3 Principles to Successful Relationships for Millennials

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.

  1. Think long-term
  2. Actively invest in yourself and the relationship
  3. Care deeply

Think long-term

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.

Invest

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.

Care Deeply

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.

Principles to Learn Effectively Online

I applied these self-learning principles to go from being college dropout to self-taught programmer.

With the bulk of human knowledge readily available on the Internet, we can learn anything we want. As we all know, with knowledge comes opportunity.

I’m a case study for this: You can really turn blog posts, video courses, and other online content into a new career or further your current one.

But how do you actually make your effort effective? How do you transform your time reading blog posts and watching MOOCs into truly furthering your career?

We spend so much time looking for resources and poring over information that you can’t use immediately. The process of learning online can be overwhelming and inefficient.

Try these principles and you might save some time:

  • Learn by doing is the most effective way to mastery.
  • When acquiring a new skill, learn only what you need to start. Then, start immediately.
  • As soon as you learn new information, try to apply it immediately. This is why many courses are project-based; the lessons stick when you actually solve problems yourself.
  • Learn how you learn. If you can absorb material simply by reading, then you will save a lot of money. If not, don’t kid yourself. I wasted a lot of time and money trying to learn from books when only code-along video courses have worked for me.
  • Learning is an investment in yourself. View it as so, and applying your time and money will feel justified. Every improvement will feel like an increase in your ROI.
  • If you need the skill, you won’t have to manufacture motivation. If it’s simply a hobby, your motivation will take much more willpower. Include the skill in your goals and you’ll find a way.
  • Reminder: Writing it down is not the same as learning it.

It will take longer than you expect to understand, but shorter than you expect to be effective.

Start now.

Age of Distraction

This a reminder for myself and fellow millennials.

We live in the Age of Distraction. In the age of push notifications, social media platforms, Netflix, and unlimited access to everything in our pockets, there are infinite ways to use our attention. In addition, companies are getting better at making habit-forming, or addictive, products to command our attention more.

But your time and attention are limited resources. Mind your habits. Beware distractions and desire. Be clear about your goals and care enough to be disciplined.

If we can only be effective on a few things a day, what are you choosing to spend your time on? If you on Facebook or Instagram multiples times every day, how does that affect the happiness and success of your day? How much time do you spend avoiding what you need to do? Are you pushing yourself?

Reminders to Creators Who Aren’t Creating

  1. You don’t need to wait for permission to start.
  2. If you wait to be an expert before you start sharing your work, you’ll never become the expert.
  3. In order to prove your ability, you need to show it off and this era it’s easier than ever. Start blogging, creating content, and working hard toward your goals.