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What are the characteristics of a functioning relationship?

Updated on June 26, 2016

“Is this working out?” It’s an itchy thought that arises in the best of us in committed relationships every now and then, probably more so in this day and age than ever before. Here I will shed light on relationship issues of the third millennium and why relationships nowadays are harder than ever.

Characteristics of a functioning couple in a committed relationship

First and foremost, couples can become partners for life, but the title indicates it’s not only important to find Mr. or Mrs. Right; that’s only the ticket. Once in a relationship, it is up to the couple to bring out the potential that is inside – to be partners through thick and thin – to realize the responsibility of this task.

A partner is someone with whom you build a life work. In order to do this, you need to possess the necessary skills to build a strong foundation.

Usually, the early stages of a relationship are based on romantic intoxication, palpable bliss and the thrill of infatuation. However, after the honeymoon period (the initial stages of a romantic relationship), people tend to wonder “what has become of this person who magically fulfilled all my wishes and desires?” The daze is gone.

Soon after, problems, issues and differences (that were evenly present in the honeymoon stage, but were less apparant in the beholder's rose-tinted glasses) start to occur. "How will they be resolved?" is a question that pops up frequently once this early phase of the relationship is over. This inevitably leads towards of a sense of insecurity in either partner: “Is he or she really the love of my life?”


Emotional luggage

One should also realize that everyone carries an amount of “emotional luggage” into a new relationship. You can’t simply say “leave your luggage at the entrance of the relationship.” People not only bring emotional luggage into new relationships, but sometimes children from a previous relationship too, as well as certain financial and material issues.

It is necessary to accept each other on a personal as well as emotional level, otherwise you will inevitably start pointing fingers as to who is to blame for certain issues or who is at fault in particular situations. That’s not what partners who are in a serious committed relationship do. Love cannot grow by dismissing each other’s luggage; people have history, the events in each person’s personal history shape each individual human being. The events that have sculpted the present you, will also indirectly pave the way for your future self.

All in all, in average couples who eventually part and couples who stay together are inherently not that different. Both have identical interpersonal, emotional and interfamilial issues. What differentiates these two groups is but one simple thing: the skills necessary to withstand the challenges that a committed relationship has to offer.

Partners who act in tandem vs. Uncompromising partners

Happiness usually has to do with perspective; couples who mesh well and click on a deeper level first and foremost believe in each other. They have a sense of trust, not only in each other, but in the world as well. All in all, they have a basic sense of trust. The aforementioned sense of trust is built very early on in a relationship; it functions primarily as a solid pillar upon which to build. This solid pillar (read: a solid foundation) once again paves the way for two autonomous beings to share an intimate connection that transcends that of puppy love.

Couples who are in stabile, solid relationship communicate effectively and are barely phased by the obstacles that sporadically present themselves on the road that is Life. In effective partnerships, compromise and negotiation are not excluded either; more so, they are a an intricate, determining factor whether your relationship lasts..

In order to have a fulfilling relationship, it is also of vital importance for both committed partners to be fully engaged in their relationship, to be willing to put in the required time and effort. Our daily jobs, as they are, demand enough of our precious time; so much so, that it spending time with your partner might become a chore, a task to simply be completed.

If you want to be a match made in heaven, you'll have to work at it.

5 Characteristics of Good Relationships

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    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 15 months ago

      Out of all the things I can think of (natural) compatibility is probably the most important ingredient needed. Given a choice between being with someone who (naturally) wants what you want in a relationship versus being with someone you have to constantly compromise with in order to make things "work". I'll stick with compatibility!

      Like attracts like and opposites attract divorce attorneys!

      Unfortunately it's not until we're usually "emotionally invested" that we recognize how different we are. In the beginning both people tend to bend over backwards to avoid saying "no" to anything.

      During the "infatuation phase" of a new relationship there is a whirlwind romance, laughter, spontaneity, cards/flowers/gifts "just because", along with surprise getaways and various other activities. Sex is off the charts!

      It's only natural for the two people to believe they've found their "soul-mate". Six months to a year later we start to reveal our "authentic selves".

      The word "no" is used more frequently, boundaries and "deal breakers" along with "expectations" are also revealed.

      At some point one has to determine if they can still be "them self" in the relationship. If the answer is no it means they're with the wrong mate.

      Lastly I would caution youth and immature people not to become too heavily invested in relationships. In the U.S. the average age a person loses their virginity is age 17. The average age of a first time married woman is 27 and it's 29 for men. Therefore typically they will have at least 10 years of sexual experience prior to marriage.

      Most people don't marry the first person they have sex with.

      When it comes to love and relationships most of us (fail our way) to success. If this were not true we'd all be married to our high school sweethearts!

      Youth is really about learning, figuring out who (we) are and crafting a life philosophy based upon our experiences and wisdom we've gained from making mistakes. It's "unrealistic" to expect to have found your "soul-mate" at age 15, 16, 18, 21...etc Odds are you're setting yourself up for heartbreak.

      Simply put neither of you have lived long enough to know who you are and what you want in a mate for life. Our wants tend to "evolve" over time.