Just because you’re dating your dream person doesn’t guarantee a happy ending.
In fact, I’d argue that this is where the real challenges begin.
As you may have heard, relationships, specifically happy and stable relationships, take effort to sustain.
When we get too comfortable and relaxed, there is an occasional tendency to take one another for granted.
I remember watching the film Annie Hall last year. At the end, the main character Alvie reflects on his withering romance: “A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”
Don’t let it get to this point. But first things first, I’d like to walk you through some of the things you should never take for granted when in love.
Let’s get to it!
1) Mutual respect
I’ve said it before, when respect goes, so does the relationship.
When respect crumbles, so do attraction, and so does trust.
Your relationship should represent a safe space where you can share and value mutual opinions, choices, and emotions.
A space where you prop each other up and thrive, not bring each other down.
So when there is a lack of respect from one or both partners, then really, what is the point of being together?
At that point, you either have a serious talk and demand change or walk away, giving both of yourselves the opportunity to start anew.
Don’t be complacent when it comes to trust, because when it’s broken, regaining it is an incredibly uphill battle.
Honesty should always be at the foundation of a strong relationship.
Think about it: let’s say you’ve cheated on your partner in the past.
While many will outright break up with you, if your partner does in fact agree to take you back, you’ll be in for a tumultuous ride.
It can take months or even years for things to return to normalcy.
There will be invariably resentment toward you that can manifest in myriad ways.
So for many, it’ll be too much trouble to salvage and they’ll cut their losses and move on.
Bottom line: while you should feel at ease in love, you should also stay extra vigilant when it comes to maintaining trust.
3) Quality time
Sometimes, especially in long-term relationships, the rigors and routine of life can overshadow the opportunities for romance.
You both might be too tired and too jaded for date night or spending time together.
Perhaps, over time, you’ll practically turn into glorified flatmates.
Hollywood couples are notorious for not working out.
Why? Because both partners are too busy and have too many engagements to fully commit to a full-time relationship.
So if you are both busy, that’s fine–in some cases, even encouraged.
But also actively make it a point to set aside time for one another.
Remember, a morning walk with your partner isn’t just exercise, and watching that Netflix series together after work isn’t just entertainment.
These things mean quality time, attentiveness, and in a sense, romance–qualities that ultimately will strengthen your bond and keep that spark going strong.
Maybe it was our respective dysfunctional upbringings, but whatever it was, my ex and I both had an aversion to communicating.
I think at the time, we both had an extremely low threshold for stress so instead of addressing our concerns outright, our default move was to sweep them under the rug.
Resentment grew, then hit a tipping point, one our relationship couldn’t overcome–a breakup that was ironically dragged out over months precisely because of our inability to communicate.
The point is that effective communication is absolutely essential in any functioning relationship.
Being able to openly share your inner thoughts, feelings, and issues with someone you love? Priceless.
So if you’re in love, and want it to last, prioritize your ability to communicate. Your happiness is firmly at stake.
When you’re in love, you should be a rock, a pillar of comfort and strength for your partner– not a liability.
And the great thing is, you can show support in a ton of ways, both big and small.
Maybe your partner is extra stressed after a rough day at the office, so you take care of their share of chores.
Or maybe your partner is going through a career change, quitting a stable job to chase their passion.
Instead of putting them down and dismissing them, you have their back, providing them with enthusiastic encouragement the entire way.
My friend’s father passed away recently.
As if on cue, her boyfriend responded by providing her with a superhuman level of support and respite, resoundingly letting her know that she was far from alone in her time of grief.
I guess when you genuinely love and care for someone, you’ll instinctively pull out all the stops to support them in their most vulnerable moments.
It’s not uncommon for insecure people to try to claim possession of their partners.
When you’re in a relationship, your significant other isn’t your property–and if you think otherwise, do yourself a favor and let them go.
As we touched on earlier, respect is an absolutely critical part of any romance.
Love means respecting their individuality, their independence, and their autonomy as living, breathing human beings.
Love means appreciating differences, and allowing room for growth and space.
It doesn’t mean clinginess, envy, control, or a fear of getting left behind.
So if you have a tendency to be controlling or possessive, it’s best you shake that feeling off.
And in a similar vein, you shouldn’t lose your identity in a relationship either.
I’ve known people who have gotten swept off their feet and never come back down to Earth, letting their love for someone define who they are as individuals.
It’s a slippery slope, so if you’re impressionable in this sense, it’s best to proceed with caution.
7) Shared goals
Having said that, having shared goals is important too.
When you love someone, you tend to envision a future with them.
Hence, common life goals solidify your union–providing you with the focus toward building a future together.
You don’t want to just be in a constant state of limbo in a relationship like two headless chickens, you want it to go somewhere, you want some semblance of direction.
Having shared goals will fulfill that need.
These goals can include bigger things like planning to start a family or setting the groundwork for moving to a new city, or it can simply mean saving money for your dream trip to Japan or renovating your bathroom.
Like anything in life, goals give you purpose, and a sense of togetherness as a couple. You get the gist.
8) Physical affection
You don’t have to engage in tantric sex acts 24/7, but when you’re in love, physical touch should always play a significant role.
There’s a reason physical touch is one of the established love languages.
Touch, when done right, represents intimacy, and what is love without intimacy?
So whether it means regularly holding hands, getting a cuddle in, kissing, or what have you,
if you want the flame of tenderness to keep burning, it’s best to never neglect the virtue of physical contact.
To recap, you can love someone with all your heart, but unless you put the work in, you’re in for some disappointment–if not now, then down the line.
Besides, when you go into things half-assed, this really isn’t fair to your partner either.
So take the contents of this article constructively.
No relationship is perfect. And if you feel yours needs fixing, take things a step at a time.
Start small then build from there.
Love when done right is a beautiful thing. You and your partner both deserve to experience that.