No matter what happens, you learn a lot about yourself, the other person, and ideally, the rest of the important people in your life during a romantic relationship. Possibly the coolest parts of a relationship, however, show themselves in ways that are decidedly unromantic.
Check out these eight hallmarks of a good relationship that have nothing to do with googly eyes, sweet nothings, and other romantic nonsense:
1. You call each other on your bullshit
We all bring baggage to our relationships; it has various volumes and weights and densities and we learn how to sort it out, where to set boundaries and how to enable healthy growth instead of sticking with past stagnation.
Partners who truly love each other set boundaries to ensure their own growth, as well as helping boost each other when past troubles arise. They don’t hold the past against their partner, and they don’t allow their partner’s past to mess with their present. This is essential to true intimacy in a relationship.
2. You aren’t threatened by your partner’s success: you celebrate it
Being upset about your partner doing well is a huge red flag for your own thriving insecurity and a sign that you probably have some serious self-work to do. Celebrating each other’s successes and victories certainly isn’t always the most romantic thing you can do, but it shows your partner that you are there for them and that their happiness is important to you.
3. You genuinely enjoy taking care of each other
This varies in particular from person to person and relationship to relationship, but doing the cooking or the cleaning up or the laundry or yard work or whatever, especially if it’s something they don’t enjoy doing or have a hard time getting done, shows that you’re paying attention and care about their needs and wishes. The Tiny Buddha has some cool ideas on taking care of each other.
4. Sharing space feels natural
While this doesn’t necessarily mean living together, if you’ve been involved with someone for a while you should probably feel comfortable around their stuff, and vice versa. If your partner is weirding out about you keeping a change of clothes or a toothbrush at their place and you’ve been together a while, it might be time for a heart-to-heart.
5. You’re crazy about them even when there’s nothing to be crazy about
Every relationship goes through the honeymoon period…and then the real work starts. You know it’s meant to be if you genuinely enjoy each other even when it’s not exciting, or you can make mundane things entertaining.
Grocery shopping is a lot more fun when you’re sharing private jokes and being silly about dish detergent. When the boring stuff truly gets boring, you might want to check and see if you’re maybe falling out of love.
6. Arguing constructively
There’s a difference between a fight and an argument, and couples who are in it for the long haul learn how to argue in ways that allow you to listen to and understand each other. A loving couple can do this without undermining each other, hurling insults, or tearing apart the relationship entirely.
7. You’re there for the bad times
It’s easy to be with your partner during happy occasions or events, more difficult to do so when the going gets rough. Whether it’s a major medical procedure, attending a funeral, or even just going to a company party you really don’t want to attend, being there for your your partner is a huge sign that you’re meant to be.
8. Finally, of course, you fart in front of each other
Use the bathroom together. Aren’t embarrassed by the real you, warts and all, and show that person uninhibitedly to your partner. It sounds silly, but consider it for a second: if you can’t perform a very simple, actually entirely necessary, and largely uncontrolled bodily function in front of your significant other, they probably aren’t so significant after all.
Being in love is fantastic, but the real joy of being in a relationship happens when the fluttery feelings dissipate and you find that you still really, really enjoy this person.