My boyfriend and I are coming up on our nine-year anniversary, and if you know anything about long-term relationships, you know it’s hard work. This got me thinking, WHAT exactly makes a relationship last? Please note: I am by no means a relationship expert; I am simply speaking from personal experience. Here’s a list of 11 things that are working for me.
1. Don’t sweat the small things
After being in a relationship for years, the smallest things might make you irritable, whether it’s arguing about where or what to eat for dinner, your partner’s “isms” or some other insignificant matter, think before you speak. If you can avoid a fight, then do it. Sometimes you need to take a step back and think about whether it is worth arguing about.
2. Make time for dates
Designate one day or night a week to be with your partner (and keep it!). Going out for a date night and having a good time together is crucial in a healthy relationship. It will allow both of you to unwind and enjoy one another in a different setting.
3. Take care of yourself
Although wearing sweats all day, not shaving, or wearing no make up in front of your partner is completely acceptable, don’t turn this into a habit. Taking care of your physical appearance and health will not only make you feel better, it will remind your partner of the physical attraction they loved when they first met you, and assure them you aren’t letting yourself go.
4. Hang out with friends
Make sure there is a balance between spending time with your partner and friends. There is a special bond between friends that can’t quite be filled by your significant other. Hang out altogether in a group or have a night out with friends by yourself. Make time for friends so you don’t exclude yourselves from being social. My girlfriends and I have a weekly girls night so we can have girl talk and watch our favorite shows.
5. Explore each other’s interests
Exploring each other’s interests will create more opportunities to spend time together. This will show them you are willing to try new things… For example, before my boyfriend and I started dating, all I used to listen to was pop music. He introduced me to indie and rock bands so we could start going to concerts together, and we now make Coachella an annual trip (which also happens to fall on our anniversary). During our first year at the festival we were front and center for Radiohead (his favorite band), which was the most unforgettable experience for us both.
6. Give each other space
Even though this may seem contradictory to the previous point, you don’t need to spend every minute of the day with each other. Having time to yourself allows you to do your own thing and focus on hobbies you had before your relationship started.
7. Compliment each other
Just because you’ve been in a relationship for years doesn’t mean you should stop complimenting each other. He might know that he looks great with that new haircut, or that his new button up makes him look sexy, but make sure you tell him anyway. This lets him know you’re still attracted to him, and it probably makes him feel damn good that you’re noticing.
8. Have sex
Having sex daily is normal when you first start dating, but after a few years, it has probably become less frequent. Between busy schedules or simply the fact that you’re comfortable, make time to have sex regularly. Not only will it bring you two closer physically and emotionally, it can reduce stress!
9. Be intimate
There is a common misconception that intimacy is sex. While sex is an intimate act, intimacy itself is defined as “close familiarity or friendship; closeness.” Communicate, talk about your feelings, be honest with your partner and let your guard down. Connecting emotionally and knowing your partner is just as emotionally invested in you is not only comforting, but also great for your relationship.
10. Know where your relationship stands
Being in a long-term relationship can create certain pressures, so make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to future plans. This can range from marriage, kids, no kids, where you want to settle down, how to manage money, etc. Depending on where you are in life, have this conversation early on so you know whether or not you are wasting your time.
11. Be spontaneous
As cliché as this might sound, being spontaneous keeps a relationship exciting! Go for a night drive, surprise your partner with a fun date, or call in sick to work to spend a random weekday together.