No relationship is perfect and that means that sometimes, one person might have to work harder to pick up the slack that the other person leaves. But even if not everything in your relationship is completely balanced 100% of the time, you should still make sure that these things are equal if you want what you have to last:
Effort When one person is going all-out in a relationship and the other is only putting forth the bare minimum, there’s a problem. It’s easy to let this one slide if you get pleasure out of being a “giver,” but eventually, resentment will start to brew. Both people in a relationship need to know that they’re valued and to make that happen, they need to be trying equally hard to make each other happy.
Communication This applies to surface-level concepts like initiating conversations but also to the depth and honesty of the discussions you have. If only one of you is making sure that questions are being asked and thoughts are being respectfully conveyed, you’re going to be dealing with arguments and misunderstandings that could’ve easily been avoided.
Boundaries Both partners need to have the same standards when it comes to what is and isn’t OK in your relationship. Don’t let anyone pull that “you’re mine but I’m not yours” BS on you — if your partner says that it’s not OK for you to hang out with opposite-sex friends one on one, they need to apply that rule to themselves as well.
Sexual generosity There will absolutely be times when one person has a better time in bed than the other, but the important thing is that both people are making an equal amount of effort to please each other. Selfishness in bed is an unattractive quality even in a FWB relationship, but in a serious romantic relationship, it can cause bigger problems than a lack of satisfaction in the sack. If you’re giving blowjobs every night but your partner can’t be bothered to prioritize your orgasm, you need to get out.
Maturity People often pay too much attention to the age difference between partners and not enough attention to how mature they are. Even if there’s a fairly significant age gap between you, the numbers aren’t really important — the age you act is what really counts. If one person is still living like a freshman in college and the other has an established career and is completely self-sufficient, what kind of future are you expecting to build together?
Standards It’s perfectly fine to want your partner to have a stable job, a healthy lifestyle, and their own place. But in that case, you need to meet those standards as well. It’s unfair and unhealthy to expect your partner to be picture-perfect when you yourself can’t even meet the height of the bar you’ve set. Both people in a relationship should have a balanced ratio of the standards they’re setting and the standards they’re meeting.
Support Eventually, both of you are going to run into personal struggles. If you expect your partner to be a shoulder to cry on but don’t have the patience to listen to them when they need to vent, your relationship isn’t healthy for either of you. One of the benefits of being in a relationship is having a (supposedly) guaranteed support system, and if only one person is fulfilling that role, you’d both be better off alone.
Respect Anyone who’s been in a relationship without mutual respect knows how quickly things can turn toxic. When your partner doesn’t respect you (or vice versa), it opens the door for an unbalanced power dynamic, which can even lead to abuse in extreme cases. If you feel as though you don’t have the same respect for your partner as they have for you, you should break up sooner rather than later.
Contributions This is especially important for couples who live together. Some people are happiest when they and their partner make the same amount of money and do the same amount of housework; others are more content when one is the breadwinner and the other does all the cooking, cleaning, and errands. The dynamic you prefer is up to you, but the important thing is that both people are contributing equally. Resentment grows like a weed when one partner ends up carrying most of the responsibilities that should be shared by two people.
Expectations Some loving relationships do form after one person in a FWB relationship brings up the idea of making things more serious, but for the most part, it’s a bad idea to date someone who’s looking to settle down and start a family when you’re desperately trying to avoid marriage for the next ten years. Ensuring that both of you have the same expectations for what you want out of your relationship is crucial for either staying together or making a clean break with as little emotional damage as possible.
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