1. You always want the best for each other.
This one can be tricky. While most people will insist that they always “want the best” for their partner, they usually only mean this to a certain extent. In a healthy relationship, you love the person enough to put their happiness, growth, and success first. Don’t get angry when they can’t text you for a couple of hours because they’re working, or take it personally when they spend a night hanging out with their closest friends. Their sole purpose in life isn’t to keep you occupied and give you attention. While there is a time and place for that, you should encourage them to experience life outside of your relationship. Encourage them to study abroad, even if it means spending a few months doing long-distance. Encourage them to hang out with an old friend who happens to be in town that night, and understand when they take the opportunity to do so instead of hanging out with you. Encourage them to do things that broaden their horizons, give them academic or financial success, make them smile, or teach them valuable life lessons. You have to want your partner to be the best they can be.
We all know that honest is the best policy. This means that even if you want a fight or disagreement to be over, don’t apologize or move on from it until you truly feel that it’s over. If you’re still angry, ignore the impulse to brush your feelings under the rug. While this may make you feel that you’re holding grudges or being annoying, I’ve found that stopping to say, “Hey, I’m still angry at you” pushes you and your partner to find the root of the problem, and prevents ongoing tension and dissatisfaction in the relationship. You’re not going to want to do it, but I’m telling you that you definitely should. Additionally, when your partner asks for your opinion, give it. Don’t give them the sugarcoated lie that they want to hear. If you love someone, you owe him or her the truth. Constructive criticism helps us grow as people. Be unabashedly honest with each other about your opinions, desires, feelings, and intentions. Mind games are not only immature, but also useless.
3. You know when to call yourself out.
When you’ve done something to upset your partner, going immediately on the defensive is very rarely the solution to the problem. While you will want to defend yourself, get angry, or behave in a passive aggressive manner, resist the urge to do so. Do your best to step back and be honest with yourself. Were you out of line? Are you being irrational? If the answer is still yes, then try to explain in a calm way why you believe that you’re in the right, but also give them a chance to explain why they’re upset with you. However, this might not always happen. Once you’ve looked at your behavior in retrospect, you may realize that you were in the wrong. Tell your partner this. Apologize, and explain that you were being selfish, overreacting, etc. It’s important admit being wrong.
I’ve come to learn that these are things that make a relationship built to last and flourish, instead of fizzle out or become something negative. Relationships must be built on a foundation of trust, honesty, care, and understanding. It takes a lot of effort, but I mean it when I tell you that they’re so, incredibly worth it.