First it was Brad and Jen, now it’s Brad and Ange; just when you think something is built to last, it comes crumbling down. New research is here to shed light on just what it takes to build a relationship that can actually go the distance. Exploring both the age of the couples involved and the length of the relationship, this study discovers the secret to maintaining a love that lasts.
- The relationship must be a mutual priority. According to research, there is one main quality that plays the biggest role in maintaining a long-term relationship. Both parties must consider the relationship more important than individual needs. Research shows that a readiness to put “mutual relationship gains” ahead of personal gains will allow the positive qualities to counteract any conflict that may arise over time—and we know there’s always conflict.
- Avoid the Romeo & Juliet model. Ahh, young love. Remember those relationships in high school—impulsive, exciting, full of drama? Remember how most of them didn’t make it to graduation day? Relationships founded in impetuosity are often doomed before they’ve even begun. Even if you’re not a teenager anymore, if your love life resembles a Taylor Swift song, there’s a good chance it won’t be steady enough to sail the full course.
- Support each other. Positive assets like support are one of the main four relationship qualities, according to this study. Providing support and also feeling like you are being supported by a partner is imperative to a healthy partnership. This means putting your own needs aside for the sake of the other person or for the relationship. Being supportive means being reliable and consistent. A good relationship should feel like the perfect sports bra: providing just the right amount of support without being suffocating.
- Counteract negative interactions. Fights and arguments are inevitable in intimate relationships. Knowing how to deal with these tiffs comes with the maturity gained from having more emotional experience. So if you have age on your side you’re well on your way. Couples working towards the same goal (a long-lasting, healthy relationship) should have coping tools in place to deal with conflicts. I wonder if flipping the bird behind your boyfriend’s back is classed as a coping tool?
- Don’t be controlling. Power and status is another basic relationship quality. This will manifest in ways like one partner trying to control the other partner. Studies show that regardless of the age of the people involved, issues of control and power increase over the course of longer relationships. So generally, it’s unavoidable. Being aware of control and keeping a balance between power and status will help to counteract the negative impacts of these issues.
- Keep jealousy at bay. As the final basic relationship quality, comparisons with other relationships play a role over the length of a relationship. In other words, jealousy is a bitch. Knowing how to deal with the green-eyed monster when he rears his ugly mug is important for the longevity of romance. Research shows that maturity is a huge asset when handling issues of jealousy. Can you consider yourself mature if you still watch Disney movies regularly? Asking for a friend.
- Selfishness will kill a relationship fast. Being too egocentric is the main reason most relationships between young couples crash and burn. The more juvenile the people in the relationship the more likely they will have trouble managing the feelings involved with being in a couple. The more self-centered each participant, the less equipped they are to behave appropriately in a relationship. This isn’t so surprising, given youths these days are mostly preoccupied with selfie angles and filters.
- Strengthen your emotional coping tools. The reason young relationships often don’t last is that younger people haven’t fully developed the coping mechanisms needed for dealing with love and turmoil. So when there is conflict, they don’t know how to behave in a way that’s productive or level-headed. By working on how you deal with negative interactions, your relationship is more likely to come through unscathed. Hmmm…I wonder if this means the time I hurled a boot across the room at my ex was a bad call…
- Don’t rush things. There is nothing to be gained from charging into a relationship faster than Usain Bolt. And the older you are entering a new romance the more likely it’ll succeed. All intimate relationships develop conflicts eventually, but for older people, these problems won’t be as damaging thanks to the increased maturity and perspective of the participants. This sure eases my mind, given that by the time I meet the right guy I’ll probably be collecting social security.