It’s the ultimate #relationshipgoal: having a happy and healthy one. Even if you and your partner are generally compatible, maintaining a great relationship doesn’t come easy. It means making sure you haven’t lost your sense of self or independence but are still investing plenty of time and energy in your S.O.. It requires walking a fine line and understanding the right balance, nurturing and giving your relationship space to breathe and grow.
Maintaining a good relationship requires effort for everyone, but some people seem to do it better and more naturally than others—the same way some people are simply better at certain things (like math or writing) than others. Wondering what people who tend to have really high-quality relationships have in common? Here, experts offer insights into what women with good relationships are doing right.
We Take Time for Ourselves
Being in a relationship means that you take care of each other, but don’t forget about yourself! “If you’re constantly worrying about your partner, in addition to your other responsibilities, then you may be putting yourself on the back burner, which is a great way to make yourself crazy,” says Laura Bilotta, a relationship expert and author of Single in the City: From Hookups & Heartbreaks, To Love & Lifemates, Tales & Tips To Attract Your Perfect Match. In other words, don’t lose sight of your self-care; take a bath, go to yoga, take a weekend trip by yourself—whatever it is, just make time for yourself.
We’re Not Afraid to Share Our Feelings
At the risk of stating the obvious (sometimes it has to be said!), nobody has the power to read minds—even someone who you feel understands you better than anyone ever has. Bottling up your feelings in the hope that your S.O. will eventually figure out what you’re thinking will eventually lead to tension, and, eventually, probably a big fight. “Even if the conversation is difficult, if you value your relationship and your sanity than you’ll share your feelings with your partner,” says Bilotta. It’s uncomfortable, but almost always worth it!
We Balance out Responsibilities
This means that just you or your partner is never the sole person paying the bills, making the plans, cleaning, etc. People in happy relationship know that the relationship is also a team, and while one person may be paying the rent, the other is paying for the car, or all the groceries, or saving for that down payment. When all the responsibilities fall on one person, it’s not only unfair—it’s bound to put a strain in the relationship.
We Don’t Point Fingers (Usually)
Being in a good relationship means identifying your role in the inevitable bumps that every relationship experiences. You’re not blaming everything that goes wrong on your partner (and even if you do feel like it’s their fault sometimes, you do your best not to say so, since it’s counterproductive and pits you against each other). “Having a curious mindset about everything, including what makes you tick, will minimize defensive behavior and maximize your growth potential, and help you get through the rough patches,” says Reardon.
We Prioritize Friends and Family
Again, at the beginning of a relationship, it’s normal to spend most of your free time with this new person, but as time goes by, it’s important to divide your time among family, friends and the relationship. Jane Reardon, a licensed therapist, relationship expert and co-founder of Rx Breakup App, says “Nurturing and even growing your social circle is a top priority in maintaining a good life balance so your relationship doesn’t start to gobble up too big of a piece of the pie.”
We’re Considerate of Our Partner’s Needs and Feelings
Being in a relationship often means compromise. You can’t always get your way and your partner doesn’t exist just for your entertainment—you need to give as much as you get. “This can come in all different forms; from adjusting how the two of you cook because your partner is sensitive to lactose, to not buying all pink decor for the home you share, and dividing up the holidays between your families,” says Bilotta. There will always be compromises that may seem like losses at first glance, but consider the payoff: You have a loving, supportive partner who is there for you when you need them, and vice versa.
We Spend Time Apart
Though it might be tempting to do everything together (especially when you’re in the honeymoon phase), being in a healthy relationship means spending a decent amount of time apart—or risk codependence. Your partner doesn’t have to come to every party with you, accompany you to the grocery store, or come with you to the gym. “If you are with your partner 24/7 then bad things are bound to happen; plus, you’ll be letting down and ignoring the other important people in your life,” says Bilotta. Not to mention—it gives you both something to look forward to upon reuniting.
We Don’t Give up our Hobbies
If, before you got into a serious relationship, you were big into skiing, writing, or working on cars, don’t stop doing what you love just because you’re in a relationship. Sure, there may be less time and money—depending on responsibilities—to take ski trips or work on that novel, but it’s still important to keep doing the things that make you happy or that might lead to resentment down the road.