Communication, commitment, intimacy, respect, trust – these are all widely accepted tenets of a good relationship. But when you ask gooey sweethearts and grizzled married couples alike, they’ll tell you love is more dynamic than that and the way we interact and express closeness in relationships is a fine-tuned operation.
For some, lots of time away from their partner is the key to lifelong companionship. For others, it’s all about having regular date nights and kindling a burning bond. Obviously, real women in relationships have a thing or two figured out, so we tapped them for advice and insight about what goes a long way in love. Whether you’re in the middle of deleting your dating apps or celebrating a double digit anniversary, get ready to take notes.
Rosie Acosta, Radically Loved, @rosieacosta
The relationship advice I swear by was from a married couple that had been married for fifty years and still very much in love. They told me it was simple. Don’t ever use the words “Never” and “Always” when having a conversation with your partner. Never is always wrong, and Always is never right. After being in a relationship myself for 18 years, this continues to serve me best. I find it a great way to also practice mindfulness, especially when times are rough.
Jasmin Steiner, The Journey Podcast, @marriedmomandmantras
Instead of reflecting on the euphoria of hormonal bliss that started the relationship (the motivating feelings), there has to be a shift into how we can make it better now instead of wishing for it to be as it was. This applies to every aspect of our lives. Living in the past will make the present seem unpleasant, and unbearable even, but focus on what we can do today.
Marie Alojado, ICU Nurse
Don’t forget yourself in a relationship. When you are happy, your relationship is ten times better! Don’t assume, don’t sweat the small stuff, and think things through. I’ve been married for 13 years and been with my hubby/bf since ‘94. Things don’t always go your way, but it’s about what you are going to do about it.
Evin Rose, Evin Rose Coaching, @evinrose
When you water down your desires, you’re unlikely to get what you really want. I don’t settle for mediocre, for little improvements here and there, for “good enough.” I claim the deepest, truest, so-big-they’re-kinda-scary desires, so that I can start doing what it takes to move powerfully in the direction of everything I want.
Dr. Alexandra Solomon, Professor and Psychologist at Northwestern University, @dr.alexandra.solomon
Remember that a relationship does not have to be 50/50 to be healthy. In fact, imbalances are inevitable because an intimate relationship is alive, dynamic, and ever-changing. At one point in time, one of you wants more closeness and connection and at another point in time the other one does. Certainly consistent patterns of emotional unavailability or controlling behavior are problematic, but between those extremes are many many shades of gray. And these ebbs and flows in energy and attention are learning opportunities. When I am craving more closeness and my partner is needing more space, I have a chance to learn about asking for what I need… and about self-soothing. When my partner is the one craving more closeness, I have a chance to learn about healthy boundaries… and about empathy.
Tessa Mac, Dating Coach, @tessamac
Time is the most valuable commodity. How do you want to spend it? It’s your life. When it comes to the person you decide to date seriously (or any other important life decision for that matter), I’m a firm believer that if it’s not a “FUCK YES” it’s a “FuCK NO.” Relationships are important. If you are choosing one person to commit your time and energy to, they better be really freaking awesome.
Tarran Hatton, BlissBomb, @blissbombjoy
Be your own favorite date first, then set yourself as the bar to hold all prospective partners again. If being with them isn’t as fun as or better than being by yourself, they’re not worth the time.
Christina Martinez, New Darlings, @newdarlings
Wake up early to catch the sunrise together. Taking a few extra moments to breathe the fresh air and say I love you.
Sopha Rush, Live Deeply Rooted, @sopharush
Before marriage, you feel like you have a person figured out, but it’s so much deeper when things have to get unpacked. The baggage each brings to the relationship has to be brought into the light and worked through together. I have had to learn that everything that leads to a disagreement didn’t mean we were no longer in love. I would feel like our marriage was failing, but that wasn’t the case. We were just trying to figure out each other, how to talk to one another. I encourage you to take time to understand where they come from and unpack baggage together.
Brennae DeBarge, Zo Pierre Kids, @itsbrennae
Remember the days you prayed for what you have now? Keep that in mind during rough times. Everything is a season, ever flowing and ever changing. Go with it, flow with it, roll with it. It gets better.
Andi Wheeler, Counselor
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to always keep working on maintaining a healthy and clear relationship with myself. And to choose a partner who does so, too.
A version of this story was published December 2020.
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