Have you ever found yourself wondering why you’re spending your Saturday night, home alone, crying tears of sadness over Sex and the City marathons into a pint of Americone Dream? Or why you’re wasting another evening chasing the buzz over some Vodka Redbulls and regretful shots of Fireball whilst you and your buddies try to mastermind a liquid-courage-filled, not-so-cunning approach for that sloppily-sexy blonde getting white girl wasted at the other end of the bar?
“Some 124.6 million Americans were single in August, 50.2 percent of those who were 16 years or older, according to data used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics….In 1976, it was 37.4 percent and has been trending upward since.”-Bloomberg
50.2% of Americans are single?! That, my friends, is an appalling statistic! While relationships are not for all of us, there are many who long to just find that special someone — or as its more commonly referred to on popular dating websites — a “partner in crime.” If there are so many people yearning to find their “soul mate,” what’s the deal with these figures, then?
As many of us know, with today’s myriad of social media outlets a.k.a. “attractive people menus,” it’s certainly easy enough to find people to date or hook up with, regardless of whether we’re successful in a relationship with that person. And I mean why not take advantage of the plethora of fish in the sea?! Half the country is part of the Singles-Only club! That’s all fine and dandy for many people in their 20s. But as many of us also know, we reach, or will reach, a point where we’re looking for something more: something long-lasting, something genuine, something deep and meaningful, something special. After all, despite how much we try to glorify being single, these are tough times for most people looking for something more serious. So what does it entail if you want to go one step further and take your chances with making it to date #2, finding that special-someone, and potentially even settling down? Many of us try our luck braving the vicious dating scene, with hopes of meeting the right one and finding something special. Unfortunately, that ruthless dating scene often spits us back out, and most of the relationships we have had end up failing. So what are we to do?
Well, there are many factors playing a part in why such a huge part of society is single. But when we find someone we really enjoy, how do we make sure they stick around? What should we be looking for — regarding qualities — in our potential life partners? Furthermore, what rules should we try to follow to ensure success in our relationships?
Let’s start with the basics. Honestly, as far as generalizations go, both sexes want to see a level of financial and personal independence in someone ideal: working and/or in school; their own mode of transportation; a drive and motivation in life with goals they’re being proactive about; the ability to be on their own (whether it’s personal time, holding their own at a social gathering, or having their own place); having their own friends and life, rather than solely rely on their partner to fulfill every aspect of their individual life. In addition to that, it’s making sure the couple shares similar interests or hobbies, that they feel good when they’re around each other, that each person can be themselves in the other’s presence, that there’s mutual physical attraction and chemistry, that the timing is right, and that they both take some level of pride in having healthy or functional lives, possibly including (but not limited to) working out, having hobbies,eating well, personal grooming, etc. Being able to mesh well in each other’s circles, having similar communication styles and similar goals, the ability to enjoy each other’s company whether it’s romantic intimate time, just chill downtime with friends or relaxing, and having personalities that mesh nicely, are all aspiring attributes to look for as well.
Okay, now that we know what draws us in, we need to discuss how to keep that awesome relationship going! What can we do to ensure we get to the next step? What qualities do we need for a lasting relationship? Well, here it is. The key to any successful relationship will be if both partners are looking for the same thing, and if both are willing to practice these 15 steps. Here’s what you need to focus on if you really want to make it through life with that special someone, or as I like to call it, “The 15 Steps to Success”:
1. Don’t play games if you want something serious: Speak your mind and treat the person how you actually want to treat them. Call them if you want to call them, speak your feelings if you have them, ask them for a date night if you want some personal time, and lastly, be up front with what you expect from each other and what kind of relationship you’re looking for, or let them know if you’re just wanting something casual and/or sexual.
2. Don’t conduct selfish acts that will jeopardize your relationship: Cheating, lying, hiding things from them or intentionally excluding them/blocking them out, silent treatments, tantrums, victim playing, blaming and never taking responsibility for your participation, excessive or any flirting, intentionally sabotaging the other person, constant guilt tripping….these are ugly qualities that people should work on avoiding bringing into something they want to keep beautiful and healthy. Practice generosity, kindness, and compassion instead of trying ostracize your partner or make them your enemy.
3. Do communicate: Learn what their communication style is and try to work together and talk about how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking and what you need. It’s also helpful, as time goes on, to go back for status checks to make sure you’re both still on the same page or figure out if you guys need to re-calibrate. Do not keep things only to yourself, for fear of confrontation. Suppressed anger or disappointment will not be to anyone’s benefit if it’s kept bottled up. If there’s something that needs to be addressed, bring it to your partner’s attention. They are not a mind reader. The only way either of you can work on things is if you’re aware there is something that needs working on.
4. Do give your partner personal time with you: This could be cuddling time, watching a movie and laying together, cooking dinner together, talking, a date night, sex, massages, watching sports, gaming, showering together, going for a walk, etc. Make sure there’s time you can both focus on just each other — time to connect or talk — without a bunch of other people or distractions.
5. Don’t become complacent: Never take a good thing for granted. If another person wants to be in your life, that’s a gift, not something you should expect. Treat them like you’re grateful and thankful for them, not like you don’t have to work to keep them. The grass is always greener where you water it.
6. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable: It’s really important to let yourself be willing to feel things, whether it’s insecurities or love. People can only experience love or be in love when they’re willing to accept those types of feelings in their lives.
7. Don’t smother the person or project your own insecurities on them or faults from past relationships: Your partner is a new person in your life, not your ex. You can’t change people. You can’t keep them from doing what you want by smothering them, controlling them, or not letting them out of your sight. Both people need to have a little faith with each other, and learn to work on building trust together and maintaining that trust and faith. Let them be themselves and have their own time. Love them for who they are, not who you want them to be.
8. Do figure out each other’s love languages: Most people express their acts of love by doing what they think they’d appreciate. Gift giving, words of affirmation, surprises, physical touch, personal time… everyone’s language is different, and what makes one person feel loved is not necessarily what would make another feel loved. In addition to the love language, do sweet things for them randomly from time to time. Everyone enjoys knowing someone was thinking of them.
9. Do try to focus on life improvement together: Work out together, eat healthy, go for walks, practice more positive thinking, support each other’s goals, compliment each other…whatever lifestyle improvements work for you as a couple, remember your life together is supposed to make your life better.
10. Do remember them and include them: Whether it’s for holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, or your days off from work, remember to make time for your partner or invite them to participate in these activities with you. Remember to include them with family and friends too. (Family and friends can also provide more insight about whether your partner could be “the one.”)
11. Don’t be a sad or broken person relying on someone else to make you happy: Relationships work best when both people have taken the time to be happy themselves, and when together, they can amplify that happiness. No one should be a constant emotional or mental drain on the other.
12. Do work together, don’t give up on each other or bail when times are tough, accept each other’s differences and embrace imperfection: No matter how great your list is of what you want in a perfect relationship, you will never nail it on the head all the time. Some things you need to work towards. Some things you get right some days and not others. A good thing never comes easy. It always involves work, and for both people to respect each other and not do things like insult, name call, threaten, or break up just because you’re having a disagreement or you’re going through rough patches. Whether it’s professional, platonic, friendships, family, or romantic…. Every relationship has its ups and downs. It’s important to acknowledge that and never expect an entirely smooth ride. If you’re aware of those things going into a relationship, you’ll be more resolved from the beginning, and willing to stick around and work through the bumps. Our generation has a tendency to bail when it isn’t perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist naturally, it exists through work and devotion to each other.
13. Do pay attention to the other person’s physical needs: This could be massages, cuddling, hand holding, kissing, making out, foreplay, oral stuff, or sex. But try your best to make the other person happy — despite what you want. And tell your partner this, so they do the same for you. If people are selfish in this area and refuse to want to please the other, this creates a lot of issues and tension between a couple. So focus on pleasing your partner, and know it should be equally reciprocated.
14. Do challenge each other: This could include intellectual conversation, having your own opinion outside of your partner’s, making each other laugh, teasing or playful banter, introducing them to a hobby of yours, teaching them something you know, trying to match each other’s fitness goals, taking a class together (classes could be: fun, creative, productive, technical, academic, romantic, or fitness), learning something new together, or simply taking a day to do your own thing so you have something new to talk about.
15. Do remember they are their own person: Your partner, no matter how much you two have in common or can finish each other’s sentences, will never be you. They will always need you to share and communicate. They will make mistakes simply because they are human. You both won’t always agree. There will be arguments, and there will be apologies. It’s important to remember they are doing their best to be there for you, to support you, and please you, in all the ways they can think of. (If they’re not doing this, it might be time to move on, because no relationship works when one or both people are being selfish.) Despite disagreements and differences, it’s important to exercise compassion and forgiveness. I’m not talking about they cheated on you 5 times forgiveness, I’m talking about when you get frustrated and don’t understand why they did something, try to put yourself in their shoes. Practice empathy. When you guys argue, as you’re bound to do, remember you’re supposed to argue towards a resolution, not a barrier. And if your partner is willing to drop the argument for the sake of moving past it and patching things up, practice forgiveness. Anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It benefits no one. If you can remember to be compassionate and empathetic with this other person who has decided they want to join you on this life journey, I think you’ll both be pleased at what a strong and loving relationship you two can have.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this: Relationships aren’t really about “us.” If they were, we wouldn’t need them. They’re about finding a person that’s on the same wavelength as you, making them happy, being a happy person yourself, and working together as a team to get to where you want to be in life, individually and with each other. If both people are willing to work towards these goals, then I guarantee, there’s nothing you two can’t take on together.
Featured image from Bright Bold & Beautiful