My friends over at Honey and Lance are doing a contest about successful relationships and this is my answer to the burning question: How do you define successful relationships, and what does it take to achieve that success?

Successful relationships mean different things to different people. Some people believe that they’ve had success after finally shoving their man down the aisle, even though he’s not marriage material. Others think it’s a success if they can both turn a blind eye to each others dubious behaviour. But we always have to remember that relationships are the sum of both parts, which means successful relationships have:

Two people with both feet in the relationship
Minimal baggage (hand baggage at most)
Solid foundations to build the relationship on
Both emotionally available with healthy levels of self-esteem
If any of the above are absent, it doesn’t matter how much the sex rocks, how great the sense of humour is, or how much you try to compensate for the lack of contribution from the other party, your relationship is unlikely to succeed, and if it continues, it’s not because it’s ‘successful’; it’s just that you’re either too f*cked up or too invested to get the hell out!

The two things that people need to always remember is:

Relationships, particularly successful relationships, don’t just ‘happen’.

Relationships do take work. I don’t mean mind numbing, back breaking, drama creating work. In fact, if you’re committed and enjoying the relationship it won’t even register as work. That ‘work’ is being committed to each other and the relationship which translates into contributing, some compromise, and consideration – having each other in mind when you both act and speak. ie Don’t be thoughtless mofos…

So, how to achieve nirvana? Well for a start stop thinking ‘nirvana’ or the fairy tale exists….But seriously,

1) Clean up your excess baggage before getting embroiled in a new relationship. If for some reason you manage to make it past go, acknowledge, be accountable, and get resolving any outstanding issues.

2) Relationships involve a leap of faith. You need to leave the immobilising, relationship destroying fear at the door and get both your feet in.

3) Communicate your expectations so that you get to discover whether they are realistic or out of whack. It also helps you discover whether you’re on the same page.

4) Be people of action. Communication is great but women in particular suffer from Women Who Talk Too Much syndrome, masking inaction in the relationship by talking the crap out of it. All this discussing, defining, and arguing is exhausting. Many men go down the action contradicting their words route. The point is that either way it all leads to a lack of action.

5) Check your foundations and ensure that they don’t have any red flags and are fulfilling the basics of the relationship – trust, care, love, commitment – basically acting in the best interests of the relationship. Relationships don’t tend to fare too well when one person doesn’t call when they’re supposed to, only wants you for sex, or only wants the relationship on their terms.

6) If the relationship involves fixing, healing, helping, or essentially hoping that one or both of you will change, run like your life depends on it.

7) You both need to be a team but independent individuals. Relationships that involve one or both parties relying on each other for their source of everything, are pretty feckin’ draining. They’re co-dependent and it means that everything is derived from the other which means that when one isn’t present, it feels like the sky is going to fall in. You need to be an entity in your own right, not morph into your partner.

7) Get on with it and enjoy it. I know a lot of people who spend their time trying to make the relationship into the one they wished they were in. If you want the relationship that you’re in to work, you’d better stop hanging around in the past, stop betting on the potential that you think lies in the future, and start enjoying the relationship so that you can actually have a future!

Successful relationships…you tend to know you’re in one because you’re not spending your time worrying about whether you’re in a successful relationship…

Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more. Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter – @baggagereclaim .

Natalie (NML) – who has written posts on Baggage Reclaim by Natalie Lue.

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6 Responses to Getting real about Successful Relationships

  1. Hey girl,
    You know what? You make a freaken awesome point there. That relationships take work!

    So many times, i think people hold it in their heads that having an ideal relationship, is something like a fairytale or like you see in the movies.

    But i think that real love .. is really about going through the challenges whatever that may be .. and after all has been said and done … you can still look them in the eye and tell them that you love them.

    With that said … i think that relationships are that wonderful vehicle which magnifys our life and by which we can learn the most about ourselves.

    Great post darl


  2. lisaq says:

    Fabulously done NML! So many times we think that finding the right emotionally available guy is the ‘work.’ Those that do acknowledge that relationships take work, don’t realize that it won’t feel like work. They think drama and all the crap that comes with it IS the work.

  3. dadshouse says:

    Great post! I entered the contest too, and am enjoying reading everyone’s thoughts! I totally agree with your number 1 – enter with minimal baggage, meaning you’ve done your work on yourself. And I like most of your list.

    But number 6 – If the relationship involves fixing, healing, helping, or essentially hoping that one or both of you will change, run like your life depends on it. I’m not so sure. I agree that longterm a relationship like this probably won’t work out, but I suggest you DON’T run like hell. Learn from it first. If no one learns, the same situation will rear its ugly head further down the line.

  4. Gaynor says:

    We should all print out this article and attach it to our refrigerators!!

  5. RES says:

    Definitely one to read and re-read. Totally refrigerator material!

  6. Gina says:

    I suppose the bottom line is the only time a relationship can work is when two individuals are fulfilled on a core level, have a healthy type of mutual passion and desire for one another, have some common interests to share (more about being able to be fulfilled when spending time together) … but just like you said, aren’t co-dependent and are able to be individuals, with passions outside of their relationship, which ultimately bring their relationship together.

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!