Even though when Shakespeare wrote, “love is blind,” he probably didn’t mean a deceiving Tinder photo, the phrase is still all too relevant today. We’ve all had that one friend who sticks it out in unhealthy relationships, and we ask, what does she see in them!? Or maybe the relationship’s not unhealthy, per se, but merely just comfortable. And to be clear, there’s a huge difference between being comfortable and being happy. The truth is, when you’re in a relationship and with someone you care about, sometimes you’re so optimistically blinded by the hope of a happy relationship that you don’t realize your relationship has become unhappy. Below, we’ve shared eight ways to know you’re in a happy relationship.
Of course this is an obvious factor of any good relationship, and is one of the most common relationship buzzwords, but what does trust really mean? In a happy relationship, you should never worry about your partner’s intentions, feelings, or actions when they’re not with you. Neither person in the relationship should have negative feelings about what the other does on their own (and that includes dictating who they’re allowed to see and when they’re allowed to see them). In a happy relationship, you just know, without any verbal confirmation or discussion, that your partner will always have your back, always keep your secrets, and always believe you (and that goes vice versa).
- Understanding one another’s love language
A difference in love languages does not mean incompatibility, but understanding how to show your partner love as they feel it can make all the difference. You might show your love for your partner through cleaning up the house or making dinner, but if their love language is Words of Affirmation, they may go through the entire relationship feeling like they’re not valued. Likewise, if spending alone time together is important to you, and your partner never seems to make time for dates anymore, you’re most likely feeling unhappy and unappreciated. In the happiest relationships, both partners not only show their appreciation for the other, but know to show appreciation in the way that makes their partner feel the most loved and valued.
- The ability to argue, and argue well
I’m sure you’ve heard before from every relationship psychologist that it’s a good thing to argue. It’s just humanly impossible to be around someone 24/7 and never argue or fight, no matter how much you love them (I mean, haven’t you had siblings?). But if arguing becomes fighting that is too often or too heated, it’s typically unhealthy. Ideally, you should make a conscious effort to understand your loved one’s perspective, even if you don’t see eye-to-eye. I do not agree that “love means never having to say you’re sorry” (one of the few romance movie quotes that has ever let me down), but rather, love means caring about fixing a problem more than you care about being right, and saying sorry when you’re wrong (sorry, Ali MacGraw). Relationships that have true intimacy are able to communicate all emotions, good or bad.
Trust me, I’m the first to recommend that everyone has that tight-knit, Sex and the City-level group of bffs to tell absolutely everything to, or maybe that one lifelong bestie to share all of your deepest darkest secrets (#bff necklaces included). Regardless of how happy a relationship is, everyone needs strong friendships outside of their partner. However, if you get exciting news at work and post it in your bff group chat but don’t care enough to tell your partner, if you tell your work friends every detail of your relationship issues but have trouble communicating your concerns with your sig oth, or if you feel like your partner just won’t “get it” so you don’t talk to them about certain things, it might be time to reevaluate what a happy relationship should be like. A happy relationship is like having a built-in best friend who you can talk to about everything and makes you feel excited to share big news. The girl talk can wait until brunch.
- No judgment
No matter what you’ve done or what you like, your partner should completely accept you for who you are. If you find yourself pretending that you didn’t love the fantasy movie he hated, but secretly you google when the sequel’s coming out, or if you pretend that you don’t know what she’s talking about when your friend brings up that one crazy night in college for fear he’ll be mad or question your past decisions, it might not be as happy of a relationship as it should be. No matter how weird your interests may be or how questionable you think your past is, a good partner accepts everything that is you and brings out the best in you. To quote the ultimate relationship expert, Carrie Bradshaw, “if you can find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”
- Eager to talk about your partner
If you’re in a relationship, it’s just guaranteed that you’re going to get asked about your significant other all the time. Your mom, your best friend, your boss, everybody will constantly ask, “How’s so-and-so?” or “How’s the relationship going?” In a happy relationship, when you’re asked about that special someone, you will be so excited to brag about their latest promotion at work, or even just smile and blush at the mention of their name. You might even have to refrain yourself from going into the gush-so-hard-it’s-obnoxious phase. In an unhappy relationship, you’d answer saying, “they’re fine,” “it’s going okay,” or trying to change the subject because you’re either disinterested or know that even your half-hearted “it’s fine” isn’t completely truthful.
Relationship experts say that the key to a long and happy relationship is to always be grateful for your partner, and to show that gratitude. Ideally, this should happen without trying, and every kind thing your partner does for you, big or small, or every little moment they do something to remind you why you fell in love, should make you feel grateful to have them. But, as days turn into years, and the relationship turns into routine, it’s not always as easy as it once was to feel so much gratitude when adulting stressors get in the way, like chores, children, and work. But putting effort into gratitude is crucial for a happy relationship. Each day, think of three things that make you grateful for your partner to keep the gratitude pertinent (and if you can’t think of three things, or anything at all, that’s probably a red flag, but I don’t need to tell you that).
Maybe butterflies fade after weeks, months, or decades. But there should be a certain spark between you and your partner that never dies down. There doesn’t always have to be the kind of passion or unrealistic romance you see in the movies (even Ally and Noah can’t always have passionate kissing scenes in the rain!). But there should always be an excitement to get to spend time with the person you love. Relationships should energize you, should have the power to make you feel like you’re really living, and, to end on one of the most important love lessons of all time, “There are too many mediocre things in life to deal with. Love should not be one of them.”