When people first start dating, they tend to bring out the big guns. Think Javelin rocket launcher. They wear their best clothes, go to the best and fanciest restaurants and places and generally just put their best selves forward. Eventually, however, the curtain must drop and with it comes that sweet bitch we call Reality. The continued longevity of a relationship depends on more than just the grand gestures and carefully constructed appearances. It’s usually defined by the smaller, more regular gestures and the boring, everyday moments. Eventually you have to decide whether you can live with who someone is when they’re backstage and not just who they are when the curtains lift and the spotlights are on.
1. Pay. Attention.
It’s the simplest, easiest way to show someone you actually care. Take note of their likes and dislikes, actively try to remember the little details and don’t be afraid to whip out your accumulated knowledge when the opportunity presents itself. Like how they have a weird pervasive hatred of peanut butter so you gallantly sacrifice your preference for peanut butter cup ice cream in favor of caramel. You’re practically a god damned super hero.
2. Take a vested and sincere interest in the things they really care about.
The great thing about people is that they are all at least subtly different; often different shades of the same color, but with enough variety to be an entity unto themselves. You’re not always going to like the same things or want to do the same activities, expecting anything different is unrealistic, but maintaining an active interest isn’t. If someone really matters to you, than so should whatever they are passionate about. Unless what they care about is coin collecting and only coin collecting, because that’s just asking too much – except on the off chance their collection is worth millions… then it’s perfectly appropriate to worship said collection.
3. Give little gifts or tokens of affection.
This is so often viewed as something for men to do (flowers, candy, dates, etc.) but should really be something fluid and vital between both parties, no matter their gender. Instead of flowers, which can be ridiculously expensive (never saw the point myself) maybe pick up their favorite snack or treat, maybe a book you thought they might like or a movie. Just something small that shows them you were thinking of them (hint ladies: surprise blow jobs are never a bad thing).
4. Include them in your future plans.
No, that doesn’t mean you have to doeverything together, it just means that you should try and respect and care about one another enough to keep each other up to-date and involved with your lives. On that note….
5. Respect a person’s need for space.
This can be a tricky one because people don’t always exit the lets-be-together-all-the-time-omg train at the same time, but it’s pretty imperative that you accept this inevitable need for time apart with grace and maturity. At least on the outside, on the inside you can quietly morn the end of the ever lauded honeymoon phase and then eat ice-cream alone in your room while you watch Price and Prejudice (again, what is the male equivalent? Die Hard? Anchor Man? What movies do guys watch when they are sad? Honestly curious here.). Anyway… space is a key component of any healthy, lasting relationship so it’s important to make time for and encourage it.
6. Spend time with their friends
Even if they are the worst thing since Hanna Montana and One Direction combined into a horde of pre-teen girls taking over your local mall. Bonus points if your SO knows you find this person completely obnoxious and you’re a perfect, patient angel all through margarita night. But in all seriousness, it shows that you care enough about someone to deal with the entire package that may include douchey friends and judgy family members. Even if his friend keeps bringing up how much weight he can squat even though literally no one has brought up the gym, working out, or squats.
7. Perfect being lazy together into a fine, seamless art.
And I mean full on pajama, junk food, messy apartment, Netflix binging laziness that not even a bright, beautiful sunny day can penetrate (thank God for super thick curtains, am I right?). Oh, and take naps, lots of naps, because snuggly couch naps are the life giver. Though maybe have these days in moderation, I understand the addiction is real.
8. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and try new things.
Similar to #2 but with different adjectives. Just kidding. Maybe. But really, a stagnant relationship tends to be a dead relationship, so go ahead and take that cooking class, or actually play in the group Turkey Bowl this year even though you seriously suck at throwing a football (for the record, I am easily the better football thrower in my relationship in case anyone wanted to call a gender-foul. Oh and my fiancée is an amazing cook, it’s bullshit how good he is at it without even trying).
9. Actually occasionally talk about your problems and don’t be afraid to have differing opinions about things.
If your relationship can’t handle you kindly telling her you actually really hate reality television and it would be cool if you guys could watch Game of Thrones or even stupid sitcoms occasionally, I’m not sure there is much left to hang onto my friend. And ladies, if he can’t handle you occasionally wanting to listen to something other than blaring heavy metal well… he’s clearly a psychopath any way and you should get out while you still can.
10. Well, you could actually tell them you care, and do so frequently.
Pretty straightforward but likely underappreciated. I mean confess your undying love to her on the phone in front of all your ‘bro’ friends, or tell him that he’s seriously the best thing in the world even though all your single girlfriends are rolling their eyes at you over their martinis because being in a relationship so isn’t cool anymore (I just assume bitter angry people drink a lot of martinis, feel free to angrily correct me in the comments section –it wouldn’t be at all a waste of your time, I promise). Never underestimate a meaningful and sincere expression of your feelings for someone guys, I promise that if they love you, it never gets old.