1Â Let go of expectations.
When you’re trying to maintain a relationship, don’t expect the other person to be someone they are not. While it’s possible for the members of a couple to compromise on a variety of important issues and even change minor aspects of themselves for their partner, at their cores, most people are the same person for the long haul. Avoid having any sorts of illusions about your partner or assigning them qualities that they lack. Similarly, don’t expect a partner to change a major part of who they are to appease you.
For example, it’s OK to ask your partner (politely, of course) to start taking the garbage out sometimes â€” this is a reasonable place to look for compromise. However, it’s not OK to expect your partner to suddenly decide to want kids if they don’t already this is a deeply personal decision that can’t reasonably be undone.
2Â Be honest about who you are.
Just as you shouldn’t try to conceal or change any major part of your partner, it’s important to do the same yourself. When dating, it may be tempting to appease someone you like by manipulating the truth about your past or present situation. However, this not only leads to personal guilt, but also poses the risk of problems down the road. When the other person inevitably learns the truth, the level of trust in the relationship can seriously suffer.
For example, while it’s perfectly OK to dress a little fancier than you normally would for your first few dates, you wouldn’t want to pretend that you’re agnostic when you actually are quite religious just to make your date happy. Misleading your partner about yourself either by lying or omitting information about yourself is an act of deception that, for many people, can be difficult to recover from.
3Â Spend lots of time with a potential partner.
What’s the best way to find out if you can spend long amounts of time with someone else? Try to do it! To know if a relationship will work in the long-term, it’s very important to spend lots of time in the other person’s company (ideally in a wide range of environments). If you can stand to be around someone for days, weeks, or months at a time, you may have a keeper.
You’ll probably also want to see if this person gets along with the people who are close to you (and vice versa). Bring your partner to your social engagements and introduce them to your friends and family. If your partner gets along well with these people, you have one less thing to worry about.
4Â Take your time.
You’re looking for someone to spend the rest of your life with, so there’s no reason to rush into things. Give your relationship the chance to grow organically. Don’t stick to an arbitrary schedule for progressing through major relationship events like “going steady”, moving in together, and getting married. If you rush into these decisions, you run the risk of finding yourself in situations you aren’t prepared for with someone who may or may not be on the same page as you in terms of life priorities.
You’ll definitely want to avoid becoming intimately involved with a potential partner until you get to know the person. While it’s certainly possible to turn a casual relationship into something more serious, sexual intimacy shouldn’t be the foundation for long-term happiness. Though sexual attraction and compatibility are key to a good long-term relationship, waiting allows you to gain a better understanding of whether you are compatible.
5Â Take note of how you act around your partner.
If you find yourself acting “fake”, pretending to feel differently than you actually do, or laughing at things you don’t think are funny, this might be a sign that you’re not truly comfortable around this person. If, however, you are relaxed and feel completely natural in the person’s presence, you are on the right track. It’s important to be able to be completely genuine around your partner. Eventually, everyone runs out of the energy to keep “faking it” you don’t want this to happen to you five years into a marriage.
6Â Be willing to make sacrifices.
No relationship is perfect. There will be times when you may have to sacrifice your own needs for the sake of your partner. It’s up to you to decide exactly how far you’re willing to go in terms of sacrifices â€” most good relationships involve a healthy give-and-take of sacrifices from both partners.
When it comes to making sacrifices for the good of your relationship, small things, like minor personal habits and behaviors, should be on the table. However, major life goals usually shouldn’t be, as a serious disagreement about one of these can be a sign that two people are incompatible. For example, deciding to go out drinking with your friends less often is a reasonable sacrifice to make if you have a spouse and children. On the other hand, deciding not to have children when you desperately want them isn’t something you should put yourself through.