If binge-watching “Jane the Virgin” and “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix has taught us anything, it’s that relationships are messy.
Personal experience proves it too: From our eighth-grade romance to our most recent breakup drama, “love isn’t easy” is a life lesson we know all too well.
No matter your status — single, dating, engaged, or married — relationships take work. Whether they end with tears and empty Ben & Jerry’s or last until forever maydepend on countless factors, but your actions, words, and thoughts undoubtedly play a role.
One thing that’ll give you an advantage in the game of love? Soaking up all the wisdom you can from relationship therapists, researchers, matchmakers, and more.
Here, we’ve distilled it down to the very best advice experts have learned. Regardless of your personal situation, their words may help you find the key to long-lasting happiness.
Get into a healthy mindset
1. Look for someone with similar values
“For long-lasting love, the more similarity (e.g., age, education, values, personality, hobbies), the better. Partners should be especially sure that their values match before getting into marriage.
Although other differences can be accommodated and tolerated, a difference in values is particularly problematic if the goal is long-lasting love.
Another secret for a long marriage: Both partners need to commit to making it work, no matter what. The only thing that can break up a relationship are the partners themselves.”
— Kelly Campbell, PhD, associate professor of psychology and human development at California State University, San Bernardino
2. Never take your partner for granted
“This may sound obvious, but you can’t imagine how many people come to couples therapy too late, when their partner is done with a relationship and wants to end it.
It is very important to realize that everyone potentially has a breaking point, and if their needs are not met or they don’t feel seen by the other, they will more than likely find it somewhere else.
Many people assume that just because they are OK without things they want so is their partner. ‘No relationship is perfect’ shouldn’t be used as a rationalization for complacency.”
— Irina Firstein, LCSW, individual and couples’ therapist
3. Stop trying to be each other’s “everything”
“‘You are my everything’ is a lousy pop-song lyric and an even worse relationship plan. No one can be ‘everything’ to anyone. Create relationships outside The Relationship, or The Relationship isn’t going to work anymore.”
— Matt Lundquist, LCSW, MSEd, founder of Tribeca Therapy