I'm not a psychiatrist, I'm a software developer. So take this advice with a grain of salt. I'm sharing it as-is, with no guaranties of any kind. I jotted down these rules following my own experience after I have gone through a bad breakup, and also after having analyzed my previous failures.
I'm not trying to create a clickbait either. As you can see, I don't have any commercials on this page. I just want to share my own experience and to write these down primarily as a future reference for myself as well.
5 Rules of a Happy Relationship
I'm not going to make you sit through a long preamble. Here they are. If you match all five, consider yourself lucky, and it is working for you.
In no particular order:
Both parties must have an equal investment in the relationship.
By investment I don't mean just money. But mostly these factors:
- Efforts and commitment: These are very important. Say, if one person is doing a lot to make your relationship work and the second person
is not doing anything close to that, or worse, is just coasting in it, this is a red flag.
Example: You organized and made a trip to a foreign country to see her and all she did was meet you at the airport.
- Financial: However shallow this may be, it is also extremely important. If one person is spending disproportionately larger amounts of money
on your relationship than the other person, this is also a red flag. You may brush it off in the beginning, but believe me, it will come out to bite you later.
Example: You made all the financial arrangements for your foreign trip to see her, and she just paid for her own makeup and hair.
Or, how about this one:
Example: One partner has a job, and another one doesn't and lives with their mother.
Additionally, there's one golden rule that I learned the hard way and keep burning myself on (over and over again):
People don't appreciate free sh*t.
Think about it. When you get something for free, you don't value it as much as you would otherwise if you had to work for it.
Why is it bad?
This is just a human nature. A person with less commitment in the relationship will be more likely to switch their attention to someone else that comes their way and abandon it, i.e. cheat on the other person, or lose interest and leave.
- Efforts and commitment: These are very important. Say, if one person is doing a lot to make your relationship work and the second person is not doing anything close to that, or worse, is just coasting in it, this is a red flag.
You must have many things in common.
The more you have in common the better. Anything from TV shows, to music, to movies, to food, to fields of study, etc. This one is kinda obvious and is very important.
Example: If at first you realize that your girlfriend loves watching reality shows with a lot of human drama, and you can't stand them, this may be one thorn in your relationship. And if you have more of those, they may become a problem in a long run.
Why is it bad?
Also kinda obvious. These little nuances that you thought were just fun quirks at an early honeymoon stage of your relationship will inevitably grow into major red flags, especially if there is more than one of those things.
You must spend time physically together.
You have to be with each other physically as much as you can. I can't stress this enough, "physically together". That is why long distance relationships almost never work! Sure, you may say, "My girl loves me and she is very loyal", and I hope you are right. But, trust me, you don't want to find out otherwise.
Example: You get deployed for a few months straight without seeing your girlfriend.
Or another common one:
You have a long distance relationship and your girlfriend lives in another country until you go to visit her.
Why is it bad?
This may lead to cheating. And you wouldn't believe how common this is.
How do I know? I posted my story a few weeks back, and I had so many people (who are even married to the same person) that contacted me privately and confided to me how much it shook them up, because this is exactly what happened to them when their partner cheated on them. So don't gloss it over that it won't happen to you.
Here are the signs that your partner may be cheating on you, or is close to doing that:
- He/she starts arguing with you for no particular reason. Out of the blue. And he/she can't give you any explanation why.
He/she may say something, like, "This __fill_in_the_blanks__ annoys me so much in you!", or
"Argh! You keep doing this to me, over and over again! You know that I hate it!" And then when you ask him/her about specifics,
he/she either can't explain it or gets more frustrated with you.
Note that this wouldn't count if the other person was always saying these things to you since you started dating. This must be some change in the other person's behavior that started happening after some time in your relationship.
Make sure to analyze the moment when these nonsensical arguments first started. This is probably the moment when he/she met someone else. And maybe started cheating on you.
- Another common thing that may happen is that he/she may start saying, "Oh, I'm tired today to do __fill_in_the_blanks__."
(Note that it may not necessarily be about sex. This may be something else that you used to do regularly as a token of your relationship.)
This is also a red flag. Don't ignore it!
So the same as with arguments, analyze when this behavior started and go from there.
- His/her usual behavior toward you starts to change. For instance, if he/she used to text you with loving messages every morning when he/she wakes up
and then suddenly stopped doing that,
this is a bad sign. Especially if you asked him/her why, and he/she told you that he/she doesn't know, or doesn't want to do this anymore.
Make sure to see when this behavior changed. This most certainly means that he/she met someone else, and judging by his/her reactions and other red flags, he/she may be already cheating on you. Don't ask me how I know.
- He/she starts arguing with you for no particular reason. Out of the blue. And he/she can't give you any explanation why. He/she may say something, like, "This __fill_in_the_blanks__ annoys me so much in you!", or "Argh! You keep doing this to me, over and over again! You know that I hate it!" And then when you ask him/her about specifics, he/she either can't explain it or gets more frustrated with you.
The frequency of your arguments is inversely proportional to the health of your relationship.
In other words, the more arguments you have with your partner the worse your relationship is. Don't kid yourself, even if you tend to make up afterwards. This is a huge red flag.
Why is it bad?
This signifies a major problem between you. Most certainly the other person, who initiates those arguments, is no longer happy with you. This is also a good indicator that your partner has someone else in mind, or may be already cheating on you.
Don't fall for the other person too soon.
This rule is extremely important!
I would generally say that if you dated each other for less than a year, you should tell yourself not to fall in love with the other person. (It may be less time, if all rules above match.) This sounds cruel and heartless, but it is nothing more than self preservation. Be kind to them and thoughtful, and reciprocate nice gestures, but spare your heart!
Why is it bad?
If you fall in love with your partner, especially if other signs that I showed above aren't present, you are setting yourself up for a very serious disappointment and a major depression if they suddenly break up with you. Mark my words!
So what do you do if you find yourself in any of the situations that I described above?
Well, breaking one rule out of 5 would probably be OK. It may be an exception from the norm. But still don't sweep it under the rug. You have a "check engine" warning light that came up on your dashboard. Don't just ignore it. Make sure to verify and verify again that what I said in that rule doesn't apply to you. And don't get complacent with your verifications either.
How do you check your partner? I wrote a blog post on that subject.
If, on the other hand, you have more signs of trouble than just one broken rule, you have these options:
- Try to save your relationship. How? I don't know. You probably need to consult a professional, such as a marriage or relationship counselor. Don't just rely on blog posts. And don't ignore those problems either, because they won't go away by themselves even if your partner tells you so.
- If it's mutual, break up the relationship.
Lastly, thanks for reading and hopefully all of these rules applied nicely to you and to your loved one!