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What makes relationships last?

June 3, 2010 2 comments

So you’ve met someone wonderful and start looking forward to what your future life may be like with them.  The question is how do we make sure we turn that image into reality rather than a remnant of our past optimism?

When asked what makes a successful relationship, many of us think we know the recipe or atleast what the ingredients are.  We state universal terms such as love, trust, common interests as what takes us beyond attraction into fulfilling relationships.  Yet, for many of us knowing this and having the experience of being in previous relationships does not necessarily correlate into making us happy in a partnership.  Whilst attraction is relatively quick and in some cases instantaneous, relationships take longer to develop, build and maintain.

The ONS indicates that 20% of men and women divorcing in 2008 had previous marriage(s) that had ended in divorce.  But it’s not just those that have been previously married and in relationships that are having difficulty in building a successful partnership.  Indeed, 69% of divorces in 2008 were to couples where the marriage was the first for both parties.  The common most reason given for divorce was behaviour.

The results from CityDaters poll, indicate some of the following factors being important for developing a strong and lasting relationship.

Love

This needs to be based on something more superficial than attraction otherwise it will last as long as the bank balance, looks or perhaps until the children leave the house.  Love is the most potent of ingredients that keeps together and wants us to be together and is absolutely crucial for any lasting relationship.  However, love needs to be combined with other factors to make a relationship last.  Imagine love as the air for humans, it keeps us going but without food and water it will be wasted.

Freedom of interests

Whilst having common interests is certainly positive, those that have other interests independent from their partners generally find they have more fulfilling relationships.  This ensures that you are not crowding each other and by investing some of your time in these interests or hobbies, it allows you to appreciate your commonalities and retains the element of spontaneity as you are less likely to become predictable.  Boredom in a relationship is a dangerous thing and by having these outside interests it acts as an escape not from your partner necessarily but from routine and ensures you bring a new freshness even to your shared common interests.

Romance

This is need not manifest itself everyday, as that would perhaps be counter-productive.  Romance should be something that is always live and never dormant, it should make your other half know that you appreciate them, care for them and that they are important to you.  This shouldn’t just be in the form of a card that you would give someone at Christmas but be a gesture that is personal, heartfelt and of significance.  It should be a break from routine, have an element of spontaniety.  Ensure you keep a regular balance of romance in your relationship.

Passion

Yes, sex in a relationship is important but this is not about sex.  Passion is what makes sex different.  There should be a longing in the couple for each other. It is passion that makes each touch, each kiss, each blink of the eye mean a lot more than that which meets the eye. You see those aging couples walking hand in hand, it is the passion that keeps them there. The passion to stay together despite the odds, that is what makes a good relationship.

Friendship

Friendship is that ingredient which adds the magic to the relationship.  If two people can be lovers and friends at the same time, they have a complete relationship.  Friendship allows the couple to laugh together at their randomness, yell at each other for the mistakes and cry with each other for the losses.  How complete do you feel in company of a friend?  This is how it should be in your relationship, an effortless ease and comfort that you feel when you are together that makes an occasion more memorable.

Empathy

You need to have a basic know how about the other person.  How they think, how they react and how they behave.  It is this empathy that makes a couple manage living with each other for a longer time.  It is this empathy that helps a couple do those small small things that make the other person happy.  A good relationship is made by two people who understand each other and accept each other with the flaws.

While the exact mixture will differ from relationship to relationship and person to person, using these elements you are bound to be close to creating the recipe that works for you.

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