Happiness means different things to different people in relationships. For me, it involves freedom to be non-monogamous, mutual respect, intimacy, and a ton of fun. For someone else, it might be peace of mind, fidelity, or financial security. Regardless of how you or your partner defines happiness, here are some universal and fundamental characteristics that make up every happy relationship.
An abundance of trust
How can you find time to be happy when you’re spending every waking moment dissecting your partner’s actions, feelings, and intentions – or trying to decipher the hidden meaning behind the glance or compliment they gave someone at dinner last night. Your partner needs to be able to confide in you and trust that what they say won’t be used against them in the future. They should know they can count on you to have their back.
A willingness to communicate openly and honestly
There can’t be a happy relationship without communication. You and your partner should be able to talk about anything and everything no matter how difficult the subject. Rather than waiting for the other person to read your mind, open up about what you want or how you’re feeling. Talk about your future plans together. If you have different communication styles, try to find a middle ground that makes you both happy.
Constant demonstration of love
What’s your partner’s love language? Do they feel loved when they’re showered with gifts or when you perform acts of service for them? Are they big on physical touch and spending time together? Knowing the ways your partner likes to be cared for will make it easier for you to meet their emotional needs and strengthen your connection.
Accepting each other as you are
If you’re going to spend most of the relationship scheming about how to change your partner or make them more acceptable to you, you’re probably with the wrong person. A happy relationship isn’t one where you’re exactly alike but one where you can both be yourselves without judgment. Love the person your partner is behind closed doors, on weekends, or out in public.
The ability to compromise
I used to think that the key to a happy relationship was being with someone I never argued or had problems with but I’ve come to realize that’s an impossible ideal. What matters is being with someone who is willing to sit and resolve problems with me, someone who’d meet me halfway instead of trying to “win” or get the last word.
A commitment to building intimacy
What separates the relationship you have with the waiter at your favorite restaurant from the one you have with your partner is intimacy. Intimacy is the feeling of being cared for, of knowing that you belong right where you are. If you let the intimacy die, your relationship will fizzle out along with it. Spend time with your partner, get to know them, show affection towards them, and ensure you have a great sex life.
A healthy dose of humor and excitement
Another sign of a happy relationship is being able to laugh with your partner. When you can find the humor in an awkward experience, things will go more smoothly rather than leading to disagreement or hurt feelings. Physical attraction and chemistry alone won’t power your relationship forever, you need to put in the effort to make your life together fun and exciting.
Showing up and being present
Have your partner’s back. Be the anchor they can rely on to hold them steady through rough times. Support their dreams wholeheartedly even if you’re a bit skeptical about their ambitions. Push them to go after the things they want. Be protective, but not over possessive. Be invested in their lives. When you’re together, ignore everything else and give them your full attention.
Having fulfilling lives away from each other
Giving each other space is just as important as spending time together. When you can go your separate ways, do your own thing, enjoy your life, and come back to share your stories with each other, that’s a sign of a happy relationship. Let your partner have interests, friends, and spaces that you’re not a part of. Just because you’re together doesn’t mean you should lose your individuality.
Little acts of kindness, politeness, and affection
Plan a special night for them from time to time. Hold their hand. Shower them with kisses and hugs for no reason. Surprise them with a gift even if it’s just flowers. Don’t be stingy with compliments. Clean up after yourself. When your partner does something for you, say “thank you.” Give them the benefit of the doubt. Be your partner’s friend, not just their lover.
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