6 Secrets to a Happy Relationship No One is Telling You

We’ve all heard our fair share of tips and tricks to creating the perfect, long-lasting relationship. In fact, we’ve heard them so many times that they are beginning to sound cliché and obvious. Of course you should compromise on big issues. Everyone knows that!

My boyfriend and I have either been living together or an hour apart for the entirety of our relationship. We’ve suffered the heartache of long distance while he worked 12-hour days, six days a week an hour away, and we’ve survived bringing our separate lives together into one apartment. While we’re certainly not dating experts, our times and trials together have brought to light some very important ways to keep each other happy.

1. Learn how to comfort each other. Everyone has different ways they want to be comforted after a bad day or a nasty fight. I prefer space so that I can cool down and bounce back; my boyfriend prefers to be reassured that everything is okay. It’s important to sit down and talk about the best ways to comfort each other. Then when the time comes, you’re not awkwardly patting them on the back when they hate being touched or leaving them alone when they want to be comforted.

2. Whoever has money should be the one who pays. There’s a long-fought struggle between men wanting to be chivalrous and always paying and women wanting to be independent and always split the bill. Realistically, it’s best to swallow the pride of taking the bill and let whoever has money pay. If I’m waiting on a paycheck, my boyfriend will take the bill. If he’s saving money for his car payment, I’ll take it. If we’re both down on our last pennies, we’ll each pay for ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with having a budget; that’s more realistic than it is chivalrous.

3. Have different hobbies. Countless magazine articles will tell you to invest in a hobby your significant other loves so that you can bond over each other’s passions. If it works out, great! If not, quit! No matter how much you enjoy your time together, it is crucial to have something that is just yours. You will need an escape, something to get lost in while your SO is on their fifth consecutive run through the new Batman game. (Trust me.)

4. Be friends with their friends. The first time meeting your SO’s friends will always be awkward. They’ll have countless stories of him from parties and drunken nights at bars, full of names and places you’ve never heard of. If you plan on this relationship going somewhere, those friends are going to keep showing up. They’ll be at parties, family gatherings and eventually may even serve as groomsmen and bridesmaids. Pro tip: Host a party at your place with board games and plenty of alcohol. Once you all loosen up, it’ll be a lot less intimidating to make friends with them, and they’ll warm up to you and realize that you really are The One.

5. Introduce each other to friends of the opposite sex. And do it as soon as possible. If you’re always hearing about the sweet, funny girl he works with and he’s always hearing about the nice, friendly boy in your class, you both can get jealous very easily. You should absolutely each be allowed to have friends of the opposite sex, but it’s going to put a lot less strain on your relationship if you can meet the person they’re always telling stories about.

6. Make your compliments count. Complimenting your partner is an obvious tip for a happy relationship, but a simple “you’re beautiful” isn’t always going to cut it. Don’t just be generous with your compliments, be specific. If you know that your SO hates their brown eyes, insist that they are the color of milk chocolate. When the two of you are getting ready to go out, tell them how great they look in that shirt and how good that color is on them. When your compliments are specific, they don’t sound cliché. Instead, it shows how much attention you pay to the little things.