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6 Types of Relationships That Last the Longest and Stay the Strongest

6 Types of Relationships That Last the Longest and Stay the Strongest

How do you know your relationship will last? How do you know it was meant to be? How do you even know that the current one is ‘the one?’ Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could predict how strong and happy your relationship will be?

Many of us are cautious and even cynical about love. And no one can blame us: all the statistics out there about relationships are really grim. We get into relationships wondering whether they will last; indeed we doubt that they will.

Your relationship can beat the odds.

Contrary to what we have been conditioned to think, love, can last much more than we give it credit for.[1]

A study that was carried out in 2012 revealed that 40% of couples that had been married for a decade indicated that they were still intensely in love.[2] In the same study, 40% of women and 34% of the men among couples that had been married for more than 30 years revealed that they were very intensely in love.

Any relationship is a risk but there are signs that indicate that your relationship is harmonious and it will last a long time.

Here are the 6 types of relationships that are successful and lasting (including a few to avoid):

1. Relationships shared around forgiveness

How do you and your partner deal with conflict in the relationship? Misunderstandings are not the problem in a relationship; how you deal with them is the issue.

A strong relationship does not seek to reduce conflict because there is always going to be some.

Daniel Wilde said, “Choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems.” There is no partner whom you will not fight with, get annoyed at and complain about. Indeed, fighting is good. Research shows that a couple that is not fighting three years into the marriage has an unhealthy relationship.[3]

In a stable, healthy marriage, arguing is not a sign of doom; it is healthy and natural. Successful couples focus their attention on solving the issues rather than attacking the other person. Also, when they resolve the matter, they forgive and forget.[4]

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According to Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. a licensed marriage therapist, the true measure of the strength of your relationship is how fast you reunite after a disagreement. Spouses who are in strong relations take the initiative to invite each other back into their world after a disappointment.[5]

What to do if you have poor conflicts in your relationship?

Unhealthy relationships are characterized by poor conflict resolution skills.

Do you stay angry with your spouse after you have fought? Do you hold grudges long after you have had misunderstandings? Do you ignore essential issues by sweeping them under the rug? Or do you freeze emotionally and shut down when your spouse has wronged you?

The need to reestablish the emotional connection between you and your spouse and to the desire to restore security in your relationship must override your hurt feelings.

Many times, we must choose between being right and being happy. Holding a grudge will breed resentment, which will in turn destroy your marriage.

It is not about what you fight about, it is how you fight.

2. Relationships that are based on an adventure

Boredom can be a massive obstacle to a lasting relationship. After a period of marriage, it is easy for couples to get into these grey areas where everything is repetitive, predictable, uninteresting and boring.

Between careers, kids and all the side hustles, it can be challenging to stay connected to your partner.

Research shows that couples who enjoy the most intense love are those who enjoy participating in new or challenging activities together. New activities are arousing, which your brain can misinterpret as an attraction to your partner; and reignite the original spark. Seeking adventure is an excellent way to shake it up.

What to do if you feel bored in your relationship?

A study revealed that couples are happier with their relationship after taking part in exciting activities.[6]

New experiences have been found to activate the brains reward system. Novelty floods the brain with dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the same hormones that are released during the early days of romantic love. Doing exciting things together will bring back the excitement you felt on your first date.

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3. Relationships that are built around intimacy

Marriage therapists indicate that a couple who are unhappy with their sex life will strain in their relationship and could even be headed to a split.[7] Sex is essential in cultivating a thriving relationship.

And it gets even more interesting: the more you have sex, the more you want it. The opposite is also true; the less you have sex, the less you want it, and the less you feel connected to your spouse.

Sex boosts the chemical of love. During sex, oxytocin is released.[8] Oxytocin is referred to as the bonding hormone. Very happy couples have sex on average 74 times a year.

What if you aren’t having lots of sex in your relationship?

If you are worried that you are not having enough sex, you will be pleased to know that intimacy is not all about sex. Oxytocin is released when touching, holding hands, cuddling and during extended loving eyes contact. Research shows that a man’s’ oxytocin levels go up by 500 percent after making love.[9]

4. Relationships based on trust

Trust is the most important predictor of long-term relationship success. A relationship will not be strong if there is no trust between the partners.

Is your partner dependable and reliable? Can you count on them?

What about you to your partner? Are you trustworthy? Do you hide purchases? Do you have online relationships that your partner is not aware of? Are you hiding your true feelings from your partner?

Couples in strong relationships do not keep secrets.

What if you have little secrets in your relationship?

Do not be paranoid. Do not focus on the small things where your partner has not been completely honest.

Instead, focus on the big things: Maybe he told you he is a lawyer only to discover later he never passed the bar! Or she said she loves children but later on insists that she would never want to have one.

If you have no belief and trust in your partner, they will never believe in themselves!

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5. Relationships that are built around a shared future

For a long-lasting healthy relationship, the more the similarity, the better.[10] Partners should especially be secure that their values and goals match before they embark on a relationship.

Research done interviewing couples that had been married for 43 years on average revealed that sharing core values, interests and having a similar outlook on life will stack the odds in your favor. A 2009 research study also revealed that that happier couples have the most similar personalities.[11]

All the couples indicated one thing: opposites attract in the movies, but they do not make great marriage partners.

Evidence suggests that people like dissimilar partners more and find them more stimulating but only when the relationships are short term.

For long-term relationships, greater similarity translates into more staying power of the relationship.

What if you aren’t sure about your relationship goals?

Common goals work together make your lives together work in harmony.

What are your goals as a couple? Do you want to start a family together? Are you planning to own a house? How many children do you want? These kinds of common goals will help to strengthen your relationship.

If you ever find that in your mind, intentionally or subconsciously, you do not want your partner to participate in your plans, it is a sign that it is time for you to move on.

6. Relationships that are based on shared vulnerability

Why do many people find falling in love so scary? Why are people afraid of commitment? It is because of an intense fear of vulnerability.

Here’s the thing: many people want relationships, but they are so scared of opening up and being hurt.

Research shows that people fear vulnerability because of the fear of rejection. There is the fear that if someone finds that we are not as perfect, intelligent or strong as we appear to be, they will no longer like us.[12]

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Unfortunately, we cannot build healthy relationships without vulnerability. Vulnerability is the secret to a strong connection. To know that someone loves you for who you are and to love someone else in all their vulnerability is one of life’s most fulfilling experiences.

The fear of vulnerability is a self-sabotaging trait. Your fear of vulnerability will prevent you from being totally engaged in the relationship.

How to know if you and your partner can embrace vulnerability in the relationship?

You can find out if you are afraid of being vulnerable by answering the following questions:

  • Do you fear to expose some parts of your personality that you think your partner may find unacceptable?
  • Does keeping your distance from your partner make you feel safe and in control?
  • Are you embarrassed about exposing your true feelings and discussing difficult topics?
  • Do you have this intense fear that your partner will betray or abandon you?
  • Have you been picking partners who are wrong for you in a bid to stay safe by distancing yourself?

Vulnerability can often be seen as a sign of weakness, but it is actually a strength. It takes tremendous strength, character, and self-confidence to be vulnerable. A genuine partner will respect you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

Being vulnerable is very attractive. Honest people are drawn to people who are really authentic and imperfect

A lasting relationship is what you make

Ultimately, be committed to your relationship. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

The biggest killer of relationships is the comparison with those around us. Other couples always seem more beautiful and happier than us.

A happy couple does not look to see what is happening on the other side. They are content with the view out their own front door.

Put in the effort and time and you will get your relationship right where you want it.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Randy Skilton

Randy is an educator in the areas of relationships and self-help.

Do Rebound Relationships Work Out? Why They Will and Won’t How to Improve Communication in Relationships and Increase Intimacy What Defines a Good Relationship? 13 Tips on How to Foster One How to Set Marriage Goals That Make Your Relationship Stronger 10 Fun Relationship Quizzes to Strengthen Your Bond with Your Partner

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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