Quite the hefty question, isn’t it? If you’re asking yourself how do relationships work, you are one step closer to finding out.
Relationships do not just work on their own. They need both people to work together. So understanding how do relationships work exactly is the key to making them work.
Yes, relationships are complicated. They are far from simple and opposed to what many people may think, they are hard work. Without effort from both parties, a relationship simply will not work. But each relationship is different in its own way.
How to know when a relationship is not working
You may think it is obvious when a relationship is or is not working, but it can be hard to open your eyes to what is right in front of you. Relationships can last a lot longer than they should because one or both people just are not admitting that it isn’t working.
You may think things are working because you never fight, but that can mean you are both checked out. Not fighting or arguing could mean a lack of involvement and attention to the relationship. Just because two people are together without obvious problems does not mean the relationship is working.
But just because things may not be working now does not mean they’ll never be able to. Putting work into a relationship makes it work. But just like slacking at your job doesn’t get you anywhere neither does slacking in your relationship. [Read: Understand the secrets of a happy relationship that make or break the romance]
How do relationships work?
As I said, this is quite a loaded question. There is a lot that goes into making a relationship work. Talk to any couple that has been married 25+ years and not one of them will say they were just happy from day one with no extra effort.
Yes, passion, love, romance, and all those magical things certainly help and are what make you want to make things work, but there is a lot more that goes into a successful relationship.
As someone wise once said, nothing worth having comes easy. That goes for a good job, a degree, and a working relationship. The more effort you put in, the more you both get out of it. But how do relationships work? Here are the key things that play a part.
#1 Communication. You have heard it before and you will hear it again. Communication is key and just about every happy couple will agree. Speak up when something is bothering you. Holding things in is not healthy for you or your relationship.
You do want to pick your battles carefully as nagging your partner about how they arrange the silverware may not be worth it, but discussing how you feel when they are constantly changing plans at the last minute is worth a talk. A relationship will only work if both you and your partner communicate regularly. [Read: The steps to a better communication in your relationship]
#2 Appreciation. You know how your parents would be mad when they made dinner and cleaned the dishes but never heard a thank you? A romantic relationship is no different. Whether you show your appreciation by helping out, giving a hug, or saying thank you, make sure your partner knows what they mean to you.
We think that we know our partners so well they should just know they are appreciated, but they are not mind readers. [Read: Creative ways to show your appreciation to someone you love]
#3 Interdependence. What is interdependence? It is you and your partner depending on each other, but not for everything. You depend on each other to be there, but also to understand when you need time apart.
Relationships don’t work when they are smothering. You both need to take your time with friends and even alone. And interdependence is all about that balance.
#4 Humor. Laughter can be the saving grace for a relationship that may have been doomed otherwise. Being able to find the light side of something heavy and hard to handle is what helps you survive the hard parts.
Being able to make each other laugh is not just beneficial to your physical and mental health, but it is one of the things that makes a relationship work. Without laughter, things can get too dull and monotonous to continue.
#5 Honesty. Holding back the truth is poisonous to a relationship. If you are asking yourself “how do relationships work,” honesty is how everything works. How did your relationship begin? You shared your interest in one another.
Whether you are hiding something your partner might be upset about or swallowing your fears for the future, being honest sets your relationship on the right path. When everything is on the table, you can properly work through any obstacles and move forward. [Read: How to be vulnerable in a relationship and feel closer]
#6 Confidence. Having confidence in yourself is not easy. We all have things we may not love about ourselves, but as long as we don’t let those moments take over we should be okay. If you are lacking self-esteem, there is a good chance you will base your feelings about yourself on your relationship.
And that is far too much pressure for any couple to be under. You have to believe in yourself and your self-worth outside of the relationship to make the relationship work.
The same goes for having confidence in the relationship as a whole. If you don’t believe things will work out and are always doubting your partnership, it is likely that your negativity could become a reality.[Read: How your self respect affects you and the relationships you’re in]
#7 Acceptance. Accept your partner for who they are. People tend to think they can change their partner into who they want, but that is not how it works. Yes, maybe you can open their eyes to something they never thought about and sometimes you can change together.
I am not recommending that you need to accept your partner’s support for Trump or love for porn, but when it comes to quirks or “flaws” you need to accept those things for what they are. If it doesn’t actually affect your relationship and your future, does it matter that he can’t put a decent outfit together or that he reads comic books?
#8 Compromise. The word that scares so many people away from commitment. Compromise is not easy. Giving up what you want for someone else is not something everyone is willing to do.
But, in order to know how relationships work, you should understand the benefits of compromise. It is the act of meeting halfway. You are not just giving up something you want, but making your partner happy in the process. And they do the same for you. That is what makes it work. [Read: Compromise in relationships and how to give without losing]
#9 Trust. Honesty and trust might sound similar, but they are far from the same. Trust is the faith you have that your partner is being honest with you. Without that, jealousy erupts and can destroy a relationship in the blink of an eye.
Without trust, a relationship is open to any and all attacks from outside and within. Trust is key to all the other ways a relationship works. If you and your partner do not trust each other, it is harder to make any part of the relationship work. [Read: Can a relationship without trust survive? Should it?]
#10 Intimacy. Everyone’s preference and levels of comfort are different in regards to intimacy, but any healthy relationship thrives on at least some level of physical touch. Everything from cuddling to sex has a place in the workings of a relationship.
With trust, appreciation, and honesty, the intimate part of the relationship can come naturally and boost everything else.
How do relationships work? As I said, they are different for everyone, but without these ten things, it is very hard, if not impossible, to make a relationship work.