The Top Three Ingredients For Relationship Success
There are millions of self-help books out there about how to build the perfect relationship—but as it turns out, relationship success is a lot simpler than it seems. The top three elements that make relationships work are honesty, communication, and commitment, according to a new survey from the UK.
The report, called The State of the UK's Relationships, surveyed over 5,700 people in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. In a section about romantic partners, the researchers asked people to select the two most important factors in sustaining a good quality relationship from a list of six: commitment, honesty, a good sex life, shared interests, compatible personality, and communication.
While all of those elements can contribute to a solid relationship, people in all age groups prioritized commitment, honesty, and communication (although people in newer relationships were more likely to prize a good sex life, probably because new-relationship-sex is the hottest thing ever).
This isn't really shocking—we'd prioritize those things, too—but it's a good reminder that relationship success isn't nearly as mystifying as it sometimes seems. And there are some super simple ways that you can incorporate these elements into your relationship:
Even if it sometimes seems like that teeny, tiny lie is protecting your partner, it's never a good move to lie. This includes: faking orgasms, pretending you love that kind-of-gross pasta dish he always makes, or telling him you had to stay late at work when you actually went to go see a movie with your friends. When you're not honest with your partner (even about things that seem inconsequential), it can create major trust issues down the road.
We're not just telling you this because dishonesty can derail your relationship; a study from the Temple University School of Medicine found that lying actually uses more brain effort that telling the truth (and nobody got time for that). While there's obviously a difference between full-on deception and little white lies, here's how to know if you're being honest enough in your relationship.
Whether you're broaching the subject of marriage or confronting your partner about something that bothered you, healthy communication is crucial. To make it feel less like a confrontation, talk to them while you're side by side—like while driving in the car together—rather than making direct eye contact, according to Scott Haltzman, M.D., co-author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women.
Non-verbal communication counts, too. It's the little things, like giving your partner a mini massage or making them a cup of coffee in the morning, that communicate the message that you love them without saying a word.
There are tons of ways to express your commitment, from tying the knot to simply skipping Thanksgiving at your parents' to spend the holiday with your S.O.'s family. Obviously, fidelity is one major part of commitment, but it's far from the only way to show that you're all-in. Earlier on, you can show you're invested by making an effort to hang with his friends and allowing him to be a part of important moments—like your office party or your friend's wedding.
"As things become more intimate, look for signs of commitment, like his putting you first and giving up time with friends and family to be with you—and reinforce your interest in a future together," says Brad Wilcox, Ph.D., a sociologist and director of the National Marriage Project.