A few months ago I asked my friends on Facebook this question:

Anyone who is in a successful long-term relationship, what matters the most? For example, is it physical attraction, shared interests, values, beliefs, life goals, how they treat you, etc.?

Do they all matter equally, or is one, like respect, the one that matters the most? I've been doing extensive research on this because I don't want to feel like I gave up something good.

I was going through a difficult time with someone I was in a relationship with, and I did not know what to do. My perspective on what a healthy relationship was skewed because I grew up with divorced parents who still to this day do not love each other.

My siblings and I have tried to make sense of it all, and that led me to want to know how I could be the one to make a difference in my own love life. I was not expecting anything. All I knew was that I wanted to learn from those who were lucky in love, which didn’t seem like a wrong place to start probing for answers.

What I took away from this learning experience was that communication, trust, and respect were listed again and again as the most critical aspects of a relationship. Mind you, having the same life goals, values, and beliefs are equally important in the long run too, but I want to focus your attention on the core of what matters in relationships in general, even romantic relationships. This is because life goals, values, and beliefs get sorted out and settled when the relationship is more serious.

To reach that checkpoint, you will need to form a base to your relationship. You will want something to fall back on that can be your rock during the times when you want to leave your romantic relationship or any relationship that has gone toxic. You will want something that can give you clarity on any situation you encounter in life, and that is what these three basic lessons will be for you as they were for me.

1. Communication

I cannot tell you how many times I could have spared my feelings had I merely tried to understand the situation at hand and then the reactions of both myself and the other person involved.

For instance, I never knew about the five love languages, which is a book by author Gary Chapman. In that book, he writes about the five love languages, such as words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch.

Had I known my love language and the love language of the other person sooner, I would have realized that the other person wasn’t bad or doing anything bad at all. That person just showed love to me in such a foreign language that I could not understand it, and so I almost gave up hope for the relationship to continue healthily regardless of my efforts.

That is why I believe that every problem can be solved with clear and concise communication that is delivered in an honest way for a good purpose. Without this type of connection in a relationship, there is no way to move anything forward without someone getting hurt, or there is a miscommunication, and it doesn’t have to be just in romantic relationships.

Imagine if everyone showed this example of communication to each other. There may even be world peace for all we know. The point is that excellent communication allows for people to not only be understood and to understand others, but to help them get what they need or want out of life.

Instead of saying that you are “fine,” you can say that you are not doing or feeling right, but that you are trying. A lot of times people don’t want to take time away from someone because they feel undeserving of all the attention as if they can do everything on their own. That is not the case because people need other people to survive.

Imagine that same person never asking for what they want, and they end up disappointed when someone does or says something they don’t want. All it took for anything to be done about the problem was good communication. People, such as yourself, are worthy of all the time in the world. You need never feel like a waste of time, effort or anything because the world needs people like you to communicate your needs too.

Excellent communication is also vital in jobs, in schools, everywhere really, because communication is how people interact with each other on a daily basis. So when the conversation is right, you may reap the benefits of it in all aspects of your life, even in your romantic relationships.

You probably are feeling good about yourself just by knowing how important it is for you to speak up wherever you are, whether you are in a good place or a bad place, and especially when you are not growing. Do not be afraid to speak up for a new challenge, even if the challenge is in speaking up for your rights as a human being.

Now that you know how to communicate with your partner as well as with others, how do you feel about trusting them?

2. Trust

Like communication, trust requires the ability to rely on the information at hand, but to then accept it fully without question. This can be nearly impossible if just one person feels like they can’t trust the other due to the inclination to lie, cheat or tamper with the information. There is a way to gain trust when communication doesn’t work.

I’m not sure if people do this exercise anymore, but you may have seen it in movies. The exercise I am writing about is the one about being able to fall back into someone’s outstretched arms. I believe that an exercise similar to this one, if not this one, in particular, should be mastered when it comes to romantic relationships.

If you know someone is there, you will be less likely to fear the fall, and that person will be your rock which will make you a stronger and wiser person. Rocks do not fear the fall, after all, they just roll with it. They may hit rock bottom though. Like hitting rock bottom, you must trust in yourself that you can get back up to the very top, and that may mean letting go of control.

One of my embarrassing moments was never learning this basic lesson about trust. I would constantly text my partner “good morning”I texted him about everything, not just because I wanted to talk to him, but because I wanted to know that he was still on the other side of the phone listening to me. I did not trust that he would be there for me to the point where I had to stop sending him good morning text messages completely, which was my form of control.

I had to trust in myself that what I did was for the good of the relationship, and I had to trust my partner that he would still be there for me even when I didn’t initiate contact. This helped because I noticed that he still called me back and he even sent the occasional good morning text first. I felt like I could trust him, and that is because we worked out our communication and trust issues together. By being able to trust him, I felt like I could also respect him for who he is and what he stands for.

You may have been in this type of situation before, but then when communication and trust improved, you may have also felt respect towards that person. Respect is one of the hardest things you can earn in life and yet one of the easiest things you can lose.

3. Respect

By earning the respect of someone, you can begin to see the behavior and patterns of this person as evidence of their character traits or lack thereof. You can tell whether they are mostly good or bad, because nothing in life is completely in black or white, in my opinion. To earn the respect of someone is to appreciate what you have, because so much in life is taken for granted, even respect at times.

If respect were to be given freely, you might not appreciate what you have standing before you. You should want to feel that drive to earn everything that you don’t already have. Earning love is the ultimate prize, because love is the most powerful force in the world which can triumph any problem, and love is not always easy to give or even to receive.

This is because many people do not feel that they have earned love, so they don’t respect the love they get and therefore don’t respect themselves in return. You do not ever want to feel as though you are unworthy of love because everyone is worthy of love, even those who do terrible things to themselves and the people around them.

The world would never have peace if there were no respect because love is more freely given when respect is earned. Even forgiveness must also come from a place of understanding of the problem, trust that it won’t ever happen again, and respect out of love for that person. All this can be accomplished with respect for the good of the world and for those who dwell in it.

In the same relationship I wrote about, I did not feel like I was a good person, so when he tried to show me respect by loving who I am regardless of my mistakes, it made me cry. I realized that to feel the love of another, I had to respect myself and stop being so hard on myself for my mistakes. I could not bear to see him so hurt either.

So when I finished taking into account all the answers I got about what matters most in a relationship, it all just started to make sense. I learned as you have now, that what matters most is being able to learn these basic lessons, such as good communication and trust, and to earn the respect of someone as much as yourself.

It doesn’t matter so much where you are heading in life. Your path may turn abruptly, but these basic lessons will be a part of you always. If you learn to look past the superficial stuff, such as looks, common interests and opinions, and to see the whole of the person under the scrutiny of your eye, you may have a sight to behold that is endearing and worthy of all the love the world has to offer.

Even if you don’t see it yet, these three basic lessons will guide you in life if not in romantic relationships. There is so much joy to discover, and these lessons will take you beyond yourself and into a better you.

These three basic lessons will also help not just yourself and those around you, but they can lead the next generation of people because they are good examples of how people should treat each other when they communicate, trust and respect themselves and others.

We all want to leave the world a better place where there is more love and kindness because hate and negativity tear the lives of people and the world apart. If we all want to be accepted for who we are and what we stand for, then we need not be afraid of love, of trying to get our voice heard, of trusting someone to help us even when we cannot, and of earning the respect of those we want, because the world should be a good place for everyone.


Image credit: unsplash

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