10 Things You Think Matter in a Relationship But Don’t

If you are a fan of Rom Coms and Cosmo, you might have built an idea of what the perfect relationship looks like in your head. But some things that our media builds up as important just aren’t in a real, long-term relationship. Here are some things you might think are important in a relationship that just aren’t.

  1. Whether or not your partner is attractive. Whether everyone thinks your partner is hot or not has little effect on long term happiness. There are tons of reasons why we always want the classically hot guy or girl to want us, but they might not make the best long-term partners. In my personal experience, and the personal experiences of some close friends of mine, classically attractive people are not as good in bed, are more likely to be selfish, and other people say “no” to them less, making them more likely to cheat. What is much more important in your relationship is that you are attracted to them. Focusing on ways to stay attractive to your partner is far more important than staying attractive to the rest of society.
  2. Whether or not your partner is rich. Money might make the world go ‘round, but it has its limits. Money can only make us happy up to a certain point. Once all of our basic needs are taken care of, money becomes more of a burden than a boon. The positive effects of more money seems to taper off as soon as your necessities are met and you still have some left over to be able to plan and save for the future. Also, what you spend your money on might be more important than what you make. Couples who spend money on experiences they can have together are usually happier than those who don’t.
  3. Having the same hobbies. My husband and I have a lot of hobbies and things in common, and we also have a lot of things we don’t share. Making sure we do everything we love is also important, which means my husband has hobbies that I don’t and vice versa. It gives you something to talk about and something to get them out of your hair once a week or so. Don’t complain that you don’t have a lot in common; embrace the differences that make you unique.
  4. Having the same friends. My husband doesn’t like all of my friends enough to hang out with them for hours at a time, like I can. Is it a dealbreaker? No way. My friends all support our relationship 100%, but that doesn’t mean they have to all be best friends. Although, if your friends all hate your SO, that might be a sign you need to bail.
  5. Never getting into fights. Have you ever seen anyone boast that they don’t ever argue with their SO? Are you surprised then they break up a few weeks later? You shouldn’t be. Arguing with your partner is important. Everyone is their own person, and that means you won’t always agree. And being able to argue productively and conscientiously is a great way to keep a healthy and happy relationship with your partner.
  6. Changing your partner. Have you ever heard someone say that they were “training” their partner? Everytime I hear a girlfriend boast that she’s “training” her husband to ask for a raise or to get a better career or to be cleaner, I can feel my shoulders tense up. What a gross concept. Trainability is not a positive in your relationship; you’re not getting a dog. You’re getting a human with quirks and flaws, and part of being happy is accepting them, flaws and all.
  7. Sex. While sex is super important to a lot of people, it shouldn’t be the defining feature in your relationship. If you don’t like spending time with him or her outside of the bedroom, no matter how great the sex is, your aren’t in a relationship, you just have a FWB. There have been many happy relationships without sex, but no happy relationships that only feature good sex.
  8. Being monogamous. Although polyamory never worked for me, it has worked for many others. Just because society as a whole might see open relationships as failures, there is nothing less true. Some of the happiest couples I know are poly. But whether you stick with your beau or like things a little strange from time to time, communication and trust are way more important than keeping to just one partner, if that makes you both happy.
  9. Traditional gender roles. Whether you date girls or guys or both, don’t worry about sticking to your gender roles. The husband can stay home with the kids while the wife brings home the bacon. Perhaps your lady-friend wants to throw Superbowl parties or play video games. You SO might also be transgender or gender fluid, too. Trying to push your partner into a gender role box designed for them by society’s expectations isn’t going to lead to a happily ever after for anyone. So don’t let your partner, society, or anyone else, tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing based on your gender or sex.
  10. Being in love with your partner. Being in love is all about butterflies and Disney-style, on screen kisses. Being in love is about strong, fluttery emotions that make you feel giddy and silly. Unfortunately for all of us, that feeling ends after about six months, no matter how much we love someone. More important than love is compatability, friendship, understanding, and communication. I have these things with my husband, and I wouldn’t trade them for all of the fluttery, butterfly-in-your-stomah feelings in the world.
Christina Smith is a writer from NY. She likes books and is politically active. Her and her husband regularly stay up too late and eat too much junk food.