How To Make A Long-Term Relationship Work

I’m not going to lie: long-term relationships can be really, really hard. I’m currently in one, and while I couldn’t be happier with my boyfriend, some days are definitely harder than others. I’m sure anyone who is in, or has been in, a long-term relationship can relate. Every once in a while, you look at your single friends going out and doing whatever they want, and you feel a little jealous. Every once in a while, you start to feel bored and wonder if you should be doing something else with your time.

Admitting that doesn’t make you a bad person – it makes you normal. There’s even research to back that up. Studies have shown that infatuation and passion (or in other words, that feeling of lusty obsession you get when you first start dating someone) have really short life-spans – like less than two years short. According to researchers, your feeling of lust needs to gradually change into a deeper love and connection. Totally makes sense.

But, like I said, once that feeling of lust is over, things can get a little bit boring sometimes. And that’s usually when pointless fighting starts and the end of a relationship begins. Eek! So how do you keep a long-term relationship going with a person you’re seriously into it? A New York Times blog based on the book “The Myths Of Happiness” by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky has some super helpful tips that are definitely worth taking into consideration.

The main thing to keep in mind? Don’t wait until you’re already unhappy in a relationship to work on these things. You should be doing them even when you are happy. Here’s a little summary of her tips:

Appreciate What You Have
This might sound really obvious, but it’s actually super easy to stop appreciating the good things you have. Dr. Lyubomirsky says that when people become really used to positive things in their life and start taking them for granted, those things eventually stop making them happy. Basically, if you don’t appreciate the happiness you get from your BF or relationship, one day you’ll find that it’s not making you so happy anymore. You don’t have to obsess over this, but you should spend some time reminding yourself of how lucky you are to be in such a great relationship.

Variety Is Important 
I’m sure you guys have heard this before, but I’ll repeat it again. Spicing things up in a relationship is always going to make it feel less boring and time consuming. Dr. Lyubomirksy calls it “critical” to making long-term relationships work. So, yeah, it’s fine to have your usual Friday movie night, but on other days, you guys should try something different. Go to a new restaurant, hang out together with friends you don’t see a lot, try going on a little adventure.

Surprise Each Other Sometimes 
This is pretty similar to variety, but it’s kind of different and obviously still important. Surprising each other is a great way to make things interesting. Also? It’s really fun. Try something with your BF you’ve never tried before (and no, I don’t just mean in bed). If you’ve never tried skiing, but you’ve always wanted to, do it! If he’s in a bad mood, surprise him by bringing over his favorite candy. You get the idea.

Support Each Other (Almost) Always 
I’m not saying you have to agree with everything your BF says or does, or that you have to have his back even if he’s wrong. But in general, you guys should support each other. Congratulate him for doing something awesome at school or work, or be there for him emotionally if he’s angry or sad. Dr. Lyubomirsky says that happily married couples “average five positive verbal and emotional expressions.” They’re happy for a reason!

Touch Each Other In A Non-Sexual Way 
A little PDA can go a long way. Having sexy times isn’t the only way to get closer to your BF! I’m not saying you have to start making out in public – actually the opposite. Hold hands, hug each other, sit with your arms around each other. Nonsexual touching promotes a feeling of warmth and closeness.

Whew! So, I learned a lot today. Anyone else? Just remember: as scary as it sounds, being in a happy, stable and long-term relationship is really sort of a full-time job. But if being in one makes you feel good, then it’s worth it. And by the way, this is for both of you to keep in mind – not just you.

What do you think of these tips? Are you in a long-term relationship? Do you ever feel bored? What are your own tips for making relationships work? Tell me in the comments!

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  • Gabs

    “Every once in a while, you look at your single friends going out and doing whatever they want, and you feel a little jealous. Every once in a while, you start to feel bored and wonder if you should be doing something else with your time.”

    I completely disagree. While me and my beau may have only been together for eight months, he is my best friend. More often than not, if I’m with anyone else and my boyfriend isn’t around, I’m wishing I was with him. Sure I’m not so insane that I don’t spend time with him, and I do love the times with other friends, but he is always there for me and I don’t really need anyone else. But that is also the difference between someone you are dating, and someone who I plan to spend the rest of my life with.

    And he is reading this over my shoulder as I type and agrees. We are partners in everything, forever, or as long as we like the same things and hate the same things even more.