Alright, so let's be honest with ourselves here. Like, REALLY honest. And if you can't handle it... this is for YOU.
There are a lot of ways to maintain our relationships that people don't talk about ever. I know I'm just barely coming up on 25 years of life and I'm no expert, however, with how many people I've come across, I know what I want and what I need from a person. I also see many consistencies with many other people of different ages. So let's talk about some potentially hard topics!
1. Listen AND respond. Let's say it again... Listen....AND... RESPOND.
I think we've harped on listening to your partner a lot. But now we've run into a habit of listening and saying nothing. Nobody wants to talk to a wall. Find a way to add value to the conversation. If you are not well-versed in the topic, say so! DO NOT pretend you know and say things that don't make sense. You can't fake your way through a conversation. It's the quick way of letting the other person think you don't care about what they're saying. Ask the person to elaborate, maybe even try adding something that their topic reminded you of and bounce off of each other. Don't say nothing and don't do one-worded responses. If you don't care to do a tiny ounce of brain-work, that partner isn't for you I guess.
2. Don't forget how to adult.
Hold it down! Don't expect someone to jump in and do everything for you. I mean, we all naturally like doing things for each other, but it loses its value when we know if we don't do it, it won't get done. Be ready to get your hands dirty and do some work. Don't expect someone to do things for you or else it all becomes tedious and task like. If you both are working towards servicing each other to make life easier, you both end up playing your part and it's rewarding for you both. They wanted a partner, not a child. Do the work!
3. 100/100. No less.
People always say it's 50/50, 80/20, 20/80.... Because they believe if their other is down and out, they will fill in the gap. HELL NO. Life gets hard for all of us. That's no reason to treat your partner any less. If you didn't have a partner, you would be expected to clean up whatever mess all by yourself and keep pushing forward. Like I said, if each of you are focused on helping each other out, you won't be doing anything alone. However, if you expect someone to baby you, they'll eventually get sick of it. If you disagree, to each their own, but usually that's a sign that you get more than you give. It all should happen naturally and you both should always be putting in work.
4. Have your own identity and don't let your partner define you.
You are much more than what is around you. You are your own person, so BE IT. Your partner isn't a life sentence. You are supposed to blossom together! You are not supposed to be a dud while the other lives out their dreams. If you're sitting there feeling like you have no identity, you are just as important as your partner, so start testing out some stuff and see what you're into! If you are an artist, do that. Want a side hustle? Do it. Want to be the super Pinterest mom? Do it. Do what makes you, you. But don't do nothing. Continuing to stay active in your life, mind, and soul keeps the conversation coming and keeps things interesting.
5. Sex is more important than you'd think.
We've spent YEARS hammering down this idea that it's disrespectful to have sexual demands. Look, I get that maybe it's not something we walk right up to a first date and lay out on the line. But if you are invested in a forever partner, you need to be invested in that physical connection too. Okay okay, you can't be good at everything. But you can learn, you can try, you can be creative. People are naturally shy and that's okay. But just how shy ARE you? Because you have to realize what exactly you are signing up for. This is "forever" we are talking about. And if you aren't at the very least seeking out ways to invest in this physical connection, let's face it, they WILL get it from somewhere else. Everyone craves and needs physical connection. And not going to lie, if you are reading this and thinking I'm stupid and wrong, you're probably really shy and don't invest in your sex life. To each his own, I'm just saying, it's probably a good idea to TRY.
6. Don't be afraid of your flaws.
Every human being on this planet is beautiful. But we all come with flaws. It's not a secret so don't lie about it. If you are super lazy on the weekends, then say so. If you totally procrastinate and can't get yourself to work ahead ever, say something. There is not anything wrong with having some flaws, but it is wrong to lie about them. It wastes the other person's time. You'll hold up an image for a little while and then once the show is over, the truth will come out. Plus, it takes too much energy to lie. But seriously, people will be lying about who they are naturally and they don't even realize, that's how common it is.
7. No. No you do not NEED to buy that.
You are grown. Be responsible. Nobody likes a person who just throws money around like they're making it rain. You and I both combined don't have enough money to do that. It's okay to budget. As a matter of fact, it make you an optimal bachelor/bachelorette. The younger you are, the cooler it seems to be able to court the hell out of the person you're with, but that's immature thinking. Buy flowers, presents, etc. But find a good balance. Don't be afraid to say you're saving money. Build an empire for yourself and it'll make a BIG win as a partner. That goes for both sides as well.
8. It's NOT a contest. It's a partnership.
If you try to start keeping score on the person you're with, one of you will lose and one of you will win. And the one who starts the contest is probably going to lose because your negative attitude will be like swimming with concrete blocks shackled to your feet. It's not worth it. Your partner is probably going to be better than you at some things and vice versa. DO NOT KEEP SCORE. I see this way too much. "Well, he did this so I'm going to do that." STOP STOP STOP. That attitude is the beginning to the end.
9. Rejection DESTROYS your partner.
I don't care in what circumstance you think you are in. If you push them away, make them feel unwanted, or whatever it is that you must be doing, you are destroying the person you're with. If you don't absolutely adore the person you're with, figure out what is going wrong or not happening right. Sometimes we need to not chat all day during work in order to love each other when the day is done. That's fine. Figure out what it is so they are always the brightest light of your day. The rejection is going to make them more excited to see their friends, coworkers, or anyone else that isn't rejecting them all the time. Do better. Figure it out.
10. Don't forget why you loved the person in the first place.
Sometimes we lose sight of why we ended up with the person we are with. Sometimes we stop valuing the things that we once appreciated so much. Do what it takes to remind yourself. Every good trait we have can be a weakness if the lighting is just right. Don't only focus on the bad things that their good qualities bring. Because you will slowly build resentment against your partner and not even realize it until you can't stand them. Speak your truth. Be honest. If you lose touch, find a way to ground yourself again so you don't lose what you once fought so hard for.
Communication, trust, and respect are the three things that create a foundation for ANY type of relationship. You need each of those to accomplish those ten things. If you have found yourself missing the mark on most of those points, I think it's time you get real and ask yourself some really hard questions. It's not easy to repair serious damage and it isn't easy to up and walk away either, but you need to figure it out. Because the hole only gets deeper with time and persistence. Now, I repeat, I'm no expert, but that's my experience! If you have anything you'd like to add, I would love to hear you out in the comments below! Obviously there is more to relationships than just those ten things. So tell me what you've learned too!