Falling in love is easy. Staying committed for the long haul? Not so much.
They say that lasting relationships require work for a reason. You’re two puzzle pieces trying to fit together. Experiencing growing pains is inevitable as the romance evolves.
The good news?
Doing the heavy lifting is rewarding, especially when you have the right person by your side.
On that note, here are 10 hard things you shouldn’t avoid in a relationship if you want it to last.
1) Defining the relationship
Modern dating has its advantages. Thanks to dating apps, you’re only a few taps away from finding a potential partner.
With convenience, however, come fresh challenges. In this day and age, defining the relationship is one of the first hard things you need to do when looking for long-lasting love.
Are you and your new boo just hooking up? Dating casually? Excited to take the next step?
More importantly: are you on the same page?
Situationships have become increasingly common, so it can be tough to figure out whether the bond has potential.
If neither party is brave enough to broach the subject, you’ll be in dating limbo for a painfully long time.
There’s nothing wrong with testing the waters. But once you’re ready to commit, find the courage to speak up.
Avoiding labels prevents the relationship from blossoming.
2) Polarizing topics
“Never discuss politics or religion in polite company,” a famous saying goes.
That may be true – but when it comes to romantic relationships, tackling polarizing topics like religion and politics is highly recommended.
While they say opposites attract, you have a better chance of building a solid foundation if you agree on the critical stuff.
Once you know that you have similar views, your chances of lasting significantly improve.
I’m not saying that it’s impossible to be with someone who is your complete opposite. But if your partner’s views are a deal breaker, it’s best to know early on.
Then, at least, you can look for long-lasting love somewhere else.
You can’t have an enduring relationship without sacrificing a little happiness every once in a while.
On a more positive note, compromise goes both ways.
What movie to watch. Where to go for dinner. Whose friends you should hang out with next weekend.
All these little decisions add up.
If one partner always concedes, the relationship becomes one-sided and unhealthy. In turn, they’ll become resentful.
Communicate your needs and encourage your significant other to do the same. When the needs don’t align, meet somewhere in the middle.
But while it’s essential to pick your battles, some things are impossible to compromise on. This brings us to our next point…
4) Discussing life goals
When you’re in a successful relationship, you’re part of a team. You both work together to achieve common goals.
That’s why agreeing on what those goals look like is crucial.
Again, you can have a perfectly good time with someone who doesn’t want the same things. Whether that’s a sustainable relationship is another matter entirely.
If one partner is excited to have kids and the other is opposed to the idea, for example, your chances of making it long-term dwindle.
Here are some life goals you should talk about:
- Starting a family
- Moving to another city or country
- Changing careers
- Buying a house
- Getting matching tattoos
The last point is a joke, but you get the idea.
When your dreams align, you can chase them together.
If you avoid discussing these things, on the other hand, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
It’s natural to want to avoid disagreements, especially at the beginning of the relationship.
Once the butterflies in your stomach quiet down, though, fights are bound to happen.
The bright side?
Learn how to resolve conflict productively, and fights will bring you closer.
Fighting builds trust, gives you a chance to learn more about the other person, and shows that you care for each other.
Do it right by following these quick rules:
- Respect your partner and their point of view (no name-calling!)
- Put yourself in their shoes
- Don’t monopolize the conversation
- Share your emotions
- Discuss one problem at a time
- Call a timeout if things get heated
Do you know what the most common topics couples fight about are? The following two points on this list.
6) Talking about money
It’s impossible to avoid the money subject. The sooner you dig into the matter, the better.
Talking about finances can be awkward, but it’s imperative if you want to build something that lasts.
You don’t have to share the exact number in your savings account or bluntly ask your sweetie how much they make.
That said, having a general idea about each partner’s background and current financial situation helps you both navigate the relationship with more ease.
Decide how to handle paying for dates and whether you should set budgets for gifts.
If one of you is in a pinch or saving for a big purchase, make sure the other is comfortable picking up the tab. Or, find ways to enjoy each other’s company without spending cash.
As you get more comfortable talking money, your relationship will deepen.
7) Being open about sex
Sex is another reason couples fight: not just about how often it happens but also about quality.
Regardless of how good the chemistry is, you can’t read each other’s minds. Even when your significant other rocks your world, there can be room for improvement.
Discussing your sex life builds intimacy. Ask your partner whether there’s anything you should do differently. Open up about your own desires.
If your boo is shy, minimize discomfort by starting small. As you cuddle after sex, ask what they enjoyed most about the experience.
This basic question can kick off a potentially eye-opening conversation.
8) Constructive criticism
Offering constructive criticism means bringing up things that bother you in a helpful, non-threatening way.
It’s tempting to avoid pointing out your partner’s flaws to keep the peace.
Nonetheless, this can lead you to bottle things up and explode down the line, blowing up your entire relationship in the process.
The key to constructive criticism is to steer away from insults, use a considerate tone, and make it sound like you’re exchanging information rather than complaining.
Don’t say, “You always leave your socks on the floor; it drives me insane.”
Say, “It bothers me when you leave your socks on the floor. Can you please put them in the laundry basket instead?”
Similarly, don’t take it too personally when your partner brings up an issue. Strive to do better.
9) Giving each other space
Spending each spare moment together can negatively impact your relationship’s chances of long-term success.
Everyone needs a break from time to time. Give your partner space to do their own thing, and don’t lose track of your sense of individuality.
If you constantly smother each other, you’ll eventually grow tired of so much proximity.
Allow the relationship to develop naturally. You don’t have to do everything together, even when you’ve been together for a while.
Instead, cherish your alone time and let your partner do the same.
10) Asking for outside help
No matter how hard you work on the relationship, you sometimes need outside help to get through a rough patch.
That may mean asking a friend who knows both of you for advice. Maybe it’s reaching out to a therapist.
Even Barack and Michelle Obama attended marriage counseling when things got rocky.
There’s no shame in asking for help. It shows your commitment to overcoming the hurdle together.
Long-lasting relationships don’t just happen. They’re made.
Stop avoiding these hard things. Tackle them one by one, and you can better assess if you and your partner have a shot of going the distance.
If you’re both willing to put in some effort, you’re already on the right track.