When I tell people that I have been with my boyfriend since eighth grade, I usually get some sort rendition of "Wow, that's amazing!" or a stream of endless questions along the line of "...How?" Instead of answering that with some cheesy line about how much I love him or how easy it is (it's not), I will get down to the ugly yet rewarding truths about maintaining a relationship through middle school, high school, and now college.
1. Decide what you can and cannot tolerate.
Everyone is stupid and annoying--even you! So, when your significant other's not-so-adorable habits become irritating, decide what it is that is a deal-breaker for you. For example, my deal-breakers are cheating, lying, and abuse. If I caught my boyfriend doing either of these, he's out the door, but I made the decision to work through any other situation we are put in. Evaluate your own morals and decide what actions you can work through and ones that are not acceptable for you.
2. Try your best to be up when they are down.
One of my favorite aspects of the relationship I am in is the mutual reliance we have on one another. No matter what is going on, he is there when I need him and vice versa. Even on one of your worst days, you should still try and be a rock for your significant other.
In my experience, this is the hardest one for me. Honest and genuine forgiveness-and no- I don't mean the kind where you say it's fine and then bring it up the next time you argue. I'm talking real life forgiveness here, people! Find out what it is going to take for you to forgive your person. For some, getting space from their SO helps them to heal and forgive, while others need answers and incessant apologies. As mentioned in #1, once your boundaries are established, there is no need for forgiveness once they have crossed the line. If it is not something you can tolerate, you need to leave the relationship; however, if it is forgivable--you need to do so.
4. Speak up.
If something is bothering you, say it to them. If you do not like something they are doing, ask them to stop. Even when it may be awkward or uncomfortable, you can only come to fully trust someone when they know what is okay with you and what is not.
5. Do not compare your relationship to that of others.
Their relationship may seem so cute on Instagram, but they probably fight about what pictures he likes on social media. Sorry, not sorry. It is so toxic to ask your SO to do something you've seen on social media, as it is not a genuine gesture and could make them uncomfortable. Your relationship is unique and should be treated as such.
6. Know when it is time to go.
If things are just not working out or you aren't able to cough up the patience or dedication it takes to make a relationship last, this person probably isn't the one to go through this with.
Just like forgiveness, apologies can be hard. I like to remember that even if you think your action was the right one, your love is hurting and for that you ARE sorry.
8. Keep your relationship private.
"Keep your relationship private" -Writer who is posting about her relationship on a public website.
No, but seriously. How many times have you ACTUALLY taken the advice your friend gives you when you're arguing with your SO? My signs point to almost never. So, don't involve them. And while we are here, stop asking your friend what to respond when you are in an argument. Put on your big girl pants and talk to the person you love.
9. Be nice.
When their little quirks and problems start to surface, it can be hard to remember that they are only a human who makes mistakes and they are NOT trying to hurt you, so be kind and gentle with them. Just like you would want them to treat you.
10. Be vulnerable.
The best advice I can give someone who wants their relationship to last as long as possible is to let their significant other in. By this I mean, let them see you cry. Tell them about your fears. Trust them with your embarrassing stories and weaknesses. Let your lover see the ugliest, worst sides of you and accept their downfalls as well.
11. Ask yourself what you love about the person you’re dating or interested in.*
I wanted to come back and add this because of some advice I recently gave. If you’re coming up with words along the lines of “fine for now, comfortable, they love me, etc.”, there’s a good chance you may be in love with being in a relationship, not the significant other. If the adjectives tossing around your mind are that of describing puppies, they may be the one! (Sooooo cute, loyal, friendly, sweet, keeps your secrets...ya know) Silly example, but the right concept. Long term relationships only last when you love them for who they are.
Loving him is the easy part. It is when the disagreements and struggles sink in that the relationship starts getting more difficult, but if it is the right person it is worth it.