In this age of the left swipe and international dating, it can seem foolish to follow cliched rules to help you strengthen your bond with your partner and make your relationship last long. But the thing with cliches is, they are overused nuggets of evergreen wisdom.
That means you will not go wrong if you choose to live by them.
But with tons of “relationship gurus” peddling advice on the internet these days, how do you differentiate between advice that actually works wonders for a relationship and those that will kick you down a slippery slide towards breakup land?
Well, to help you out, we dug through the archives of the internet and found out 10 relationship pointers that are dangerously wrong and 10 that will guarantee a long-lasting partnership with your SO.
From rules on who makes the first move to what you should do when you have a massive fight with your boo, the following tips will help you cut through the fog and build a relationship that is rooted in love, kindness, generosity, and gratitude.
So here are 10 relationship “rules” that need to be broken and 10 that are the holy grail of lasting coupledom.
20-Break This: Relationships Are Built On Compromises
You and your partner will never be 100% on the same page at all times. That’s why when old relationship textbooks (and grandparents) tell you that compromising is the bedrock of solid relationships, they aren’t exactly wrong.
We have just twisted the meaning over the years.
In reality, compromising refers to finding a middle ground that makes both individuals happy. And it’s necessary when you and your partner disagree on certain matters.
Unfortunately, people nowadays take this advice too far and believe they can save their relationship if they compromise on their intrinsic values and personal goals just to accommodate their partner’s wishes. And that’s when things start to go really bad.
19-Follow This: Give Your Partner Your Full Attention When You Are Together
Studies have shown that using your cell phone while you are with someone else actually prevents you from communicating properly with them. In fact, this detrimental effect is observed even when the phone is kept face-down on the table between you!
And that makes perfect sense. After all, how can you give the other person your full attention when half your brain is occupied with the text you just received from your best friend and the email your boss just sent you?
So, when you are spending time with your partner, make it a device-free zone with your smartphones stashed out of sight in your bags or in another room. And then watch your bond grow stronger as you give each other your full attention.
18-Break This: The One Who Is Wrong Apologizes First
Nope. Don’t do this. Even if you think your partner was being an overbearing ____ (fill in the blanks with your favorite curse words). Trust me, making the fight a “me vs. you” scenario will play against both of you.
In reality, fights rarely happen just because of one person.
You might think you are 100% right and they are 100% wrong, but the fact that you did not speak up and let them know you had a problem, which led to this blowout at a later date, is a sign that you are partially responsible for this situation too.
So instead of looking for an apology from the “wrongdoer”, see the situation as a potential challenge for both of you to overcome together, and apologize for your part in it.
17-Follow This: Be Respectful When You Fight
If you take away just one thing from this entire article, make it this one. Trust me, you will thank yourself for doing so. Here’s why.
When you are close to someone, you are bound to disagree or get annoyed by some of their quirks and habits. That’s why we always have fights with our parents, siblings, best friends, and partner.
So remember to be respectful when you fight with your partner next time. Because you wouldn’t be fighting at all if you didn’t love each other in the first place.
16-Break This: Handle His Ego With Care
Can we just get rid of this man-coddling advice already? Because the truth is, he is not a man if he needs you to be careful of his ego. He is still a little boy waiting for mommy to take care of him. And you can’t save a relationship with a man-boy who doesn’t want to grow up.
Trust me, real men (the ones who are mature) have healthy egos with healthy boundaries.
They don’t indulge in power plays with their partner and know how to deal with conflicting desires and interests. In fact, they will never feel emasculated by anything you do or say because they already are confident about who they are.
Just make sure you don’t use this as an excuse to be on bad behavior.
15-Follow This: Have A Life Outside Of The Relationship
Different people play different roles in our life. That’s why we cannot expect one person (our partner) to take over their roles and be our teacher, parent, brother, and friend. That would lead to an extremely close-minded relationship without any fresh perspective from the world. In fact, it’s the classic recipe for codependency!
So make sure you have a life outside of the relationship where you hang out with just your friends without texting your boo from time to time, travel solo, or watch a movie with your family.
14-Break This: Play Hard To Get
Girl, I am talking to you. Cause we have been trained since a young age to play hard-to-get if we want him to make a move or see us as a prize compared to the competition (other women).
And while this is excellent advice when you are just dating someone, once you are in a relationship, if you continue to behave this way, he will soon get tired of this and see it as a sign of insecurity.
Because the truth is, confident women with healthy boundaries always know when to say yes and when to say no.
After all, the relationship isn’t their entire life. They have their own goals, ambitions, and desires too.
13-Follow This: Don’t Keep Scores
If you have a habit of bringing up old grievances during a fight with your partner (sometimes months and years old) even when the two of you sorted it out back then, or have a habit of keeping track of the number of times you did something nice for him versus the times he did something nice for you, you are dangerously close to estranging your partner.
Why? Because only the insecure keep scores because they can’t bear “losing out”.
So if you are giving, give freely without any expectations. And if you have truly settled a conflict and are happy with the resolution, don’t bring it up again!
12-Break This: Possessiveness Is Endearing!
Nope, it’s not. It just looks cute in movies.
Trust me, if you had to live with someone who freaks out every time you look at the opposite gender or prohibits you from interacting with other people, whether it’s your family, friends, or colleagues from work, you would soon start feeling like you are in a prison where your partner is your jailer.
Not a good analogy for what is supposed to be a romantic relationship.
So if you or your partner exhibits excessive possessiveness, talk about it because it’s a sign of internal insecurity of not being good enough for the other.
11-Follow This: Know Your Partner’s Love Language
Everyone feels loved in a specific way. It’s got to do with how we were raised, the relationships we have had in the past (both romantic and platonic), and our experiences in the world. In fact, we tend to show our love the way we want to be loved!
So if you compliment your partner a lot, you might actually be doing it because you love it when people compliment you right back.
But what if your partner feels loved when they cuddle and could care less about compliments since they have been complimented all their life?
That’s why if you want to express your love for your boo, do it in a way that they want you to. And discuss it first so both of you know exactly what makes the other happy.
10-Break This: The Man Always Foots The Bill
First of all, we are living in a century where women have equal earning capacity to men. And even if you are earning less than him, expecting him to foot the bill all the time for your combined or personal expenses is not cool at all!
After all, how can you say you are his equal and then hold on to such archaic ideas that make you inferior to him?
So chuck this concept out of your brain and embrace the fact that even if you earn less than him, you still have the capacity to pay for him from time to time. It builds confidence and financial independence.
Plus, it prevents you from getting used to a lifestyle you cannot afford. After all, don’t we all know someone who is stuck in a bad relationship just because they don’t want to lose the monetary perks of being with their partner?
9-Follow This: Give, Give, Give!
It feels great when your partner does something nice for you, but the truth is, it feels greater when you do something nice for him and then watch his face split into a beautiful smile.
It’s because love is about giving, not taking.
Come on, don’t you feel loved too when your partner comes over when you are feeling low and gives you a hug just because he wants to cheer you up? So give, give, and give, without expectations.
And while you are at it, just make sure you don’t give more than you are comfortable giving!
8-Break This: Never Go To Bed Angry
They say partners shouldn’t go to bed angry because the longer the fight stretches out, the bigger it becomes.
Sorry to break it to you, but the truth is, when you choose to take a timeout when your emotions are running high, you are actually doing your relationship and your partner a big favor.
It gives you enough time to engage your rational brain so you can discuss the problem with a clear mind and actually aim to find a solution instead of playing the blame game with each other.
Also, problems usually become more tackle-able in the morning after a good night’s rest!
7-Follow This: Be Honest With Each Other
A relationship that is built on lies has no hope of surviving. It’s because it trains the other person to become distrustful of you.
It’s the classic “boy who cries wolf” story playing out in real life!
So aim to be honest with each other. And if you can’t, keep mum.
Just remember: honesty does not mean brutality. After all, we always steer clear of those people who rip us a new one with their bluntness! Plus, brutal truths never encourage transparency.
So always temper your truth with kindness so your partner feels comfortable being vulnerable around you.
6-Break This: Use Ultimatums As A Tool To Encourage Positive Change
A lot of people have a habit of throwing down ultimatums to encourage their partner to shape up and fix their life. Ultimatums like choosing between them or their parents (because the in-laws interfere too much in their private life), or choosing between them or playing video games all day long.
Unfortunately, all it does is end up estranging the partner because no one wants to change when they are being pressured to do so.
So if you have this habit, get rid of it. A lot of times you just need to learn how to communicate properly to get the same point across.
5-Follow This: Take Interest In What They Love
Studies have shown that couples who last longer than 6 years in a relationship actively take interest in each other’s interests. After all, don’t you feel great when your partner actively learns how to bake too just because you are a crazy baker on weekends? Even if all they seem to pump out are charcoal cookies!
In fact, even if you find some of your partner’s interests weird, making an effort to learn even a little about it scores you major brownie points in your relationship. And it encourages your partner to take an interest in some of your weirder interests too!
4-Break This: Never Schedule Nooky Time
Well, this advice basically stems from the misguided belief that nooky time should always burst upon you like a firestorm. And while there’s nothing wrong in waiting until both of you feel that burn of passion take you over, the truth is, real life always gets in the way.
You have your everyday chores to take care of and your work routines.
And then there’s the pesky fact that by the time you get home, you are just too tired to even think about doing anything fun with your partner!
So it’s best to discuss and schedule in advance so you both can free yourself up for some fun. Plus, don’t you know passion is quite easy to stir up when you are with the one you love and both of you have the other’s complete attention?
3-Follow This: Express Gratitude Often, If Not Every Day
When was the last time you told your partner how much you value them and appreciate the little things they do for you? If you are like most of us, the answer is I don’t know.
Well, research has shown that partners who express their gratitude for each other regularly, tend to remain in love for a very long time. In fact, such couples tend to resolve conflicts faster because they approach the fight with an “us vs. the problem” mentality.
So if you don’t do it already, make it a habit to appreciate your partner at least a few times a week if not every day. And be specific about it!
2-Break This: When Things Go Wrong, Try To Make It Work
Our parents and grandparents belong to a generation where splitting up was a taboo in society. So they labored on in bad marriages and said they were doing it because they valued the relationship.
The brutal truth is, all relationships cannot be saved.
It could be because the two of you were a bad fit, to begin with, where one values truth and ethics above all else while the other believes it’s okay to evade taxes and scam rich people. Or it could be because your partner constantly says things that break down your confidence and makes you feel small.
Whatever the reason might be, only the naive think that you can make a bad relationship work only if you try hard enough!
1-Follow This: Talk About The Future ASAP!
Finally, if you want your relationship to last and be a healthy space that encourages both of you to grow, thrive, and be the best version of yourself, you have got to discuss the future early on.
Trust me, it can sound daunting to bring up the subject of marriage and having kids when you have only just gotten together, but if you stall this, you open yourself up to getting stuck in a relationship where both of you have totally different visions of the future. One that cannot accommodate the other’s vision.
So talk it out as soon as you can. Preferably within the first 6 months!