5 Tips for a Successful Relationship
Striving for a successful relationship is common, but actually having one is less so. This may be attributable to increased access to potential partners via dating apps as well as heavy social media use, which can give a false impression of the prevalence of happy couples. In the end, these factors lead to more people searching endlessly for the "right partner" or for their "soul mate."
No one wants to settle for a less than perfect relationship, but all this hunting leaves behind a critical notion: successful relationships aren't found, they are developed through hard work.
With this in mind, here are five tips for a successful relationship.
1. Don't expect perfection
Successful relationships are not synonymous with perfect relationships, because perfection doesn't exist. If you expect perfection in your relationship, you will end up disappointed. Knowing where to set the bar is key to happiness, and ultimately success, between you and your partner.
If you hold your partner to an unrealistic expectation, they will always feel they are failing you. Unfortunately, this may quickly lead to them stopping all efforts because they know they will never be good enough in your eyes. On the other hand, if you reward their efforts, even if those efforts aren't perfect, your partner will be encouraged to keep trying.
No one wants to fail. This isn't the same as settling, however. Not everyone is a potential partner, but the partner you eventually choose shouldn't be held to an unrealistic standard. Everybody's human.
2. Consider what characteristics matter
When it comes to picking a partner, you need to really consider what matters. This is potentially very different from what you find attractive, so be careful. For example, you may find a career-driven person very attractive because they have the potential to make a lot of money. They are hard-working and passionate about what they do. However, if you want to have children and your goal is to spend a lot of time together as a family, the career-driven aspect of this person may not square with your vision of a successful relationship.
It's important to extrapolate these initial characteristics about your partner to see how they might fit in with the life you value. It's easier to consider your ideal future and then work backward on what characteristics would help bring that about. Remember that you won't be able to change a person's key characteristics, no matter how much they love you. It's best to choose a partner whose values will mesh with yours.
3. Expect to work at it
Just because you choose a great partner does not mean you won't have to work at the relationship. Hard work is simply part of a successful relationship. In fact, people inherently take less pleasure in things when they are too easy. It is this hard work that you put into your relationship that will make you more satisfied with your relationship in the long run.
Putting in work means constantly considering what your partner needs, which will change over the years. Likewise, your partner will need to adjust to your changing needs as well. This is best exemplified by having a first child, when life changes drastically from when you were first a couple.
Working at your relationship means not becoming complacent or expectant. It means continuously trying to make your partner happy and acknowledging their efforts when they do the same for you.
4. No imaginary partners
Don't compare your partner to some imaginary ideal. This is both common and dangerous. You may start to compare your partner's efforts and actions to a person who doesn't exist but who always does the right thing. This is just another version of expecting perfection.
No one is perfect. An imaginary person, who you may convince yourself is actually out there somewhere, becomes a way for you to undermine your partner. They may do the same to you. This will feel like failure to both of you.
For a successful relationship, set reasonable and attainable expectations for your partner and talk to them when you feel they've missed the mark. Rely on communication and positivity rather than comparing them to someone who doesn't exist.
5. Don't leave too soon
Hard work takes time, so don't expect to put in work and have everything immediately pay off. If your partner is someone who possesses the characteristics and values you have carefully considered, give them time to reciprocate the hard work. You are building a successful relationship one brick at a time, and that doesn't happen in a day.
Rather than defaulting to leaving when things don't go well, turn to more open communication with your partner. Also, consider the expectations you are setting and ask yourself if they are reasonable. If they are, explain to your partner how they can do a better job. Then, give them the time to actually do it.
Successful relationships will have ups and downs over time. If you expect this and you expect to work at your relationship, you have a very good chance at enjoying a successful relationship.