How to Make a Relationship Last

Hey readers! I’m handing over the keys to my column to my friend and dating expert Devyn Simone. Stay tuned for new dating advice from her each week!

So you've met the guy, gone on a few dates, and agreed to being in a committed relationship. Now what? Cinderella may have gotten her man, but what that story didn't tell you is that Cinderella put in WORK to make herself happily ever after! Here are the five musts to make your relationship go the distance.

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  • 1. Get Yourself Happy
  • I can't stress this enough: It is not up to your partner, your neighbor, or anyone in the outside world to make you happy. You have to make YOU happy. A joyful, confident person brings those qualities to a relationship. So take a look at your life. If you don’t like your job, start looking for a new one. If you’re bored of your style, hit the mall. If a catty girlfriend is bringing you down, cut her loose. Even in the newest stages of a match, carve out time to stroll by yourself around a park or have a night with your best friends—activities that rejuvenate you will only help your relationship.
  • 2. Start Talking
  • If this person is on track to be your partner for life, talking about the little things is practice for taking on the big ones—scary stuff like financial decisions, parenthood, or illness. So spill: What you had for lunch yesterday, your future life goals, your thoughts on how he leaves his clothes near (but not in!) the hamper. If you’re upset, take your time to figure out what’s bothering you so you can verbalize it calmly to your partner instead of starting a shouting match. But don’t hold it in, either—your partner’s not a mind reader, it’s not fair to resent them for something they don’t know is an issue.
  • 3. Be Thoughtful
  • In between all that talking, make an effort to show, not tell, how much you care for your partner. It doesn’t have to mean buying a gift, it can be doing a chore he hates, surprising him with his favorite drink when he gets home or tackling that outdoorsy activity he loves (that you’ve been not-so-secretly avoiding). Kind gestures and little surprises remind your partner that you're thinking of them and are committed to adding value to their life.
  • 4. Show Some Respect
  • Surprise! Things that were cool for you to do when you were single may not be okay now. Staying out with the girls until 5am, leaving your beauty products all over the bathroom, flirting with some other guy at the bar (even if it’s just for fun!)—each of these things shows a lack of consideration for your partner’s feelings. If you don’t care about their feelings, how can they trust you? If you’re not sure what’s okay and what’s not, then ask (see #2).
  • 5. Have Fun
  • What attracted you to your partner in the first place: Did he make you smile? Were you laughing all the time? Did you go on adventures? Just because a relationship takes effort doesn’t mean it should feel like work. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, so make a point to plan date nights, take a weekend away or just try something new together. The joy and laughter that your partner brings you is what will carry you two through the hard times.

MORE: 10 Date Ideas to Add Romance to Your Life

Whether you're together for a year or married for 64, like my grandparents, it will always take effort to make your relationship great. There’s no way to control all the surprises life will throw at you, so keep coming back to these five key qualities to create your own “happily ever after.”

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