Relationships are hard work and require constant communication, respect, and growth. Today, there are so many things that can impact relationships and how our generation perceives what is or isn’t healthy or “normal.” I don’t know about you, but I can get extremely frustrated just trying to decode a text, whether it’s from a significant other or a friend, and let’s not even talk about the pressures involved with social media.
All of that being said, I thought that it might help people in our generation to hear from those in long-term relationships. So, I sent an anonymous survey to ask a few people in long-term relationships some questions, which included things like “What is the best piece of advice that you could give young or new couples,” “What is the best piece of advice that you have received relating to relationships,” “What do you think is the most important aspect of a relationship,” “What do you think is a common misconception or misunderstanding when it comes to relationships,” and “What does a healthy relationship mean to you?”
In this article, I will highlight some of the repeated areas of focus that those who responded highlighted. Read on to hear more about what they had to say!
When asked about advice that they could give new couples or what a healthy relationship looks like, so many of those who responded talked about communication, and what it means to communicate in a healthy and respectful way. One of the people who responded said that “A healthy relationship is one that seeks to understand each other, works to communicate from a place of love and is willing to support each other in growing, changing and evolving.”
Multiple other people also highlighted the need to listen to your partner and understand their needs, and work on open communication while also communicating your own needs too.
Another person who responded said, “Be direct and transparent about everything. Set a shared understanding of being able to hear and provide feedback on tough topics,” which can be important in discussions about our past, our values, or disagreements.
We also had many people respond saying that communication is “the key” and one of the most important parts of a healthy relationship. When asked what a healthy relationship looked like to them, one person wrote that it is important that there is “open communication all built on a solid foundation of respect for each other.”
- Healing from past relationships or trauma
In dating or trying to find the right person for you, you might experience heartbreak or unhealthy relationships. You might also have other traumas that you have experienced in your life.
In having a partner and working on healthy and effective communication with them, these past experiences may come up. We had a few people who responded specifically addressing past relationship issues and trauma in their responses, with one person saying that one of the most important aspects of a relationship is to “be honest and open about your own hurts, needs, desires in the relationship. Vulnerability is key to connection.”
Another person who responded said that “Longevity takes commitment and work. It’s [sic] takes an understanding of where each of you came from and how that impacts who you are today. It’s about supporting each other in the healing from any previous traumas/relationship conflicts and moving toward more healthy and loving interactions.” When this successfully occurs, both people in the relationship will be better prepared to face potential conflicts or issues in any current or future relationship in a healthier way.
One of the other thoughts that a person who responded shared was that “No matter how much past hurts may haunt you, go into each new relationship with an open heart and give it your all.”
There was a wide range of advice on how to handle disagreements in relationships, addressing anything from how to handle disagreements in the moment to how to move on after a disagreement.
So many people responded saying that it was important to never go to bed angry, with one person expanding upon that and saying, “Don’t end the day with anger still brewing. Put pride aside and settle differences before they fester.”
Going off of that response, many of those who responded highlighted the need to address issues or potential problems before they become too big in talking about both communication and disagreements.
Another important piece of advice given by multiple people who responded talked about who the “enemy” is in relationship conflict. Many people responded saying that it is not you versus your partner, it is you and your partner versus the problem. You have to work together to compromise on the issue.
In talking about how to handle oneself during the disagreement itself, one person said “Don’t fight ‘dirty.’ No matter how well you know your partner’s ‘buttons,’ don’t push them in anger. It’s hard to take back unkind words said in the heat of arguments.”
One of my favorite pieces of advice that was offered in the survey was “To ‘forgive and forget.’ Although I am not sure about the ‘forget’ part. I think there is importance in understanding and learning from the situation that forgiveness was needed.”
- Family and friends
Several of those who responded talked about the role of family and friends in a relationship. It is important to “decide what role outside family members will have in your life ie-when parents can visit/advice from parents, etc.” and it is also “crucial to maintain an individual identity as well as your ‘family or couple’ identity.”
You and your partner know your relationship the best and “Advice from others is never as good as advice your partner can provide about your relationship. Its [sic] unique and only the two of you know truly how it is or what it might need.”
- Faith and Core values
One important thing in a relationship for many people is one’s core values or faith. However, it is important to remember that you don’t need to have a carbon copy of your partner’s beliefs.
One person who responded reiterated this perfectly in saying that what can be important is the “Sharing of common vues [sic] and priorities. It doesn’t matter if you like the same things, share the same interests or hobbies. When it comes down to the important decisions/choices in life, it matters that your heart’s [sic] hold a common truth.”
Similarly, although compromise is extremely important, another person responded saying that what is important is that we can see “Both people wanting what’s truly best for their partner and being open to adjusting behaviors when the other partner is unhappy – but not to the extent of denying one’s own needs and values.” If you can do this in a healthy manner, this also opens the door to friendships and relationships with family members or significant others to become infinitely deeper.
A few other people directly addressed faith by saying that “Common interests, faith, and empathy” are important and by sharing the verse, “‘The love for money is the root of all evil.’ From 1st Timothy in the New Testament. Very good advice to think about and remember for a lifetime.”
One topic that was extremely prevalent in the responses of those who took the survey was the idea of growth.
First, many people focused on the idea “That it is important for your relationship to change as each of you grow and change as individuals and as a couple.”
One thing that was highlighted was how growth as an individual and a couple can be interconnected. One individual said that it is important that the “Growth of each person that compliments growth of relationship, love, and allows both individuals to progress in all aspects of life.”
Another individual talked about the stages of relationships, saying that one of the biggest misconceptions about relationships is “That everything is like the beginning .. there are stages in relationships.”
Going back to differences between individuals in couples, one person said that, “Your [sic] don’t have to be similar. Being different and finding a unique path forward together helps you view your relationship like its own being that gets an opinion on your lives and that serves as a tiebreaker always working in your favor.” I thought that this piece of advice was especially important in talking about defining what your relationship “should” look like. There is no one right answer, and it is important to define that with your partner.
- Common misconceptions about relationships
There was a great range of responses offered when asked about common misconceptions or misunderstandings when it comes to relationships. Many of them focused on the misconception that relationships are “easy” or that marriage can solve the problems already seen when dating.
In addition to those, we also had people say that common misconceptions include that “There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, because no person is perfect,” and that “It’s not 50/50, it’s 100/100. Both people give all.”
Another individual also touched on the currently very popular topic of love languages, saying that one of the greatest misconceptions about relationships is “How love languages are important.”
- Technology and relationships
Many of those in our generation do not know relationships without the involvement of things like texting or social media. Both can add a lot of additional stress and exacerbate personal insecurities.
One individual, in talking about communication, said that “Truly, communicating effectively is so important…especially with texting where things can be read completely the opposite of what you meant.”
In talking about social media, one person also said that “Social media does not always show the reality of relationships” which is important to remember even as an individual. Platforms like Instagram or Facebook allow people to show the very best version of themselves. Life does not have a filter, and it is important to remember not to compare oneself or one’s relationship to others that you see online.
We hope that these pieces of advice help you in your relationships now, and in the future. Most importantly, remember that you are deserving of a healthy relationship full of respect, honesty, and a great deal of love.
In taking this advice and your own lived experiences, you can work to foster healthier relationships in the present and in your future. One of the most beautiful parts of any relationship, whether it continues or not, is that you can learn so much about yourself and grow as an individual.
Also, I wanted to share a big thank you to anyone who responded to the survey. I hope that our readers appreciate your advice as much as I did, and I know that your answers will be able to help so many people!