Do you ever wonder why some relationships fail while others are totally rocking it?
I know that I have for a long time. And still do. This article I first published on The Huffington Post.
Now that I’m married, this quest seems more compelling than ever. Having been through the divorce of my parents and many of those around me, this question has burned in my mind.
So, I sought answers from the relationships of my friends and clients, extensive research and most importantly, my heart.
I’ve put together a list below of the 10 essential qualities of people who are great at relationships. Maybe you can add your own.
The good news is that these qualities don’t need to come naturally, they are skills that can be learned.
1. They are able to release the past without allowing it to define their current relationship.
Breakups happen. And sometimes they suck. But the most important thing is to realize they don’t have to define you and your relationships going forward. People who are great at relationships have been able to wish their past lover well and move on. When things come up in their new relationship, they are conscious that this person is not the same as their ex, and they treat the situation fairly without placing past blame onto it.
2. They understand the balance of give and take.
They know that any solid relationship has an equal balance of give and take. For a long time, I had trouble giving much of myself. I expected to receive from my partner, but thought that if I gave too much, I’d get exploited or hurt. My husband now, on the other hand, was the opposite. In his past relationships he did nothing but give, hoping to win over love and not feeling worthy of receiving. Maybe this is why we were drawn towards one another, but are conscious of this challenge and make an effort to have give and take.
3. They know when they need some space.
Some people disappear when they enter into their relationship. I’m sure you know a person like this or maybe you’ve been there yourself. They enter a relationship and stop hanging out with friends, family or doing things they love. I’ve been there. But here’s the thing, a healthy relationship requires space between the togetherness. It’s OK to do something by yourself to recharge your batteries. Just make sure you give your partner the same freedom.
4. They learn how to communicate authentically.
Authentic communication is a skill that needs to be practiced, over and over again. It may not come easily to people who never felt heard as a child or are afraid to speak up for themselves and say how they really feel. The key to authentic communication is creating a safe, loving environment within your relationship where you can both feel heard. Saying what you need to say can be scary, but not nearly as scary as bottling everything up.
5. They discover their partner’s love language and use it regularly.
Have you read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman? I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to improve their relationships. Basically, he argues that there are five primary love languages: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Acts of Service and Gift Giving. When you understand your primary language and that of your partner, you can make sure you’re both getting your needs met.
6. They make each other laugh.
Sometimes, it’s best to just let your walls down and share a good laugh. Often, when my husband and I are in a fight and I’m being particularly pouty, he’ll crack a joke until I find myself in fits of laughter. Suddenly, whatever seemed so serious just a minute ago has completely dissolved.
7. They release false expectations for their partner.
Our partners are only human, just like us. Anyone who has lived with someone for more than a few weeks will realize this. It’s unfair to put false expectations on our partner because they have flaws, faults, insecurities and weaknesses just like the rest of us. That’s what makes them, and your relationship, beautiful.
8. They stop projecting.
This in and of itself can cure 90 percent of relationship problems. We project our own insecurities or faults onto our partners without even realizing it, because our ego simply can’t stand to accept them as our own. Often, we’re attracted to others that have qualities that we’d like to develop within ourselves. But if we fail to develop these qualities, the infatuation can quickly turn to criticism and blame. Maybe when you first met your partner they seemed “fun and spontaneous,” but now appear just plain flaky. Understand that relationships are a vehicle for your own growth.
9. They expect good things.
Self-fulfilling prophecies will come true if you expect them to. Period. If you expect for your relationship to fail, then chances are it probably will. Because when we believe something over a long enough period of time, we start to act in ways to prove it to ourselves. This goes for our relationships and for life. So therefore, why not expect only the best to happen? Believe me… it’s just as possible.
10. Above all, they love.
They love themselves. They love their partners. They love others. They know that they are 100 percent complete and that their partner helps to compliment their already whole selves. They’ve learned to let those walls down around their heart, slowly but surely, and open up to great, wonderful love.