As we celebrate our 3-year anniversary, my partner and I have been reflecting what has made our Tinder relationship successful so far. Both of us have gone through years of dysfunctional relationships and seen so many of our friends’ relationships blow up, and we think we’ve finally begun to learn what works.
Living in an age where casual hookups and new friendships are a message away, it’s easier than ever to date. But despite our hopes, each of us has a relationship that wasn’t fated to last forever. I wonder if all those Disney movies brought poor expectations: We expect love to be easy, to be free from challenges, to be natural.
But relationships are tough, emotionally-challenging work.
We aren’t equipped to be vulnerable and real, and modern society has hooked us on short-term gratification, instead of long-term satisfaction. Love advice splatters the headlines and everyone has a different opinion, so we’re left to follow our hearts (or hormones).
Can we get some simple rules to follow?
So over a few drinks, my partner and I agreed on these principles to create or strengthen a long-term relationship. We think as long as you can incorporate these principles, you can create successful, long-term relationships.
- Think long-term
- Actively invest in yourself and the relationship
- Care deeply
If you want a healthy, long-term, resilient relationship, you need to think long-term first.
If you view people transactionally, expecting the relationship to end, what incentive do you have to work through hard problems? When you view a relationship over the long-term, its problems become obstacles instead of ways out.
In addition, you need to stop starting short-term relationships. Whether a business or romantic relationship, it’s easy to become stuck with someone for years. Eventually, different worldviews, values, or conflicting desires for the relationship become a problem.
We’ve all gone on a date with someone that we didn’t really like or thought we were compatible with. Maybe you were bored. Flash forward two months later, and you’re still dating that person. You’re unhappy, they know you’re unhappy, but you feel stuck now.
We know relationships are a huge part of life. If we’re stuck with the wrong people, it will take a toll even if it doesn’t seem like it now. Why invest our limited time, energy, and money on people who will only stick around for a moment?
Now once you’re thinking long-term, investment becomes worth it.
Investment in your self and the relationship is important as your relationship matures.
Investing in your self means to improve your life and maintain a lifestyle so you can be the best version of your self.
If each partner can grow independently and seek the best version of their self, both people can stay excited about and interested in the relationship. Complacency doesn’t set in, and a sense that each person is willing and happy to participate in the relationship develops. In addition, in times of hardship, your sense of self isn’t exclusively tied to the relationship. This leads to a healthier perspective on the relationship and its problems.
Additionally, you must also invest time and energy into the relationship.
One of the best investments I’ve ever made was attending couples’ therapy with my partner. Through this, my partner and I gained the vocabulary to talk about our emotions, which has helped us create a deep trust. I used to believe that I knew enough about relationships, but you simply can’t learn to be a great partner by only observing other couples and reading advice.
This investment set us back a little financially, but it provided us the tools to be successful now and in the future. Since then, our relationship has become a safe space to talk. With this trust, we can be vulnerable unlike anywhere else in our life.
The final and most important principle is to care deeply.
And I mean really give a shit. It’s deceivingly simple, but the truth is most people don’t care enough to look beyond their own suffering or convenience.
Care deeply about your partner’s happiness. Care deeply about your own happiness. Care deeply about becoming a great partner. Care enough to be real. Care enough to take responsibility. Care enough to make sacrifices. Care enough to learn.
Life rewards people who give a shit a little more than the average person.
And that’s all.
Surprisingly, I don’t see a lot of millennials thinking this way, but I think if you can internalize these principles, you’ll create the foundation to create meaningful, lasting relationships.