Falling in love, like they say takes just a few minutes. It usually requires meeting that gorgeous looking person in the right place and at the right time. You realize she returned the smile you did not even notice was on your face. The moment seemed magical and somehow you mustered the nerves to walk up to her and express how you really feel, though this feeling has not lasted more than 20 minutes yet.
Or your own story may be different. You have known each other for some time now and then you realized it’s been love all along. Whatever the case might be, people usually get into a relationship based on one simple or perhaps complicated reason – they are in love. And it is sometimes difficult to explain what “love” between a man and a woman is. Some have simply given up and prefer the cowardly conclusion that love cannot be explained. Knowing how to make a relationship last is more important than rushing into one.
Long term relationships are not all about love. No matter how much you wish it were so, it simply is not. There are many other things that constitute a relation. Understanding them will help you wake up from the dream of “happily ever after”. Here are some simple but really important tips and lessons you have to learn about love and successful relationships. They will prove equally important both for those who are finding difficulties in their relationships and those who are just about to get into their very first.
Tips for Long Term Relationships
Understand that Love and Romance are not the same
If you have tried more than twice unsuccessfully to make a relationship with your partner work, chances are you did not really understand or apply this principle. There is a difference between love and Romance, or to make it sound easier, between love and feelings. This is one of the most important things in a relationship. When you associate love with romantic feelings and try to build a relationship based on that understanding, you are in for trouble. Its sometimes difficult to understand and accept the difference because both words are used as synonyms.
If you decide to understand both words to mean two different things, you will be taking your very first and probably the most important step towards long term relationships. Romantic feelings that a man has for a woman and vice versa are triggered by hormones. This also means that they are not always there. As a matter of fact, they tend to keep you excited about the other person until you actually get very close to them. Feelings rise and fall like sea tides. This particular issue is better explained by married people. You get to find out that you do not exactly feel the same way you did about the other person when you just met each other. Feeling have to be nurtured, to keep them as constantly high as they can or should be. And that takes love.
Love as opposed to feelings or romance is a choice. A choice to keep caring even when the other person seems insensitive to what you are doing. A choice to overlook their shortcomings, a choice to see and focus on the best they can be. A choice to believe in their dreams and share in their pain. When you have to show love, romance would be of no help to you. When your partner no longer checks on you or appreciate the sacrifice you make for the relationship, romance would hardly seem possible at the time. That is exactly when you have to apply love. Knowing the difference between love and romance is one of the most important things in a relationship. Love in other words can always be there. Romantic feelings on the other hand would not. So that is where to start building successful relationships. Let’s move on.
Work towards Self-satisfaction first
I am sure you have heard guys trying to woo the women of their dreams say things like, you are my better half, you complete me, and I cannot do without you. These statements sounded really romantic in days gone by until women and even the dump men came to realize that it uncovers a very serious flaw in the life of the persons using them. Every person is an individual first, and should be comfortable being on their own before getting another person into their lives.
You are not half a person waiting to be completed by another half. If that is how you feel about yourself, you need to become a whole person first. You may take up a defense and say “I did not mean that literally”. Nobody ever means it literally and yet it reveals what you really think of yourself and your secret expectations from the person you will be getting into the relationship with.
Work on your self-perception and you will have more successful relationships. Become more comfortable living without a partner and just when you begin to forget the pressure to have someone in your life, think about getting one. If you do otherwise, here is what will go wrong. Both of you, haven affirmed your love and undying passion for each other will accept to make each other happy for the rest of your lives. But you will be totally unaware that you have not really understood what happiness means for your partner. With reoccurring disappoint, one person, or both will come to the conclusion that they don’t love the other person again.
What is the most popular reason you hear people give for divorce and breakups? “we don’t love each other anymore”. If the defending partner thinks he or she is still faithfully in love with their partner, they say “He or she does not love me anymore”. Why did you feel loved in the first place and why did your partner make you feel that way? He or she had expectations they thought you were able to meet until time revealed otherwise. Learning therefore to be satisfied with who you are leads to building successful relationships.
If you both started out satisfied with your singlehood, it is much more probable that loving each other will be easier.
Accept the uniqueness of your partner
Sometimes, when people fall in love and get into a relationship, they quickly forget that their partner is still an individual and a separate person. They have likes and dislikes. They have dreams and hopes as well as aspirations. They do not loose themselves simply because you both are in a relationship. Understanding this principle helps you figure out how to make a relationship last.
Fights and differences usually result from the fact that people expect their partners to loose themselves when they get into a relationship. The guy or the lady (whoever is less mature) begins to expect everything about the life of the other person to be about the relationship. You have to come to terms with the fact that your partner has a job, or hobbies and most importantly other friends he or she will sometimes have to do or hang out with. You should expect them to find them to pursue their dreams and build their career. If out of jealousy you cannot stand seeing your partner happy and enjoying their time with other people, you should maybe not be in a relationship.
Making demands of your partner which are unfair and selfish only puts unnecessary pressure on them, He/she may give in at first but they cannot do that for very long. Sooner or later your partner will become tired of the pressure and the relationship will be forced to come to a sorry end. Accept the fact that you are both different and that the relationship is separate from your personalities. This principle is actually one of the most important things in a relationship. Stop trying to build a great relationship with two unsatisfied people. Commit yourself to a person and not just to a relationship. That way you get to value your partner and love the fact that they are different and unique.
So give the other person space every once in a while
In every relationship, there are and will always be moments when your partner will need some time alone. Be mature enough to let them be. You also need to spend some time with yourself. These should be moments when you nurture and bring out the best in you. When you reflect on personal goals and commitment. On the other hand, such periods should never be unnecessarily prolonged as they may create a vacuum in the heart of your love. This is important if you are considering how to make a relationship last.
Little things matter in big ways
Remember those small things you use to do for her when you sought to woo her heart and win her love, remember those little but very significant things you did and said to him that made it almost impossible for him to spend a day without you? Those are the things that really keep the hearts of two people glued together in love. Sometimes it seems it would be better to stay at that stage of a relationship when everything is so exciting. The discussions, outings and gifts you shared, the lovely messages you sent to and fro very often to remind your partner that you still cared for them, all those things keep one’s heart warm in love.
There is a tendency, however to ignore little things like this as you both become close to each other. For the guy, he feels that the trophy he so long wanted to win has finally been secured and there is no need for the excessive care. Wrong! You should both make efforts to keep things exciting in your own way. Buy her a flower or a chocolate bar every now and then, invite him over for a meal, or get some gift for your partner.
For married people, this is even more important. Just like they talk about falling in love over and over again, you have to get married over and over again. You should work together to make sure that the excitement and love which characterized your pre-marriage days does not wear off with the years. Sooner or later you will find this to be one of the most important things in a relationship.
Set Goals together
Long term relationships need to be fed with something more than emotions. There needs to be a point of connection beyond romance. Like I already made clear, romance is the goal in a relationship and the feelings are not always there. So if that is the only thing that keeps you together, it would not be long before you start looking for something or someone else to fill the gap. Couples who set real goals and work together to make sure those goals are realized have a stronger bond and more fulfilling relationship.
Always looking forward to those romantic moments when you are cuddled together could become frustrating sometimes, especially because you both will not always be in the mood. Find something else you can work at. Decide to grow a garden, or start a business, something you are both comfortable with and consider fun doing together.
Be real and be yourself
Don’t try to be another person when you are with or around your partner. This is especially important for those who are just starting out or are thinking of starting a relationship. You don’t want your partner or the person you like to have a wrong perception of you. Don’t be fake. If you find out for example that the girl you love likes someone who clubs a lot and you are not comfortable clubbing, don’t try to please them by doing things you really don’t like. Now there is some way to compromise here.
If you are just not use to doing something and your loved one is interested in it, you can learn to engage in such an activity more often. What I am saying is you should not pretend about things you really don’t like simply because you want to please your partner. It is better and more productive to talk about it with your partner. Tell her/him you are not comfortable with such an activity and you guys can work a way around it. Doing this saves you the stress of having to stay under the pressure of being someone else.
Don’t change your good habits and hobbies simply because you have fallen in love with someone who does like them or who is not as passionate about them as you are. Just be you, make positive changes where necessary and learn to show your partner the real person you are. Let them fall in love, or reject who you really are, rather than be “tricked” into loving a fake personality. With time you will definitely get tired of pretending and the real person will have to come up. Who knows if your better half will still be interested in who you really are?
There is nothing wrong with playing
A relationship does not need to always be about kissing or cuddling with each other for it to work out and last long. When you first start out getting close to each other, there is usually a high level of excitement about romance that you may be tempted to build your relationship around this one thing. Consequently, you become bored (and believe me you will get bored at some point if that is all the relationship is about). Spend sometime playing at the beach or garden or somewhere nice together. Go hiking or swimming and have fun. Activities like this enhance the bonding process and make you both more attached to each other because you have fun filled moments to reflect on.
When you consider the issues of break ups and divorce, it is easier for couple who hardly engage in playful activities to breakup. That is because when things become tense and both begin to consider separation, there is no real memory of an activity they will truly miss. That is what makes divorce and separation very hard. When you are tempted to consider leaving your partner, your mind goes back to all the wonderful moments you have shared and you can hope that things will work out just fine if you learn to make necessary changes.
Resolving Conflicts in Relationships
While you are both going through the “tingles” as Garry Chapman calls it, you can hardly find any fault in your partner. Even the things which will normally annoy you tend to mean little or nothing. At this stage, you are about 98% emotional about everything. Then that wears out and you find that the things which you first ignored begin to mean a lot. You are now irritated by the things you ignored from the onset of your relationship and your partner cannot understand why. At this point, knowing how to resolve conflicts is very important.
If you are not carefully resolving the conflicts in a relationship, it is going to build tension over time and consequently escalate to a fight and then separation later on. Learning to resolve conflicts is an important step towards understanding how to be happy in a relationship.
Don’t Ignore or Run away
Don’t ignore or run away from misunderstandings if you want to build long term relationships. I know this relates more to guys. It is tempting to just leave your girl or wife in the living room and go far away, probably to meet your male friends and talk about how nagging this once loveable lady has become overnight. Then you return and because the tension seems to have cooled off, no one mentions it anymore. You think to yourself; its better I let sleeping dogs lie. Guess what, a sleeping Dog is not dead. It will wake up and when it does, you may not know how to handle it then. Learn to talk with your partner when you both run into a misunderstanding. If there is too much tension and he or she will not listen to you or talk at the moment, stay there with them until the tension cools off and you are both ready and willing to talk about the problem.
Learn to Say I am Sorry
It takes two to argue and disagree. The reason why you are both in the conflict is because of differences. For a moment, let go of those differences and face the bigger picture of being together and learning how to be happy in a relationship together. That will help you say “I am Sorry” when you have to. You will be shocked how difficult it is for some people to let those three magical words proceed from their mouths. It’s a sign of excessive pride when you cannot condescend to say “I am Sorry”. It is sometimes important to say so when you are at fault, but when you cannot apologize even when you know you did something wrong, you have to grow up in that aspect. Learning to say those three magic words “I am sorry” is one of the most important things in a relationship especially as far as resolving conflicts is concerned.
Some people suggest that partners (especially guys) should learn to always say sorry whether or not you did something wrong and that is not in any way how to be happy in a relationship. It sounds good but may make things more complicated for the relationship in the long run. If your partner did something wrong and you both got into an argument, don’t try to settle the problem by apologizing for nothing. Doing that will prevent them from actually noticing what wrong they have done and makes your partner much less committed making a change.
Understanding the different Stages of Relationships
If you are yet to get into a relationship or have already committed yourself to one, it is important for you to know that relationships have different stages and you are not always going to feel the same way you felt during the first month of dating. This is very normal and understanding these stages helps you prepare for what is ahead and could enable you have one of the most successful relationships. Let’s look at the different stages of a relationship. Hopefully you will figure out which stage you are in and what you need to do in preparation for the next stage.
Different Stages in a Relationship
The Romantic High
This is the point where you just met each other and are getting to know yourselves better. This stage is characterized by high emotional attractions. You find yourself always wanting to be with your partner, always thinking of them and really enjoying almost everything about them. At this stage your mind and judgement is clouded by the “love and romance hormones” oxytocin, dopamine and Phenyl ethylamine. You don’t even consider how to make a relationship last because you cannot imagine that it may not. Preparing your mind at this stage by accepting that you would not always feel this way is one of the most important things in a relationship.
The Power Struggle Stage
When the romantic stage wears off - and it will – both partners come to realize that there should have been more to the relationship than just the feeling of being in love. Now those little things they did not even notice at first become big issues. The guy for example now realizes the lady talks a lot and always has some story to tell. Now you seem to have no clue regarding how to be happy in a relationship because most things seem annoying. The lady suddenly does not understand why you now prefer watching TV than listening to her. You are both arguing at the least opportunity you get. At this point you may both begin to realize that you need advice on how to make a relationship last long.
At this point remember all those things you did together while you were crazily in love and do them in a whole new way. If you usually went out for dinner before, try going to the beech more often, playing together and hanging out with other friends together.
When it becomes stable
When you both commit yourselves to understanding and working towards keeping the love alive, you will surely get to the point where the relationship is more stable. Now you are not concerned with changing your partner. You decide to accept the person they are and love them that way. There is a great deal of understanding between you two which breeds maturity and stability in the relationship. You are not just thinking about how to be happy in a relationship but how to make it work for you both and make your partner delighted about having you. At this level you fall amongst those with long term relationships because it takes some time. You must have already learnt what successful relationships are all about.