Relationships are delicate, complex, and always changing. Some marriages last 70 years, some last 72 days (looking at you, Kim)—and while neither of those options is necessarily right or wrong, most people enter a relationship hoping it will last a long time, if not a lifetime. There is no one-size-fits-all secret to a lasting, happy, and faithful relationship, but there are some general guidelines.
Full disclaimer upfront: Nothing can make a relationship last with somebody who doesn’t want it to last. These tips will not prevent arguments, infidelity, or other problems, but they can help foster a healthy environment and productive partnership. Clear communication, openness to new experiences, and respect for your partner are key if you want to build a lasting, loving relationship.
1. Make your partner a priority: Take time often to let your boyfriend or hubby know how special he is to you. We get that life gets super busy; school, jobs, kids, and other commitments often get in the way. Taking time out of your day to send a sweet text or pick up his favorite snack on the way home is a simple way to remind him he’s always on your mind.
2. Respect yourself: Sometimes negligence is the issue, but other times we get too far on the other end of the spectrum. Putting your partner first 24/7 is a great way to burn yourself out and kill the passion in your relationship. Don’t be a doormat, and don’t let yourself go trying to do everything for him. Confidence is attractive, and taking care of yourself is a must.
3. Have body confidence: Expanding on the last point, body confidence is super important to keep the spark alive in any sexual relationship. People change, and so do bodies. If you’ve gained weight since you first met, or you started getting dark chin hairs, or an emergency appendectomy left you with a weird scar, who cares? We guarantee you that decent, worthwhile dudes are not turned off by this. Shutting down your sex life over a few new stretch marks is sure to be a relationship killer. Don’t let time and gravity stop you from doin’ your thang, girl.
4. Don’t use sex as a bartering chip: Withholding sex because he didn’t take the garbage out or reserving half-hearted BJs for birthdays is a really bad idea, unless you want your SO to think you consider sex a chore.
5. Keep an open mind: This goes for a lot of things (seriously, just try the restaurant he wants you to try), but we are specifically talking in the bedroom. Everybody has different tastes, and if you want to keep your love life exciting, it’s wise to approach sex with a relaxed, non-judgmental attitude. As long as it doesn’t hurt you or throw your moral compass out of whack, adopt an “I’ll try anything once and twice if I like it” attitude. And if he’s into something you just can’t get down with? Try super hard not to let him know you think his kink is weird or gross. Most people have already had enough sexual shame to last them a lifetime (thanks, abstinence-only sex education!).
6. Trust him: We know rom-coms taught you that men are incompetent horndogs who turn into drooling cavemen around even mildly attractive women, but please remember to respect your partner’s intelligence by not falling for this shit. Do not hound him about his cute co-worker, neighbor, or friend. Insecurity is a major boner-shrinker, and unwarranted lecturing, snooping, and accusing are sure to get you nowhere. If you have any legitimate concerns about cheating, a respectful and honest conversation is usually the best place to start.
7. Don’t talk behind his back: All couples are bound to encounter some difficult times, but airing your dirty laundry is usually a bad idea (unless your partner is abusive or doing something illegal or dangerous, in which case you should definitely seek the help of a third party). If you have run-of-the-mill relationship drama, ranting to your friends and family will often make things worse. Remember, just because you can forgive your man, it doesn’t mean they can. If you plan on working past it, keep it to yourself.
8. Flirt with him: Flirting keeps your passion alive, and it is a vital part of any good relationship. Plan solo dates often, try new things together, and pinch his butt cheeks just for fun. A little sexting never hurts, either.
9. Support him: Encourage him if he wants to try something new. Support him if he’s going through a rough phase in life. Generally, men do not open up as easily as women do, so don’t expect a heartfelt conversation every time he’s going through a rocky patch. Something as simple as telling him he’s doing a good job or making him a nice meal after a long day can make him feel cared for.