Most of us know that couples falling in love tend to relish spending time with one another, but have you ever wondered why some pairings result in lasting love, whereas others fizzle out quickly? Perhaps you have entered into a new relationship feeling optimistic that they could be “the one,” only for everything to fall apart within months?
The key reason why it’s so hard to find lasting love is easy to understand once you know what happens in the opening stages of a relationship. In the early days, we are so infatuated with our partner that we can be literally blind to any problems or incompatibilities in our relationship. According to researchers at Loyola University, the rush of feel-good neurotransmitters and increased blood flow to the pleasure centers of the brain result in an obsessive fixation with one’s partner. Specifically, we tend to focus only on their good points. This is a great feeling, but it can impair rational judgement.1
Although you might not want to bother analyzing your relationship in the early days, doing so will save you a lot of heartbreak later on. If you are serious about finding lasting love, you need to look beyond your feelings of infatuation. Don’t waste time with people who aren’t suitable for you, otherwise you will look back on lost years with regret and sadness. Take time to find someone who is a good fit for you, and you will be on your way to lasting love.
Fortunately, there is a simple checklist of things to consider when embarking on a new relationship. Ask yourself the following questions, and answer honestly:
Do they share my core values?
It doesn’t matter how physically attractive your partner is if their values are incompatible with your own. For example, if you are a vegan with a passion for animal rights but your partner loves to eat steak and wear leather, you may have a problem. At some point, value clashes may mean that you start to aggravate one another.
Is their attachment style compatible with my own?
People have different ways of relating to one another. This is known as “attachment style,” and is largely formed by a person’s early experiences with their parents. A securely-attached individual enjoys being with their partner, but is also happy to spend time alone and does not worry excessively about the health of the relationship. Some people are avoidant and reluctant to commit. Others tend to be clingy and needy. Take a realistic look at you and your partner’s attachment styles and ask yourself whether the combination is likely to work out in the long run.2
Are our life goals in alignment?
If you both want very different things, you need to ask yourself whether the relationship is really worth the effort. It is possible to compromise in some situations, but it’s usually best to end a relationship if, in the early stages, you discover that your life goals are not a good fit. For example, if you want to buy a house and get married within five years but your partner plans on taking a career break to travel the world for a while, your life goals are not in alignment.
Can we resolve conflict in a constructive manner?
One mark of a good relationship is the ability to talk about touchy subjects in an open, non-threatening manner.3 If you cannot talk to your partner about anything and everything without it descending into a slanging match, you probably aren’t going to develop lasting love. In the early stages of a relationship you may avoid conflict at all costs, but this cannot last forever. Everyone has fights, but couples who last the distance fight constructively.
Do we trust one another?
Trust is a key pillar for lasting love. Even if you share the same life goals, can talk through your issues and are well-matched in terms of core values, there is no hope of long-term love if you cannot trust one another. Pay attention from the beginning as to how your partner makes you feel. If you get an uneasy feeling or suspect that they are deceiving you, do not ignore your intuition.
These questions might not be easy to answer, but in taking time to consider the issues they raise you are laying the foundation for finding and keeping a great relationship.