1. Neglect your friendships.
Maybe you’re dating your soulmate. You know with one-hundred percent certainty that the man or woman you’re with is “the one.” Even so, trust me that they are not the ONLY one you need in life. Your friends are your extended family. They deserve your love and attention, even once you find the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with. Things will not always go smoothly with your significant other, and it’s your friends more than anyone else you will turn to in trying times—for an ear to vent to, or a reminder that you’ll get past whatever troubles that arise. It’s your friends who understand you, who will help you manage the challenge of building and maintaining a long-term relationship. Don’t ever discount your friendships—if not because your mental health depends on it, because you relationship does.
2. Forget who you are as an individual.
Being one half of a happy couple is no reason to forget that you will always be an individual, too. You can integrate your life with another human’s without becoming that person through and through. Arguably, the closer you get to your significant other, it is increasingly important to maintain a sense of self. It is healthy within a relationship to pursue separate interests and to give each other a certain amount of space.
3. Compromise your beliefs.
Remember that you will always be alone with your thoughts as you nod off to sleep each night. It’s yourself you have to answer to for most of your time here on earth. So don’t get caught in the trap of feeling as if you and your partner have to agree on everything. Do not buy into the notion that happy couples mirror each other in every single way, or even MOST ways. It is perfectly natural to be attracted to someone whose values don’t align with yours, exactly. Happy couples respect each other enough to leave a lot of room for all their differences.
4. Refuse to apologize.
As a general rule, there’s really no harm in saying “I’m sorry.” If you want a healthy long-term relationship, apologize profusely. Even when a fight concludes and you feel vindicated because you “knew you were right,” find a reason to utter these simple but powerful words. Take ownership of your part in whatever argument you’ve had—in whatever snide remark you made, or whatever way you failed to act as graciously as possible. It might take introspection and it might require shelving your ego, but there is always a reason to apologize. The real danger is in refusing to acknowledge any wrongdoing whatsoever. By “standing your ground” and declining to say “I’m sorry,” you will do damage to your relationship—if not immediately, your lack of maturity will poison your bond, one tiny puerile act at a time.
5. Withhold forgiveness.
Don’t be a dick about forgiveness. Apologizing isn’t easy. So honor your partner’s courageous act by granting them forgiveness. When you love someone, your relationship is never beyond repair. It might be hard, but the only way forward is often forgiveness. If you’re having trouble finding it within yourself to accept your significant other’s apology, remember that you too are a flawed individual who has erred in the past, and who will undeniably err again.
6. Insult your partner’s family.
It doesn’t matter how angry your significant other is with their mom, dad, sister or brother. It’s not your place to talk shit about another person’s close relatives, even if all you’re doing is corroborating their ire. Feel free to listen to your partner and acknowledge that you understand their frustrations, but when it comes to someone else’s immediate family, it’s important to draw the line between being supportive and being proactively negative. The thing is that family members are bound to drive each other crazy, but they’re also bound to forgive each other eventually. So think twice before you make that nasty comment about your significant other’s mom in an attempt to express allegiance while they’re in the midst of a fight they’ll most likly resolve.
7. Listen when they say “no gifts.”
Sometimes we underestimate how much a small but meaningful act of kindness will impact us. We say we don’t need anything special, but each of us needs to feel special sometimes. So take the time to put something together for your significant other in advance of their birthday and whatever other holidays that are important to you as a couple. It doesn’t matter if they insist on “no presents.” It’s worth conveying that you care through thoughtful gestures, even when you’re explicitly told not to. You don’t have to spend an exorbitant amount of money or any money at all. But you do have to put some heartfelt thought into it.
8. Say that thing you know you shouldn’t say.
Deep beneath the surface of your pleasant exterior—that smiley self you display to the world on the typical day—lurks a dark thought or two. This is part of being human. We think deplorable things, even about the people we hold dearest. If everyone were to say exactly what they were thinking at all times, there would be mayhem. That’s why most of us do not share our every whim. It can be tough not to blurt things out in the midst of a fight with your significant other, but there’s a high price to pay for cutting the person you love to the core by letting a truly disparaging comment slip out. You will hurt them more than intended, and you will feel bad about it—as you should. That’s why it’s advisable to resist the urge to say that thing you know in your heart you shouldn’t say.
9. Let yourself believe that a problem is insurmountable.
Never underestimate your ability to move forward as a couple. Whatever’s troubling you in the moment might seem insurmountable, but there is so much strength in the love between two people who choose each other every day. Don’t forget that you are together for a reason, and that you are stronger together. You can get past whatever trouble you’re facing. You just you have to believe that you can get there. In the face of difficulties, trust your relationship. The more faith you place in your bond, the more quickly you’ll get to the other side.
10. Lie about what feels good in bed.
It’s completely counterproductive to lie about what you like in the bedroom. Even if your heart is in the right place as you fake moan and groan, it’s a bad idea to praise your significant other for doing things that don’t actually feel great. When you pretend that something’s arousing when it’s not, you set yourself up for a lousy sex life, and the physical aspect of a relationship matters a lot. So communicate openly and honestly in bed, and help your partner get you off instead of leading them to believe that every single move they make turns you on.