Relationships are comparable to the human body: They need certain essential elements in order to survive, and if these elements or needs are not met, the relationship is at risk of dying. Providing these essential elements is not solely up to one partner, it’s up to both to feed the relationship, and give it what it needs to survive. While every relationship is different and the needs and wants of each individual vary, there are certain constants that need to be present in every type of romantic relationship. Here are five things relationships needs to survive.
1. Constant communication
Honest, kind, and constant communication is key for the survival of your relationship, says Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., a multi-award winning psychotherapist, to Psychology Today. It’s pretty difficult to maintain a relationship if you or your partner are unwilling to communicate with each other about your wants and needs, sharing your hopes and desires, and parts of yourselves. Without communication, there is an extreme disconnect. The idea of constant communication extends to both your willingness to work through any difficulties and/or disagreements within the relationship as well. If there is a disagreement between the two of you, healthy conversation, which involves facing and talking through differing opinions and ideas, not only brings you closer but also garners respect. Communicate with love and passion and really listen to what your partner is saying. Respecting and responding appropriately and not in the heat of anger is a recipe for a positive, happy relationship.
2. Sharing the same values
Values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work; they ground you and stem from your beliefs on life. Given the great importance of individual values, it would make sense that sharing similar values with your romantic partner should align so that you’re both, in a way, on the same or similar pages in your life. “I find that if your partner shares your values, everything else is negotiable,” zen psychotherapist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. On the other side of the equation, if you both don’t share similar values, Paiva says that everything else can feel like a struggle. Life coach Kali Rogers also adds to this sentiment that if your core values don’t align, it could spell disaster for your relationship: “If your core values do not add up, then the relationship is already in a precarious position,” Rogers tells Bustle. “Focus on things like religion, finances, gender politics, family, sex and principles,” she says. Everything else in the relationship will take care of itself.
3. Trust and honesty
What is a relationship without trust and honesty? The answer: Not much of one at all. Trust and honesty are the bedrock of every relationship and if this crucial foundation is rocky, the building blocks of the relationship are bound to crash and burn. Trust and honesty also have to do with who you are as an individual and your strength and confidence with yourself: You want to be with someone who has a strong sense of self and who you feel comfortable enough with to trust. The same goes with honesty: “Be with someone who you can be 100% honest with — a partner who will be 100% honest with you. True freedom in a relationship comes from the power of honesty,” says The Huffington Post.
4. Sharing a sense of humor
This is a huge indicator of your connection to your partner. If your partner doesn’t laugh with you, it can be problematic. Life is difficult enough and you want someone who is in your corner laughing along with you when unexpected things in life occur, explains Virginia Gilbert, an LA-based marriage and family therapist, to The Huffington Post. “It’s no fun being around someone who’s perpetually frowning or takes everything super seriously — especially when life throws you a curveball,” she said. “You don’t need to be with the life of the party, but you should be with someone with whom you share a similar sense of humor.” Think of it this way: A good sense of humor between a couple can get you through the hardest of times.
5. Strong friendship and emotional intelligence
Couples who share a deep friendship and have a strong emotional intelligence are able to work though conflict. Relationship counselor Crystal Bradshaw stresses to Bustle the importance of being friends with your partner: “Deep friendship is the foundation to a healthy relationship,” she says. The rest of the relationship is built from there, along with the other bedrock pieces of honesty and trust. “Trust and safety follow friendship. As these elements are planted and strengthened, the relationship grows and matures,” adds Bradshaw.
As for emotional intelligence, it feeds into the friendship. “Emotionally intelligent partners know their spouse’s inner world, and this nurtures fondness and admiration for them,” Bradshaw says. “Emotional intelligence is crucial to relationship happiness. It nurtures the deep friendship, and embodies respect, admiration, and fondness for each other, which makes the relationship strong and helps protect it from negative experiences when they occur — because they will happen.” Taken together, this will also help the relationship when and if conflict or issues arise thanks to all of this positivity and mutual respect for one another.