How can you develop a lasting romantic connection with your partner? How do you maintain love in a relationship?
Finding that special someone who complements your beliefs, goals, and quirks isn’t something that happens every day.
Sometimes, you have to date a number of people before you find someone you really mesh with.
When this happens, and you find someone you want to enter a relationship with, longevity isn’t something that’s promised.
Even relationships that have a solid foundation can require conscious effort to maintain.
To maintain love in a relationship, you may want to consider these eight aspects.
You’ve probably heard communication is key in a relationship. This remains true, whether it’s in your romantic life, personal life, or professional life.
Communicating isn’t as simple as just talking about things, however. Everyone has their own communication style.
Being in a relationship can mean learning how your communication style works and how it compares to your partner’s.
You may need to explore alternative methods if you don’t feel you both communicate effectively when emotions elevate.
Example of communicating
When you argue, you may always use “you” statements: “You always do this…” or “You never do that…”
Because “you” statements often assign blame, switching to “I” and “me” statements can help your partner feel less targeted. This can reduce friction and promote closeness.
Next time, try statements like, “I feel like this when…” or “That makes me feel…”
There’s a common saying that opposites attract. While this may be true in some areas of science, it isn’t always a sound relationship standard.
Yes, it can be important to retain your individuality while in a lasting romantic relationship. Who you are as an individual is what attracted you together in the first place.
Because of that, you’ll have differences, but having a common ground for bonding can also be important.
Spending time together doing something you both enjoy can solidify a friendship within your romantic relationship.
According to research looking at older couples in long-term relationships, companionship and laughter were among the most prized aspects of being with a partner.
If you never have a reason to spend time together, you may find you enjoy yourself most when you’re apart.
Example of doing things together
Doing something together doesn’t have to be pre-planned or specific to “date night.”
It can be cooking, exercising, or enjoying nature together. You might both enjoy playing video games, or maybe you’re both interested in the same TV shows.
If you aren’t, it may be a good idea to keep an open mind and try the other person’s hobbies and see whether you enjoy them, too. You could also find ways to combine interests.
If you love fishing, for example, and your partner loves reading outdoors, they may want to tag along more if they can read and there’s no pressure or expectation of having to fish.
We all have quirks and traits we bring to a relationship.
Sometimes, how we behave and think may be heavily influenced by past experiences. These behaviors might make it challenging to stay in long-term relationships.
If you’ve had past partners who were abusive or unfaithful, for example, you might find it challenging to fully trust a romantic partner.
Understanding who you are and what behaviors you may need to manage can be an important step toward relationship longevity.
You’re able to change yourself — not someone else. It’s your half of the equation you can take care of. And that’s already 50% progress.
Being open with your partner about working on yourself may help, as well. “I’m working on (issue). Please be patient with me” can go a long way toward encouraging understanding. It might also motivate them to work on themselves.
Example of working on yourself
Maybe you’ve been told in the past you’re quick to make accusations. Reflecting on that during conversation can help you become aware of how you’re reacting.
If you can recognize your behavior, you can take a step back mentally and adjust.
If you don’t feel your accusations are unwarranted, you can evaluate different ways to respond that might help your partner feel more heard.
The concept of showing appreciation, however, can be challenging. Saying “thank you” every 5 minutes when your partner does something can feel disingenuous.
Developing alternative ways to show appreciation may help keep a level of sincerity and can promote a sense of awareness for the things your partner does.
Example of showing appreciation
Showing appreciation doesn’t have to be verbal. It can be through small actions, like not leaving your clothes on the floor after your partner just cleaned the bathroom.
You’re showing you recognized they put a lot of effort into cleaning, and because you appreciate that, you will take the extra moment to put your clothes in the hamper.
Feeling ignored can sometimes be worse than feeling like you’re just on opposite sides of a debate.
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Example of responsiveness
Responsiveness doesn’t have to mean having a heated debate. It can be pausing the movie you’re watching if your partner asks you a question.
It can take the form of active listening or acknowledgment of something simple.
If your partner tells you they saw a beautiful butterfly in the garden, you can show responsiveness by looking at them, smiling, and saying, “How nice!”
Just as you can only manage your behaviors, your partner is responsible for what they bring to the relationship.
If your partner has experienced trauma or other situations that may influence their behaviors, they may benefit from professional guidance.
If they’re open to it, you may be able to act as a support network to encourage them to speak with a mental health professional.
Example of helping them help themselves
Letting a partner know you understand why they experience trust issues can open the door to suggesting you both attend couples therapy as a way to establish trust and better communication.
Words are there to help us accurately convey our thoughts.
You may not actively think about it, but the way you say things matters, even if your partner might recognize a different underlying intent.
Saying, “Don’t be stupid,” when your partner does something absentmindedly literally implies they’re acting out of a lack of intelligence.
Over time, statements like this can ding self-esteem, and according to research from 2014, high self-esteem is linked to both partners’ relationship satisfaction.
Example of reviewing how you say things
If your partner drops a plate full of food because they accidentally tripped, instead of saying, “What’s the matter with you? Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” saying something like “Are you OK? Don’t worry, it happens to everyone,” can be less likely to cause feelings of embarrassment or resentment.
Intimacy, both emotional and physical, can demonstrate how important your partner is to you.
Emotional intimacy often involves sharing deeply personal thoughts, beliefs, and dreams. Physical intimacy tends to be a sexual or affectionate physical expression of the bond you share as a couple.
Example of encouraging intimacy
Everyone has a unique sex drive, and it’s not uncommon for couples to have differences in this regard.
You can encourage physical intimacy by creating opportunities. Maybe you organize a babysitter for the kids, or make dinner early so your partner doesn’t have to do it when they get home.
Emotionally, you can encourage intimacy through conversation, or games. Asking “what if” questions and “would you rather” questions can be a fun way to explore inner thoughts.
There’s no single recipe for success when it comes to lasting romantic relationships. But building fulfilling bonds is possible with a little effort and intention.
While we all have basic relationship needs such as affection, security, and acceptance, how these needs are met can vary from individual to individual.
Appreciation, for example, may present through affection. Acceptance might develop through open communication and self-esteem building.
If you feel you have common ground with your partner but just can’t put your finger on what’s missing, couple’s therapy may be a good place to explore your relationship dynamic.