We fall in love by chance but we stay in love by choice. How can you make a romantic relationship last in the long-term? Find out on today's Valentine's Day edition of the psychology of love.
Being in love with someone vs. loving someone Last week in the psychology of hookups we looked at the biology behind romantic love. This is when your hormones go crazy and the person of your affection becomes a drug for you. Relationships like this are passionate but they also take you on an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows.
In the triangular theory of love, this passionate rollercoaster love would be in the passion corner of the triangle. However, what we are all aiming for in love is right in the middle. Consummate love. It’s a combination of intimacy, passion and commitment. Even when you and your partner find yourself in the lucky middle of the love triangle, this sort of connection still needs to be maintained and worked on everyday.
Here’s 5 things that should be a part of any happy relationship that you want to last a lifetime:
1. Respect You don’t always have to agree on everything, share the same hobbies or world views. And that’s ok. Simply respect that your partner is his/her own person. This also means not bringing them down in front of others. For example, consider discussing your problems with your partner as opposed to during dinner parties with friends.
2. Acceptance Loving someone means accepting them as they are. The good and the bad. Full acceptance in a relationship provides a stable basis for honesty. When you feel truly accepted by your partner, you will feel the freedom to be yourself. You have full permission to be human with all emotions that come with it. Acceptance and honest communication go hand in hand even when sharing your thoughts and feelings is not always easy.
3. Gratitude It’s the little things that make up a life. Appreciating even the most casual of moments with your partner will serve as a reminder about how lucky you are to have them in your life. Gratitude in general will do wonders for the happiness levels in your life as well!
4. Commitment With what mindset are you entering your relationships? Let’s take an example of Pete and Sue. They’re about to get married and while Pete believes that marriage is a once in a lifetime situation, Sue believes that divorce would be an option if things get rough. Do you think these two share the same level of commitment in the relationship? Before you get into a serious relationship check in with yourself: are you ready to board the plane once things get rough or are you in it for the long-term?
5. Partnership Relationships are not a one-way street. Both partners need to be adding value to the relationship and they both need to make an effort to make it work. But in order to know what you can bring to the table, you must first know yourself. If you are to become a supportive, loving and generous husband or wife you first have to become that person whether there is someone by your side or not. It starts with the people around you and it starts with you being supportive, loving and generous with yourself.
Happily ever afters don’t exist. Life doesn’t stop after you fall in love and get married. But that’s actually a good thing because we are in a constant state of progress. Perhaps we don’t choose who we fall in love with but we can make a conscious decision about what sort of relationships we want to have and what sort of life we want to lead. And we can choose to love in a committed way with respect, acceptance and gratitude. We can choose to love unconditionally.