As you get super comfy in your relationship, it can become hard to keep stock of all the ways things are going right, like the fact that you have
great communication skills as a couple or the way you’re able to give each other space. Even the little things — like the way your partner can’t pass a coffee shop without getting you a latte — can start to get overlooked.
Not being able to acknowledge all the good things in your relationship is perfectly human. Still, you can eventually get stuck in a groove and start to
take each other for granted, says Dr. Jess O’Reilly, a relationship expert and host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast.
While this is normal — and a sign that your relationship is going really well, TBH — it never hurts to take a second to appreciate all the things, both big and small, that you both do to
keep your relationship running smoothly. “This is a significant accomplishment and you should be proud and continue to invest in the relationship to maintain this balance,” O’Reilly tells Bustle.
Want to make sure you don’t take your partner for granted? Here are 17 meaningful habits in a relationship that should never be overlooked or forgotten, according to experts.
1 You Do Simple, Kind Things For Each Other StefaNikolic/E+/Getty Images
After being in a relationship for a while, “it can be easy for roles to be set,” says
Erin Dierickx, LMFTA, a licensed marriage and family therapist associate at Erin D Therapy. Things like making each other coffee in the morning or picking up a favorite snack while out and about are easy to overlook, but they truly mean a lot.
The same is true if your partner does small favors, like filling your car with gas. “Appreciation is a huge part of any relationship,” Dierickx tells Bustle. “It builds trust, offers validation for our partner's efforts in the relationship, and promotes connection.” So keep picking up your partner’s fave candy — and keep appreciating it when they do the same.
2 You Say “I Love You” eclipse_images/E+/Getty Images
While the first few “I love yous” are extra sweet, the power of the phrase doesn’t lose its power as time goes on. Even if you’ve said it to each other a thousand times, you can still absorb the words, says O’Reilly. The next time you drop the L word, really soak it in.
3 You Build Each Other Up martin-dm/E+/Getty Images
Pay attention to how often you boost each other’s self-esteem. According to O’Reilly, it’s easy to take effusive language for granted — like how your partner hypes you up before big meetings, or how you always compliment their outfits. But it means just as much on day 20 of your relationship as it does on day 100.
4 You Hug & Hold Hands Thai Liang Lim/E+/Getty Images
Moments of physical affection, like when you snuggle on the couch before bed or exchange a quick kiss before work, are easy to take for granted, O’Reilly says, but they add so much to a relationship. If you like to show each other
love through physical touch, don’t let it taper off. In fact, go ahead and talk about how much it means to you. 5 You Can Turn Anything Into A Date
When you’re enjoying a relationship, a quick trip to the grocery store can be so much fun. That’s because
quality time is not just about being together, but actively being in the moment, says O’Reilly. And that’s why even the most mundane activities will feel special. The quality of the time you spend together is more important than the number of hours, she says, so appreciate each other’s company while it's happening. 6 You Exchange Thoughtful Gifts
While grand gestures on a birthday or holiday are always nice, it’s the little gifts on a random Tuesday that shouldn’t be taken for granted. O’Reilly points to “thinking of you” gifts, like a flower they picked or a cup of coffee. If you have a relationship that includes these acts of kindness, be careful not to take it for granted.
7 You Both Pick Up The Slack AleksandarGeorgiev/E+/Getty Images
You know that feeling when you forget to pick up almond milk, but you open the fridge and it’s already there? Or that moment of joy that comes from sneakily doing one of your partner’s chores, because you know they’re busy and overwhelmed? Don’t take these moments for granted either.
“Next time you see anything your partner did that brought you joy or alleviated an inkling of stress, let them know,” Dierickx says. “Unfortunately, it may not be very often that we get to [be appreciated], whether it be at work, home, or elsewhere. So why not build that culture of appreciation within your relationship?”
8 You Do Favors Without Thinking
Similarly, having a partner do favors for you may not feel like the most glamorous aspect of a relationship, but these sorts of actions are incredibly positive. They show your partner wants to reduce your stress levels and help your life run more smoothly, says O’Reilly. Find ways to support them in similar ways, and make sure you both acknowledge the everyday kindnesses you two share.
9 You Have Cute Rituals As A Couple
Whether it’s pizza Fridays, Sunday morning trips to the farmer’s market, or lunchtime Zoom calls, don’t overlook all the cute rituals you’ve developed as a couple. As you get comfier with each other, you’ll start to do these things automatically, but pay attention to how much they truly add to your week — and your connection.
10 You Split The Bill aire images/Moment/Getty Images
Getting to the point in your relationship where you don’t have to discuss who’s getting the bill is such a treat. Maybe you have a shared debit card, or you switch back and forth when it comes to who pays. Whatever your setup, it’s definitely worth appreciating, says
David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle
"This is a very positive aspect of a relationship that it's easy to take for granted,” he tells Bustle. Not only does it mean you get to buy more fries, but splitting the bill is also a sign you’re comfortable around each other. (
Money is tough to talk about, after all.) 11 You Get Those Feel-Good Hormones VioletaStoimenova/E+/Getty Images 12 You Always Catch Up At The End Of The Day
Whether you come home to each other or fall asleep while sending texts, it’s super nice to have someone there at the end of the day, especially if it was a rough one. "Having a person to share some of your simple and basic daily observations with seems unimportant, but when you lose that, you will miss it," Bennett says. "Plus, sharing your day with your partner is good for the health of a relationship." So remember to listen to each other and check in, no matter what.
13 You Are Each Other’s BFF VioletaStoimenova/E+/Getty Images
If your partner is also one of your closest friends, count yourself lucky. It means you have a built-in buddy to do fun things with at all times, Bennett says, and it can make fun moments like movies, festivals, and road trips extra fun. “Also, doing these regular things together keeps a relationship strong,” he says.
14 You Have Healthy Arguments LightField Studios/Shutterstock
Being able to
argue with your partner may not feel like a win, but it means you’re willing to work through tough moments as a duo. While some arguments can be toxic and unhealthy, there are certain argument styles that are actually quite good.
"Fair fighting is an art that takes awareness and lots of practice,” says
Natalie Finegood Goldberg, a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist. If you both make an effort to listen, compromise, and communicate clearly while upset — instead of shutting down, screaming, or hurling insults — then you’re on the right track. 15 You’re Able To Talk Through Problems
Another sign you have healthy arguments? "If you don't get stuck on who's right or wrong,” says psychotherapist
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. Instead of focusing on winning the fight, it’s ideal when you both focus on solving the problem with mutual respect and helpfulness, she tells Bustle. It shows you have each other’s back, and that’s a strength worth celebrating. 16 You Find Ways To Compromise LeoPatrizi/E+/Getty Images
Speaking of, “a willingness to compromise is another quality that people sometimes take for granted,"
Dr. Laura Louis, a licensed psychologist and owner of Atlanta Couple Therapy, LLC, tells Bustle. “In my private practice [...] I notice that couples who compromise with each other are able to go further and build a relationship that lasts."
This doesn’t mean you give in or give up and then silently resent each other, but that you truly work together to find a middle ground in a situation that makes you both happy. It comes back to solid communication.
17 You Give Each Other Space Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images
Some relationships never get to a place where both partners are able to live independent lives, so go ahead and relish the fact you both feel comfortable doing your own thing on occasion.
"A healthy amount of space is important in a relationship and is crucial for the long-term health of the relationship," Finegood Goldberg says.
As a bonus, taking mini breaks here and there is a sign you’re both comfortable and have developed a lot of trust — all good things to appreciate in your relationship.
Sources: Dr. Jess O’Reilly, relationship expert Erin Dierickx, LMFTA, licensed marriage and family therapist associate Natalie Finegood Goldberg, licensed marriage and family therapist, certified sex therapist David Bennett, certified counselor, relationship expert Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist Dr. Laura Louis, licensed psychologist
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This article was originally published on
November 27, 2018