There is a reason that most romantic comedies end with the couple finally getting together: The beginnings of relationships are incredibly exciting. The “will they or won’t they” tension, the initial declaration of love, all of the firsts that go into dating someone new (first date, first kiss, first fight, and so on). During the “honeymoon phase,” it’s easy to be happy, buoyed by the knowledge that you like someone and that, somehow, miraculously, that person likes you back. You won't find a lot of movies about good, healthy, mutually-fulfilling, long-term relationships because they’re boring, at least, they are to everyone who isn't in them. Who wants to watch Harry and Sally shopping for groceries and taking the dog to the vet and just being generally happy? But the things that make LTRs boring for other people to watch are precisely the things that make them so incredible to be in: stability, security, love, trust.
It is, of course, very important to keep a relationship fresh and to continue trying new things together. But it’s also vital to acknowledge the ways that relationships grow over time and to recognize that, while your relationship might not be as shiny and new as it once was, it can still be great, and perhaps, even better.
You both get weirder
In the early days of a relationship, it’s natural to try to present the best, coolest, hottest version of yourself and to downplay those parts of you that you worry might be a little too strange or too random or just too much for your new love to handle. When you’ve been with someone for a long time—when that person has seen you be a giant dork and hasn’t run screaming for the hills after all—you feel more and more secure in letting your freak flag fly. Eventually you realize that your S.O. is also a major weirdo, and that you love him or her all the more for it.
The sex gets better
New couples love to brag about how often they're doing it, and how they can't keep their hands off each other in public. And while I would never take away from them how undeniably wonderful that period of "OMG gotta have you" new coupledom is, it doesn't change the fact that when you really know what someone likes (the kind of knowledge that can only be acquired over time), the sex gets radically hotter. While some have argued that intimacy is a libido-killer, I’m firmly of the opinion that practice makes perfect. It’s important to keep exploring new things as a couple, but there’s nothing better than getting busy with someone who knows exactly how to push your, er, buttons.
Your family gets bigger
No, I’m not referring to babies. When you’re in a long-term relationship with someone, you’re in a relationship with that person’s family, too. Your S.O.’s parents and siblings stop being people who you’re trying to impress and start being people you care about. Juggling multiple families can make things crazy around the holidays, but it also means more love, which is something we can all use.
You’re more honest
When you’re in a long-term committed relationship, you stop worrying that your S.O. will leave you. You learn to accept that he or she loves you and will stay. That kind of assurance can have a profound effect on the way you feel and act: you’ll find that you are more honest about who you are and what you want.
Your happiness is deeper and more real
Almost nothing feels as good as new love. It’s hard in an established relationship to reach the kind of highs that one feels when a relationship is just starting out. But this is because new love is a fantasy: You have a sketch of a person that you fill in with your own desires and hopes. As a relationship matures, those things that you imagined get filled in by reality, for better or worse. A lot of couples break up when they realize that they don’t like the real person that lies beneath the fantasy. But for those who stay together—those who are able to reconcile who they desired with who their partner actually is—the love deepens. To really know someone—all their faults and weirdnesses—and to love that person anyway, is a powerful thing. To be loved in that way—well, that’s the best thing ever.
Images: ABC; Giphy(4).