You hardly noticed it happening. It all started with a few dates, which became a few nights inside watching Netflix, which became staying at each other’s almost every night, which became living together, which became, “OMG, we’ve been together how long?!” Before you knew it, you were officially in what’s known as a long term relationship and there was no denying it. The funny thing about it all was that it felt so natural; it just fit. Still, there were a few oddities you noticed along the way. In reality, long term relationships are nothing like dating. Not one bit. It’s a whole new ball game when your relationship goes to the next level. Here are eight things about long term relationships that no one ever tells you about!
Things No One Tells You About Long Term Relationships
1. Questioning Your Relationship Is Normal – You may think that once you’re in love and have settled down, you’ll know without a doubt that your partner is The One. Truthfully, it’s totally normal to have the occasional doubt about your long term relationship – and you shouldn’t feel guilty when that happens. Everyone has doubts from time to time, whether it’s about the future of the relationship or if your partner truly is the one. As long as the doubts aren’t lingering and constant, they’re normal and even healthy.
2. It’s OK To Be Vulnerable – By far, one of the most amazing moments you experience in a long term relationship is when you realize that your partner really knows you, and totally accepts you, even when you’re most vulnerable. In a long-term partner we see this separate individual – someone to which we are not fused, who can value us and love us regardless of our vulnerabilities, pains and fears. While this may be present during the initial stages of dating, it is more adult-like in long term relationships.
3. You’ll Experience Temptation – Being in a relationship doesn’t prevent you from being attracted to other people sometimes: in fact, having a crush while in a relationship is totally normal. Social media pretty much guarantees you’re going to interact with people from your past and present who might not have the best of intentions. However, being aware of the temptation allows you to keep your guard up and fight it.
4. Forgiveness Is Crucial – If you partner does something that hurts you, you should communicate about it and work out a solution together. But in healthy long term relationships, neither partner will continue to hold a grudge against the other for something that they’ve agreed to put in the past. Forgiveness and the ability to let things go is crucial. Arguments will happen, but they need to be fully dealt with, and then forgotten about and never brought up again. This allows a couple to move forward daily with a fresh slate. Couples that stay together for the long term have the ability to fully resolve, and then permanently put away, a dispute.
5. It’s OK To Go To Bed Angry – The old adage that couples should never go to bed angry might be good relationship advice, but it isn’t always practical. After a long day, you’re tired and extra cranky and this is not a good combination for effective conflict management. Rather than rehashing the same points over and over again and escalating an argument, sometimes is best to just go to bed. You tend to have a clearer mind when you wake up and in the calm of the morning the issue may no longer feel like a big deal, so you can let it go, or work through it more rationally.
6. Your Partner’s Cute Quirks Might Bug You Someday – You might initially find it cute that your partner always steals the blankets from you, but when it’s the hundredth night sharing a bed and you have an important work meeting in the morning, you’ll probably be singing a much different tune. I’m sure you’ve been told before that you can’t change someone and you have to accept him or her as is. This can be extremely challenging in a romantic relationship, when aspects of someone’s personality or lifestyle get under your skin. It’s OK to be annoyed by your long-term partner from time to time — just remember not to dwell too much on the day-to-day irritations and always appreciate the things you love about your partner.
7. Long Term Relationships Can Feel Boring – When you spend so much time with one other person, of course there are going to be moments when you think, “wow, this is boring compared to being single” – but being occasionally bored in your relationship isn’t always a bad sign. The biggest ‘secret’ no one ever tells you about long term relationships is that the relationship is mostly boring. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just important to realize that the excitement and raw passion of the early ‘in love’ phase will fade to a degree. However, those who truly love each other will work to find joy and happiness in the everyday things of life. When you achieve this, you know your relationship is truly built to last.
8. Arguments Are Normal – When you’re in a long term relationship, arguing is inevitable. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a tiny squabble over the dishes or a serious disagreement – what really matters is how you communicate during (and after) the argument. How you repair the damage after a fight is actually more important than the content about which you’re arguing. Many couples have a dysfunctional dance in which one partner pursues the conflict in hopes of resolution or comfort, and when the other partner doesn’t respond, shuts down, or ignores the issue, the pursuer tends to yell, cry, or engage in other negative behaviors for attention. Learning how to change this dynamic, which involves listening skills, understanding and validating your partner’s emotional experiences, is a key to successful long term relationships.