1. You honestly love your boyfriend or girlfriend in spite of, and also because of, their flaws. But you don’t adore every aspect of their character. And you don’t feel obligated to pretend to.
2. You respect and appreciate your significant other for who they are through and through, but some of their personality traits annoy the fuck out of you.
3. Some of their habits drive you crazy too, but usually in a there-they-go-again, head-shaking manner more than a grating, nails-on-chalkboard way. Usually.
4. While your partner is definitely attractive in your eyes, you also know they’re not the hottest creature in the world, or even your wider friend circle. Thing is, you definitely don’t care where they rank in some arbitrary hot-or-not hierarchy.
5. Being with someone attractive to you is what matters. And you take sincere pleasure in seeing all the beautiful things others might miss in the person you get to call your lover.
6. As your relationship progresses, your boyfriend or girlfriend actually becomes more and more stunning in your totally biased view, and you can see this trend continuing well into old-personhood.
7. Your main goal as a couple isn’t super romantic sounding. All you really want is to function harmoniously, which means tolerating each other. Plus, constant compromising.
8. You know that being in a relationship is hard and that it will always take work, just like everything in life that’s worth it seems to.
9. But you don’t waste time feeling cheated out of the romantic fairytale you were promised as a child. You’re more than capable of separating reality from the phony relationships dramatized for narrative effect in books and movies.
10. Speaking of Hollywood, you definitely don’t envy famous couples, though you might just have a celebrity inspired mash-up nickname to refer to yourselves as a twosome.
11. To a certain extent, the cost of intimacy is independence. You know this, and you’re happy to sacrifice a portion of who you are to be a better boyfriend or girlfriend.
12. But that doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten who you are as an individual. You’ve just found balance in managing your needs and your partner’s.
13. If and when that balance is shaken, you’re committed to doing whatever it takes to reestablish a peaceful, prosperous coexistence.
14. You can fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend without believing it’s the end of the world, let alone the end of your relationship.
15. You can even walk (or storm) away angry, knowing you’ll both return to your senses—at some point.
16. If you fall asleep angry, you do so knowing that you’ll both probably wake up feeling at least somewhat less enraged. You might even start nuzzling each other instinctively in the middle of the night, automatically launching the repair process.
17. Sometimes, in fact, it’s better to resolve an issue without discussing it to death. You don’t have to settle EVERYTHING to move forward together.
18. In most cases, no one even wins an argument. Instead, you both set aside your egos and admit fault on some level. Then you pledge to do better because neither of you wants to fall short in the same way again.
19. In the aftermath of a blow-out fight, your friends tend to reassure you that everything will be fine—because they’ve seen this pony show before, and everything does turn out all right. They encourage you to work things out because they have your best interest at heart. And even when you vent about the worst of your relationship woes, your complaints are interspersed with highlights.
20. In general, when asked how things are going, relationship wise, you don’t make hyperbolic statements about how “AMAZING things are!” Because you don’t have to prove to yourself or anyone else that you’re lucky to be dating so and so. You know you are.
21. Plus, sometimes things are just going okay—and that’s okay. You’re not delusional about what love does and doesn’t entail.