I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve seen a list online claiming to encapsulate the only things you need for a successful relationship.
Usually, these lists are merely regurgitations of the same philosophies, talking about how you need to communicate with your loved one and compromise. And don’t even get me started on that "Five Languages of Love" crap.
To me, a complicated relationship is practically an oxymoron. Sure, everyone has struggles, challenges and conflicts, but if you’re constantly fighting or feel like you’re on an episode of "Intervention," you may want to reconsider if your relationship is beneficial for you and your partner.
Whether it’s a friend, lover or business contact, there are three and only three things we need to make a relationship fulfilling and something you actually enjoy.
These three qualities can’t be taught, tweaked or negotiated. They’re either there or they aren’t, and that’s why they’re so important and essential to whatever kind of relationship you have.
If a guy (or girl) respects you, he’s going to communicate. He’s going to answer texts promptly and explain what happened when he doesn’t. He’s going to take you out like a normal human being; he won’t flake or bail at the last minute and he’ll do what he can to make you happy.
When you respect your partner in a relationship, you don’t lie, cheat, steal or do any of the other things that usually make relationships fall apart. This isn’t to say that he’ll be perfect and that something at work won’t arise, or that he’s going to bend over backwards. But to make a long story short, he’ll try to keep things smooth, even and fair.
I know they say the people who care about you the most are the ones who hurt you the most. But maybe we’ve got that backwards. What if it’s not that they care about you, but rather, you care about them, so you end up upset that someone you feel so strongly about clearly doesn’t feel that way for you?
Ultimately, people who don’t care about you usually end up hurting you. If you keep having conversation after conversation about how you two need to communicate more or how he needs to stop cheating, chances are he doesn’t give enough of a sh*t to communicate or stop cheating in the first place.
The same goes for platonic and professional relationships. Your coworker isn’t going to apply for that promotion you’ve been wanting behind your back if she respects you and instead, will talk to you about it first even if it means an uncomfortable conversation.
Mutual respect is perhaps the most important component to a successful relationship, but you don’t hear too many relationship gurus talking about it that much. Respect (or lack thereof) is arguably the root of a lot of problems in romantic, platonic and professional relationships.
I like to say there are three variations of instability that can screw up relationships: financial, emotional and career.
If your spouse is always broke or asking for money, that’s stress on your relationship. I dated a guy once who acted like a millionaire, but really had a significantly lesser budget. It’s not the fact that he wasn’t financially stable that bothered me, but that he would blatantly lie about his finances to try to impress me.
Many women who are interested in serious and committed relationships would rather have a guy who can take care of his bills every month than a guy who buys lavish gifts but still lives in his parents’ basement.
The same applies for friends, family and professional relationships. If your friend is always having long talks with you about how much her life sucks and cries until 3 am, that kind of relationship is going to wear anyone down. Eventually you’ll stop answering the phone and only text her back when you have nothing better to do.
Finally, if your career forces you to travel or be MIA at a moment’s notice, it can definitely have a negative effect on a relationship. There’s a reason Jared Leto is still single.
Chances are, if anyone reading this were a rock star, Academy Award winner or held the Guinness world record for longest band on tour, he or she would be single, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if Leto struggles with not only having a girlfriend, but also with maintaining his friendships.
3. Common Interest
Once you get past the I-think-you’re-hot-I-think-you’re-hot-too phase, you’ve got to have something else to talk about. Sex and alcohol will only get you so far. To foster a real relationship, there has to be something besides partying or wining and dining on which to base your relationship.
In my eyes, a good partner doesn’t just talk about or debate anything, but rather, everything. Not to say you won’t put a filter on things every once in a while, but in any relationship, you shouldn’t be afraid to share your fears, thoughts or opinions.
Your partner, friend or coworker shouldn’t put you down for a silly idea or belittle you if he or she doesn’t see eye-to-eye. I dated a guy who wasn’t into a healthy lifestyle like I was. Sure, he was nice, but he thought the organic food movement was a conspiracy and didn’t like to work out.
After a few dates and the initial attraction fizzled out, I realized we didn’t have much in common and I stopped seeing him. I also had a friend once who told me my business and career was a total joke.
She and I are still friends, but I’ve learned perhaps we’ve grown apart over the years and don’t have as much in common as we did when we met in college.
I don’t like to say if you have these three qualities with someone, everything else is negotiable. Too many people (especially us women) enter relationships thinking they can change or tweak a person.
It’s one thing if you take your boyfriend, coworker or friend shopping to update his or her look. But to fundamentally change someone’s personality is practically impossible.
With that being said, if you have these three components in a relationship, other problems or conflicts probably won’t bother you as much. Respect, stability and common interest can make or break any relationship. Keep that mind next time you go out on a date, meet a new friend at a party or start a new job.