one person’s fault will only frustrate and upset both of you without solving anything. Instead, try to admit shared fault and responsibility and focus on improvement. After all, as iconic as Ross’s “we were on a break!” line from Friends is, the heated debate about fault ultimately solves nothing.
6. Equality among partners
Much like shared responsibility, both people should respect each other. That means having an equal power dynamic and say in the relationship. Both people should treat each other with patience, empathy, support, generosity, and forgiveness. For example, no one should have to completely change themselves to be with someone, and if someone expects you to, they’re clearly not right for you. It may take some work but keep looking until you find someone who treats you as an equal because it’s what you deserve!
7. Active listening without interrupting, judging, or correcting
While it’s sometimes hard in an argument, each person in the relationship should try to listen to what the other has to say and then respond. Responding while someone is talking makes the person unable to fully express their thoughts to you, which is key to actually resolving a disagreement. It makes it seem like you’re just waiting for them to stop talking so you can speak without truly listening and considering their points, which will only make both people more frustrated and escalate the situation. In short, try to hear people out fully before responding or judging prematurely, just like how you’d want people to treat you during a conversation.
8. Willingness to seek outside help when needed
While a couple may be a dynamic duo, not even two people can do everything themselves. There may come a point in your relationship where you two need outside help, and that’s okay. It could be a friend, family member, or professional. However, some people do stigmatize going to couple’s therapy or seeing a psychologist as something shameful or a sign you’re not able to make your relationship work. In reality, it isn’t something to be ashamed of because needing help is a normal, human thing. If anything, seeking outside help means both people are committed and willing to try everything to work things out, and if that’s not a sign of dedication, what is?
9. Humor, playfulness, and fun
This is a more lighthearted one but equally important! A relationship shouldn’t always feel taxing or like a task on your never-ending to-do list. Making each other laugh and having fun are some of the best parts of being in a relationship. It’s not a business exchange, but it is something you should genuinely enjoy being a part of!
Relationships take a lot of practice and patience, so don’t be discouraged if some of yours don’t work out. The bottom line is to treat all your partners with gratitude and kindness, just like how you want to be treated. Even if you may not be together forever, treating each other kindly is sure to guarantee many fun times!
Are you in a relationship? Do you and your partner do these things? Or maybe you’re single and looking for one, do you think these will help you? Leave a comment down below with any thoughts or input!