You have a candle.
It’s the traditional kind, the one that everyone grew up with, complete with the wick, the wax, and the need for a spark to light a flame.
You take a match, or maybe a lighter, and let the candle’s wick burn. The resulting flame burns bright, brighter if the room is dark. Up close, it exudes warmth and may even let off a wonderful scent depending on your candle of choice.
Unfortunately, the candle doesn’t last forever.
As most things do, the flame weakens and dies eventually. More often than not, the cause is the passage of time. It’s also possible that the candle died early because of the wind or the lack of oxygen.
Regardless of the reason behind it, the candle is dead, and you’re left in a dark, gloomy room with no source of light.
Love, romance, and relationships are very much like this candle. They come in different forms, have different facets, and require different things to ignite.
However, unlike candles, love, romance, and relationships can last a long time. That is, if we do the right things and work for our Happily Ever Afters.
It might seem like a tall order, especially if you’re new to relationships, but it isn’t entirely impossible. Here are some long-term relationship tips that will hopefully make your relationship thrive for a long, long time.
Tips to Maintain a Long-Term Relationship
Polyamorous relationships are valid. We respect them and think it’s lovely for people to find love and happiness with various consenting partners.
However, in this article, the following items have been specially curated for two-person relationships. Poly couples are free to adjust and adapt these long-term relationship tips should they wish to.
1. Relationships are two-party teams
Now, while it’s obvious, it needs to be said that your relationship consists of only you and your partner — no one else.
It’s your story; you two are the main characters. So, as much as possible, try not to let individuals who aren’t part of your relationship play such critical roles in how it progresses.
Decisions, for example, should be made after extensive discussions with your partner. You’re free to ask other people’s opinions, be it friends or family, but don’t proceed with anything without consulting your partner.
Another note has to do with the dreaded exes.
Typically, hopeless romantics are discouraged from pursuing new relationships if they still have hang-ups over the previous one. It doesn’t mean that you can’t find love while hurting over your ex. In the end, try not to let these negative emotions (or worse, the person themself) become the third party in your relationship.
Allowing so may only hinder your happy ending with The One.
2. Communication is key
While everyone is aware of the fact, it bears repeating that communication is one of the foundations of a healthy and stable relationship. Talking on a regular basis is especially important for online couples considering this is one of the only ways they can express love and affection.
Aside from sharing what happened during the day, talking about anything and everything, making plans, and saying “I love you “s, romantic pairings should also communicate during disagreements and nasty fights.
Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, especially if you’ve been hurt by something your partner said or did. People aren’t mind readers, and your partner won’t help resolve anything if you keep mum and stow away the hurt, only to bring it up later.
3. Love languages can go a long way
We are all inherently unique, so it’s not surprising that our hearts speak in different ways. What makes you feel loved and appreciated may not be the same for your partners. So, to prevent any misunderstandings and hurt feelings, it’s best for you two to learn each other’s love languages.
Now, for those who are unaware, there are five primary love languages, all of which were discovered by author Gary Chapman. These love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts.
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation is the love language expressed by people who verbally show their affection. It doesn’t have to be a straight-up “I love you.” It may even be simple praises, compliments, and encouragement.
Quality time is the love language shown through undivided attention. People with this love language prefer quality over quality when it comes to dates, so make sure to pay attention to them and show that you are present in the moment.
Physical touch is the love language of people who feel loved when they receive physical affection. It can be mere handholding, hugs and cuddles, the occasional kiss, or more intimate gestures. They just want to be close to their partners physically, so even cuddling on the couch while watching a film will make their day.
Acts of Service
Acts of service is the love language for people who feel valued when their partners go out of their way to do things for them. Much like the previous love languages, the actions taken need not be grand gestures (although those are highly appreciated). Doing the chores, making them breakfast in bed — these are only some of the simple, nice gestures that will show your partner you love and care for them.
Receiving gifts is one of the most straightforward love languages. People with this love language appreciate the “visual manifestations of love.” Now, it’s worth noting that the physical gift itself isn’t the only thing that matters for people. Instead, they also consider the thoughtfulness of the gesture, so don’t think that you need to break the bank to make your partner feel loved.
It’s also worth mentioning that love languages work both ways: this is how we feel loved and, oftentimes, how we show it as well. If your love languages don’t necessarily align with your partners, try to appreciate their gestures still.
4. Stay true — to your partner and to yourself
We grew up with the saying that “Honesty is the best policy.” It remains very much true with relationships.
As much as possible, don’t lie to your partner or omit details that may potentially hurt them or damage your relationship.
This doesn’t mean that you have to divulge every facet of your being, nor does it mean that your partner can keep track of your day-to-day life. No, it has more to do with speaking your mind and not going behind your partner’s back.
In the same vein, it’s worth mentioning that we need to stay true to ourselves even when we’re dating other people.
Some individuals get so desperate to keep a relationship that they start to lose sight of who they are as separate people from their partners. While we’re encouraged to grow and adapt, we shouldn’t change ourselves too much just to make another person happy.
5. Keep separate
Branching off from the previous points, we must highlight the fact that relationships are just as much as You and Your Partner as it is You-And-Your-Partner. You’re a unit comprising two people, so there’s nothing wrong with growing as individuals and pursuing activities, interests, and hobbies without your partner.
In fact, doing so will allow you two to grow individually, all the while having more topics to talk about when you finally reconvene at the end of the day.
This tip doesn’t only apply to hobbies and other activities. Keeping separate also means respecting each other’s need for space and time as well.
People have different thresholds for interaction. If your partner’s threshold is lower than yours, don’t take it personally if they need some time to unwind and relax alone. It may get lonely for a while, but hey, at least it gives you two the chance to miss each other a little bit.
6. Court each other
One of the reasons why the so-called “flame” dies off eventually is because people fail to put in the same time and effort into the relationship as they did when it was still in the beginning stages.
So, to remedy this, try to court your partner every day. You don’t have to go all out or spend too much money if it’s not in the budget. Instead, consider their love language and apply it yourself.
If they have gifts as their love language, why not make something homemade? If it’s physical touch and quality time, a night in with a home-cooked meal followed by Netflix and Chill may show your partner that you’re still invested in the relationship.
There are many ways to keep the spark alive even after months or years of being together. Some of them are spontaneous and best done as surprises, while others require more planning to happen.
One of the best ways to find out what works for your relationship is by talking to your partner about it. Remember — communication is key!
By doing so, you and your partner can hash out the budget, the schedule, and of course, the activities that you two can enjoy together.
Do these tips help you and your long-term relationship?
It’s okay to get comfortable in relationships. After all, that’s the end goal, isn’t it? To get through the initial awkward stages with strangers to find that One Person you can be yourself with.
However, finding that person doesn’t mean that we can slack off. A lot of work goes into maintaining and strengthening relationships. If you don’t put in the time and effort, you’ll find that some stories end prematurely, even if you don’t want to. So start working and let these long-term relationship tips guide you.
While you’re at it, check out our blog for more dating and relationship advice.