Everybody wants a successful relationship, but what does that even mean?
Is it longevity? Compatibility? Having kids?
You can really do your head in trying to figure it all out on your own.
Enter Mark Manson, a personal development author, who conducted research on the 10 key things that all successful relationships have.
They were based on an email survey of 1500 people on what they deemed as necessary qualities for a relationship to last and be healthy.
You can check out Ideapod founder Justin Brown’s video below if videos are more your speed. And if you want to see some kayaking adventures.
But if you like them moderately bite-sized with a little more sprinkle, here are 10 things every successful relationship has, based on research.
1) Being together for the right reasons
What are the right reasons?
The wrong reasons will keep you stagnant and chasing something fleeting.
Whether that be an image, the approval of others not in the relationship, or the idea that a relationship can save you.
If it keeps you from exploring and conquering yourself, they aren’t the right reasons.
So naturally, the right reasons are ones that will matter in 5 years when you’re inevitably a different person.
Like your values and what you respect! They keep you growing and changing, but not stray far from who you are deep inside.
In other words, the right person is someone that shares your definition of the “right reasons” and will be good for your soul.
2) Encouraging one another to be their best self
And what is your best self?
Your best self is who you are when you are equally independent as you are interdependent. When you are able to fill your own cup and fill another’s.
When your soul feels safe, it will recognize when someone is able to reciprocate your nurturing efforts so that you can nurture yourself without hesitation.
Your best self is also the one that is open to possibilities and positivity! Someone who has the capacity to hold space for the multitudes of beings within you.
Usually because they can also do it for themselves.
3) Having realistic expectations
This one can get tricky because so many of us have been told to settle. Either by the media or by people who perhaps projected their insecurities onto us.
Or it’s scary to expect anything knowing you could be disappointed.
However, the key to overcoming this is to go into the relationship being honest about what you want. Really take the time to decide what is good for you in the long-run and stick to it.
It also requires you to put yourself first! Because being realistic means you are no longer moulding yourself to another person’s threshold.
And that means you aren’t trying to mould the other person into yours either.
Being on the same page about what you mean to one another is what will set the tone for how you overcome obstacles.
4) Valuing respect over communication
Communication is important, don’t get me wrong.
But while we’re on the subject of being on the same page, there is no point in communicating your needs and wants if the other person isn’t keen on understanding you.
And you can’t force someone to have the same mindset as you or grow in a direction they can’t see for themselves.
Respect is effort and that requires a mutual understanding of one another.
And while good communication skills can keep a relationship going in the short run, your fundamental differences can make it overly exhausting.
Which may cause the both of you to spend more time trying to be understood and respected by one another, rather than actually enjoying the relationship.
5) Talking openly about everything
Especially the hard stuff that triggers the feeling of shame within us.
This is where your relationship with yourself needs to be in a good place for you to have good discernment.
Because when you aren’t ashamed to admit certain things to yourself, you can tell when another person is trying to shame you.
And ask yourself when you feel the need to hide something from a partner: who am I really hiding from?
What does my answer to that say about how I choose my partners?
Not only do you need to be an honest person in the relationship, but being confidently vulnerable can help you forge a relationship that is healthy and stands the test of time.
6) You are both healthy and happy on your own
Pay attention to how you feel alone and how you feel with someone else. A relationship should add to your existing self-love and stability, not fuel it.
If you are coming from a place of excessive need when you’re seeking a relationship, you will, a lot of the time, love from a place of fear. Which will create an inherent imbalance from the get-go.
Encompassing a lot of the other things we’ve talked about, a happy and healthy individual is also able to recognize closed doors. Or doors that aren’t good for them.
When you chase something that flees or isn’t meant for you, you will find yourself becoming something you’re not.
You’ll only lose yourself in the process and focus on the reasons that won’t matter in 5 years.
7) Embracing each other’s growth and change
Sure, your values can change overtime, but it’s a type of change that is more about refining them, rather than experimenting.
If your values and standards are the vehicles you choose to drive, our experiences are like the adventures we choose to go on with them.
As you cruise through the inevitable variables, you’ll find yourself with new jobs, obstacles, and reasons to celebrate.
A successful relationship not only has to accept these ups and downs, but they have to be encouraged! It’s the only way we can evolve as individuals.
That means your relationship should be balanced in how you support the other.
Sure, one person might need extra support in some seasons, but it shouldn’t become a pattern or constant narrative.
8) Not avoiding conflict
Disagreements and fights are a regular part of life. But that being said, when does it become unhealthy to argue?
If one or both parties consistently feels unsafe, or unheard, I would say that’s conflict that you should avoid by avoiding the entire relationship.
However, in an interdependent dynamic, arguments can actually be a great way you learn how to get through challenges together.
This is where you can learn more about the other person so you can ultimately learn how to support them better.
Another thing that separates constructive conflict from destructive conflict is accountability. Which we’ll talk more about next.
9) Forgiving with ease
This doesn’t mean you have to be good at forgiving the other person in a heartbeat.
In order to forgive with ease, your partner should provide the space for you to do so. And vice versa.
Everyone involved needs to take accountability for themselves because forgiveness without accountability is just being a doormat.
On the other hand, being open to forgiveness is not an option if you want to keep a committed relationship. People aren’t perfect, and it’s important you extend the grace you’d show yourself.
Seeing someone make a mistake and own up to it can also teach you a lot about them. It creates more emotional intimacy because you’re seeing them at their most vulnerable.
So in many ways, forgiveness isn’t just about wiping the slate, it’s trust that a person can do better. It’s giving them a chance to be the better version of themselves.
It’s easier said than done, but just know if you’re with someone who shares similar values, forgiveness shouldn’t make you feel excessively lonely. Or forced.
10) Being aligned sexually
Beyond having a similar sex drive, it’s incredibly important to find a partner who has a similar sexual disposition as you.
Because as the theme of this post prevails, you shouldn’t feel like you have to be something you’re not to stay with someone.
Just as you’d coast through life’s highs and lows, it’s expected that someone’s sexual preferences could change. It’s normal to want to try new things, just as it’s normal to not!
There really is no cookie cutter solution for how to navigate your sex life because it’s really up to you and who you’re with to create boundaries that work.
What you can do is create a space where you can talk freely about what you like and don’t like in the bedroom. This will create a sense of trust that you can build on.
The key is to be honest about it and not shame your partner for having certain needs or desires.
Research doesn’t mean everything, but it does talk about how people relate to one another.
And it seems that at the root of a successful relationship, is a successful relationship with yourself.
It’s a lot to balance between your personal growth, health, sexuality and everything else. It can be hard to discern where you need to compromise and where you need to stand your ground.
Not to mention, what about all of your other relationships? They’re important too.
At the end of the day, a successful relationship isn’t entirely marked by how long it lasts. Or what it produces materially.
But more so how it makes everyone involved feel as they juggle all that is life – and can that last?