When it comes to long-lasting relationships, you may wonder how some couples do it: How do they date year after year and you’re lucky if you see the same online date more than once? Or perhaps you have relationships, but they tend to not last that long. So you wonder: What do long-term couples do differently? According to relationship experts, there are definitely essential qualities in couples that last.
“There are certain qualities long-standing couples have that help them last much longer than others,” James Preece, dating coach and relationship expert, tells Bustle. “It’s these traits that allow them to get through difficult times and grow stronger each year.”
April Davis, founder, matchmaker, and dating coach of LUMA - Luxury Matchmaking, also feels that certain traits set long-term relationships apart from others. “One thing successful, long-lasting couples do is take inventory on their relationships together,” she tells Bustle. “They will go through and reflect on various areas of the relationship to ensure it’s working and that both parties are happy.”
That said, here are 11 essential qualities in couples that last, according to relationship experts. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, you can see how many you relate to, and possibly strive to do even more of them.
They Don’t Take Each Other For Granted
Nobody likes to be taken for granted, but sometimes couples fall into patterns wherein they do just that. “If a couple wants to go the distance, they can't take each other for granted,” Preece says. “It’s easy for this to happen as you fall into a routine, but resentment can build up.”
James and Suzie Pawelski, husband/wife co-authors of Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts, believe so, too. “Long-term couples practice savoring their partner and their experiences together rather than taking one another for granted,” they say. “Specifically, they acknowledge the small magical moments together and appreciate their partner on a daily basis rather just waiting for the big occasions to celebrate each other. As a result, they’ll have more satisfying and sustainable relationships.”
They Inspire Each Other
Feeling inspired by your partner is another trait among couples that last. “They inspire one another to become better individuals, and better as a team,” the Pawelskis say. “They do this by seeking out character strengths in each other and celebrating these differences rather than seeing them as deficits. All too often, those unique qualities in our partner that initially intrigued us later tend to annoy us.” They also say that couples who see one another’s strengths and help encourage those strengths experience greater sexual satisfaction and a deeper connection.
They Support And Appreciate Each Other
Partners in a long-term relationship appreciate and support one another. “A happy couple supports each other and works as a team,” Preece says. They also remember to tell each other how much they value the other person, he says. “Thank them for what they do, and let them know how much you appreciate them.”
Davis agrees. “Let them know that you appreciate not only what they do for you, but what they do for themselves — they need to know that you have their back,” Davis says. “I’m not saying compliment them every few minutes, but don’t hesitate to boast to others once in a while!”
They Have Similar Interests
When you first start dating someone, you may see how much you two have in common, whether you’re getting to know them in person or looking at their interests on a dating app while you’re deciding whether or not to swipe right. “Having something to share together that you both enjoy makes life a lot easier,” Dent says. “If you do not have a lot of similar interests with your significant other, work on it — you can easily build them by trying out new hobbies and activities. For instance, a client of mine took up golf because their significant other had been playing for years, and now they go golfing every Saturday.”
They Realize Relationships Take Effort
If relationships were easy, everyone would be in one, particularly long-term ones. However, couples that last know that relationships require continual work. “They realize that ‘happily ever after’ doesn’t just happen, but that it takes effort,” the Pawelskis say. “They focus on what they put into the relationship rather than what they get out of it.” Similarly, these couples don’t wait around for happiness to happen. “Instead, they schedule activities into their day that evoke joy and fulfillment,” the Pawelskis say.
They Know How To Compromise
Relationships are all about merging your life with someone else’s, which means you’ll have to meet halfway sometimes. “A couple needs to be willing to give ground to each other and make compromises,” Dent says. “For example, I had a couple who was split on their wedding song choice; they eventually settled on a third song that they both agreed on.”
They Feel Their Partner *Complements* Them, Not *Completes* Them
Even though the catchphrase “You complete me” became popular with the movie Jerry Maguire, “You complement me” may be more accurate. “Couples that last feel that their partner complements rather than completes them,” the Pawelskis say. “In other words, they maintain a healthy passion rather than an obsessive one towards their partner and relationship. They realize the importance of maintaining their own identities, which has been linked to healthier and more sustainable relationships.”
They Continue To Have Date Nights
You may know couples who do more and more “date nights” at home with Netflix and take-out versus out on the town. However, having a good balance is key, and still dating — i.e., leaving the house — is important to keep the spark alive. “Just because you are in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to stop dating,” Preece says. “Keep the romance going so things are fresh. A date night once a week is a great start.”
They Keep The Sexual Spark Alive
In addition to date nights, long-lasting couples keep their sexual spark alive, too. “They also mix it up in the bedroom — such as through role play — which will generate enough variety that’ll keep both partners wanting more,” Edwards says. “While certainty is a natural human need — to feel secure in our relationship — uncertainty is also a human need that drives our desires and makes us put in more effort to sustain the certainty we need.”
Davis also thinks that disconnecting is part connecting. “To really focus on each other, if you want to show your partner your love, cuddle them an extra minute each morning and turn off the electronics for an hour a day.”
They Stay Committed
It’s easy to have an argument with your partner, then walk away instead of communicating and trying to make the relationship work. However, couples who remain together prefer *fight* to *flight*. “Couples that last always stay committed, not just to the relationship but also to their partner,” Edwards says. “When you know your partner is committed to both, then you can’t help but assume they’re doing their best and are in it for the right reasons.”
As you can see, there are several common qualities in couples that last. So the more you navigate your relationships, the more you can see if yours have some or all of the above, and which ones you may want to add and implement.