Being able to compromise is such an underrated skill.
When it comes to relationships, people can have unrealistic expectations of everything their partner should do for them. I'll admit it, I'm guilty of this. If you’ve ever said to yourself, “My girlfriend never wants to do anything with me,” or, “My boyfriend doesn’t do anything special for me,” or, “My partner doesn’t care about it,” then it might be time to consider what this means as well as why and how these things affect you. And although everyone’s expectations for their relationships are different, consider the relationship factors that feel standard for a happy, healthy union. It’s safe to say there are probably a few that come to mind.
Some people in relationships might require patience from their partners, others might prioritize the ability to compromise, and others might prioritize communication over anything else. Ultimately, only the people in the actual relationship are privy to all of its intimate details. And because every couple is different, there is no piece of one-size-fits-all advice. But when thinking about the things you prioritize most in your partner, what comes to mind? What are the make-or-break qualities you need? Ultimately, most people probably just want to feel happy, safe, and loved.
But in order to understand the important qualities that keep a relationship going strong, I reached out to relationship experts and therapists to weigh in, and what they had to say makes a lot of sense. Here’s what you might want to look out for in your partner if you want your relationship to work long-term.
They Know How to Compromise
If you’re in a relationship that tends to prioritize one partner’s needs over the other, it’s time to take a close look at that situation and see if it’s really right for you. “Healthy compromise means when you reach an impasse and you are not sure how to get out of it, the two of you in a relationship make shifts in your behavior to resolve the impasse with mutual desires to make your relationship flow again,” according to Sam Nabil, therapist and author of Healthy and Unhealthy Compromise in Relationship.
You won’t want the same things all the time, and when you don’t, it’s important that each party knows how to arrive at a solution that works for both of you: they’ll give a little and you’ll give a little, and you’ll come up with a productive solution. But if they’re consistently unwilling to compromise, to see your side of a story, to make space for your needs, then that’s a person who’s looking to be waited on, not a person looking to be in a relationship, and certainly not with you.
They Argue Productively
A relationship full of nasty fights is hardly a relationship anyone wants to be in. The ability to argue peacefully, productively, and compassionately can be really important for some couples, especially if the people in the relationship are very different. If your partner “walks away from disagreements and avoids talking things out,” Dr. Lesliebeth Wish, psychotherapist and author of the book Training Your Love Intuition, says that may be a reason to consider ending the relationship.
After all, a couple won’t be able to resolve an argument if one partner doesn’t even want to talk about it. Additionally, Dr. Wish says that if your partner is open to talking about it but “they blame you for almost all of it,” that’s not necessarily a healthy way to argue, either. Like with anything else, it’s important to take responsibility when you’re in the wrong. Fights in relationships are no exception.
They’re Willing To Talk About What’s Important To You
Open communication is key to establishing a healthy relationship. Whether you’re talking about simple things like your weekend plans or your summer vacation, or things that feel a little heavier, like insecurities or a loss in one of your families, a partner should be someone you feel comfortable talking to about anything and everything.
But according to Dr. Wish, if your partner “does not want to discuss or change things that are important to you, such as you pursuing another career,” or “seeing your families more often,” it might be time to ask yourself whether or not they care. Better yet, it might be time to ask them directly.
They Share Your Important Values
“Values” can feel like a big word, but in a nutshell, values are the qualities that are most important to a person. Having shared values with a romantic partner is often what draws people to each other, and those same shared values can make a relationship really work in the long-run.
According to Dr. Wish, if “you realize that you do not share the same core values, such as: hard work, family, discussions about money, career growth, respect for your religion, lifestyle, recognition of his/her shortcomings and a willingness to improve them, and kindness in your mutual interactions,” consider whether or not your relationship is as strong as you’d like it to be. If the answer is no, but you still love your partner (which is understandable!), couples therapy and lots of communication might be able to help you get on a forward path.
They Respect Your Boundaries & Are Sensitive To Your Needs
A partner who loves you will respect your boundaries, period. Whether your boundaries have to do with space, material things, or sex, someone who wants you to be happy will respect what’s important to you, or will work with you to find a compromise.
“If there are high levels of insensitivity to your emotional needs, and it's not changing despite your best efforts to address it, ending the relationship may be the only way to send the message you are serious about being treated with respect,” Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes — licensed psychologist, relationship expert, and author of Toxic Insecurity — tells Elite Daily.
They Are Happy To Talk About The Future
Remember the above point about communication? Well, that applies to talking about the future, too. If a partner is serious about you, they won’t shy away from talking about the future or making plans far in advance. "If you’re good at communicating with your partner, you’ll have had several conversations about your goals for the future, and whether it includes moving in together, getting married, or having children,” Julie Spira, online dating expert, previously told Elite Daily.
It’s important to remember that “the future” isn’t limited to life events far down the line. The future can also be as close as next week. If the person you’re dating doesn’t want to make plans with you for the weekend because they claim they won’t know what they have going on, or they don’t want to plan a trip with you because “who knows where we’ll be by then?” it's probably because they don’t see you as part of their bigger picture.
They Help You Grow
It’s all too easy to fall into a pattern of one-sidedness. Sure, helping your partner become the best version of themselves is rewarding and lovely to see, but allow yourself to think about yourself for a moment. What are you getting out of your relationship? Do you feel loved and appreciated? Do you feel yourself learning and growing?
“A good match is someone whose strengths fill in your weaknesses, and who helps you learn to improve,” says Dr. Wish. “This partner also ‘gets’ you emotionally, understands, and accepts your past.” Even more importantly, the ideal partner should be willing to help you grow and change going forward.
They’re Kind To You
Kindness is the bare minimum. If your partner isn’t kind to you, doesn’t show you respect, doesn’t talk positively about you to your friends and family, and doesn’t show up for you when you need them, ask yourself if this is the relationship you want to be in. “Without respect for each other and willingness and ability to be your best friend, then your relationship becomes the wrong one for you,” says Dr. Wish.
At the end of the day, only you and your partner know and understand the inner workings of your relationship. More importantly, only you know what you need in a healthy relationship. But next time you find yourself thinking, “My boyfriend or my girlfriend doesn’t do anything for me,” or, “My boyfriend or my girlfriend doesn’t make time for me,” it may just be time to find someone who will.
Julie Spira, online dating expert
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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