Ways to Make Any Relationship Last
Love that lasts is the result of partners embedding themselves in each other's brains in a positive way. Memory circuits and pleasure get all wound up together so that the other person becomes integral to the very structure of your brain, and you become part of the structure of theirs. (Here's more on what happens to your brain when you're in love.)
Take your partner's breath away.
Do something amazingly thoughtful and out of the ordinary and try to incorporate an element of surprise to it: a loving note tucked into a pocket. A special dinner on an otherwise ordinary night. A playlist made up with his favorite songs. These thoughtful acts will embed you in your partner's memory.
Do something special on a regular basis.
Call them every day just to touch base for a few minutes. Make their favorite meal once a week. Once they begin to expect these things, you will always be close to their awareness.
Engage in lots of eye contact.
New couples seem to do this naturally, but don't drop this strong bonding behavior just because the relationship has progressed. This is one way to keep the "romance alive", as they say, and is especially powerful when making love. (Need inspo? These hot-and-heavy sex positions could spark joy in your sex life.)
Learn what pleases your partner sexually.
Make it clear that their pleasure is your pleasure, and you want to discover everything about what turns them on. They'll be happy to have you experiment with them while making love.
Teach your partner what you like.
Likewise, making you happy will make your partner feel good. And research shows that the sexual pleasure of one partner increases the pleasure of the other partner. (Figure out what you like using these 13 tips for a mind-blowing masturbation session.)
Boost lasting love with sexual novelty.
When things get humdrum and routine, there is not going to be as much of a hormonal/neurotransmitter reaction, and arousal is lessened.
While you don't have to break out the whips and chains, a little novelty while you're making love can increase anticipation, which means that more hormones are secreted. The result? Hotter, more thrilling sex for both of you. (You can start with one of these vibrators.)
Do something edgy.
If you get your partner's heart rate up, they may associate the feeling of excitement with you and may develop more powerful feelings for you. Going on a roller-coaster ride, taking a balloon trip, shooting the rapids-anything with a touch of danger to it-can make them fall more deeply in love with you. (This couple tried learning trapeze together.)
Do something great for someone your partner loves.
If you show kindness and love for someone they love, you'll earn major points. When you enter a relationship, you also enter a relationship with all their family and friends. Show them that the people who are important to them are important to you.
Summarize and immortalize loving moments.
Don't be afraid to give voice to your love. Tell them how you feel. Write a loving note or poem. Lovers have been doing this from the beginning of time because it works.
Boost the love chemicals.
There are many brain chemicals that go into the feeling of love and attachment. Oxytocin is known as the bonding, trust, and cuddle hormone. Oxytocin is enhanced by watching romantic movies together, holding hands, cuddling, and long, loving eye contact.
(And kissing, which has a bunch of other health benefits!) Women usually have more oxytocin than men, but according to one study, a man's level of oxytocin goes up 500 percent after making love. Being too busy to make love pushes couples apart.
“Communication” is not the secret
And whoever thinks it is needs to do a real gut-check on this one.
Folks who think this do so because they struggle with it. They struggle with emotional boundaries — what’s theirs, what’s their partner’s, what they should own, what their partner is to blame for.
They think “sharing” is the same as “solving,” as though “talking about it” means things are going to be “fixed.” They also struggle with anxiety and passive-aggressiveness — especially when, shocker, “communication” alone doesn’t work.
“Communication” gets you statements like:“I truly and deeply loathe you sometimes” “There are moments I regret marrying you” “I have sexual fantasies about your best friend” “I sometimes I think about cheating on you” …etc.
Which may seem like an exaggeration. But it’s not far from:“I need ___” “I want ___” “I feel __ ” “You make me feel___”
If you’re thinking: “what’s wrong with the second set?” The same thing that’s wrong with the first set: it’s poor emotional boundaries.
I know “experts” everywhere say that “communication” is the solution, but it’s not. And sure, if you struggle to share, or get passive aggressive, then yeah, work on that — but as a “you” thing.
Not as “the secret” to making a relationship work. Because sharing is great, but relationships are about much more than handing off our feelings, wants and needs to our partners.
If you’re thinking: “uh… I would definitely want to know the first set!” Sweetie. no you would not. All of it is super common, and saying it out loud causes more problems than it solves. It’s not our partner’s problem. It’s not even really ours. It’s just a reality for us to handle and move through
A GOOD RELATIONSHIP, WHILE IT LASTS
— however long that is.
This is you if: you’re not necessarily hellbent on staying together “til death do you part.” You understand that people change, and needs and wants and values change, so relationships change and, either upfront or deep down inside, you’re okay with that. You just want it to be good in the meantime.
Okay. Fine. Respect.But. This is also you if: you think staying together “forever” means “you’ll always feel exactly the same.”
If you’re the sort of person who insists on defining “love” as a “feeling” rather than a “choice,” then you are, in fact, also exactly the sort of person who intends to stay together only for as long as that lasts.
Develop (Your Own) Emotional Maturity
This includes other words people use to describe a good partner: kind, respectful, trustworthy, honest. (As one person put it: “reasonable and rational and not selfish or petty.”)
Uh, yeah… “emotionally mature.” Y’all mean “emotionally mature.”
But it’s not just about finding someone who is — because we don’t control other people.
It’s also about being someone who is
Love is acceptance — just as much as ourselves as others. Loving and caring for ourselves first means that we develop the self-respect and strength necessary that we don’t bury our self-worth in others, either in subjugating them or “winning” their affections.
Neither person is the “alpha” in a healthy relationship. Neither “wins” (or “loses”) a “fight,” because “fights” aren’t what they have. Mature couples have discussions, or disagreements. Not verbal boxing matches or duels of the witConflict resolution
Healthy couples don’t “fight” — not because they “avoid” conflict, but because they discuss, or disagree. They both seek to understand before being understood, listen, show compassion, etc. They both hear their partner’s side as much as sharing their own. They both know the difference between a mature, adult “discussion,” and an immature “fight” with a winner and loser.
A “FOREVER” LOVE
A love that truly lasts a lifetime. This is what most of us say we want, but most of us don’t actually know how to make it happen.Because:
If you define “love” as a “feeling” rather than a “choice,” then you are also directly putting love at risk of not lasting “forever.”
Reset Your Expectations (Of Love & Feelings)I am continually amazed at the number of people who end their marriages or longterm relationships because they “fell out of love” or “developed feelings for someone else.” Because, like… duh…!
People are messy, imperfect human beings.
Our feelings for our partners will ebb and flow And/but: they usually come back again. You have to be patient. And compassionate. And mature. Real love is not the eyeball-bursting, heart-struck romance we see in rom-coms and experienced in the beginning.
Love changes. And good love grows.
If you’re relying primarily on “staying in love” to stay together, you’re banking your “forever” on something inherently fluid. Many people think their feelings now will go on lasting forever (or just get better, wee!), but they’re wrong.
If your gameplan is to always feel the same, then you are in denial of how humans work. When I was 18, I went to a 50th wedding anniversary party. After dinner, the couple stood up and said: Sometimes people ask us how we stayed together for so long…”
They chuckled to themselves, then said: “The real secret is: we never fell out of love at the same time.” And that’s it. All of it — including the very real, unpleasant implications, which are: sometimes, one of you will fall out of love.
Sometimes it will be you. Sometimes it will be them. And sometimes it can last for months, or a year — not days. There will be tough times and sour notes and shit years in your relationship. There just will be. If you want it all at the end, you have to stick through it.
“Feelings” come and go, and we have to decide whether we’re going to chase the highs and temptations and relinquish our relationship, or relinquish the chokehold that “feelings” have on us and hold our relationship together.
We will feel attracted to others Human beings are messy! And as Winton from Five Year Engagement put it: “Underneath all that polite bullshit we’re all running on caveman software” One woman (and seriously, respect, sister ) was faithful for decades. She resisted temptation and stood by her vows,
“Married 20+ years… happy normal ups and downs like any marriage. Children are in college… I love my husband and have never ever considered cheating. I have had many offers over the years but have always refused.
I have never even been tempted… I am still happy in my marriage; I am not angry or upset with my husband... I have NEVER planned this, I didn’t look for this, I did not seek this out I never had any intention of ever cheating.” But then she felt something. From the moment she met the guy:
“I was flooded with a feeling I had not had before… This man completely took my breath away. I felt like a teenager again. My stomach was in knots and my mouth was dry I was blushing constantly and could barely form a coherent sentence. Oh I wanted him so bad but I refused. I… told him I was married and just could not do this…
Eventually… he kissed me. I said I couldn’t but then just went with it. Needless to say we never left the house. We talked and played for hours, the best part was just being in his arms and talking, I wanted to stay there forever.
I have not been able to stop thinking about him. He pops into my head out of the blue and I catch my breath and get butterflies. I can’t explain it and I figure in time this will stop and these feelings will go away, but they never do, it has been a year.
I started seeing a therapist because I felt so guilty… I am happy and comfortable… why can’t I stop thinking about this man?
Why would I be so stupid as to ruin a perfectly good and until now happy marriage, risk everything, and in the end hurt my family and possibly wind up alone?… On the other hand we only have one life to lead so why shouldn’t I take this chance and possibly end up with someone who makes me so happy and who I want to make happy in return?”
And look… guys, at its core, that is beautiful. It really is.
In a vacuum, all by itself, that is some real beautiful emotion right there. So many people go through life never having that, and if you thought you did but then experienced a whole new level of “happiness,” I feel you. I get it. It sounds a lot like the “love” we’re all taught to revere.
And that is my damn point.
If your plan for staying together forever — your insurance against a divorce/breakup — is to never develop feelings or attraction for anyone else, you’re gonna have a bad time. Because, statistically speaking, you almost certainly will. So the real thing is: you have to choose. You have to reset expectations. You have to redefine what it is you want.
From a guy who’s been married for over 20 years: “Be on guard with our hearts, and eyes, so as to not have an affair of the heart or physical affair.”
If you build a relationship based entirely off of “feelings” and expect to stay together, you are mistaken. The couples who stay together for decades know this. They last not because they were never tempted, or never fell out of love, but because they valued their commitment more
Commit (Yourself, To Your Partner)
Because: see above. If you want to be together forever, YOU HAVE TO DELIBERATELY CHOOSE. Every day. Even when you’re not “feelin’ it,” or are feeling somethin’ for someone else. Love is a choice, an investment, something of which we are the active agent — not something we “feel” or “fall into.”
Because if you define your love and your relationship by how you feel, you’re gonna “fall” out of it at some point. If you want to stay together, you have to commit even when you don’t “feel” it at times. There will be times when your “feelings” directly challenge your commitment.
If you ask people the secret to a happy, longterm relationship, younger couples, divorced couples, and unhappy couples will all say “communication.”But older couples and long-haul couples all say:
This is a huge wake-up call to a lot of people. But successful couples know… “Contrary to popular belief, being married isn’t ‘happily ever after.’ It takes a great deal of work.” — thehumanscott “Marriage is rarely two strong people, it’s about taking turns being strong for each other.” — sdub99
“You must contribute more than a paycheck and not cheating. You have to proactively work to better your marriage by doing things around the house without being asked and conceiving of kindnesses on your own intentionally and spontaneously. In first marriage I traded my mom for another mom, my wife didn’t want to be my mom and resented having to act like one.”
“Marriage done well is hard work.”
Put In The Work
If anything, a long-term relationship means you put in more energy, not less.“We have to unpack the baggage of our youth… We have to allow our spouse the space to grow as a person and this many times takes patience and understanding.”
“Over the years, I have dated my spouse regularly, gone on trips with just her… and marriage retreats together to be better people and spouses. Marriage is like a see saw, it is either going up or down.”
“The work of keeping a marriage solid should be split 80/20 with both sides doing 80%. Super cheesy right? Totally works.” But really, the ratio always changes. So the real secret is: just put in work.“Marriage isn’t always a 50/50 partnership. Sometimes, it’s 70/30. Sometimes it’s 80/20. Sometimes it’s 100/0.”
Do the work.
Not resentfully. Not passive aggressively. Not on auto-pilot, or to check a box, or just to “safeguard.” That’s not the point. The point is love, remember? And just… damn, guys — love so hard. Love so damn hard But I don’t mean “hot,” which offers an excuse to go “cool.”
Don’t love “hot and cold.” Love warm. Love consistent. Love everyday. Make the choice Love is a choice and an action — not a “feeling.” Make that choice every single day. Keep Choosing and “Dating” Your Partner — Every Day
I’d give specific examples here, but frankly I don’t have any, because it differs by person — and couple. But one thing is true: keep on doing it. Very often, marriage and longterm relationships creates what I call:
“The Gremlin Effect”
The “Gremlin Effect” is that phenomenon where people just kind of change once they’ve been together a while. They change their effort, or their expectations. Sometimes they change both. They stop trying.
If you’re not actively growing and building your relationship and your love, then you’re actively letting it die. Keep dating the person they grow into, not the person from x years ago, whom you wish they’d stay. This goes back to the previous point on realistic and healthy expectations.
And love means changing, too — hopefully in the same direction. “As your partner changes, you need to learn to appreciate and fall in love with the new person they become. Most simply become resentful and hurt. “You used to….”
Avoid any thought that begins with those words. They are poison. Focus on love, appreciation and getting to know your partner over and over.”
M I Ro