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How To Have A Successful Long-Term Relationship

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

It's time. The time is now. There's no better time than the present. And all other versions of that sentence.

Over the past 4.5+ years since I began this blog, I've had like, a crap ton of two whole people ask me "Allie, how do you do it? How do you manage to have a successful long-term relationship in this day and age?" My answer full of sage wisdom? "You just do, I guess."

But other than just being one minuscule part of an LTR (that's trendy shorthand for "long-term relationship" if you're a little slower on the slang pickup) there are some steps you can certainly take to ensure you have a thriving nearly 10 years, non-marriage relationship like Matt and myself. (Over a half a decade of living together, no expensive sparkly ring, and no huge celebration of your love with friends and family... ah, just what everyone dreams of as a kid, right?) So since I am obviously a wealth of knowledge out of ideas for what to write today I present to you: 7 Ways To Have a Successful Long-Term Relationship in 2017.

1. Pretend to hear everything your partner says

I have bad hearing. Not so bad that I could ever justify spending thousands of dollars on a hearing aid, but it's far from good. This annoys Matt. (Yes, he would admit that he obviously has the same amount of patience as a saint.). I'm constantly saying "Huh?" and "Wait. What did you say?" and "I did not hear what you said, but cool." You know what response works best for when you can't hear well, though? "Ha ha ha ha ha haaa. Totally." Everyone wins when you think people think you're funny, right?

2. Lower your expectations

I'm kidding, of course. But do you remember "the courting stage" which, if done correctly, is then followed by "the honeymoon phase"? Those were the days, eh? Back when a date was planned down to the music in the car on the way (seriously, for our first date during our freshman year of college Matt borrowed his roommate's car, and when I got in, he had burned a CD -- that tidbit ages us -- of my favorite John Mayer and Maroon 5 songs). Ah, sweet romance. Now we go on a drive-thru run and he automatically asks the cashier "Is the ___ still vegan?" without me asking him to do so, and I'm all "HEART EYES FOR MY MAN!!!!!!!" But the reality is I actually prefer these later years than the earlier ones. For real - I love our simple nights of trying new plant-based food, Netflix binges, and cuddling up with our pets. It fits our lifestyle preferences better than forcing ourselves to go out to parties and whatnot just because we assume that's what the other one wants to do.

 3. Do not forget important dates

You may assume I am just talking about anniversaries and birthdays on this one. Which I am. Those two VID (Very Important Dates) are exactly what I am talking about. Don't forget them. Ever. Plain and simple. In all honesty, there is almost no valid excuse for forgetting them these days, now with the invention of calendar reminders on our phones and the such. The only reason I see a partner getting out of this one is if a medical doctor writes a note saying their patient suffered from short-term amnesia. Even then, you've still got a battle on your hands.

 4. Don't stop dating each other

This one has been said in almost every similar article published on this topic. It still holds true, though. It really is vital to make sure you continue to keep up with "going out" with your partner. This doesn't mean you have to go to a 5-star restaurant every week; however, even making seemingly ordinary nights in at home more special will go a long way. Too tired/broke/over it in general to go out in public? I feel ya, I too am an old soul at heart. So is my boyfriend. Therefore, we personally enjoy making dinner at home, cocktails in hand, with Frank Sinatra playing in the background, and maybe playing a game while we eat. It's a fun -- and inexpensive! -- date night for the both of us. (Check out this post for a list of more affordable date ideas!)

 5. Think long and hard about having kids

[Insert wide-eyed red-faced emoji, because this is a touchy subject 😳] I'm just going to come out and say it: Make sure you truly want kids for THE REST OF YOUR LIFETIME before you have them. This is harsh, sure. Many of us grew up with our own family members telling us "Well, when you are an adult and have kids of your own..." It's ingrained in so many cultures that that is what we are meant to do as soon as we are of a responsible "grown" age. That is simply not true for everyone. Matt and I, for example, both agree that we do not want to be parents of humans. Ever. Like, ever, ever. (We do want to be pet parents for ever and always, because they are furry, sweet, and all that is love.) I sincerely believe that if Matt and I became parents one (or, more likely, both) of us would become permanently irritable since neither one of us are meant to be a mom or a dad. If you are both the type who were put on this planet to have children, then awesome - that may be a key to your long and healthy relationship! (It's just not the case for our coupledom in particular.)

6. Find common interests that are potentially lifelong

Matt and I do not agree on everything. Actually, there are plenty of things we don't agree upon. An example, you ask? He loves talking about mixed martial arts. I don't - like, not even a little bit. It's hard for me to even feign interest for more than a few minutes. (The same can be said for him having to listen to my drone on about my admiration of fashion.) A few things we have pretty much always agreed upon? A mutual obsession with Harry Potter, a need to travel the world as much as possible, a deep love for animals and their welfare, most politics, and a non-fear of moving to new places. These may not be topics that we initially jumped right into when we began dating back in 2007, but over time we opened up to each other more and shared our thoughts. Thankfully, quite a few of these common interests are lifelong loves and passions that we can always discuss.

7. Don't lose track of who you are as individuals

As I mentioned in #6, having some interests in common is vital, of course. For some couples, it may be of utmost importance that they are both affiliated with the same political party. For other couples, disagreeing on politics may be one of the reasons for the spark in their conversations with each other. While Matt and I do agree on a lot of topics, there are plenty that we don't. And I think that, although we do listen to each other's opinions (as respectfully as we can muster... heh), the fact that we don't have 100% the same mind is good for us. It keeps things from getting stale because, let's be honest, how boring would it be to date someone who has the exact same mind as you? Having your own opinions, passions, interests, and thoughts, in general, helps keep you both engaged in who you are as individuals, even when you are a part of a couple. Plus, it's nice to be able to challenge each other from time to time while still knowing that you are on the same team at the end of the day.

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There ya have it. A small collection of my thoughts on romantic relationships, written as a 28-year-old who doesn't really have a lifetime of experience to go off of. So really, go ask your grandparents or your neighbors who have been together for 60 years. They know better than I do. 😉

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What relationship advice has been most valuable for you?

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  1. I think you have some really good advice here. I think continuing to date each other is so key and people forget about that!

  2. I love how you admit you don't have to like all the same things. Honestly if that were the case it probably wouldn't be a healthy relationship. I've been dating my bf for over 5 years and we've both grown to appreciate the other's interests, but that doesn't mean I'm going to spend all day playing video games.

  3. I think "Don't stop dating each other" is the most important. My husband and I have been dating for 7 years and we make it a point to have one date every week (at least!). Phones are not allowed & we ask each other questions to find more out about each other. Crazy.. but we always learn something new!

  4. I love this advice! It's so easy to take each other for granted when you live together, but when you intentionally notice each other, that makes it for a healthy LTR!

  5. Not losing track of yourselves as individuals...SO important. When you just become consumed by the other, it can be SO hard and unhappy in the long run - you've gotta know YOU, too!

    Coming Up Roses


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