The idea for this blog post came from an email I got from a reader asking for this relationship advice:
Jackie, what is a better relationship? “Good Enough:” where your life is generally better but you’re not exactly in a rush to see the girlfriend or “Head over Heels:” where there is a ton of passion but that’s the only thing notable.”
My gut reaction is to answer this question by saying “neither.” Do you really want to be in a relationship where you aren’t “exactly in a rush to see the person?” Instead, wouldn’t you rather be dying to see that person whenever you get the chance? As far as head over heels, that’s great, but if “that’s the only thing notable,” then that isn’t good either.
The best relationships are like a pie that has 15 pieces, which include the following:
1. Being partners. One person can’t be a passenger and the other the driver. You have to feel like equals.
2. Being best friends and treating each other that way.
3. Wanting to rip each other’s clothes off at times. In other words, physical attraction must be present. Not every day, but enough to sustain a healthy physical connection, which actually stems from most of these other pieces of the pie.
4. Having respect for each other, both professionally and personally. A happy relationship cannot be sustained without that. In other words, if there is no respect, you should break up.
5. Giving of yourself and compromising for each other. If she’s dying to go to that sushi place you hate, suck it up and go there for her from time to time. If he wants to watch football with the guys, don’t give him a hard time about it.
6. Both wanting to preserve the relationship. Nurture it. Make sure it stays strong.
7. Communicating effectively and productively. You must know how to talk to each other in a way that makes sense, that shows mutual respect, and that works for both of you.
8. Supporting each other even in bad times: loss of job, sickness, and even bad moods.
9. Being kind to each other. I remember a friend getting divorced saying, “I wish she would treat me as nice as she treats the Starbucks barista.”
10. Maintaining infatuation. Your heart should still pound every time he or she walks into a room.
11. Having common interests. Liking the same kinds of music, art, hobbies, movies, etc. is key to being happy together. Having similar views on some things helps, as well. Most importantly, you should have fun together!! Enjoy each other! Also, don’t try to force commonality. You either have it or you don’t.
12. Feeling gratitude for each other every day. When you wake up in the morning, your first thought should be how grateful you are to have him or her sleeping next to you.
13. Handling arguments productively. Arguing is normal, but you should have some kind of agreement on how to handle those. Not talking for days is bad, but so is screaming and yelling at each other constantly.
14. Not having outside temptations. If you are even considering cheating, you are with the wrong person.
15. Liking each other. It will never work if you don’t like each other. There are plenty of people who fall madly in love, but can’t really say they like their spouse.
These 15 pieces of the pie are what make up a great relationship. Are you going to have them all, all the time? Maybe, maybe not. But strive for them!
Jackie Pilossoph is the creator of her website, Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of her novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationship column, Love Essentially, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press. Pilossoph lives with her family in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.