What makes a good relationship?

Every relationship is unique, and yet, we can predict whether a relationship will endure based on a number of behaviors. Good relationships take continued, daily investment – as well as commitment, compromise, and forgiveness. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen overnight.

This is why it’s the basis of all of our courses – habitual connection, effort, and understanding are the tenets to building a better, stronger, more positive, more fulfilling relationship together. Surprisingly, the beliefs we hold about love and relationships may be unique, as well.

What does ‘I Love You’ mean, anyway?

Interestingly enough, what you think of love may be completely different to how your partner interprets love. California State University sociologist, Dr. Terry Hatkoff, compiled six different brands of love that we may find in our most intimate of relationships:

  • Romantic: Based on passion and sexual attraction
  • Friendly: Based on fondness and deep affection
  • Logical: Based on the practical – shared values, money beliefs, shared ethics
  • Playful: Based on flirtation or teasing
  • Possessive: Based on jealousy or obsession
  • Unselfish: Based on sacrifice, nurturing, and kindness

Typically, the love we feel in our closest relationships is a combination of two or three of the above types of love. Further, it’s typical that two people in the same relationship will have different versions of how they define love.

Imagine that it’s the end of the day, and you two have just finished up your individual ‘work from home’s. You suggest taking a walk around the neighborhood, and change clothes. Your partner busies himself with watering the plants and taking out the trash. As you swipe on a fresh coat of gloss, you two take your walk, and run into a neighbor. The neighbor is flirtatious with you, but your partner doesn’t seem to notice.

Hmm, doesn’t your partner love you? On the other hand, he may be feeling that you didn’t notice the extra work he put in before the walk.

This is how couples can view love differently. He may consider love practical, best shown through acts of service. For you, jealousy may make you feel valued.

Taking it one step beyond the five love languages, if you understand how your partner translates love, you can navigate conflict and add another level of connection and understanding into your relationship.

If for instance, your partner has a possessive nature, make sure you notice when someone is flirting with him. If your partner is logical or practical, acknowledge the ways he takes care of everyday needs.

Getting More of the Good Stuff

Romantic love activates our brains’ reward centers – dopamine pathways are associated with novelty, energy, motivation, ecstasy, and craving. Love starts out as “passionate,” with newness and intense longing for our partner. Later, love evolves into “companionate love,” a deep affection and commitment to each other.

That doesn’t mean you have to lose that exciting start – you can rekindle that spark by doing something new and different, together. New experiences activate the same brain’s reward system as falling in love. Partners who regularly share in new experiences report greater relationship happiness than those who simply share familiar experiences.

If you haven’t already, download your free, “10 Stay-In Date Night Ideas.” Even in a pandemic, you can try something new, at home. 🤗♥️