1. Failures. True love doesn’t come from being instantly attracted to or impressed with someone. Those things can add to the intensity of the love you feel for someone, but they aren’t what makes true love. A strong, sincere love comes from knowing someone’s flaws and failures and worst sides and wanting them anyway. People that are happy together have laid everything out on the table. They’re not trying to put on a show or impress one another. They’re honest about when they fail and they know that the other person will not only love them in spite of their failures, but because they experienced said failures and kept on fighting.
2. Crazy impulses. You might have another word for it – but it’s basically that moment where you think you’re nuts because you’re in a situation and you imagine yourself doing something insane. My perfectly sane sister says that sometimes when she sees scissors, she wonders what would happen if she just chopped off all her hair. My perfectly sane father says that sometimes in church, when it gets really quiet, he imagines himself shouting out a swear word. Everyone has weird moments where they imagine the craziest part of themselves coming out and acting on an impulse. It’s part of human nature. And nothing is better than the person you’re in love with telling you they’ve had crazy thoughts too – don’t worry, you’re normal.
3. Things they’re afraid to tell anyone else. Your partner is your partner for a reason. They’re not just there to love all the best parts of you. They’re also there to accept you and support you and encourage you and give you advice and make you feel better and reassure you. People in happy relationships have a wonderful support system where they know they can tell their partner things they would never tell anyone else. It doesn’t matter if it’s just one weird thought they had, or something bad they did, or something embarrassing that happened to them. Whatever it is, they normally wouldn’t tell a soul. But their partner loves them so unconditionally, and vice versa, that they know they can be completely honest and open.
4. Insignificant things. A solid relationship isn’t always the way they portray it in movies and films. You don’t stand on balconies overlooking a city skyline and talk about the meaning of existence every night. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the chance to do that with your significant other on occasion. But for the most part, relationships are built up out of tiny little conversations that you’ll never remember, along with a few big ones. The little conversations might be discussions about unimportant things, or something that makes you both laugh, or an interesting article that you forget about after a day. But the point of these conversations for people in happy relationships is to just enjoy being together. To enjoy getting to know each other even more than they did they day before. To laugh and smile and relax and breathe the same air and learn about one another.
5. The news. Maybe they don’t know the latest update about ISIS or what is going on at this very second in the White House, but they realize that the entire world doesn’t revolve around them and their “coupleness.” They know there’s an additional 7 billion people out there besides themselves. They know this because they have independent lives in addition to the life they are slowly building together. They talk about what’s going on around them and far away from them and down the street from them. They keep each other curious and eager to learn. They challenge each other to be better about being aware and well-informed.
6. Challenges. People in happy relationships don’t nag each other or tear each other down. But someone who’s in a healthy relationship isn’t going to sit back while they know their partner isn’t reaching their full potential. If someone loves you enough, they should tell you when you’re slacking off or when you’re not being a good daughter or friend or when you’re being selfish. It’s hard to tell the truth sometimes, especially to someone you care about, but it’s going to get you a lot farther than a white lie ever will. And that’s why the happiest couples are the ones who are always challenging each other to be better.
7. Things they love about their partner. Yes it’s important to challenge your partner and expect the best of them. But it’s also important to remind them (and yourself) why you fell in love in the first place. Happy couples always tell each other why they love each other and what is so great about one another. The key is striking the right balance between encouraging a partner to continue to grow and improve, while also nourishing them and reminding them that they are an incredible person that is deserving of love and affection and care. Couples that stay together never forget to tell one another how great they are and how much they make each other smile.
8. Why something upsets them. Being in a solid relationship means being vulnerable. The happiest and healthiest relationships are built off of honesty and trust, and the only way to get there is to tell your partner when something is bothering you or upsetting you. The strongest couples out there are the ones who know how to sit down and talk to each other when something is upsetting one of them or throwing off the balance in the relationship. If these uncomfortable things are avoided, the tension and unease and even anger come out in other ways. So do yourself a favor and copy the happy ones – talk to your partner when something is bothering you.
9. Things they’re afraid of wanting. Wanting something can be scary. It doesn’t matter if you want a big family or a long career or a fulfilling spiritual life or a beautiful front porch swing. It’s hard to want something when you know there’s a chance you won’t get it. There’s a chance your heart will crave it so badly and then get crushed when it doesn’t happen. But you can’t avoid something just because you’re afraid of not getting it. And that’s often where your significant other comes in. They tell you to want it and work for it. They tell you it’s okay to want it, and more importantly, they tell you that it’ll be okay if you don’t get it. They will still love you and they will help you to want other things. The happiest people in relationships don’t just want something and then give up if it doesn’t happen. Instead, they want something, and then if it doesn’t happen, they go after something else. With the constant support of their partner, of course.
10. Goals and desires. Happy couples don’t just talk about where they’d like to be in five years or what their proudest accomplishment has been so far. They tell each other who they want to be someday. They go through the relationship knowing who they are and who they both want to become. Being in a relationship doesn’t just mean loving your partner for who they are today. It means loving them for who they want to be in 3 weeks or 5 years or 25 years. People grow and change and relationships have to grow along with them, or it’s not going to last. The happiest relationships are composed of two people who are always telling each other what they want and how they are going to achieve it.