When it comes to dating and relationships, you may want to know the secret formula in how to go from casually dating someone to becoming a serious couple. After all, things can start out well, but then the relationship turns out to not have the staying power. But what differentiates one couple from the next? As you can imagine, this may vary from couple-to-couple, yet many experts agree there are also certain traits that lasting couples have in common.
Stef Safran, matchmaking and dating expert, says there are some traits are more typical among couples who will last than others — and they may not be the ones you're looking out for on a first date. “Height, hair, and even location aren’t qualities that make a relationship work long-term,” she tells Bustle. “Finding out that you trust a person and that they are available and want to be with you are things that build attraction. Don’t mistake instant chemistry with long-term compatibility.”
So, if you are looking for a secret formula, so to speak, on how long-lasting couples do it, there are several traits, from communicating well to showing their appreciation, they have in common. Here are 11 qualities in couples that last, from the professionals who know them best: matchmakers.
1. They Communicate Well
You know that communication is key in a relationship, and long-term couples know this, too. “When it comes to expressing what you want and need in a relationship, you can’t assume your partner is a mind-reader,” Kat Haselkorn, matchmaker with Three Day Rule, tells Bustle. “It can feel daunting to express our inner-most feelings, but the more open and communicative you are, the more likely you are to avoid fighting.”
2. They're Transparent
April Beyer, matchmaker and CEO and founder of LEVEL, a hybrid of online dating and personal matchmaking, not only believes good communication is essential, but also that being transparent with one another is, as well. “Couples who are able to be honest and share their true feelings instead of blaming one another have a higher success rate,” she tells Bustle. “Being transparent creates trust, which is needed in every long-term relationship.”
3. They Respect Each Other
Once you lose respect for somebody, it is hard to get it back. And, as you can imagine, couples that last maintain respect for each other. “You don’t need to be in awe of your significant other every moment of every day, but mutual admiration for one another is a really beautiful characteristic among happy, long-lasting couples,” Haselkorn says. “Respect also tends to make people more willing to overlook mistakes and/or irritating habits, and can help fuel love and feelings of goodwill for years to come.”
4. They're Grateful For Each Other
You may know of people who make gratitude lists, and you may do so yourself — every day, you list 5-10 things you were grateful for that day. Well, couples that last are grateful for each other, too. “They are convinced they are so lucky that their partner chose them,” Margaux Cassuto, relationship expert and matchmaker at Three Matches, tells Bustle. “An ‘attitude of gratitude’ takes you far in life and further in love.”
5. They Share A Circle Of Friends
While having friends outside of your relationship is healthy, it’s also good to have friends in common with your significant other. “Couples who share a circle of friends tend to last because their relationship is supported by their loved ones,” Cassuto says. “Also, that way, little issues that would normally arise (‘we only see your friends’ or ‘I don’t like them’) are bypassed.”
6. They Praise Each Other
In addition to appreciating each other, couples in long-lasting relationships also admire one another, Cassuto says. “As a result, they tend to live happily with a constant desire to impress the other,” she says.
Carmelia Ray, matchmaker, online dating expert, and dating coach, also feels that couples who last praise each other. “Couples who regularly acknowledge and praise their partners make their relationships more enjoyable and last longer,” she tells Bustle. “We all want to feel special, and when our partners compliment us, and frequently express their appreciation, it definitely plays a role in long-term happiness.”
7. They Have Shared Values
Shared values is another essential ingredient to couples that last. “When couples begin their relationship on the foundation of shared values, it makes for lasting and healthy marriages,” Beyer says. “Without this, the struggle is too great and can easily end a marriage even when there’s chemistry, similar interests, and great sex.”
8. They Support Each Other
Partners in a long-term relationship have each other’s backs. “It is essential that couples support each other and feel that they have someone in their corner,” Cassuto says. “It makes your success — and failures — feel shared, and it also makes you invest more in the relationship and in your partner.”
9. They Look At The Big Picture
In this instant gratification/swiping-left-or-right culture, it’s easy to go from one person to the next. However, longer-term couples make it past the instant gratification stage. “If you only give someone 90 minutes to judge them, that’s not enough time to decide who they are,” Safran says. “After all did your best friends become your best friends the first time you met them?”
She also stresses that characteristics like hair color are not big-picture things. “Relationships aren’t built on these little things,” she says.
10. They Know How To Care For Someone Else
When you’re in a long-term partnership, your life is not only about you. “Couples that last require two people who actually are in the mental, spiritual, and physical space in their lives to actually care for someone else,” Beyer says. “When we’re single, it’s easy to be selfish, but once in a longer-term relationship, you need to be ready to put your partner first.”
11. They Keep The Sexual Spark Alive
“In terms of keeping the spark alive, communication is a big part of that, but so is spontaneity,” Haselkorn says. “Passion begets passion, so the more sex you have, the more sex you’ll want to have.” However, she also points out that sex drives may not always be aligned. “But if you talk about your needs and openly communicate, you should be able to find a good balance that leaves you both satisfied.”
Ray also thinks it’s important to keep the sexual spark alive. “Couples who are affectionate with each other, and are generous with physical contact such as kissing, hugging, and random playful touching, experience increased closeness and a sense of security inside their relationship,” she says. “PDA goes a long way to show your partner you still have the hots for them.”
All in all, you can see that there are definitely commonalities among couples that last. As some of the matchmakers above indicate, relationships are not necessarily easy, but worth the effort you put in — and that’s completely up to you.