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What leads to a good relationship?

by Ines Wurbs

Relationships are complex, multifaceted, and should make you happy. But what are the cornerstones of a happy relationship? What do we actually need in a relationship? You can read about the most important cornerstones here.

The most important points for a good relationship are:

  • respect for the partner
  • attention
  • empathy
  • care
  • warmth
  • acceptance

To be able to fulfill these points, communication between the partners is important. Talk to each other about anything that’s important to you.

More precise tips for a good relationship, as well as information on how a relationship actually develops, can be found in the article.

The triangle theory

Love consists of three important components: intimacy, passion, and also commitments.

Intimacy means the emotional level. Loving conversations, the interest in the partner’s condition, being loved, and mutual interest are relevant here.

Passion relates to sexuality, but sexual attraction also relates to romance. It’s about physical and mental excitement. 

Commitments are about the partners choosing each other, loving each other, and continuing to maintain the relationship and everything that goes with it.

The phases of falling in love

At the beginning of every relationship, there is passionate love. During this time, we feel particularly strongly attracted to the new partner and sexual attraction is obvious. At this point, we are so deep in love, that we can’t think of anything else and ignore reality.

Even though that fact sometimes has negative connotations, it is justified at this point and is important for the bonding. During this time, we overlook countless things that we actually see as annoying, uncomfortable, or simply don’t like in other people.

Of course, only to a certain extent. It’s all about ignoring subtleties. Otherwise, there would be no attraction between the partners. But this phase conceals some “bad” characteristics of the partner from us. 

In addition, we neglect many other things in our lives during this time. Work is usually no longer that important, but friends are neglected also. This time together is important to build intimacy. This is completely normal and essential.

In this way, we can fully surrender to attraction. Once the basic attitudes match, the feelings and the deepening of the relationship are driven forward. Eventually, intimacy and commitment emerge on that basis.

The rose-colored glasses are slowly disappearing, and we get to know our partner and accept him/her as they really are. A comradely love develops. Well, that may not sound particularly romantic. The increased physical arousal and wildly romantic love also slow down in this phase. But strictly speaking, this is a much more heartfelt and intimate time. Because being in love has become love. In the ideal case, the partners have an intimate and trusting affection. They care about each other.

What is a good and happy relationship?

In a Western University study, feedback from 11,000 couples was analyzed and automatically evaluated. The result can be found in the graphic below.

Relationship specific predictors

Picture source: Western University

These results highlight what factors we consider important for a successful relationship. If you implement the preceding behaviors in the relationship, these points will also be fulfilled automatically.

Advises for a good and healthy relationship?

A long relationship only works if both partners show some commitment. The main thing here is to talk to each other. That may sound easy. In fact, studies have shown that conversations decrease significantly within the first year of a relationship and then again during the first year of marriage.

But niceties also decrease. We make the other person happy less often or confess our love to him/her. Everyday life returns during this time and reclaims more and more space. This is also normal and important to a certain extent. After all, we cannot neglect all other everyday routines in the long run.

Nevertheless, it is precisely this time that harbors the danger that we neglect our relationship too much. Now we see that we have neglected the other areas and are going full throttle again.

That also takes up plenty of resources and attention. The relationship has deepened enough that we feel safe. Normally, we can do that too. However, any relationship can only endure a certain amount of time and degree of “neglect.”

Therefore, it is of great importance that we uphold the essential basic principles. Commitments are essential for keeping in a healthy, happy relationship. This includes the obligation to tell our partner what is important to us, what we think, and what we want.

The basic principles should be respect for the partner, attention, empathy, caring, warmth and acceptance. The following rules are derived from this.

10 qualities for a happy relationship

  1. Trust
    Trust is essential in a relationship as it provides a sense of security. It takes the relationship to another level. You can learn how to deal with a breach of trust in my article, which deals with exactly this topic.
  2. Acceptance
    Accept your partner for who he/ she is. Don’t try to change or force anything on him/her. Don’t blame him/her for being who he/she is.
  3. Respect
    Show respect to your partner. Don’t disparage or embarrass him/her. Only treat him/her as you would like to be treated yourself.
  4. Caring
    Be caring for your partner. Try to meet his/her needs. Make him/her happy, help him/her, and care for him/her when he/she needs care. Be reliable for your partner.
  5. Attention
    Listen to your partner, and try to perceive his needs and desires. Start a conversation and ask questions if you’re not sure about something.
  6. Empathy
    Try to put yourself in your partner’s position. Especially when it comes to difficult topics or after an argument. How might your partner see this, and why does he/she hold this opinion? Why is he/she angry or afraid?
  7. Warmth
    Hug and tell each other that you love each other, or give your partner a little joy in everyday life.
  8. Closeness
    Show your love physically as well. Holding hands, a kiss in between, or sex. It’s all part of an adult relationship.
  9. Speak up
    If you don’t like something, tell your partner. But in the spirit of respect, criticism should always be constructive. That means don’t attack him, don’t start a fight, but say objectively and calmly what your problem is and what you would expect or wish from him/her. Ask for explanations, listen patiently, and own a compromise that works for both of you.
  10. Forgive
    If you forgive something, then you really should be okay with it. Don’t forgive something if you’re not ready to. Otherwise, there will only be more arguments and conflicts.

Summary: How to build a good relationship with your partner?

In general, you should only go as far as you really want in your relationship. Don’t overstep your own limits, and don’t bury your values. Don’t neglect yourself at the expense of others.

A happy relationship involves compromise and the commitments mentioned above.

But a relationship always involves two people, and both should invest in the relationship. One-sidedness in a relationship will not work in the long run.

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