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If binge-watching “Jane the Virgin” and “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix has taught us anything, it’s that relationships are messy.
Personal experience proves it too: From our eighth-grade romance to our most recent breakup drama, “love isn’t easy” is a life lesson we know all too well.
No matter your status – single, dating, engaged, or married – relationships take work. Whether they end with tears and empty Ben & Jerry’s or last until forever maydepend on countless factors, but your actions, words, and thoughts undoubtedly play a role.
One thing that’ll give you an advantage in the game of love? Soaking up all the wisdom you can from relationship therapists, researchers, matchmakers, and more.
Here, we’ve distilled it down to the very best advice 15 experts have learned. Regardless of your personal situation, their words may help you find the key to long-lasting happiness.
1. Look for someone with similar values
“For long-lasting love, the more similarity (e.g., age, education, values, personality, hobbies), the better. Partners should be especially sure that their values match before getting into marriage.
Although other differences can be accommodated and tolerated, a difference in values is particularly problematic if the goal is long-lasting love.
Another secret for a long marriage: Both partners need to commit to making it work, no matter what. The only thing that can break up a relationship are the partners themselves.”
2. Never take your partner for granted
“This may sound obvious, but you can’t imagine how many people come to couples therapy too late, when their partner is done with a relationship and wants to end it.
It is very important to realize that everyone potentially has a breaking point, and if their needs are not met or they don’t feel seen by the other, they will more than likely find it somewhere else.
Many people assume that just because they are OK without things they want so is their partner. ‘No relationship is perfect’ shouldn’t be used as a rationalization for complacency.”
3. Stop trying to be each other’s “everything”
“‘You are my everything’ is a lousy pop-song lyric and an even worse relationship plan. No one can be ‘everything’ to anyone. Create relationships outside The Relationship, or The Relationship isn’t going to work anymore.”
4. Do or say something daily to show your appreciation
“Saying and doing small, simple expressions of gratitude every day yields big rewards. When people feel recognized as special and appreciated, they’re happier in that relationship and more motivated to make the relationship better and stronger.
And when I say simple, I really mean it. Make small gestures that show you’re paying attention: Hug, kiss, hold hands, buy a small gift, send a card, fix a favorite dessert, put gas in the car, or tell your partner, ‘You’re sexy,’ ‘You’re the best dad,’ or ‘Thank you for being so wonderful.’”
5. Make sure you’re meeting your partner’s needs
“The number one thing I have learned about love is that it is a trade and a social exchange, not just a feeling. Loving relationships are a process by which we get our needs met and meet the needs of our partners too.
When that exchange is mutually satisfying, then good feelings continue to flow. When it is not, then things turn sour, and the relationship ends.
That is why it is important to pay attention to what you and your partner actually do for each other as expressions of love… not just how you feel about each other in the moment.”