When you're in a long-term relationship, it's totally natural to want to know how to make your relationship last. The longer you're with someone, the scarier the idea of a breakup can be, so putting some time and effort into making your relationship strong can be a great idea.
Of course, some of it has to do with picking the right person in the first place. "You need to look for the random acts of consideration and kindness," psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "These are the things that will last you. For example, my toilet paper and paper towels have been magically refilled since a month into dating my husband." It's not just about paper towels — being kind can benefit so many different parts of your relationship. So can being able to compromise, being thoughtful, and sharing similar values.
But even if you find that person who seems perfect for you, you still need to put in the effort to make sure that the relationship can make it in the long run. There are no guarantees, but there are some things you can do to make it more likely that the relationship will last. So once you find the right person, here's how to give your relationship its best shot.
1Be Yourself, Right From The Beginning
Firstly, you need to be yourself with your partner — always. If you start trying to be someone you think they'll like, it's not going to be sustainable. You should be yourself and feel comfortable being yourself, so don't hold anything back — even if it's something painful. “One clear sign that your partner feels at ease around you is that they feel comfortable talking about anything with you,” Shlomo Slatkin, who founded the Marriage Restoration Project with his wife, Rivka, tells Bustle. Make sure if something's bothering you, you feel comfortable saying it. And if you don't feel comfortable expressing it, it may not be the right relationship for you.
No matter how long you've been together, it's important not to get complacent. Keep checking in with each other and responding when the other person is reaching out to you. "Couples try to get each other’s attention throughout the day, whether it’s for support, conversation, interest, play, affirmation, feeling connected or for affection,” relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala tells Bustle. “Each of these moments is an opportunity to connect with your partner. A person should look for someone who responds to them, or at least acknowledges them when they try to get their attention, because it shows that they are meeting your emotional needs — or at least trying to.” Make sure you're always acknowledging each other.
3Learn To Listen Effectively
Listening isn't just about smiling and nodding. Good listeners really try to see their partner's point of view. "[They] listen to what their partner says, rather than get defensive without understanding the partner’s point of view or where they’re coming from," Janet Zinn, a New York City–based couples therapist, tells Bustle. It will make conflict-resolution a lot easier if you can really tune into your partner.
4Don't Be Afraid to Be Alone
Make time to be by yourself. Not only will it keep the relationship from becoming co-dependent, but also being alone sometimes is just straight up good for you. “Taking time for ourselves may seem selfish, as though we're avoiding our partner,” clinical hypnotherapist, author and educator Rachel Astarte, who offers transformational coaching for individuals and couples at Healing Arts New York, tells Bustle. “In reality, brief periods of solitude recharge our soul batteries and allow us to give even more to our partners and to the relationship itself.”
5But Your Make Time Together Count
When you are together, make sure that you're spending quality time. Sure, some nights might involve one of you on Netflix and the other scrolling Instagram — but take a break from technology once and a while and try to really connect. "Mobile phones can have a negative impact on our attention span, as well as our ability to open up and communicate with others,” David Brudö, co-founder and CEO at mental wellbeing and personal development app Remente, tells Bustle. So put the phone away and have a conversation when you're not distracted.
To avoid getting bored in your relationship, make sure that you're still goofing around like you did when you first met. "Give yourself permission to be silly — it’s easy to take relationships way too seriously," Jonathan Bennett, relationship/dating coach and owner of The Popular Man, tells Bustle. "You don’t always have to be on your best behavior. Sometimes, it’s OK to simply have mindless laughter and goof around with your significant other."
Not only should you be silly together, you should keep that fun side going when it comes to flirting. "Couples who stop flirting are couples who stop anticipating," Certified Relationship Coach Chris Armstrong tells Bustle. "Things go blasé and what was once an unpredictable stroll is now an expected lull." So make sure you keep the flirting up.
7Never Stop Making Time For Each Other
It's not always easy to schedule time together — and it's way too easy to let time pass without really connecting — so make sure you keep putting time aside for just the two of you. "It takes work to keep the romance alive and the couple has to make a conscious decision to put this work in," Ravid Yosef, dating and relationship coach at LoveLifeTBD.com, tells Bustle. “Schedule regular date nights that do not include your couch or PJs." Even if it's not an ideal time or as long as you would like it to be, just make sure there's something in your calendar for the two of you to get some quality time.
There's no way to guarantee your relationship will make it in the long run, but you can take some steps to make it as strong as it can be. Keep listening, keep connecting, and be yourself. Then, you'll just have to see what happens.