Some relationships just seem effortless. You look at Brad and Angelina or Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard and think, “There’s NO way they work at that.” While these couples may have more money and frequent flier miles than the average couple, it’s probably safe to assume that they put in just as much work (if not more) than anyone else when it comes to making their love last. No matter who you are, relationships require maintenance. They’re kind of like the Tamagotchi you had in fourth grade: Everything was all well and good for a few hours, but neglect the thing until you come home from school and chaos has erupted. Okay, so maybe that’s a strange analogy, but it’s true. Relationships require constant effort and maintenance in order to ensure proper functioning. Here are some other keys to keeping your love healthy:
- Independence matters: When you’re in a relationship (particularly a new one), it’s easy to want to spend every waking minute with that person. I mean, you have a great time together, why wouldn’t you? Because independence matters, that’s why. Even if you start off enjoying the “can’t get enough of each other” togetherness, it gets old fast. When you start feeling smothered, that’s when things fall apart. A healthy relationships allows you to do the things you’ve always enjoyed doing. Continue to pursue your hobbies and friendships, and let your significant other do the same. You’ll find that you appreciate each other more when you each have your own life.
- Let it be: I’m sure somewhere along the way, someone has reminded you that you can’t change your significant other. You nod and say that you understand, but then a few weeks later you’re trying to come up with ways to get your boyfriend to be more motivated, stay more organized, etc. Unfortunately, you really can’t change anyone. Sure, you can change small things, but their major personality traits are here to stay. Accept it or move on. In some instances, you may not even realize you’re trying to change someone. My boyfriend is very low-key. When I get excited, I scream and jump around like a fool. There’s definitely flailing involved. When he gets excited he simply says, “Wow that’s great!” with more enthusiasm. This used to drive me insane. I always assumed he wasn’t actually excited and I would constantly try to get him to show his excitement more openly. Finally, I learned to recognize when he was showing enthusiasm in his own way. While it may be different from how I act, it also allows him to remain calm in high-pressure situations, unlike yours truly. Try to avoid changing your guy, and instead embrace the differences between you two. If it’s something that really bothers you, walk away. You’ll only end up getting more and more frustrated.
- His own relationships matter: Your guy’s interactions with his friends and family members tell an important story about him. Okay, so good guys can have bad relationships with their families. It’s possible. But do you really want to be with someone who doesn’t treat his parents with respect? If your guy has little to no relationship with his family and has few long-lasting friendships, this is a red flag. It reflects on his abilities to maintain relationships, and it speaks about the people he chooses to include in his life. You don’t need to love his friends, but you should feel comfortable with the people he chooses to associate himself with. It’s pretty rare that a sweet, honest guy will choose to hang out with liars, jerks, and other unsavory characters. When you start a new relationship, take a look at his social circle carefully.
- Be nice: You know why you think he’s great, but don’t forget to tell him that. When you’ve been together for a while, it’s easy to forget to take a minute to remind someone of the reasons why you appreciate them. Compliment his hair, compliment his work skills, compliment anything, just remind him what makes him special.
- The little things count: You’ve got a million things going on and sometimes it’s hard to find time to breathe. Don’t let this stop you from taking a minute to do something sweet and unexpected for your significant other. Whether it’s bringing him coffee or writing him a love note, the little things help to show your affection and keep you feeling connected. Even if you have no money to spend (and really, who does?), free things are just as appreciated.
Whether you’ve been together for years or are just entering a new relationship, keep these ideas in mind in order to enjoy a more balanced bond.
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