5 Secrets To Long-Lasting Love, According To Relationship Experts
Forget everything you learned in 'The Notebook.'
In the age of social media and Tinder hook-ups, long-lasting love feels about as real and tangible as a mythical frickin' unicorn – and we're not talking about the threesome kind this time. In fact, according to some very unsurprising recent research from the University of Texas on long-term relationships, the reason we have trouble settling down is because we spend so much time over-analyzing, consumed by the idea of finding a better, more compatible match. We can't commit, or if we do commit, we run at the first sign of actually putting in some effort. Sound familiar?
Of course, as human beings, we don't just want to spend our romantic lives flipping around like a pinball in a flashy arcade machine, getting fuck all out of it but a bit of cheap gratification. We want to love, and we want to be loved. We want to share our lives with somebody, build a beautiful connection. But if that's to be the case, some of us need a little education – and a reality check. We trawled through the interwebz to hunt out the biggest secrets to long-lasting love, according to the relationship experts.
Don't get hung up on being soulmates
Sorry Cinderella but this ain't no fantasy world. Don't be holding out for Prince Charming to find that sneaker you lost when you got absolutely trolleyed on your birthday and return it to you with a fairy tale happy ever after. Finding “true love” or a soulmate is romantic AF but it's not reality. Amazing, long-lasting love isn't always pretty or happy; it's not about being carbon copies of one another; and it's definitely not about our partner bending to our every whim. If relationships are any of these things, we end up living in such a stifling state of people-pleasing that we stop being authentically ourselves.
Love isn't about happy endings; it's a journey – a journey of compromise. Successful relationships are all about navigating and enjoying each other's differences and not trying to change the other person to fit with a checklist of ideals. Ultimately, having differences is what makes relationships interesting – respect that individuality.
Accept that your partner is fallible
Unlike your fave foundation, your partner is fallible by default – because he's human. We all make mistakes, particularly in our love lives, so don't quit when he ain't Mr Perfect; instead, look at him as the perfect sum of all of his imperfections. Learn the art of forgiveness; learn to put things into the wider perspective; learn to let things go; prioritize happiness in the here and now. Clinging onto old issues is the same as not taking the trash out: it stinks, and it ends up being bad for your health. Great relationships aren't festering with negativity, they're a healthy, positive, well-maintained space in which both people are allowed to grow and thrive.
Stay clear of the 'Four Horsemen'
Come again? Known as the 'Four Horsemen of Divorce,' researchers have found four forms of conflict that predict whether or not couples will stay together: contempt, criticism, stonewalling (or withdrawal) and defensiveness. Basically, it's not what you fight about, but how you fight that can lead to major problems. Criticism attacks your partner's character or personality rather than the behavior itself; defensiveness is all about blaming your other half, rather than taking responsibility for your part in the conflict; contempt is showing blatant disrespect, being passive-aggressive, sneering, rolling your eyes or making harsh jokes; and stonewalling is simply being nonresponsive, preferring to stay quiet than talk through and resolve the issue.
The key to a “good” argument is approaching issues in the fairest way possible, for example, instead of calling your BF a fuckin' fat arse when you know he has insecurities about his weight, tell him instead that you're deeply upset he ate your share of the ice cream. Calmness and communication are the key.
Accept sex changes
Remember those early days of hot, steamy, impassioned sex? When he could make you wet by a simple flash of the eyes; when his intoxicating pheromones overpowered your senses; when you almost had to call the fire brigade to unstick your genitalia after hours upon hours of nonstop fucking. It was amazing, wasn't it? Unfortunately, no matter how attractive you continue to find each other as the relationship progresses, this kind of sex just can't last forever.
Passion is dangerous to hang our hearts on because it inevitably fades a little – remember that before you drop your guy for the next flame. Found a relationship on frenzied pursuits and you'll end up fatigued, realizing that there's just emptiness underneath – passion is a bit like porn in that respect. Sex, like all aspects of a lasting relationship, takes a bit of work. The glorious thing about couple sex is that you've got all the time in the world to talk openly about your wants and needs, explore new things and deepen your intimacy. Work together to find your sex. If anything, look at sex like you look at sneakers: would you rather have several pairs of high-street imitations or a couple of grails that make you feel incredible every time you put them on? Quality over quantity.
Enjoy the moment
You're not perfect either: sometimes you'll feel insecure, jealous, upset, frustrated, worried about the future – that's normal. But don't let anxieties overwhelm you; don't let unfounded worries or hypothetical situations cloud your view of the present. Be mindful. Your mind can be a great arena for perpetuating negativity; leave it uncontrolled and it can not only consume you, but the relationship.
Clean your mental windshield down and find joy and positivity just in being together. Find happiness in all the little moments – they're far more valuable and rewarding than grand romantic gestures. Great relationships are built on the everyday. Take time to reflect on your gratitude, and remember to always show your appreciation – it'll make your other half feel special and more motivated to make the relationship better and stronger. A “thank you for being so wonderful,” a hug, a kiss, remembering his frickin' dry cleaning: that's true love.
In other dating advice, here's why you should definitely stop watching The Notebook.