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 Post subject: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:57 pm 
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For those of you who have been in long term relationships, what makes them work? What are the core things that I need to know before I commit to being with someone for years or the rest of my life? Is love really enough?

Why I'm asking:
I have been dating 2 men for a while and it's getting to the point where I have to commit to one or the other. It isn't fair to them and I want to be in something that will be long term, hopefully forever. I want to be with someone, live with them, and maybe eventually get married and/or have kids (I'm not dead set either way on marriage and kids, but I'd like the option). I started dating the 2nd before things got more serous with the 1st.

Man A - I'm super in love with but I have concerns about future compatability. We have somewhat different ideas on what we want long-term. And he doesn't open up and talk about stuff easily, but he is getting better at that. But I get SO happy to see him and he looks at me in that way so I know what he feels even if he won't say it.

Man B - I love him, but not as passionately (yet, it's growing quickly). For future long-term stuff, we are super on the same page. We communicate really well, we have a great time together and make a great team. He can tell me what he feels as well as show it, which is nice.


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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:05 pm 
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I think what's important is how you're going to feel about the person once all the excitement and newness has worn off. In past relationships where I've been super excited about someone right off the bat, it always ended badly. With my husband, I liked him at first, but I wouldn't say there was some crazy spark... just a relationship that built up over time.

Just knowing what you've told us, it sounds like Man B might be the winner.


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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:14 pm 
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I'm not a total expert but Mr Nil and I have been together for 7 years, married 6. I think being on the same page in terms of future is essential. Compromise is important but you have to figure out where you are willing to compromise and if you find out you are comprising more than they are, then I think the relationship is unbalanced.

And I can't totally explain what was different with Mr Nil than the previous guys. I just kind of had a feeling. We had great times together, we are both silly and we even often think of the same things when we see/hear things (creepy). We both love kids although didn't want any of our own but were open to changing that and honestly if I told Mr Nil I wanted a child, he'd totally go for it. I somehow think though that we'd be in an uneven parenting situation so I'd really, really want to have one.

Overall, he is supportive, I trust him, I can imagine us growing old together, doing things together and we love eachother lots. We have minor ups and downs but that is expected.

So I don't think I answered your question but I think I really went with a gut feeling with Mr Nil.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:22 pm 
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I still don't know my formula really, but I've pieced a few things together (from things that worked, and things the avoid that didn't work)

one big thing is support: do I feel supported by this person? will they add to the sum of parts, or will it be (or at least feel like) a one-way street? we can hit it off amazingly, but if I don't feel like they're able to support me, I don't think it'll last long term. (I'm mostly talking emotional support, but financial stability etc is probably worth considering - are they reckless with resources? are they giving of their time/energy?)

this is a bit handy-wavy and hard to explain, but.. I need someone that works *how* I work, more than I need someone to share all of my common interests with. (in fact, diversity of interests is great! teach me things!). but they need to be fairly relaxed/easy going/flexible to really survive with me (and me with them!). I need someone independent, who is happy to do their own things and for that to be okay.

and like you touched on: communication. not even about just being 'open', but in terms of *how* the communication happens. do you feel safe (and supported!) sharing? are mountains made of molehills? can angry communication be turned into civil discussion? do you find yourself biting your tongue?

I don't know. it's all pretty difficult to define when really it's all about what just...*feels* right. if it feels wrong, then it probably is, even if you can't put your finger on it. conversely if you just walk around with a dumb smile all day after seeing that person, then you're probably doing something right :)

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:08 pm 
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Definitely not an expert, but have been married a long time! It's only my opinion, but if you're having to weigh up which of your two loves might be the right one, the chances are it's neither of them. For me there was an intangible 'click' with my right one which meant that from relatively early on the relationship had a qualitative difference from previous relatiships. I look back now and wonder at the amount of time and energy I put into trying to make wrong ones into the right one. There's no rush to commit - enjoy the ride and wait until you know without knowing how you know.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:18 pm 
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I'm inclined to agree with Ruby Rose, although I have never found myself in love with two people at the same time. For me, when something clicks into place with one person, I just don't have eyes for anyone else (OK, eyes maybe... but feelings? Nope.) But then again, I have also put time and energy into making the wrong ones into the right one, including my ex-husband, so you might not want to listen to me! So far this one has been so... easy. I feel like I knew the moment I met him. Which doesn't help you, I know. I guess my short answer is "I have no idea." And also "I wish I knew."

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:25 pm 
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I've been married practically forever.... If we weren't best friends too, it wouldn't have lasted through a few rough patches, which all relationships go through. Trust in each other, respect, putting each other first, and (hopefully) shared values help for a healthy relationship. And even with shared values, there will have to be compromises. But if you can't come to terms on finances and spending habits, you're pretty much in for a rough ride.

And I want to add, "clicking" with someone is great, but double check and make sure your feeling is backed up by your real experience and knowledge of the person. That takes time, and if you're debating between 2 lovers, you're not there yet with either of them.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:14 pm 
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I'm enjoying reading these responses! Thanks for sharing... and I'm happy to read as many more as people post! I never thought I'd want to commit, but that is slowly changing. While my parents have had a good relationship and been married for 30+ years, I realized that I don't really know why it works for them! None of my friends have been in anything longer than 2ish years.

In my situation, I've definitely considered that neither of them are right. Things feel amazingly good with Man A and I think that I just need to exercise patience and work on other parts of my life for a bit (I just quit my job, finding a fulfilling one would be a good start) and see how things develop with him. Man B would require me to move to be with him (he did offer to move here), but it's been a quick romance and I feel like if I were that into him I would have dropped Man A. I'll admit to getting caught up in the romance of Man B and the potential life that we could have.

Many of my insecurities and fears, as well as wants and desires, have come to my attention through the last few weeks while I've been thinking about all of this! It's been an interesting self-exploration.


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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:34 pm 
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I think one of the most important things is being able to apologize well. We're going to hurt each others feelings (always unintentionally) but if we can apologize in a way that is sincere and caring everything is always better quickly.

Feeling like they really are your PARTNER. Like you are a team and you want the things they want for themselves just as much as they do and vice versa.

Also, telling the other person how hot they are frequently! I'm not married or anything, but I've been with my boyfriend for four glorious years and I love him more every single day. I'm not this cheesy in real life. But really, those three things to me are huge. Also the fact that we just click together! If you laugh a lot together, that's huge too.


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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:39 pm 
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Me and Mr Nil were a long distance relationship but we knew eachother and sat next to eachother for years.

My experience was a funny one. Before I dated Mr Nil, I dated a friend long distance for nearly a year. Even though I didn't care for where I lived, I didn't feel compelled to move. I loved him but I don't know, maybe I knew we weren't right for eachother. Then he broke it off. 6 months later he met someone, eventually got married and had 3 kids.

Nearly a year after my relationship ended, I was pretty dead set on no more long distance relationships. Mr Nil was a friend/coworker who had recently moved. He told me he was interested, I wasn't sure, for work, we happened to be in the same city again for a week. We hit it off and that was that. It was just so odd because for us, there was a click and it was a loud one. 3 months later I told my boss I was moving (he agreed to transfer me) and at 5 months in we were living together. The odd part for me was why would I agree to move for someone after 3 months when I wouldn't move for someone after a year? It was just because it felt different and the right thing to do.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:56 pm 
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I agree about the intangible click. When I met my husband, I was like - OHH. I get it now. This is what relationships should be like. That after years of trying to make close-but-not-quite relationships work, wondering if there was something wrong with me, wondering how much conflict and discord was acceptable.

It must be different for everyone, but for me low to no conflict is important, so being with someone calm is essential. We resolve conflict before it really begins by calmly and honestly talking about what we're really feeling, rather than lashing out and escalating something minor into something unpleasant and ugly. I LOVE this about our relationship. It really takes two people wanting to work together like this, not just one, and it's not something I had been able to find before I met my husband. Intensity is great early on, but if it turns into dramatics, that gets old and emotionally draining fast.

For me it's also really important to be with someone smart and engaged. We have vastly different interests, but what we share in common is a love of learning and thinking about... stuff. Some of his interests are totally boring to me personally, but I am smitten with his passion for them and it keeps me falling in love over and over.

Ack, who knows! It's hard to figure this stuff out.


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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:00 pm 
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13 years with my husband (6 of them married) and I'm not sure exactly why we work so well. To echo others, it just "felt' right. You also never stop working on a relationship, it is always evolving. The times we get upset at each other generally result from one of us feeling unappreciated (regardless if the other person is actually being unappreciative). The other thing I've learned, is to really communicate. You save each other a lot of trouble by just saying how you feel instead of getting upset when your partner doesn't pick up on it. You think that once you've known each other for so long, you'd be more intuitive, but sometimes it doesn't work that way.

My mom once gave me this advice: The person for you is the one that helps you be the best version of you that you can be. aka You should bring out the best in each other. I do think my husband and I are like that. Of course some days more than other :)

I do think for long term compatibility, having similar values helps greatly. And for marriage (way down the line I know) the one thing above all that you have to be on the same page is whether or not you want kids. Most everything else can be compromised on, having kids is one or the other, no compromise there.


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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:01 pm 
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How about.....spending some time, on vacation, perhaps, without both of them, and seeing which one you miss the most?

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:41 pm 
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maybe i'm weird, but if you're not sure which one you want to be with, and they both know about your current dating situation, why don't you keep seeing them both?

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:16 pm 
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chiveggie wrote:
I do think for long term compatibility, having similar values helps greatly.


Yeah, I think this is really important too. It helps when you have similar and/or compatible goals. I used to think that love = relationship - I would look past lots of things/qualities/issues in a partner if the love was there. Now I believe that, yes you need love, but to make it work long-term, you need to be travelling to the same place.

Also, the best relationship advice I ever got was "give 60, expect 40." If you're both doing it, lots of amazingness results.


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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:47 pm 
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EmperorTomatoKetchup wrote:
maybe i'm weird, but if you're not sure which one you want to be with, and they both know about your current dating situation, why don't you keep seeing them both?


Not weird! This was my thought, too. Is there some reason why you can't be in relationships with both of them? Do they not know about each other?

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:33 am 
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I love that, "give 60, expect 40." I don't think my partner and I do that. I'd like to try.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:26 am 
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Big thing that I learned from my recent break-up with a partner of 6 years, is if you feel like you're compromising a lot, that's a bad sign.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:44 am 
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ilovemountains wrote:
I love that, "give 60, expect 40." I don't think my partner and I do that. I'd like to try.


I've also been reminding myself of this all day, since I read it this morning - I think it's warded off a pointless fight or two already. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:23 am 
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I think shared core values are very important for a basis, any differences beyond that will just feel like surface stuff. I loved my ex very much, we made each other laugh every day (until the last couple of years out of over 13) but ultimately we had different core values. It would really show when there was any sort of strain, there was a huge difference in how we approached problems. Good and honest (laced with kindness) communication is vital, the ability to discuss difficult things without shutting the other person down.


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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:27 am 
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choirqueer wrote:
EmperorTomatoKetchup wrote:
maybe i'm weird, but if you're not sure which one you want to be with, and they both know about your current dating situation, why don't you keep seeing them both?


Not weird! This was my thought, too. Is there some reason why you can't be in relationships with both of them? Do they not know about each other?


Let me echo this. If you feel you love both, maybe you really do and they are not mutually exclusive. There are plently of relationships that work long term with more than two partners involved. Maybe you could have a look into polyamory and see if anything clicks for you.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:12 am 
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Wally and I have been together for 5 years, 2.5 of those total long distance.

It's hard to put the finger on what makes us work, and to formulate it as a rule, especially since I was young (21) when we met and didn't have any serious relationships before to compare it too.

I didn't experience a "click" like other posters describe. I still have the butterflies, though. Now and then, we could be doing something super mundane like putting the laundry away or walking the dog together, and I get this huge wave of happiness and think, "I could just fold the laundry with this man for the rest of my life, and I'd be happy."

I think having compatible "attitudes", ways of being, character traits is super important. I wouldn't call them values -like, when we met, I didn't identify as a feminist, Wally ate meat... I'd say these are values, and over the course of a long relationship they can change. But regardless of labels I know he is a good man, that he is not cruel, that we both solve disagreements without conflict, that he is open-minded and willing to learn and grow... These are important to me.

As for things you can actually control to make the relationship work:
- Communication skills, absolutely. These must go both ways, and if your partner is a poor communicator I think it's fair to ask him to work on that, possibly with a therapist, to continue the relationship. Better work out your communication muscles when the relationship is good than to wait until you reach a crisis, right?
- Stay candid. If you find yourself getting jaded, cynical about your partner, approaching disagreements with the mindset that there must be a winner and a loser, something's not good.
- Put the relationship first. Think "here are my goals, here are his goals, how can we tweak them to make them work for our relationship?" rather than "here are my goals, do I need to get out of the relationship to reach them?" (Actually I'm not sure which way it goes, if putting the relationship first makes it work, or if when a relationship is good you will put it first.) If you find yourself compromising way too much, or if you find yourself not wanting to compromise, something is probably not good.


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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 6:29 am 
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jdfunks wrote:
How about.....spending some time, on vacation, perhaps, without both of them, and seeing which one you miss the most?

I think this is a good idea. Distance is a very helpful gauge of a relationship. I can't imagine seeing two people at once simply because I've never done it. I imagine it is a lot of work, because relationships, even at their best, do involve a lot of work and compromise. As unromantic as that sounds, work and compromise took my relationship from honeymoon-phase/tumultuous to absolutely wonderful and mutually supportive. Time is always a good thing. We've done long-distance on numerous occasions too. It was a learning experience for me to be able to assert my individual goals and not feel like I'd mess up the relationship.


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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 6:34 am 
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aelle wrote:
- Put the relationship first. Think "here are my goals, here are his goals, how can we tweak them to make them work for our relationship?" rather than "here are my goals, do I need to get out of the relationship to reach them?" (Actually I'm not sure which way it goes, if putting the relationship first makes it work, or if when a relationship is good you will put it first.) If you find yourself compromising way too much, or if you find yourself not wanting to compromise, something is probably not good.

Yeah, I think this is a weird one. Honestly, I haven't always put my relationship first in terms of tangible life goals, but my partner has respected that and we have such a solid base to go on that we've been able to get through it and still be happy. On numerous occasions I've moved away temporarily for various jobs/school, and it didn't suit my partner to come with me so he didn't. At first that made me really nervous that things would dissolve, but it actually really did make us stronger.


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 Post subject: Re: Relationships... making them work long-term
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:08 am 
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I'm hardly an expert, but I've been with my husband for 11 years and we have the most solid relationship out of anyone I know. I agree with what Ruby Rose and others said - if you have to choose with your intellect, perhaps neither is the option. I knew Trevor was perfect for me with my whole heart when I met him. I was gaga about him off the start, but we were just friends for about the first 6 months of knowing each other, despite me being madly in love with him right away. I knew he felt the same way, but we just took it slow and built a friendship first. That has got us through rough times (long distance, and some other trying things) because we are totally BFF with benefits. Now, it seems our relationship gets stronger as the years go on, as opposed to dissolving.
Disagreements are a fine and normal part of being in a relationship, so long as you never forget that you love the person and remain respectful of them during the disagreement.
And for me, polyamory sounds like a lot of work; I'm so in love with my one partner that I don't have any time to spare for anyone else, nor would I want to.

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