Here's the magical question, "What makes love last?" What are the traits or characteristics of healthy long-term relationships?
We've all asked this question. But don't lie. When we're coming off the heels of a relationship gone terribly wrong, we're not only asking, we're desperately seeking answers. It makes sense. After all, relationship pain is some of the worst pain that we experience in life. We not only want to know what went wrong, but we also want to know what we should be looking out for in the future.
So here it is...
Here are 8 traits that you should look for when it comes to understanding what makes love last.
Trust is the cornerstone of a strong relationship. It involves having faith in your partner's reliability, honesty, and intentions. Duh, we all know this.
But here's what we might not realize.
We think that trust is all about commitment and good communication, and sure we could say that these are indeed pieces of trust. But let's tie trust to something a little more simple and intuitive.
When someone acts in alignment with your Core Values, you gain trust or what we call "Regard." When someone acts against your Core Values, you lose trust or Regard for them.
If we go back to our opening explanation, trust "involves having faith..."
Trust is developed over time as a person demonstrates through actions that they're going to behave in a way that's in alignment with what we personally believe and value. Trust cannot be spoken into existence, it must develop with time and consistent behavior.
Because of this, once trust is damaged or broken, it can be difficult or even near impossible to repair. This is why within our Crystal Clarity Coaching Program, relationship repair always begins with Regard because that's where our trust is housed.
TWO. Mutual Respect
Since we're speaking of Regard, we might as well talk about it's two other pieces which are respect and admiration. Since they're closely related, we'll lump them both up into the idea of "respect."
Respect is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship. It involves valuing each other's opinions, boundaries, and autonomy. Treating your partner with kindness, courtesy, and appreciation promotes a sense of equality and fosters a loving atmosphere. Again respect is tied to having an alignment in Core Values. Who this person is and what they believe is either something that you are or something that you're aspiring to become.
In the context of our relationship framework, we say that Regard is the KEY component of Desire. Because without Regard, it's almost impossible to Desire or "want" to maintain a relationship.
Regard defines the trust, respect, and admiration that's critical to the pull or attraction that makes us want a relationship.
Healthy long-term relationships have two people who each hold each other in high Regard.
THREE. Alignment in Core Values
Regard (trust, admiration, and respect) is tied directly to having an alignment in Core Values within the relationship. Let's talk about what Core Value alignment looks like.
When talking about what makes love last, what we see in a healthy relationship are two people that have a shared vision for their relationship and a similar outlook on the world around them. In other words, they share similar beliefs and values that drive their behavior.
We call this Core Value alignment and here's what it looks like...
When two people's Core Values align, they're able to...
- Feel a deep understanding of one another
- Create a safe and open space for vulnerability
- Communicate openly
- Create a similar vision and goals for their life/relationship
- See eye-to-eye, even in moments of conflict
- Read between the lines, even when something isn't communicated ideally
- Anticipate one another's needs
When Core Values are misaligned, it's the opposite...
We grind against one another in small everyday interactions. We have a hard time understanding one another, even when we're communicating in a careful and effective manner. Small issues become big issues. We also lack the ability to relate to one another's perspectives or experiences.
Again, when it comes to our approach to coaching, this is why Regard and Core Values are at the top of our relationship repair list. When a relationship is unhealthy, this is a big part of our focus.
FOUR. Open Communication
What makes love last is a couple that values open communication over merely effective communication.
Effective communication is most definitely something we can and should work on over time. But open communication is more about communicating one thought and feelings authentically, even if we lack the tools or understanding to do it effectively.
With a healthy relationship, both people value authenticity and transparency over HOW it's communicated. Meaning they'd rather be completely open and honest with each other rather than worry about not saying something the "right way."
Again, creating a space for this type of vulnerability in communication requires that the top three characteristics are already in place. Without Regard and an alignment in Core Values, it's impossible to have the trust and respect necessary to create a safe place for authentic conversation.
FIVE. Relative Emotional Intelligence
What makes love last is having "relative" emotional intelligence. Ok, so what do we mean by "relative?"
When we look at a healthy long-term relationship, we see two people with a high degree of emotional intelligence RELATING to the other person. Meaning, it's not important that others perceive them to have high EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) in general.
What's important is that they're able to be self-aware enough to empathize within the context of each other and their relationship.
This trait is again developed through Regard and Core Value alignment. It's also boosted by having shared interests that help improve the couple's Relatability.
SIX. Intimacy and Affection
Intimacy is critical. But intimacy goes beyond physical affection and includes emotional and intellectual closeness. Maintaining intimacy involves nurturing a deep emotional bond, expressing love and affection regularly, and prioritizing quality time together.
So why is it number 6 on our list?
Well, it's not because of its lack of importance. It's because fostering true intimacy requires the five steps that came before it.
When it comes to what makes love last, in healthy long-term relationships we see a space where both people are comfortable and completely open about their love life. They're able to communicate their wants, desires, and fantasies without the other person getting upset or jealous.
SEVEN. Change & Growth
Within a healthy long-term relationship, both people understand that they're going to change and grow over time. Actually, let's go further. They not only understand, but they also embrace and appreciate one another's Change & Growth.
Relationships face various challenges and changes over time. Being adaptable and flexible allows couples to navigate transitions, accommodate growth and development, and adjust to new circumstances together.
On top of that, they recognize that it's through Change & Growth that they're able to grow together and provide their relationship with new experiences. Experiences that keep the relationship fresh and exciting.
EIGHT. Friendship and Shared Interests
When it comes to answering, "what makes love last" one of the biggest characteristics is a strong underlying friendship with shared interests.
Because five or ten years into your marriage or partnership, your relationship is going to look a lot more like a friendship than it does a steamy hot sexcapade. Don’t worry, it’s possible to maintain passion but your connection is going to deepen.
The best marriages are built around what basically equates to a strong friendship. Building a solid friendship involves enjoying each other's company, sharing common interests, and having fun together.
I know that this wasn't necessarily a comprehensive guide of how you address or resolve issues in each of these areas. For that, we'd need a lot more time and would recommend that you step into Crystal Clarity or our One-on-One Coaching Waitlist.
But in the meantime, at least this list gives you a fairly comprehensive set of characteristics of healthy relationships. It doesn't tell you HOW, but it most certainly answers the question of "WHAT makes love last?"
It serves as a guide that you can use to see what to look for in a new relationship, or where to focus your energy in an existing marriage or partnership.