A loving and deep long-term relationship is priceless. It has a huge potential to transform us, make us better, stronger and fulfilled on a deep level. But all this doesn’t come by default. Once you have a beautiful partner it’s just the beginning. After that it’s only up to you if it’s going to work or not. In other words, you are the one who can make it work or screw it up.

Ever since I turned 7, I dreamt of a relationship. But until the age of 24 it never seemed to work long term. As soon as I had to face some obstacles or hard times – that meant the end of the relationship, I’d never give it a second chance. And this happened many times. Until I decided to change and look at what was causing this pattern. Making this decision was the beginning of a huge transformation for me, and soon after that I met a man who I eventually married.

In this post I want to share with you 21 keys to a happy long-term relationship.

1. A relationship won’t solve all your problems.

A healthy relationship can certainly bring joy and fulfillment, but it’s not our partner’s job to fill in our emptiness. It is important to take responsibility for our emptiness, pain, or boredom. As long as we don’t do that, no relationship can work.

2. A relationship is a work in progress and it is not easy.

Relationships are gifts from the gods, but they are rarely easy.  Hating the hard times and seeing them as immediate evidence that something is wrong or that we’re with the wrong person only aggravates the difficulties.  On the contrary, if we manage to find willingness to look at the challenges as an opportunity to learn this will give us the energy and strength we need to continue to move forward and take the relationship to the next level.

Relationships don’t work by default. We need to apply will to make them work.

3. Cultivating trust and love.

In love we are giving our partner the chance to hurt us, but trusting them not to.  Without this trust, a relationship cannot survive. Love is like jumping without a safety net. There are no guarantees. It means that it might not work. It also means that you might get really hurt. So what? What can be more painful than life without love? We never lose by loving – we lose by holding back.

If we want to have someone trust us, we have to feel that we can trust them too.

4. No secrets.

In Russian there is a saying: “everything hidden sooner or later comes up to the surface”. If we’re covering up our tracks in any way, it’s only a matter of time before the truth is revealed and trust in the relationship is broken. And when this happens it takes time and willingness to repair it and heal. Honesty is integrity. And it is the only way to be at peace

5. Communicate and be honest about the way you feel. 

Be real no matter what. Be brave enough to show who you are and what you stand for. For that many of us need to learn to say “no”, be clear about our boundaries and speak up.

This sincerity is very visible to others and we might be surprised to see how much it touches them. I remember saying things that exposed me in the most vulnerable way, and instead of making my partner disappointed in me, it was always a time when we got even more connected.

6. Don’t seek validation.

The nice girl or the nice guy syndrome is something to notice about yourself and be aware of. This is that character that lives within many of us and constantly seeks validation. We may catch ourselves doing all the right things from the wrong place – serving our partner, giving gifts, etc.. but not because we want to, but because we want approval.

We don’t need anyone’s validation to be happy or to live a good life.

7. Forgive.

We can take time to grieve, reflect on what caused the hurt, learn from it, make amends where possible and move on.

Yes, it is much easier said than done, it requires a lot of strength. And it is possible. Because life is too short. And “until we’ve forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is.”

And to forgive is not enough. You need to forget.

8. Engage forces of attraction.

We should never stop seducing our partner. Remember how carefully you chose what you were going to wear for your first dates? What’s changed?  Even if you’ve lived together for years there’s no reason to wear pajamas when there are just the two of you.

When we take care of our looks not only it is attractive to our partner, but it also makes us feel stimulated.

It is always important to keep the polarity in a relationship. If your partner is very masculine, he will naturally be attracted to someone very feminine. So it is logical that your man’s interest will diminish if you forget about cultivating your femininity. And vice versa.

9. Let go of the past.

Many of us can never sustain a long-term relationship because of a memory of a hurtful relationship from the past.

The first step to take is to acknowledge our fears. And then remind ourselves that we’re not doomed to any particular fate because of things that happened to us before. We have to take responsibility for our lives and see that it’s only up to us to choose what kind of life we lead and what kind of relationship we build.

Often times there is a need for healing, and a loving relationship itself can provide a lot of healing. It is up to us to make the choice of letting it in.

10. Don’t expect your partner to always be strong.

We all have our good and bad days. Allow your partner to be vulnerable.  Be patient and hold the space for your partner while they are going through a hard time.  Be willing to provide them with emotional support at all times.  The hard times will pass, and your support might play a huge role in that.

In a healthy relationship, it is important that both people can trust that they can count on each other, and are willing to be available not only when it’s convenient, but when they need each other the most.

11. Transfigure.

Transfiguration is a powerful Tantric technique. It means seeing the true nature behind the appearance of the person. At least from time to time you could look at your partner and focus only on their true beauty and divine nature. In doing this you remind yourself what an incredible being is next to you, and help them embody these qualities more.

12. Give from the heart. Not out of obligation, or because you want to be paid back.

When we shift our attitude from “how can I gain” to “how can I give,” we’ll be amazed at the gifts we receive. We can learn to feel our partner’s needs even before they are aware of it themselves. Sometimes it could be a specific thing, other times just our time and willingness to open up to them could make an incredible gesture of giving.

Successful people look for ways to help others. While the unsuccessful ones are always asking, “What’s in it for me?”

13. Cultivate your individuality.

If both partners are developing their individuality – they become very curious and interested in the other person, who is an independent being, but at the same time so close.  Very often we are most drawn to our partner when we look at them from a comfortable distance while they are engaged in something they are passionate about, such as presenting at a seminar, dancing, singing.

14. Don’t try to fix your partner.

When we truly love someone we need to accept and embrace the totality of another human being.

The art of caring for another is rooted in love and respect. Anyway we cannot really change another person, we can only be the kind of person that makes our partner bring out their best. And that might make them want to change.

15. Listen.

It takes courage to stand up and speak and even more courage to open your mind and listen. Often people around us only need to be heard and understood.

Hear what is being said with the intention of understanding, as opposed to the intention of replying with something clever.

16. Help your partner grow.

It is important that our relationships help us grow: inside the relationship and for us individually. And a great gift that we can give to our partner is helping them evolve, not preventing it for our comfort. This would be an expression of fear.

Even when one partner is concerned that the relationship may dissolve, they accept that their paths may diverge for the benefit of both.

The question to ask ourselves is: “Do I only love this person because he/she is next to me or because my love is unconditional and I want my partner to be happy no matter what?”

17. Don’t take everything personally.

What other people do is because of them, not you. If you take everything personally, you will remain offended for the rest of your life. Better try to open up and understand what makes your partner behave in this way. Sometimes you might discover that the way people behave has to do with their upbringing or the way they were treated before. If you feel that your partner is projecting something on you, the best thing to do is to sit together and openly discuss what is going on and what is the problem, really.

18. Be open to your partner and rely on your clarity and discernment.

We can’t grow by being with people who refuse to grow themselves.  If people are stuck in their comfort zones – they are not progressing. We should be able to discern if someone won’t let us grow. This might be a sign to let them go. Our relationships should help us in the long run, not harm us by holding us back.

19. Make it special.

Real care is rare. A relationship where people care about each other stands out. These people share something special.

After being together for a while there is a natural tendency to think that now we reallyknow the person. And this brings a habitual way of relating, and eventually we start taking each other for granted.

If we want our relationship to last we need to constantly participate in it, that’s how we breathe life into it.  We need to be constantly willing to discover more of the person we are with. Allowing space for surprises. It is a human being – a whole world in front of us, how could it ever get too familiar?

“Mystery is not about traveling to new places but about looking with new eyes”
~ Marcel Proust

20. Make jokes.

Many of us tend to take things very seriously, and forget to laugh. But a good belly laugh is one of the best feelings in the world! I’m sure you’ve noticed how laughing together brings us closer to each other.

21. Open even more.

If you are happy – open more. If you are sad – open more. If you are confused – open more. And even if you are hurt – open more.

I can’t emphasize enough how big this is. If you are able to stay open and open more in the toughest times you become empowered, wise and so deep. Your little ego will be screaming: “Are you crazy! This is too much. Where is your pride!?” And if you can still open the result will blow your mind.

If you really want a deep relationship – open in the most challenging and painful times. Just try that.

I’ve done that myself. There was a time when I wanted to give up so badly – my partner was telling me that he didn’t love anyone, didn’t love me, didn’t love himself… He was cold, and it was really painful, but I kept opening. Even when we were making love he was not there and I would end up in tears, but I kept opening. I’m far from being a very patient person, but I kept on. I put all my willpower into staying open no matter what he was doing or saying. It went on for weeks, and when I couldn’t take anymore and decided to give up, he opened up.

This was intense and profound. After that the relationship took on a different dimension. Just because I didn’t give up.