There really is no one way to be or act in a relationship. We're all so different, and we all bring unique aspects of ourselves to the table, so if you're asking yourself
how to be in a relationship, know that it's truly tough to pinpoint any specific personality traits all people who have success in love have in common.
In reality, anyone, if they want it, can have a successful relationship. But there
are a few traits that can make sharing your life with someone a helluva lot easier. "Successful relationships don't just happen by chance," Chicago-area couples therapist Theresa Herring, LMFT tells Bustle. "They require people to be intentional and do things that fill the relationship's emotional bank account rather than deplete it." That's why traits like flexibility, optimism, and positivity can go a long way when it comes to finding and keeping a healthy, long-term relationship, whereas things like negativity or pessimism might just get in the way.
That doesn't, however, mean you can't be in a healthy relationship if you aren't super cheerful, or a natural "glass half full" type. "While certain personality traits can help you find and maintain love, don't worry if you don't have them," Herring says. "These traits can be learned." They're something you can decide to work on, and slowly begin to practice in your life. You can also develop them by going to therapy, where you might, for example, learn to think with with more positivity than negativity.
create a healthy, loving relationship if they want to. And anyone can pick up the personality traits that make an LTR easier. Here are the traits that experts say come in handy when it comes to having success with love.
Loving, long-term relationships require a certain degree of flexibility —
especially when disagreements and conflicts arise. So the more you're willing to not always get your way and compromise, the better.
"If you are more flexible in your thinking style, then you typically have an easier time seeing another point of view and accepting that [there's often not a] 'right' or 'wrong' in a situation,"
relationship expert Sara Sedlik, MA, LMFT tells Bustle. "Both sides can be validated and both sides can learn to find the 'win-win' in a disagreement."
This a trait you can decide to adopt for yourself, by simply deciding you'll let things slide, and having a more "go with the flow" attitude. But it's also a trait that can be cultivated, possibly with the help of a therapist, who might be able to help you uncover why you were feeling more rigid in the past.
If anything's going to make life easier, and help you through difficult times, it's a sense of humor. "Humor is the most sophisticated of the natural defense mechanisms," Sedlik says. "If you take yourself too seriously, you are likely to let the small things weigh on you. If you can add humor into your life, and make light of a personally challenging situation or idiosyncrasy together (you both have to be on the same side of humor here), then the emotional charge is definitely less."
If a relationship is going to go the distance, it'll pretty much be a requirement that both partners have a strong sense of empathy. "This is the most important, in my opinion, because without empathy, we judge," Sedlik says. "And judgment leads to disconnection." And disconnection leads to breakups.
"At the root of all relationships is the need to feel safe and vulnerable and truly seen for who we are without judgment," she says. "When we have empathy, we can reserve judgment and listen, validate, and have emotional connection."
Assertiveness is another big one. "People in healthy relationships are able to state their needs and ask for them to be met," Herrings says. "They also, in turn, respond to their partner's requests," which is why this trait can help foster healthy, long-term relationships.
It can, however, be a tricky trait to learn — especially if you're shy or anxious. But again, it's something everyone can pick up, with time.
Curiosity is one trait that should be brought to a relationship in the beginning, and maintained from there on out. "Curiosity is crucial to maintaining healthy relationships because the ability to remain curious heads off relationship-damaging assumptions,"
therapist Alice Roberts, CSW tells Bustle. "When something goes wrong, a curious person holds their judgement until they understand more about the situation."
But a curious person might also find that their relationship stays fun and fresh, too — which goes a long way when it comes to staying together. "Curiosity ... helps couples avoid stagnation, as the curious couple is always going to be up for seeking out new adventures together," Roberts says.
People who are confident know what they want out of life, and they know how to get it, which is why "confidence plays a huge role in both attracting a partner and maintaining a secure long-term relationship," Roberts says.
It's also a trait that makes it more likely you'll stand up for yourself in a relationship. As Roberts says, "Confident individuals are less prone to losing themselves in a relationship, allowing them to enjoy their partner as their equal." Like assertiveness, confidence might seem like a trait that's impossible to attain. But it's
one that can be worked on, and developed over time, with the help of friends, family — and possibly even a therapist.
Again, you don't have to be a ray of sunshine in order to find love. But a sense of positivity certainly doesn't hurt. "When we’re around happy, upbeat individuals, it makes us happier too," Kat Haselkorn, a matchmaker with
Three Day Rule in Washington, DC, tells Bustle. "Positivity makes you more fun to be around and can attract potential partners to you like a moth to a flame. If you’re a glass half empty person, it’s not the end of the world. Try to keep some of the negativity to yourself and find the positive spin on things. Then verbalize that."
Positivity can also make relationship woes feel less earth-shattering. If you're going through a rocky period, for example, a sense of positivity can see you and your partner through to the other side.
If you're on a mission to find "the One," keeping an open mind certainly can help. "One reason for this is — love doesn't always come in the package we expect," Haselkorn says. "It's funny how many people have this checklist of characteristics they think they
need to fall in love with someone, when really, that kind of rigid thinking can be isolating and lead to few opportunities for a relationship." That's why, people who allow themselves to "date outside the box," so to speak, may have more success in love.
Knowing who you are, and what you want from a relationship, can certainly lead to success. And self-awareness definitely falls into that category. "Certain personality traits set individuals up for healthier interactions through avoiding jumping to conclusions, rash assumptions, or impulsive behaviors," Robert says. "These kinds of self-aware personalities are more likely to see success in long-term relationships because they are naturally better suited to riding out the storms that will appear in all relationships, and then repairing any damage that occurs along the way."
The folks who are "lucky in love" may come about these traits naturally, but they're something we can all scoop up for ourselves, and apply to our own relationships. "Many traits that promote healthy relationships are ones that can be learned through repeated practice," Roberts says. So don't be afraid to try out some positive thinking, or work on your assertiveness skills. In doing so, you might just attract
the type of relationship you've always been looking for.