I might not know you personally, but I do know that you also deserve a healthy, satisfying, and happy relationship.
I know you’re trying hard, giving your all, and doing everything possible to create and nurture quality, deep, and healthy relationships.
I know you often feel disheartened and defeated whenever an effort to create one came crashing, yet, you still haven’t given up. And you shouldn’t.
I know you might also be thinking of how unlucky you must have been when it comes to love seeing some people’s relationships turn out to be everything but messy like yours often turn out to be.
And I know that it sometimes feels like your love life will forever suck.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a divine or magic formula to transform your love life.
But below are a few of the most vital ingredients every great relationship has at all times, following the same recipe will make it a lot easier to navigate through the tough journey of building great and satisfying relationships.
1. Intelligent management of arguments.
One of the easiest ways to make your relationship miserable is by being so adamant, difficult, and insistent on being right in every confrontational situation.
For instance, you were supposed to have a dinner date with your partner but came back an hour late because something came up at the office and you’re bent on proving you’re right when your partner confronts you aggressively as a result of anger and disappointment.
Or you’re frustrated with your partner for failing to do the dishes and you’re bent on proving that she always doesn’t do the dishes because of all the times she left the dishes in the past which aren’t up to a fraction of the times she did the dishes — she’s doing her best in that aspect.
Does any of these sound familiar?
Here’s the very best way to intelligently handle arguments: Every time you feel this desire to be right or win an argument during heated situations, remind yourself that you might win the argument but lose the relationship.
That’s why you most times need to adjust and give up the desire to win the war so that you can win the battle.
Your partner is mad at you for failing to make it to your dinner date which isn’t entirely your fault or practically beyond your control, apologize and try to see that she calms down first before you can tell her the exact reason for your lateness in a way that doesn’t take the responsibility off your shoulders.
In the same way, you confronted your partner for failing to do the dishes, you should be wise enough to listen to why she wasn’t able to do it instead of being bent on reinforcing that she always doesn’t do the dishes. Besides, it’s something you can help out with.
By the way, do you see the correlation between the two scenarios?
The harsh truth is that being so bent on being right during arguments hinders communication due to the resulting dynamics of criticism and defensiveness which will, in turn, make it difficult for either or both parties to compromise — a huge threat to the relationship.
That’s why in every great relationship, winning the battle of making the relationship work is far more important to the couple than being right or winning an argument.
Also read: Four Reasons Why Some People Have It Hard Falling In Love
2. Unconditional and unreserved acceptance of each other.
I used to so believe in the idea of having what I wanted my ideal partner to be like that I even try to impose some of my unrealistic ideals on my previous partners.
I was dead wrong.
The truth is, that accepting someone for who they are instead of who you want them to be is a vital ingredient of great relationships.
You don’t mold someone into your ideal version of a great partner to enjoy a great relationship. First, you accept them for everything they are. Then, you both work towards becoming the best versions of yourselves.
If you can manage to accept and respect your partner enough to avoid objectifying or putting them on unrealistic pedestals, look beyond their imperfections and embrace their flaws and avoid comparing them to your ex-partners, enjoying great relationships will become easier.
People enjoying great relationships know this and that’s why they’re more focused on appreciating the good qualities of their partners than everything their partners aren’t.
When we struggle to accept our partners for who they are, we usually don’t do so because our partners are so terrible, but because of our made-up fairytale ideals of a great partner, we have deep within us that we couldn’t find in other people we’ve dated in the past.
Forgetting that a relationship that’s based on one person consistently seeking to change the other is certainly doomed to fail.
Also read: 7 Reasons You Suck At Relationships
3. This humane and compassionate quality.
Most people could easily enjoy great relationships if they were self-aware and compassionate enough to apologize when in wrong and forgive when wronged.
Whether on purpose or unknowingly, it’s logically and practically impossible not to be hurt or not to hurt your partner in a relationship. It’s humane.
Yet, a lot of us find it difficult to sincerely and effectively apologize whenever we unintentionally or otherwise hurt our partners.
On the other hand, a lot of us still can’t bring ourselves to forgive the wrongs of our partners even when they acknowledge their wrongs and seek forgiveness.
We prefer not to restore and make our relationships happy and even healthy than give up our egos to admit our errors and offer sincere apologies.
And in the same way, we prefer to be taken over by bitterness than forgive and let go of the pains caused by our partners. Neither of these is the case in a great relationship.
4. Unrestricted and courageous openness.
Your courage to be completely open with little to no reservations determines the depth of the connection you have with your partner.
If you spend the entire time in your relationship bottling up your negative emotions or grievances towards your partner, painful or uncomfortable truths, confusion, sorrows, fears, and insecurities, you’ll likely be more unhappy than otherwise in the relationship.
You might be shying away from being vulnerable and open in your relationship out of fear that opening up might result in conflicts, judgments, and what have you.
Unfortunately, as a result of you bottling up every single thing that stresses you, you might out of built-up resentments, blow up, and end up triggering a mind-boggling fight that might result in the relationship’s demise.
Sounds horrible, right?
That’s why you should be courageously open and vulnerable no matter how frightening it might be because avoiding issues will most likely result in bigger problems in the long run.
And hence, why couples in great relationships don’t try to avoid the inevitable instead, they look out for productive and effective ways to resolve things as soon as possible.
5. Total respect and honor of dissimilar needs.
We all have different and unique needs that are fundamental to our happiness in our relationships and even in life in general.
We all must have in one way or another, heard and know that relationships are all about giving and taking, which in other words, is meeting one another’s needs.
Yet, a lot of us are so terrible that we care only about our needs disregarding and in the worst-case scenario, disrespecting the needs of the other party.
We all deeply crave understanding and attention towards our feelings, interests, preferences or habits even towards sex, etc, yet, most of us do nothing but invalidate our partners’ desires.
And the more we pay little to no attention to our partners’ desires, the more our relationships turn out to be mediocre.
So here’s what to do: Both you and your partner should be highly respectful and understanding of each other’s needs or desires even when it means you don’t always get what you want.
Be very loving, compassionate, and empathetic towards each other enough to always reach a fair playground where you negotiate and compliment each others’ differences.
Don’t try to use your similarities and dissimilarities as a scale to measure your compatibility because compatibility is overrated. And complementarity makes up great relationships.
6. Care about each other’s pains.
We live in a world where suppression of uncomfortable emotions and even pain avoidance is the order of the day.
We all know how agonizing and discomforting it feels to be experiencing pains caused by either someone we love or other stressful and traumatizing events hence, why a lot of people consciously or subconsciously avoid the pains and sorrows of their partners.
Yet, being there for one’s partner during painful moments won’t only deepen the bond and strengthen the connection between both partners, but will eventually ensure that their relationship attains the status of A Great Relationship.
In fact, it’s one of the chief things great relationships have at all times.
Even if you’re the cause of your partner’s pains, validating and empathizing with your partner’s feelings and pains will not only bring about transformational amends but means you’re loving enough to care about your partner’s pains and healing.
Giving your partner a stable feeling of assurance that you are also on the same team against their pains and a feeling of a sense of safety in a fearful and unfriendly world, will make you a safe haven for your partner amid fearful and agonizing situations.
Listening instead of giving unsolicited pieces of advice when your partner is experiencing painful moments like the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or going through post-traumatic experiences is unarguably the best gift you can gift them.
Dare to be that supportive, ever-loving, and encouraging figure your partner needs the most during tough moments, and your relationship will become better for it.
7. Reciprocal emotional generosity.
Do you ever feel like you’re over sacrificing in a relationship but get little to no reciprocating sacrifices from your partner?
If you did, it probably made you feel miserable and unloved enough. Instead of a situation where your sincerest and generous sacrifices that are coming from your loving heart are being reciprocated, it’s being taken as an unfair advantage at your expense.
The problem is, that we often find ourselves on either side of this unbalanced equation.
Self-sacrificial love, martyrdom, and even resentments as a result of one-sided sacrifices are absent in great relationships. Period.
For better, healthier, and more satisfying relationships, there needs to be a deep love between both parties enough for both of them to often give from their hearts whenever they can.
Nothing beats a relationship where sacrificing or even giving up your own needs at a time will be reciprocated in the long run instead of being taken advantage of.
John Emmanuel is a results-obsessed relationship blogger and founder of Top Love Hacks, dedicated to helping you level up your dating and relationship game by motivating you to be in control of your love life.