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8 Ways to Keep Your Long-Term Relationship Strong


Sometimes, relationships can be so stressful that you may want to pull your hair out. But you have worked way too hard for that hair to be pulling it out! Not all relationships are meant to last, but when you find the one, you will never want to come down from cloud nine. We gained some insight from Dr. Carole Lieberman, Media Psychiatrist and bestselling author, about how collegiettes can keep their relationship going strong.

1. ​Express your appreciation 

It is always great to be appreciative in your relationship. We are sure you’ve heard the phrase, "It’s the little things that count." Whether you give a simple thank you for a small gesture or purchase your SO’s favorite thing just to see a smile on their face, the more the merrier. "We all suffer from appreciation deprivation, so when you express appreciation to your significant other, it shows them that you notice what they have done for you and care enough to take the time to thank them," says Dr. Lieberman.

"It is important to show your significant other appreciation," says Makala Brent, a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park. "Everyone needs to be reminded that the effort they are putting in isn't in vain. Sometimes the things that are unsaid show that appreciation best." Even the most simple gesture of a kiss or cracking a joke in hopes of a smile are more than enough. Sometimes people think their SO knows how much they love them, but the truth is, a reminder every now and then is well worth it!

2. Have the best time doing almost anything

Fancy dinners and expensive outings might be nice for some, but do you tend to appreciate and have more fun when you just stumble across plans? Whether you decide to stay in for the night and watch a movie or be spontaneous on an adventure in your town, you just enjoy being around each other. "Anyone can have fun doing special things like going to a concert of your favorite band," says Dr. Lieberman. "But, if you can have a great time, even when you're just hanging out and doing nothing, it shows that you find each other special enough."

"I definitely look forward to lazy weekends with my man,” says Alexandra Givan, a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park. "We never have to have something elaborate planned, just being in each other’s presence is a good time. D.C. date nights, a chill night with Netflix or just eating junk food together…it doesn’t matter." We don't know about you, but roaming through the city at odd hours of the day with your SO can create some of the best memories. Don't feel pressured to always have secure plans or to have to spend a ton of money when you go out. Save your money, get creative or just let your plans flow. 

Makala is in complete agreement with this. "Conversation flows freely and an overwhelming sense of contentment warmly embraces you," she says. "The ability to be happy with little is a true testament to the strength of your bond." Amen to that.

3. Equally support each other

Even in a relationship, you may feel down sometimes. Your SO should be there to uplift you and remind you that your dreams are valid. You should support one another so that you can stand alone and be strong enough when you aren’t there to support each other. "It's important for a relationship to have an equal give and take, not where one person is always needy of support and the other one is always giving it," says Dr. Lieberman. We could not have said it better! As long as you're getting as much support as you put in, your relationship should reap the benefits, for sure.

"Support does not mean enablement," says Makala. "In fact it is the exact opposite. When a person supports you, he or she advises you even if that means deterring you from a situation that is potentially harmful." Sometimes you may not recognize how much your SO does for you, but it is good to be there for them through the good and bad times. If your SO is having a rough time, remind them that the journey is always important. 

"One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to show up for the people who show up for you," says Alexandra. "Support plays a huge role in making your significant other happy. Whether it’s motivating them to achieve their dreams or supporting their new and risky endeavor, the way in which you support your significant other and the level of support you provide can definitely affect your relationship." Cherish those who were with you at your lowest and still chose to love and support you when it may not have been easy to do.

Related: 5 Signs Your Relationship is Built to Last

4. Communicate well

You should be able to talk about just about anything with your SO. You should be straightforward with one another and not be afraid to be vulnerable and share your feelings. "Communication is key, not only for everyday things, but especially when there are bumps in the road of your relationship," says Dr. Lieberman. "It's important to be open about how you feel in order to clear up any misunderstandings."

Communication is possibly the hardest, yet most necessary aspect of a relationship. Without an open line of communication, issues that start small will grow and create a life of their own. "A person who is invested in you will listen intently and talk through the issue with you," says Makala. "It is important that both parties are direct in their needs or wants, yet receptive to the other person's perspective and thoughts." Communication can only better your relationship and show you things that you never saw to begin with.

5. Accept critcism

When someone criticizes you, you may be quick to cut them off because you don’t agree. When your relationship is solid and love is in the air, listening is always worth it. "You have to be able to admit that you are not perfect and that sometimes your partner is really right about things," says Dr. Liebermnan. "If you can accept criticism, you can move on to a better relationship." We are constantly evolving into the people we are meant to be. You may not want to alter an attitude or behavior sometimes, but if you do, you may realize that you became a much better person from it.

"Sometimes, it is [harder] to swallow the truth from someone you consider a close confidant than a stranger," says Makala. "It is an unexplainable oddity the way that we want to confide and spill all our problems to our loves, yet we cannot accept their advice when it doesn't quite line up with our plan." We understand that many may struggle with this though.

"Just because [your SO is] supposed to love you 'flaws and all' doesn't mean they can't help you work on some of those flaws," says Alexandra. "Taking a step back and looking at things from a different perspective is helpful when trying to deal with constructive criticism in a relationship." For those SOs that try to push you to your limit, take it as a gift. They are only helping you get to a better you.

6. Be intimate

The feeling of being close with your SO trumps all. Intimacy in your relationship will not be comparable to any other situation you've ever been in. It's a chance for you to see a deeper side of your SO. "Intimacy in sex and in relating emotionally are fundamental to a good relationship," says Dr. Lieberman. "If the sex isn't great at first, you can make it better by being sensitive and open, and telling your partner what you like and don't like. But, let's face it, if the sex doesn't happen or isn't mutually satisfying, then you should try to go back to being 'just friends.'" We just layed it all out on the table for you! The connection of being intimate is like no other feeling. Sometimes, words don't do justice for how much you love someone. Show them so well that you don't have to tell them. 

"Intimacy, to me, is the unique language a person uses with his or her significant other," says Makala. "It can be silly at times. It can be deeply passionate and intense. And at other times, it is calm yet extremely comforting." Did Makala just get you in the mood or what? Your intimacy with your SO will be completely unique to your dynamic and connection. It's much more than what people think it is. It's truly getting to know a person deeper than the surface. No one can duplicate it, replicate it or imitate it.

7. Allow them to have "me time"

Sometimes, people need their space. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are mad at one another, but maybe you should take a night to hang out with your friends. Be amazing as an individual so you can be even better together. "One of the most frequent complaints that guys have is that their girlfriend insists upon being together all the time and doesn't allow them to be with the boys," says Dr. Lieberman. "Both of you need 'me time' in order to have a more exciting 'together time.'" Even though the guys may feel this way, you need your personal time too! After a long week of work, you may not want to stay in the house and have a movie night. You may want to throw on that black fitted dress and head to the bar with your girls.

"It is never okay to cage anyone in for the sake of your own insecurities," says Makala. "Having friends outside of the relationship is healthy. Building a strong friend group will allow you to maintain strong connections and have relationships that are not solely romantic."

Alexandra agrees! "Personal time and time with friends is super important," she says. "You don't want to be the person who is super obsessed with their significant other and can't function without them. It's always good to stay connected with your crew, whether you're in a relationship or not." Keep a balance between the time you spend with your SO and your friends and keep those "Squad Goals" alive!

8. Trust each other

Don’t get us wrong; trust can be very shaky in relationships. Understand that there are going to be ups and downs from time to time, but always try to work through them. We’re all human. "It's often harder for girls to trust guys because you know what other girls are capable of when they want to steal your guy," says Dr. Lieberman. "But, it's important to give your partner the benefit of the doubt and trust them, unless and until you see definite evidence to the contrary. Even then, give them an opportunity to explain." Sometimes, we have to learn to hear the truth no matter how it may make us feel. Be open to listen, respond with care and grow in your experiences. Trust should be the building block that your relationship builds upon.

"If you can't trust your partner, it can be really hard to build the confidence you need to sustain the relationship," says Alexandra. "Distrust also leads to jealousy, arguments and a whole list of complications. Be honest, open and communicate effectively to develop a great level of trust amongst one another. Learn to forgive and move on, and remember that in order to trust your significant other you have to trust yourself."Honesty really is the best policy and will strengthen your relationship in the end.

Relationships take a lot of patience, dedication and pure love. The desire to have a healthy and strong relationship will only lead to you and your SO spending the best times of your life together. Take these tips and learn to love fully and not be ashamed. Here is a secret: that's how you keep the quality ones close for the long run.

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