The early days of your relationship are known for being exciting and fun. After all, you're in the honeymoon phase. Everything is still relatively new, so any sort of relationship "work" won't come until way later. While
the first year of your relationship is often seen to be the most lovey-dovey, according to relationship experts, it's actually more important than you might think.
"The first year of any relationship is by far one of the most important because it is during this time that couples get into healthy or unhealthy habits that can last throughout the relationship," psychologist
Dr. Sal Raichbach PsyD, LCSW, tells Bustle.
For instance, the most
important relationship habit he says is open and honest communication. "When communication is solid, other issues that inevitably pop up are fair game for discussion," Dr. Raichbach says. It's always a good sign when each partner knows where the other one stands on issues you may have. Besides that, resolving conflicts tends to be much easier when both parties know that they have a responsibility to communicate how they feel.
According to Dr. Raichbach, there is no secret formula for a
long-lasting, happy relationship. But if you want your relationship to last forever, having solid communication skills, spending time together, and having shared interests by your first anniversary can only help. But that's not all. So if you and your partner already do these things by your first anniversary, experts say your relationship is likely to last. 1 You Make Time For Your Relationship No Matter How Busy You Are
"It’s good to get in the habit of enjoying each other’s company," Dr. Raichbach says. That's super easy to do at the very beginning of your relationship
when everything is still fresh. But since life doesn't stop when you enter into a new relationship, it's very likely that your schedules won't perfectly line up. But according to Dr. Raichbach, if you make it a habit to make plans ahead of time and actually stick to it, your relationship can make it long-term. "After the honeymoon phase in any relationship, couples tend to get busy and fall short of spending enough time together," he says. "Relationships require quality time, rather than quantity, so finding a shared interest and spending that time together consistently helps couples to maintain the fun aspect of their partnership in the long run." 2 You Check In With Each Other In Order To Stay Connected
As Dr. Raichbach says, that first year of your relationship can shape the dynamic in your relationship. For many, making it to the one-year mark isn't easy. Some people will peace out once troubles start to arise. But according to him, if you and your partner know how to check in and work on issues a they come, your relationship can last. "I would urge new couples to take the time to sit down and evaluate the aspects of their relationship that are working and identify those that aren’t," he says. "Getting in the habit of listening to each other and showing love and compassion during the first year will help to set up the relationship and maximize success."
3 You're Open About What You Like And Don't Like In Bed
"Couples should be
openly communicating their sexual needs by that first anniversary to ensure a long and happy relationship," Rachel and Michael Gibbs, relationship experts and founders of the Big Oh! Box, tell Bustle. When either partner isn't happy with their sex life, it can become frustrating which might lead to anger and resentment. But if you're able to talk openly and honestly about what you really want in bed, the Gibbs say you can learn a lot about each other, try new things, and get your needs met. Of course, make sure both partners are comfortable with everything beforehand. "It's not just about going on a date, it's about open communication and understanding," the Gibbs say. "If you can't have those two things in the first year it it will give the relationship a larger learning curve." 4 You Know What You Should And Shouldn't Do When Your Partner Is Upset
If you want your relationship to last, you need to know how to effectively communicate with your partner. "By their first anniversary, a couple should have learned how and when to communicate with their partner," Tina Wilson, Founder and CEO of the
Wingman matchmaking app, tells Bustle. For instance, each person in the relationship should know what to say or how to react when the other gets upset, and how to handle the situation. "If your partner likes their alone time when they’re angry, you should know to give them space, and have a composed and constructive conversation when you both calm down," she says. 5 You Actively Work On Your Relationship
"The key to a lasting relationship is work,"
Vikki Ziegler, renowned divorce attorney and relationship expert, tells Bustle. By your first anniversary, you should know that the emotional, mental, and physical aspects of your relationship need to be nurtured at all times. You need to recognize early on that relationships are always a work in progress. As Ziegler says, "When you get lazy, your partnership suffers." So be sure to unconditionally support your partner, talk to them about their day, and be sure to touch them in a way they are comfortable with daily. "Intimacy, which isn't limited to just sex, is a very important part of a partnership that will last," she says. "Touching toes in bed, holding hands, back rubs and kissing are important habits that shouldn’t be overlooked." 6 You Trust Your Partner Completely
In a lasting relationship, trust is critical. According to relationship expert and author,
Jodi Ambrose, that goes beyond trusting that your partner will remain faithful. "Trust is about knowing your partner will talk to you when they are upset or need help," she says. "It's about knowing your partner will have your back in all situations. Trust is also knowing that no matter what, your love will stand steady by your side and take care of you when you need it." When you're able to fully trust your partner, you'll feel safe. You're able to let your guard down and you'll be able to be who you are without fear. "This sense of security breeds an even greater sense of security over time and really allows a relationship to flourish," Ambrose says. 7 You Allow Each Other To Have Space Without Anyone Getting Their Feelings Hurt
When your partner
asks for space for the first time, it can leave you feeling hurt and maybe even anxious. But if you're able to allow your partner to have space when they need it and you don't take it personally, Ambrose says that's a good sign. "I know it can be hard, but sometimes, people just need to go hang with their friends or hang out by themselves and it doesn't have anything to do with you," she says. "Having a life that is together, but remaining individuals, is what helps a new relationship grown into a long-term relationship." 8 You Do Thoughtful Things To Show You Appreciate Them
As you get closer to your first anniversary, you reach that point where you start to get comfortable. When you're comfortable, the tendency is to let your relationship fall to the side. But that can leave your partner feeling like you're taking them for granted. So as Ambrose says, making a habit out of being thoughtful early on in your relationship can help you make it last. "If your [partner] has had a hard day, order dinner in so no one has to cook," she says. "Rub their feet for 10 minutes. Ask them how or if you can help. Bring home an inexpensive gift every once and a while to remind them how special they are. All of these small gestures let a person know they are appreciated." In short, you never want your partner to think you take them for granted. So be sure to show them that you appreciate them.
9 You Know How To Work Through Conflicts In A Healthy Way
Couples should have clarity about their relationship boundaries by their first anniversary,
Dr. Alexandra Solomon, author of , tells Bustle. That means, you should have defined what you want, need, and expect from each other. When you know your boundaries, you're better able to navigate conflict in a way that leaves you feeling closer instead of more distant. LOVING BRAVELY: Twenty Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want
"Live as students of love," Dr. Solomon says. "Love stirs up deep and old stuff in us. It’s supposed to. But rather than panicking when stuff gets difficult, get curious about love and learn about healthy relationships." There are so many resources out there that can
help you overcome any issues you're facing in your relationship.
Overall, developing healthy habits in your relationship early on can only help your relationship in the future. If you're reaching the one year mark and feel one or two of these areas need some work, there's still time.