Relationship habits most people think are toxic
Traits that don’t fit our traditional narrative of what love should be are actually necessary ingredients for a healthy relationship
LETTING SOME CONFLICTS GO UNRESOLVED
People like to fantasize about 'true love'. But if there is such a thing, it requires us to sometimes accept things we don't like.
Successful couples accept and understand that some conflict is inevitable, that there will always be certain things they don't like about their partner, or things they don't agree with–all that's fine. You shouldn't need to feel the need to change somebody in order to love them. And you shouldn't let some disagreements get in the way of what is otherwise a happy and healthy relationship.
Sometimes, trying to resolve a conflict can create more problems than it fixes. Some battles are simply not worth fighting. And sometimes, the most optimal relationship strategy is one of live and let live.
BEING WILLING TO HURT EACH OTHER'S FEELINGS
It's important to make something more important in your relationship than merely making each other feel good all of the time. The feeling-good–the sunsets and puppies–they happen when you get the important stuff figured out: values, needs and trust. If you feel smothered and want more time alone, you need to be capable of saying that without blaming your partner and they need to be capable of hearing it without blaming you despite the unpleasant feelings it may cause.
These conversations are crucial if we want we maintain a healthy relationship, one that meets both people's needs.
BEING WILLING TO END IT
Romantic sacrifice is idealized in our culture. The truth is our standards for what a "successful relationship" should be are pretty screwed up. If a relationship ends and someone's not dead, then we view it as a failure, regardless of the emotional or practical circumstances present in the person's lives. And that's kind of insane. Sometimes the only thing that can make a relationship successful is ending it at the necessary time, before it becomes too damaging. And the willingness to do that allows us to establish the necessary boundaries to help ourselves and our partner grow together.
FEELING ATTRACTION FOR PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE RELATIONSHIP
Our cultural scripts tell us that once we're in love, that's supposed to be the end of the story. And if someone flirts with us and we enjoy it, or if we catch ourselves having an occasional errant sexy-time fantasy, there must be something wrong with us or our relationship. But that's simply not the case.
In fact, it's healthier to allow oneself to experience these feelings and then let them go. When you suppress these feelings, you give them power over you, you let them dictate your behavior for you rather than dictating your behavior for yourself.
ACCEPTING YOUR PARTNER'S FLAWS
Every person has flaws and imperfections. You can't ever force a person to change. Therefore, you must date somebody who has flaws you can live with or even appreciate.
The most accurate metric for your love of somebody is how you feel about their flaws. If you accept them and even adore some of their shortcomings; their obsessive cleanliness, their awkward social ticks and they can accept and even adore some of your shortcomings, well, that's a sign of true intimacy. It may be our perfections that attract one another in the first place. But it's our imperfections that decide whether or not we stay together.