Relationships are a beautiful part of life. Whether they are romantic or just friendly, connecting with another human being is undoubtedly one of the best experiences that life has to offer. Of course, within relationships, as with so many other things in life, change is inevitable. I doubt that there are very many of us, if any, that have maintained the exact same partner and/or core group of friends throughout the vast majority of our lives.
Despite this seemingly natural turnover, what is it about certain relationships that makes them outlast many others?
I’ve come up with 8 signs that I think are a great signal that a particular relationship is worth keeping, but be sure to pay attention to the last one I mention, since it alone can override all of the other points, and in my opinion, it’s the most important.
1. You Are Truly Yourself
There are many people that find a lot of value in the idea of compromise, but when it comes to giving up elements of yourself to please or maintain a relationship, I personally don’t feel that it is very healthy. The best and often longest lasting relationships are those in which both parties can effortlessly be themselves without being faced by or fearing judgment, ridicule, or pressure to change. We all know when we are being fake, it’s therefore up to us to first see why we are being fake and then decide whether or not our true self-belongs in this relationship.
2. Celebration Over Comparison
I also made this point as part of another article I wrote earlier in the year entitled 9 Common Traits Of Happy People (That They Don’t Talk About), and I make it again because I feel it definitely applies in the realm of great relationships. The best relationships are those in which ego-based comparisons are cast aside and are replaced by a genuine happiness for the accomplishments of the other person. Rather than putting up a face that shows your pleasure for the other person when they get their dream job or land a hot date, the best relationships are those in which you actually feel happy for them.
3. You Lift Each Other Up
Although a lot of “comfort” can be found in mutually wallowing in a particular experience (such as complaining) or behavior (such as drinking), the most valuable relationships are those in which each individual helps the other rise from hardship. This help can come in the form of truly listening, providing reminders, or an assortment of other ways, but no matter how it comes it always does everything it can to ensure that the other person never gets caught in an ongoing unhealthy state. Even though the action of change ultimately needs to come from the person caught in it, the most valuable relationship partners remind them of and help them find, that power.
4. Differences Aren’t A Deal Breaker
Many relationships are built off of similarities and for obvious reasons. It would be much easier for me to find common ground, interests, and compatibility with someone who like myself enjoyed playing sports, creating films, and public speaking than it would for me to do the same with someone who enjoyed staying indoors, painting, and scrapbooking.
Despite this common foundation, differences will inevitably arise in even the most naturally compatible of relationships, and those that are worth keeping tend not to let those differences come between them. A great relationship is one in which time spent by one person doing what they are passionate about is truly seen as valuable to the other person as quality time together – even if that passion is experienced with someone else.
5. The Past Is The Past
If asked to explain one of our most cherished relationships most of us would quickly resort to a number of memorable moments to help paint the picture of how close the connection really is. As awesome as reliving the past can be, the best relationships tend to be those that stay within the present moment. This is particularly helpful for overcoming any challenges the two of you may have faced at one point in time. Rather than forever holding past transgressions or issues against them, even if just quietly in the background of a seemingly now trouble-free connection, the choice to let the past go and be in the present allows both people to more fully enjoy everything that the other has to offer.
6. No Mind Games
Particularly in the realm of romantic relationships, a lot of people love the thrill and uncertainty that comes with trying to figure the other person out, often screwing up a number of times along the way. Despite this, the most valuable relationships tend to be ones that no longer feature any mind games. You both know who the other is, love them for being that way, and can each be yourself comfortably without the unnecessary mind chatter.
7. An Extension Of The Human Experience
As with #2, my 7th sign also appeared in my other article and for good reason. I believe that the best relationships are those in which both people see the relationship as an extension of the human experience and not the basis of their happiness. The more we rely on others to provide us fulfillment, the more we hold ourselves back from being truly independent, and ultimately the more pressure that the relationship has to operate within. It’s often when relationships are not being looked at to fill a particular void, or to make us feel a certain way, that most of the truest and most valuable relationships are formed.
8. Knowing That It Can End At Any Time
This may sound like a particularly morbid way to end an otherwise lighthearted list, but I truly believe that the best relationships are ones in which both people recognize and are at peace with the fact that it could change, and possibly even end at any given time. This understanding, in my opinion, and experience, paves the way for a freedom that ultimately makes a relationship of the deepest variety available. It’s not to say that every relationship must come to an end at some point, but this understanding gives it, and both people involved, the freedom to fully explore whatever it molds itself into.
Written by Mark Denicola
Originally appeared on Mark DeNicola.com