It’s easy to fail at relationships.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m becoming an expert at breakups.
It’s surprisingly easy to do.
Even when we don’t want our relationships to explode, they can end in weeks of drama, unending tears, or painful, radio silence.
But I’ve learned that understanding how to approach our relationships for long-lasting success isn’t about spicing it up in the bedroom, or looking for something more exciting, or aligning your fundamental beliefs with someone.
We need to go deeper.
To get at the core of why our relationships don’t work out, it’s usually because we or our partner don’t feel seen and heard.
One person decides that it’s easier to be single than misunderstood and that’s it. It’s over.
So let’s look at the top ways that we can develop our understanding of one other.
I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 keys for long-term success in relationships. Let’s jump right in.
1) You know how to communicate honestly
Inside every human, there’s a voice that tells us when we’re feeling heard and seen.
Imagine you’re on a date with someone you like. You could say it was great or maybe it wasn’t so great and the person says, “I feel so distant from you.”
What do you do? Feel crushed and enraged? Does that make you want to pull away from them completely?
How did they get you so wrong?
One way is to look at how you talk with your partner. Do you open up about your feelings and let them know how they make you feel? Or do you shy away from feeling exposed and expressing yourself?
The more you can let someone truly see and understand what inspires you, the more they will start to understand your inner world and sense of vibrancy and what makes you tick.
Showing off your inner passion is completely attractive and sexy. When you are feeling truly at ease and comfortable with yourself, it becomes easier to share your strange little inner world with someone else. Don’t worry, someone will get you.
There’s no one that you have to be but yourself.
2) You can recognize that listening is a two-way street
We’re used to listening to people and responding in kind ways. It’s easy to think that listening is a one-sided process.
If I feel heard, I’ll say something back so that you feel heard. Right?
But that’s not the case with love relationships or even friendships.
You have to be able to actively listen and be present if you want a long-term relationship or friendship to succeed.
You have to engage with what your partner is saying, echo back their statements with understanding, and ask questions to take the conversation deeper.
In other words, it’s not enough to be nod your head and be a passive listener — you have to actively engage in the conversation.
Maybe you aren’t a great listener right now. That’s okay.
Listening is an act of courage, compassion, and vulnerability. It can feel awkward at first.
It’s about being truly present and open to the person you are with.
But once you get into the habit of listening, listening becomes second nature and you can do it without getting caught up in your world.
When you are actively listening to your partner, it also opens up your mind and heart space to hear their replies.
3) You show interest and care
It can be as simple as occasionally telling your partner what they’re wearing or some of the qualities that you admire about them.
You don’t have to say these things all the time, but letting them know that you’re paying attention is a great start.
Be caring and warm.
Let them know that being with someone can feel comforting and supportive. You don’t have to be good at getting the words out. You can simply show your interest with a smile or a laugh.
At the heart of the matter, it’s really important to take a look at what our partner finds meaningful and loving.
When you get to know what fires them up, you’ll start to understand why they do what they do and help to fuel that passion that very few people tend to see in one another.
That’s a key difference between a long-lasting love and an unending nightmare.
But how can we truly care about someone else?
Far too often we fall into codependent roles where one place a hero and a victim. When we don’t understand what our partner truly needs, it’s easy to step in and “fix” them only to end up in a miserable, bitter routine.
So many of us self-sabotage our love lives in this way without realizing it.
The answer is contained in the relationship you have with yourself.
I came across practical and simple piece advice from the renowned shaman Rudá Iandê. As Rudá explains, in this thought-provoking video, love is not what many of us think it is. It’s not about fixing someone else and falling into the pit of codependency.
It’s about addressing our own innate needs with one other, but most importantly with ourselves.
The more we can understand what we truly need, the more we can relate with one another on a deep and meaningful level.
4) Nothing is off-limits
The key to long-lasting relationships is to engage in topics and conversations that are lively, fun, insightful, and difficult.
Whether getting into what you enjoy in between the sheets but are too afraid to bring up, or how the death of a beloved pet shakes you to your core, or how you grew up and are too embarrassed to admit to anyone, nothing is off-limits.
If you are comfortable raw and vulnerable with your partner, and vice versa, you can both come to know each other’s feelings and perspectives.
Ask questions that open the door to deeper understanding.
Laughter and bad jokes can also be a way to get awkward moments out in the open. The more inappropriate, the better,
Nothing is off-limits.
You may think that you are talking every day. But do you know what your partner is saying and what they mean?
And do you know how they feel?
When you become more comfortable communicating with each other, a lot of the hidden meanings and messages in conversations will become clearer and the conversations will start to lead to deeper understanding.
5) You give your partner enough space
Giving your partner time to do the things they love shows that you have a great deal of trust in them and respect them as an individual.
It also reminds them of the wonderful person that they are when they are by themselves.
For example, if your partner loves to ski and you hate to be cold, then encouraging them to go on a mountain holiday with friends or by themselves will get them feeling excited and empowered from within. Then, when they are around again, they will feed that enthusiasm back into your relationship.
People with a lot of confidence and self-esteem are better able to be alone and also relate with one another.
It can be tempting to change your partner’s habits or preferences just because you think their behavior is causing problems in the relationship.
But it’s important to remember that when you do that, you’re taking away your partner’s ability to be self-sufficient and happy.
The key is not to get caught up in how your partner makes you feel. 9 times out of 10, they would just love to be around someone who truly loves and supports them as an individual.
Just don’t fall into the trap of needing your partner and feeling lost or incomplete when they are gone.
6) You know how to find solutions together
When things don’t work out between two people, whether it’s because they’re too busy or they don’t have the patience, it can help to brainstorm solutions together and get them on the same page.
You don’t have to say, “We should do this” or “We shouldn’t do that.”
It’s more about finding out what you both want, which is often a lot simpler than it might seem on the surface.
But when you are honest, clear, and respectful, it will help your partner feel more secure in you and how to approach situations with you.
This further strengthens the bond between the two of you.
Sometimes you might direct the response. Sometimes your partner takes control. And every once and a while you try something that just feels intuitive together.
The idea is that you are open to trying and learning and exploring. Instead of trying to control and dictate to someone what should happen next.
7) You know how to appreciate them for who they are
When we’re feeling seen and heard, we appreciate the unique qualities of another person more and our self-esteem increases as a result. We ask more questions, pay more attention, and become more curious about them.
When you feel appreciated by the other person, your confidence is also bolstered.
Relationships are all about helping each other to be the best versions of themselves and take their lives to the next level.
Helping someone to feel appreciated means letting them be as they are.
Holding back any immediate prejudices or quick judgments that we might have of someone else and giving them the space to express and explore who they are.
It also allows for contrasting personalities and opposites to attract. And this can be one spicy key for long-term success in your relationship.
8) You give your partner room to fall on their face and make mistakes
When you allow your partner to make a mistake, it gives them more confidence and skill in the future because they know that they’ve tried at something and the courage to take action.
It can feel hard to watch someone make a mistake that you might know how to avoid, but It can also reveal a great deal about someone’s character to see how they handle difficult situations and become more resilient.
When you let someone handle their circumstances with loving support instead of a commentary, it lets them be natural and learn for themselves from the situation.
They might also completely surprise you with how creative and intuitively they approach an obstacle or problem.
9) You can think outside of the box together
One of the keys to long-term relationship success is to approach familiar circumstances or issues in new and exciting ways. You encourage each other to think out of the box.
Why not try something you’ve never done? Experiment with a different approach or response. See how it goes and learn from it.
You probably already know this, but when you can openly express how you feel and what you are experiencing with your partner, you’re feeling seen and heard, you’re able to come up with some creative solutions that would have never even crossed your mind before.
When you try new things and. encourage one another to think and act differently, it can bring new insights into your life and the way you relate with others.
10) You both fight well
Most of us weren’t taught how to communicate effectively in a relationship and there are a few factors that can make communication difficult.
One of them is the fear of conflict or confrontation.
When we have difficulty expressing what we want and when we do, our partner won’t feel like they’re being heard or seen so they might begin to feel angry, selfish, or even defensive.
The result is an argument, which leads to more misunderstandings and a bad relationship.
The truth is, conflict does not mean that you’re having a bad relationship or that your partner doesn’t respect you. Conflict means that you’re trying to understand each other and each other’s needs better.
One of the keys to great communication with your partner is to have open, honest conversations about what’s bothering you in the relationship because venting can increase the level of trust in a relationship.
It’s also important to recognize the signs of a healthy and well-functioning relationship. If your partner respects you, they will want to know how you feel and they will be more than happy to listen.
Your partner will trust that you care enough about them to let them know how you’re feeling and they will do the same.
Your relationship is only as good as your ability or willingness to communicate with each other and resolve any misunderstandings that you might have with one another.
So are you in or out? Single or in it for the long-term?
Being in a successful long-term relationship comes down to deciding if it’s better to be with someone or single.
To be honest, it’s easier to be alone.
You can make decisions with your best interests at heart, pursue your passions and be open to the great game of life in front of you.
Who doesn’t like a little adventure?
The problem is that moments in life happen to be a little nicer when they are shared. It can feel great to push yourself to new vistas and viewpoints, but it’s equally nice to turn to someone you love and say, “isn’t this just so beautiful?”
Life can be wonderful with someone to celebrate it with.
But this calls you to be emotionally available to your partner. The more you can both show up, open, learn and grow with one another, the more you can fully express yourself in your relationship and life.
Ideally, in a successful long-term relationship, you both become so empowered to take charge of your life and improve how you view and act around each other that you actually lift one another up.
So are you in or out? Otherwise, just stay single. It’s definitely easier, but is that the way you want to live?