Every relationship has give and take. But how much should you give – and how much should you take? Some relationships work seamlessly, and others are more like an endurance event. Whether this is Mr/Ms Right, or Mr/Ms Right Now hinges on just a few key ingredients.
To help you decipher between the two, here are my Top 5: Fundamental elements of a successful relationship:
1. Coexistence – not co-dependence
It’s important to be able to live complementary lives, but living together harmoniously doesn’t mean you have to eat from the same plate, finish each other’s sentences and dress in matching track-suits. You should support one another to grow and develop at your own pace and in your own way. A healthy appreciation of your differences means you’ll experience things through one another that you would never have been exposed to otherwise. This process of discovery, learning and fun leads to richer, more rewarding life experiences – and a whole lot of shared memories.
You can’t love someone you don’t like. Oh, sure you can LUST after them for a while, but when it comes to building a life with someone – respect is crucial. Respect is the cornerstone of every sound partnership. It allows you the freedom to embrace your individuality without feeling threatened; it permits you to trust and to love without restraint. Respect is vital for healing the wounds and overcoming frustrations when conflicts threaten your relationship. If you don’t respect one another, you won’t be able to compromise and find your way forward together.
If your partner doesn’t turn you on between your ears and between the sheets – have the self-respect to walk away. We each have our own preconceived ideas about constitutes romance, humour and thoughtfulness. The bottom-line is that we each need to feel that our partner unconditionally accepts and loves us, and supports our dreams and life goals. We all grow and change over time; but if your politics, sexual urges or sense of morality are poles apart – the relationship is on shaky ground.
Trust is the warmth and elasticity that bonds a relationship. There’s no turn-off quite as immediate as an over-zealous, jealous partner. Spending your hours accounting for how you spend your minutes is cold, vacuous and pointless. On the other side, if you can’t trust them with your best friend – you’ll both grow to resent it. Suspicion breeds contempt. Once the trust has gone, the relationship is over (even if you haven’t left yet), because a relationship without trust isn’t a relationship – it’s stalking.
5. A shared vision for your future
A sense of togetherness is vital for intimacy, and genuine teamwork is imperative in approaching life’s practicalities. If you want to spend your twilight years meditating on a Tibetan mountaintop and he wants to spend it in sniffing cocaine of hookers’ bellies in Soho – I’ve got news for you: it’s probably not a match made in heaven. You need to be able to see yourself sitting down to breakfast with this person every day for the rest of your lives. If you can’t see yourself wanting to passing the marmalade to them when you’re both old and grey – walk away.