Happy couples aren’t defined by the number of affectionate messages they’ve shared on social media or the amount of lovey-dovey photos they’ve posted. A genuine love connection isn’t something that can be measured using social media data—in fact, it’s not quantifiable at all.
But if love can’t be assessed using metrics, how are you supposed to know when a couple is truly happy? More importantly, how are you supposed to know what makes a genuinely happy couple so damn happy?
Here, we talk to four love experts to learn a little more about the 12 things truly happy couples have in common. Because while you can’t reliably measure a couple’s emotional connection, you can practice behaviors that will strengthen your own relationships. And that’s what really matters, isn’t it?
1. They genuinely like and respect each other.
Happy couples understand that it’s impossible to agree on everything. Sometimes, disagreements happen, and when they do, kindness is more important than winning an argument.
“Even when annoyed or hurt by the other, [truly happy partners] are still respectful,” Lesli Doares, couples coach and author of the book Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage: How to Create Your Happily Ever After with More Intention, Less Work, tells SheKnows. “They never call each other names or lash out in other ways.” Instead, they support each other—and agree to disagree.
2. They see the best in each other.
Happy couples have immense faith in one another. So when things go awry, they give each other the benefit of the doubt. “When there’s more than one way to interpret an interaction, [happy couples will] choose the one that paints their partner in the best light—not the worst,” says Doares.
3. Happy couples have sex that isn’t goal-oriented.
“This means that having sex for the sole purpose of pleasure and being together supersedes whether or not they climax,” Dr. Rose Hanna, a licensed marriage and family therapist and professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach, tells SheKnows. “Once sex becomes goal-oriented, then failure is an option, and subsequently, anxiety increases. Anxiety is the death of good sex.”
4. Happy couples tend to be more nonsexually physically affectionate.
“They hold hands more, give hugs, rub each other’s shoulders, and give hugs more readily than other couples,” says Hanna.
5. They are sincerely interested in what is going on in each other’s lives.
That goes for everything from thoughts and feelings to activities. “They are curious about how the other sees them and the world and can have deep discussions without acrimony,” says Doares.
6. They make each other feel appreciated.
Truly happy couples are more likely to provide verbal praise, appreciation, and support to each other. “They truly feel valued in the relationship and are more verbally expressive of those feelings,” says Hanna. “In other words, their verbal interactions are more often focused on [being] positive and affirming than [being] negative and attacking.”.
7. Happy couples communicate effectively.
“Truly happy couples express what they want and need without blaming each other, Kim Olver, a relationship coach and author of Secrets of Happy Couples, tells SheKnows. “They also know that not all communication is verbal.” That means being aware of body language, and using touch to communicate love and support, rather than to deny it.
8. Truly happy couples are committed to each other.
When couples are truly happy, they understand that partnership is the most important thing. For some couples, this means monogamy, and for others, it doesn’t have to. The key piece is that they’ve constructed a relationship they both believe in, and they’re committed to sticking with it.
“I believe this enables couples to have a greater degree of trust and commitment, which takes their relationship to deeper levels,” says Olver.
9. They want to spend time together, but they don’t have to be attached at the hip.
“They see the relationship as adding to their independently content lives, not as a way to fill an emotional hole or to acquire something—not being alone, social status, a family, etc.,” says Doares.
10. They don’t try to change each other.
It’s natural to grow frustrated or annoyed by aspects of your partner in any relationship, but happy couples understand what they can and can’t change. While red-flag issues are worth addressing, minor pet peeves aren’t.
“Truly happy couples have learned to graciously accept each other, and they’ve let go of the need to change the other,” says Olver. In fact, many partners end up growing to love (or at least, appreciate) the traits they once found annoying.
11. They trust each other, which helps them avoid fear and anxiety.
“They are not sensitive to their partner’s mood shifts, and they are always there for them, showing unwavering support instead of being worried or anxious,” Rori Sassoon, professional matchmaker and CEO of Platinum Poire, tells SheKnows. “You would never doubt or second-guess your partner, as you have earned a certain type of friendship and respect within your relationship.”
12. They make each other feel accepted.
“You accept the other person for who they are and for who they are not, for their favorable characteristics and their faux pas. When you can accept them without bitterness — this is a strong couple,” says Sassoon.
Truly happy couples also report feeling completely confident that they can be their true selves with their partner.
Originally posted on SheKnows.