Starting a new relationship can be hard. We wouldn’t be in the relationship if we didn’t think it would make us happy, right? Once you are in the relationship though, how do you stay happy? Read on for some new research on four habits to keep your new relationship healthy for years to come or your old relationship thriving and rejuvenated.
Jeanne Flora of New Mexico State University and Chris Segrin of the University of Arizona studied how to develop satisfying relationships. They found four things that the most satisfied couples are doing in their relationships. How are you doing? Where could you improve?
- Faster and Deeper: The happiest couples are moving through relationships faster and deeper. This means they are experiencing things like becoming “official” and “exclusive” faster, as well as feelings of really knowing their partner and being open with them. This doesn’t mean they were engaged within a few weeks but speaks more to couples becoming dissatisfied if they feel like their relationship is stuck in neutral. If you start moving slow or feel like your relationship is stuck, you may start to notice what is not happening in your relationship, and you may start to question if there is something holding you or your partner back. How can you move “faster” in your relationship? Talk to your partner about your desires for the relationship now and in the future.
- More We-ness, Less Separateness: Happy couples think more about “we” than “me.” In other words, they tend to think about their decisions, goals, and desires with the relationship in mind rather than themselves without their partner. One key for this step, however, is that each individual will have a different level of desired “we-ness.” Fortunately, if you think there is enough “we-ness” in your relationship, then you will be happier, whether or not it is the same level of “we-ness” as another couple.
- Realistic Expectations: When starting a new relationship, having realistic expectations about contact with your partner is important. Being disappointed with what happens in your relationship is not going to help you stay happy. If you expect to spend every minute together, you might be disappointed. If you expect to never see your partner, you have no hope for the relationship. If you expect to see your partner every day, even if just for a few minutes some days, you are more likely to be satisfied with the time you have together. The key is to have hope for a good relationship, but to set goals that you know can be realistically fulfilled.
- Glorify the Struggle: Every relationship will meet an obstacle or a bump eventually. These may turn out to be great opportunities for growth, though. Couples who remember the hard times and learn from them are able to look back at how the relationship has improved. These couples are also happier than the couples who try to ignore the bumps or the couples who think one small obstacle is a sign of a doomed relationship. So, be grateful for the hard times, and keep growing together.
Find out more about how you could be happier in your relationship by taking the RELATE assessment here.