9 Relationship Experts Can Teach Us About Love
Here, we’ve distilled it down to the very best advice 15 experts have learned. Regardless of your personal situation, their words may help you find the key to long-lasting happiness.
1. Look for someone with similar values
“For long-lasting love, the more similarity (e.g., age, education, values, personality, hobbies), the better. Partners should be especially sure that their values match before getting into marriage. Although other differences can be accommodated and tolerated, a difference in values is particularly problematic if the goal is long-lasting love. Another secret for a long marriage: Both partners need to commit to making it work, no matter what. The only thing that can break up a relationship are the partners themselves.”.
2. Never take your partner for granted.
“This may sound obvious, but you can’t imagine how many people come to couples therapy too late, when their partner is done with a relationship and wants to end it. It is very important to realize that everyone potentially has a breaking point, and if their needs are not met or they don’t feel seen by the other, they will more than likely find it somewhere else. Many people assume that just because they are OK without things they want so is their partner. ‘No relationship is perfect’ shouldn’t be used as a rationalization for complacency.”
3. Stop trying to be each other’s “everything”.
“‘You are my everything’ is a lousy pop-song lyric and an even worse relationship plan. No one can be ‘everything’ to anyone. Create relationships outside The Relationship, or The Relationship isn’t going to work anymore.”.
4. Do or say something daily to show your appreciation
“Saying and doing small, simple expressions of gratitude every day yields big rewards. When people feel recognized as special and appreciated, they’re happier in that relationship and more motivated to make the relationship better and stronger. And when I say simple, I really mean it. Make small gestures that show you’re paying attention: Hug, kiss, hold hands, buy a small gift, send a card, fix a favorite dessert, put gas in the car, or tell your partner, ‘You’re sexy,’ ‘You’re the best dad,’ or ‘Thank you for being so wonderful.’”
If your initial "How was your day?" doesn't spark much conversation, try asking more creative follow-up questions: "What made you smile today?" or "What was the most challenging part of your day?" You'll be amazed at the answers you'll get, with the added benefit of gaining greater insight into your significant other.
5. Make sure you’re meeting your partner’s needs.
“The number one thing I have learned about love is that it is a trade and a social exchange, not just a feeling. Loving relationships are a process by which we get our needs met and meet the needs of our partners too. When that exchange is mutually satisfying, then good feelings continue to flow. When it is not, then things turn sour, and the relationship ends. That is why it is important to pay attention to what you and your partner actually do for each other as expressions of love… not just how you feel about each other in the moment.”.
6. Don’t just go for the big O.
“Sex isn’t just about orgasms. It’s about sensation, emotional intimacy, stress relief, improved health (improved immune and cardiovascular system), and increased emotional bonding with your partner, thanks to the wonderful release of hormones due to physical touch. There are many more reasons to have sex than just getting off.” .
7. Don’t forget to keep things hot.
“Many times people become increasingly shy with the person they love the more as time goes by. Partners begin to take their love for granted and forget to keep themselves turned on and to continue to seduce their partner. Keep your ‘sex esteem’ alive by keeping up certain practices on a regular basis. This allows you to remain vibrant, sexy, and engaged in your love life.”.
8. Remove the pressure on performance.
“The penis-vagina model of sex comes with pressures, such as having an orgasm at the same time or the idea that an orgasm should happen with penetration. With these strict expectations come a pressure on performance that ultimately leads many to feel a sense of failure and frustration. Instead, try to expand your concept of sex to include anything that involves close, intimate connection with your partner, such as sensual massages, taking a nice shower or bath together, reading an erotic story together, playing with some fun toys… the possibilities are endless. And if orgasm happens, great, and if not, that’s OK too. When you expand your definition of sex and lower the pressure on orgasm and penetration, the anxiety around performance dissipates and your satisfaction can escalate.”.
9. It’s not what you fight about — it’s how you fight.
“Researchers have found that four conflict messages are able to predict whether couples remain together or get divorced: contempt, criticism, stonewalling (or withdrawal), and defensiveness. Together, they’re known as ‘The Four Horsemen.’ Instead of resorting to these negative tactics, fight fairly: Look for places where each partner’s goal overlaps into a shared common goal and build from that. Also, focus on using ‘I’ versus ‘you’ language.”.